For those horror host naysayers out there who think that the time honored art is reserved solely for the G-Rated crowd, allow me to give you a fresh perspective. Tucked in the Nevada desert, lurking in the shadows of Las Vegas’ shimmering lights, is a host who could strike fear into the hearts of even the most hardcore horror fan!
Today, of course, is Halloween. As it should happen, our favorite holiday also lands on a Sunday. What a perfect opportunity to step into horror’s chapel and pay a visit to Midnight Massacre Theatre’s Sinister Minister!
Sean Smith, The Sinister Minister, has been hosting movies for the better part of the last decade. An active musician in Vegas’ Rock Metal scene, Smith became “disgusted” with the music business after the demise of his band in 2003. There’s an old adage that states one must “light a candle rather than curse the darkness.” Smith managed to flip conventional wisdom on its ears by choosing instead to embrace the darkness, thereby creating his own inferno.
The demise of Smith’s band afforded him not only a moment of personal reflection, but the opportunity to take his showmanship to a whole new level. An avid fan of horror, it was during a fit of insomnia that he would stumble upon his inspiration. “I was watching TV and happened upon a showing of WHITE ZOMBIE. Unknown to me at the time, I had stumbled into an episode of “Zomboo’s House of Horror Movies,” says Smith. “Instantly delighted, I made the decision to create my own horror show in that little room, lit by the glow of the television set.” While Zomboo had given him the inclination to become a host, he would draw on his experiences in the Metal world in creating his character and developing his show (as we will delve in with much greater detail shortly). As a fan of both Zomboo and The Sinister Minister, I did notice one similarity that I really appreciated.
Just as Zomboo humorously injects himself into his films (adding comedic commentary) so too does The Sinister Minister. In the case of the latter it is through an impressive array of lightning that whisks viewers from the film into the throne room of our kingly host. Sinister’s wit and hilarious comments make for a highly entertaining experience and give even the most common public access film a fresh perspective. He also delivers them with such gusto, it’s all but impossible for the viewer not to get “fired up” themselves.
On Halloween 2003, The Sinister Minister would make his debut! Using a local “haunt” owned by one of his old band managers, his first presentation was the film NIGHTMARE CASTLE. Not having Elvira nor any other local hosts to draw upon from his youth, Smith then went to the delicate task of creating his own sidekicks. Working as a DJ/MC at a Vegas strip club, he had no trouble enlisting the aid of beautiful women, now referred to as “The Altargirls,” to assist him during one of his “Sadistic Sermons.”
The Sinister Minister delighted me by not only presenting movies that appeal to my darker tastes (such as HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY, SEVEN DOORS OF DEATH, and DEVIL’S NIGHTMARE) but also in taking time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions.
DAVE: Just as an initial observation, you appear to look a lot like a certain King Diamond. Is it safe in assuming that he was an influence in the creation of your character?
SINISTER: The connection to my “inner Demon” as I call him is pretty obviously linked to my admiration of bands like “Cradle of Filth,” Dimmu Borgir, Satyricon, and the likes. I am a HUGE Black Metal fan…and there’s obviously an influence from the grandfather himself, King Diamond. Have been a die hard King Diamond fan since I was first introduced to “Mercyful Fate” at the age of 15…the first notes out of King’s mouth on the “Melissa” record sent shivers up my spine and I was hooked ever since! Obviously I took the basic characteristics of the evil Black Metal look and put my own personal twists to it and Voila! The Sinister Minister! That has to be the #1 comment I get from people is that I remind them of King Diamond, which to me is certainly a compliment. So, for those of you who thought that…thanks!
DAVE: But you would credit your inspiration in hosting to Zomboo?
SINISTER: Yes, inspired by Zomboo…well, it’s true…I have a lot of family and friends in Reno so I visit there regularly, I had never heard of him though until I happened upon his show late one Saturday night while unable to sleep. I had already been toying with this idea for a short while, I guess it was fate, I dunno…but as soon as I saw that the version of “White Zombie” that I was watching was indeed a Horror Host show, the Flood ,(or Hell) Gates came crashing open and the whole thing flooded like a torrent into my brain…The show name, the character, the premise, the entire thing pretty much just fell together. Kinda painful, really but hey, it was worth it!
DAVE: As Diamond is an avid Satanist, and your show is developed as a sort of “Black Mass,” would you say that you are also a member of that group?
SINISTER: Yes, the image…I am naturally attracted to the darker aspects of life…always have been as far back as I can remember…Halloween was ALWAYS my favorite Holiday. I loved decorating and wearing the costumes, carving the Pumpkins…the TV specials, just everything! So, when the Minister “possessed” me, so to speak…there was really no other way for him to look, or sound…he kind of just took on a life, or (un- life) of his own. I really never pictured him any different. I want him to take people aback a bit…however, he makes up for his ominous look with his humor. It’s a pretty good balance! As far as Religion, now this is a can of worms that is better left unopened. Let’s just say that I am a spiritual person…I do not agree with nor do I adhere to any one organized religion because religion is a man-made monster, the only civilizations that got it right, as far as I’m concerned is the ancient Pagans. I have done some extensive research into the subject of religion and have attained certain certificates in the field of Anthropology, So I have my outlooks and that’s pretty much that…in fact, I am an ordained Pagan Minister…how bout that? gotta love the internet eh?
