It’s safe to assume quite a number of you are familiar with Cinemassacre.com and if not then you’re probably familiar with the series which seemed to skyrocket the sites popularity; James Rolfe’s ‘Angry Videogame Nerd’.
Cinemassacre is like an awesome den full of videogames, b-grade horror and a ton of funny. It’s pretty much a teenage dream come true, the kind of thing Katy Perry writes songs about. What started out as a platform for Rolfe to showcase his short films quickly exploded once his then pet project, The Angry Videogame Nerd, hit the internet. Behind the scenes of the site there’s a few other people helping out to keep the place active though and one of those is Mike Matei.
That’s Rolfe on the left and Matei dressed as Elvis on the right for Halloween a few years ago. That happens to tie in to this interview very well as you’ll read on and we get to know Mike better.
Mike Towns (MT): Welcome to Retrospekt Mike, my name also happens to be Mike. I fear this fact may make the universe implode but let’s solider on. First of all, I was wondering if you could give us some back story on yourself and how you got involved on the Cinemassacre website?
Mike Matei (MM): Hey, first of all, thanks for the interview.
Anyway, I have been James friend since college. I have been helping him with various projects since then. I really started editing the videos full time when we did Monster Madness Godzilla-Thon in 2008. I enjoyed his History of Horror so much, I asked him if he planned to do Monster Madness the following year. He said he might not have the time trying to keep up with the AVGN episodes, so I offered to help edit.
MT: You and James seem like a very well matched team which has led to some brilliant videos, what do you think it is about you two that click?
MM: The first time I met James, he saw I had a bunch of Transformers. He was impressed I had a full Devestator G-1 action figure. Then he saw that I was into retro video games and old Universal horror flicks. So we shared a lot of common interests. We just have a lot of fun talking about movies, cartoons and games. It all stems from that I guess.
MT: You started out playing the roles of various guests characters in the AVGN series but later branched out, at what point did you guys decide that having your own Mike-themed offshoot videos was the way to go?
MM: I never really wanted to be on screen much. The first time it happened in a nerd episode, James needed someone to play Jason Voorhees. I agreed to do it since the character had a mask on and nobody would know who I was. That went over well with his audience, so when he asked me to do it again I agreed. Gradually, I became more comfortable being in front of the camera.
Years later, we were working on an AVGN episode called “Game Glitches”. We both recorded a bunch of glitches for the video. The one in particular I helped him with for that was the Mountain King “heaven” glitch. That was something we used to try out on my Atari 2600 back in college around 2001-2002. So it was something we always wanted to include somehow in an AVGN episode.
Anyway, after that video, I recorded a bunch of other glitches. Like when I jumped over the flagpole on stage 1 of Super Mario Bros. I asked James if he wanted to make “AVGN Game Glitches 2”, but he said that he wanted to get back to reviewing bad games, which is the true theme to the AVGN show. I was excited over that flagpole trick, so I asked if I could just make my own video and post it on Cinemassacre. When I released that video, people really seemed to like it, so I ended up doing more. That sort of turned into a spin off series called “Mike’s Game Glitches”. At this point, I’m running a little low on glitches I know about though, so there probably won’t be too many more episodes of that.
The next thing that happened was James told me he was going to Hollywood to film the AVGN movie. But at the same time, there was the website to consider. If he was shooting a movie across the country for 4-5 months, what would become of the Cinemassacre website? So I was sort of put into a situation where I had to step up and do solo videos.
I started doing a show called “Motherf****n’ Mondays” where I would review one of my VHS or DVD’s each week. Shortly after, I regretted naming the show that because many of the comments would be things like “do you f*** your mother”?
People just didn’t seem to get that “motherf*****r” was supposed to mean “bastard” or “cheater”. It had nothing to do with anything sexual. So I decided to drop the name.
After that, I was just doing reviews as myself, and that mostly went well. During James absence, one annoying thing that happened was YouTube decided to start cleaning up subscribers and removing old inactive accounts, amongst many other changes.
Due to this, our YouTube channel lost a ton of subscribers. People thought that the channel was losing subscribers because I was now making the videos. A number of “hate” videos started appearing saying that I was the cause of the subscriber drop. When in reality, it was all just YouTube doing site maintenance. It just goes to show, people talk out their asses when they really don’t know the truth of what’s happening.
I did do a few weak videos, I’ll admit. But it was the first time I ever had to do this completely on my own, so there was bound to be a few bumps along the way. Also, it’s hard to follow in James footsteps. He’s had years of experience doing videos and by now is a master at it. So it made the crudeness of my videos especially noticeable.
That said, I also did some really killer videos during his absence. My “Draw Something”, “Top 10 Mighty Morphin’ Monsters”, “Alien vs Ninja” and “Top 10 Obscure NES Gems” all did extremely well for the site.
MT: Judging by your glitch finding expertise I imagine you’ve been playing games for a long time and have a huge amount of knowledge and experience with all that is gaming. What first got you into the medium?
MM: I always had a deep interest in retro video games. Playing old coin-op machines in the local roller rink like Professor Pac-Man and seeing all that awesome cabinet art really influenced me.
MT: Your other love (besides art) seems to be awesome, b-grade films. What was the first movie you saw that’s generally seen as horrible but that you could see the rad redeeming qualities of?
MM: There are so many. When I was growing up, it was more well known stuff like Big Trouble In Little China and The Shining. As the years went by I got more and more into the obscure stuff. Everything I’m interested in seems to be “So Bad It’s Good” type of stuff.
Like with music, I’m a huge Elvis fan. But originally I got into Elvis because I saw one of his concerts on TV. He had that white jumpsuit on and I thought to myself “Who is this freak? What’s the deal with him?” Later I found out about all the great music he recorded like The Sun Sessions. But originally the allurement was just that I thought he was weird.
MT: You’ve been doing a great job holding the Cinemassacre fort while James has been busy making the AVGN movie, have you been finding the role to be pleasantly straightforward or overly demanding? How has the fan reaction to your content been too?
MM: I really enjoy writing and editing movie and game reviews. Some people seem to hate the editing process, but I’ve always loved it. To me, it’s like putting together a puzzle. (Which is something I enjoy, especially if it’s a TMNT pizza puzzle)
The only time it becomes “work” is when I have to get something out quickly. I like to edit at my own pace.
As far as the fan reaction to my content, it’s been mostly positive. I get emails daily from people telling me how much they like my videos and them suggesting things they want to see me review.
MT: We’ve seen video evidence of James’ impressive game collection as well as your equally impressive action figure collection. Are there any games you own or figures James owns or even movies one of your has come across that simple amazed the other?
MM: I was amazed to see that James owned a vhs copy of The Incredible Two Headed Transplant hosted by Grampa Munster since I’m a bit of a Munsters fan.
One day when we were doing a show at the Digital Press gaming store, one thing that amazed the both of us is that we own the exact same brand of black sneakers. Mind blowing isn’t it?
MT: Oh most definitely. Last of all, here’s some general cliché questions to finish things off: favorite game ever? And also favorite movie ever?
MM: My opinion changes a lot, but right now these are the ones I’m feeling
Arcade: Robotron 2084
Atari 2600: Kaboom!
NES: The Legend of Zelda
SNES: A Link To The Past
Genesis: ToeJam and Earl
My favorite movies are
#1 The Universal Horror movies (all of them)
Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985)
Elvis: That’s The Way It Is (1970) original cut
Transformers: The Movie (1986)
Back To The Future (1985)
Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)
MT: Thank you very much from Retrospekt for taking the time out for this interview Mike and we all look forward to where both you and James take the site in the future.