Horror/SciFi buffs get ‘Reasonably Reel’

The Reasonably Reel cast of characters gather in Mike Gifford’s home -  among mostly 1980s vintage video games and scads of movie DVDs - to record a recent episode of the podcast. Clockwise from left - David Gifford, Mike Gifford (David’s brother), Steven Francis and Steve Gifford (David and Mike’s Dad).

These are not your run-of-the-mill movie fans.  These folks devour and regurgitate horror and science fiction movie facts like some of those movie creatures dispose of their poor victims.

It is much less messy in Mike Gifford’s basement, where the “Reasonably Reel” cast gathered recently to discuss the merits of Pacific Rim, that giant robot movie directed by Guillermo Del Toro. Their discussion was a lot more serious (and knowledgeable) than your annoying cousin’s habit of going on and on about a movie that you haven’t seen, but wanted to before he started yammering.

They were working on the latest episode of the podcast, perhaps the only one like it in the local area. David Gifford (Mike’s brother from Ironton who is also an online movie reviewer and writes a movie review for The Mountain Echo) and Steven Francis, a Fredericktown resident and the self-proclaimed “adopted” member of the “Reasonably Reel” extended family, were the founders of the podcast, which now has other stations like “The Cast that Dripped Blood.”

If this doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, it should be noted that the other members of the group, David and Mike’s dad, Steve, and Dustin Motley (who was not at this session) look relatively harmless and have jobs; Steven Francis and Steve Gifford work at the prison in Potosi and Mike is employed at US Tool in Farmington. This, despite the fact they all have on-air personaes: Deadite Dave (something from The Evil Dead), stEVIL kinEVIL, Maniac Mike and Magnificent Motley (lovingly referred to as The Dandy).  Steve Francis’ sister Nicole (Nic Nightingale) will sometimes join the commentators. Dad Steve doesn’t have a nickname, referring to himself as the ‘old, dopey guy” (he is actually only 55, but compared with the other guys...).

“Our first podcast was done over Skype with two computers,” said Mike. “David was at his house and I was upstairs right here.”

Nowadays the group gathers around a table with one computer and an omni-directional microphone that captures the interplay with amazing clarity.

“I love horror films and I love podcasts, I love horror podcasts and I thought, ‘Why not do one of our own?’” David explained, adding that he found himself listening to other podcasts and critiquing them. “Horror is always neglected by the mainstream. People generally have a negative idea of the horror genre and the people who view it. There are some horror films that are really very good and there are some classic horror films. I want to make people aware of some of the art in these films.”

They admit, however, that some people don’t quite get it.

“I tell people that everyone is obsessed with watching YouTube videos and listening to audio books,” Francis said. “(A podcast) is much like an audio book, except on a specific subject.”

“It is a lot like an AM radio show,” added Steve Gifford. He may have the best description. The crew decides two weeks in advance what the subject will be and then each person does his or her own research. The actual podcast discussion is fairly free form, something like listening to a family discuss the movies - but with intelligence. The show will be as long, or as short, as the opinions last.

There are also episodes that veer off into those cheesy (sorry, guys!) Jean Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal movies.  At least one of the members has acquired a taste for them and it is group’s stated intent to wade through Steven Seagal’s  entire oeuvre - some 56 films - in future episodes.

However, they get to the recent releases more often such as “Ready, Player One” and “It.”

“We don’t get real serious about this,” David said. “We try to keep it light and have some comedy, although we are sometimes a little bit mean to each other.”

“Movies are our hobby,” added Steve Gifford. “It is what we do.”