DAVE: (Laughs) So do Christian groups ever give you any flak?
SINISTER: I get the religious recruiters at my door now n’ then…If I’m in the talkative mood, I’ll answer the door and lay my spiel on them…they usually leave quickly thereafter. Nothing from Christian groups yet…I guess I haven’t reached that level of popularity as of yet…but hey, I’m still hoping!
DAVE: Well, in terms of popularity, your show has come a long way from that Halloween 2003 show.
SINISTER: I didn’t really actively pursue the show until roughly 2 years later, as I was still dabbling in the world of music, I didn’t fully turn my attention to the MMT til’ Halloween of 2005…Since then I have gotten the MMT aired locally (and briefly….as it was) in Vegas on a small analog station called “KVTE Vegas 35″…a low powered UHF station that only reached a certain area of town, they aired the MMT over the weekends for about 2 years til’ they went defunct. I did, however learn a bit of useful information about the business of TV from them, as well as formed the partnership with the other half of “Dead of Night productions”, Justin Miller, who has done all the Camera work and editing on the MMT since its inception. After that, I moved the whole operation from their studio to the now, “secret location” of the Chap-Hell of Horror! Since then I decided to try my luck in other areas of the country that hadn’t yet seen the show. It was in part due to comments, requests and responses on my MySpace pages and my first version of my own website. So, I started contacting cable access stations all over and many of them were very interested and fortunately, everyone in that field that saw the show, really enjoyed it, and there you have it…15 states and over 40 markets.
DAVE: Tell me a bit about your experiences as a musician.
SINISTER: I spent nearly 20 years in the Vegas music scene…whatever there was of it…Vegas has never really had a “Scene” really, it’s always been a pretty small pool of musicians recycling band after band, it’s unfortunate because there are some really cool and very talented people that are from Vegas and honed locally, but being this is a “tourist town” anything of a local nature gets pushed behind the lure of the neon and glitz that Vegas is so known for. I personally am a Bassist of nearly 25 years. I was a member of a number of bands around here…beginning with “King’s Ransom”, “Legacy”, not to mention my longest running and more successful project, “187” and finally, a short lived project “Blood Runs Cold”. It was during the year or so that I had formed that latter band that “The Midnight Massacre Theatre” was hatched from my dark, cobwebbed mind…It’s needless to say that I was pretty much raised on Metal! In fact, I’ve actually become involved with another project recently. A good friend of mine who is a manager for a haunt company here, “Freakling Bros.” does a really cool thing he calls “Hellvis”, let’s just say his slogan is…”The King ain’t gone…he’s just dead, baby!” So, that’ll be something to watch for!
DAVE: I was impressed when I went to your site and watched a few of your “Sadistic Sermons.” I really liked seeing Lucio Fulci’s HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY. What are your favorite horror films?
SINISTER: Well, obviously Horror films in all their facets, but I am particularly fond of a good psychological Horror film, or any good Vampire, Werewolf or Ghost story. Among my favorite Vampire films will always be the SUBSPECIES series from Full Moon Features. As well as the masterpiece that is Coppola’s DRACULA. Always on the top of my lists. AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON tops my list of Werewolf films…followed by BAD MOON and of course, THE WOLFMAN…original AND the remake. UNDERWORLD: RISE OF THE LYCANS and SKINWALKERS are also on my favs list. AS for the classics, well…ALL the Universal classics, of course…as well as the Hammer series…many great films came from that franchise. I also greatly admire and respect Vincent Price…everything he did was fantastic! If I had to choose one Price film, it would have to be DIARY OF A MADMAN.
DAVE: Just a few days ago you did a “LIVE” horror host show. Since you were a musician, and obviously have no trouble performing in a public venue, do you think this is something you’d like to explore further in the future?
SINISTER: The “Live” show, well this is something I’ve been eagerly wanting to do for at least the last 3 years. This year, it just fell together…”The Black Door” is a relatively new local hot-spot partially owned by Dave Navarro. It has a really cool atmosphere and I already have a couple of friends that work there, so I brought up this idea and they loved it! So, the first “Midnight Massacre Theatre Halloween Hellraiser” happened on Thursday night, Oct 28th at Midnight…The Altargirls and I hosted and showcased this year’s Halloween show. Events like this rarely, if ever happen here, so I’m happy it was successful. I would like to make this a yearly event at the very least, but if there was a demand for more live screenings throughout the year, yes…I would be very interested in doing more of them.
DAVE: So where can potential new fans catch your show?
SINISTER: More recently, The Midnight Massacre Theatre has been picked up by a fast growing, national digital network called “TUFF TV” Which is a sister station to “RETRO TV” and is included now, twice a week on the TUFF TV programming line up, reaching approximately 22 million homes in the country. We are also lurking about on the World Wide Web (of deceit) and can be found at our official “grave” site, www.themmt.com
So…DO come and worship with our congregation of creeps and Diabolical Disciples at the Chap-Hell of Horror!!! Every Saturday night at Midnight AND Sunday night at 1 am as we haunt the airwaves of TUFF TV!!!