"I’m the Buckaroo Banzai of independent film," says Chris Gore, referencing the cult ’80s film (The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension) about a character who is an adventurer, surgeon, rock musician and, well, you name it. Typing in "Chris Gore" on the Internet Movie Data Base (imdb.com) brings up a banzai of material: Editor of Film Threat Magazine, writer of numerous books on independent film, co-writer of the upcoming spoof My Big Fat Independent Movie and host of IFC’s foray into "American Idol"-dom, "Ultimate Film Fanatic" — which seems to be Gore himself.
"In the debate round, I would have blown them away. I love to argue about movies," Gore says about the series in which contestants compete in movie trivia and debate. There’s also a battle over which competitors are more obsessed with film, empirically proven by their collection of film memorabilia. In fact, Gore himself has a collection of George Lucas action figures, a shrine to Star Wars, Logan’s Run knick-knacks, an Ultraman made in Japan and a potpourri of other nearly impossible-to-find movie collectibles.
Gore, the perfect pick to host the series (which premiered last month on the IFC channel) acknowledges his similarity with the contestants. "I had been playing the game ‘Ultimate Film Fanatic’ for years and not getting paid," he says, claiming that it was tough not being able to talk to those on the show — the film fanatics vying for the ultimate title being just his cup of limited-edition Jar Jar Juice.
"[Just like these fanatics], I’m interested in anything that has to do with film. A lot of the fanatics don’t have significant others and spend most of their time in the theater, not the gym. It’s my kind of people," he says with a laugh. "To be in love with cinema, you have to make sacrifices — both social and physical."
One wonders where this fanaticism begins … and where’s the bible for film religion?
"Everyone has an epiphany film," explains Gore. "That film that, after seeing it, you look at the world differently and feel differently. That film that makes you want to dedicate your life to cinema. And you may collect memorabilia to keep a piece of the film alive."
For Gore, his epiphany films were two space epics: Lucas’s Star Wars and the 2001: A Space Odyssey re-release he saw when he was 5. That’s correct, just 5 years old.
"I had no idea what it meant — or means now — but I was blown away. I was 5, but I knew it had this deeper meaning. And I left knowing I could not be the same person."
Cut to present time, where Gore and co-writers and fellow fanatics Adam Schwartz and Yoni Berkovits wrote a love letter to the genre of independent film, endearingly titled My Big Fat Independent Movie. The movie debuted at the San Diego Comic-Con to a room full of film geeks who, by their response, seemed to absolutely adore it.
"It spoofs the plots of the great independent films of lately. If you’re a film geek, you’ll love it. If you love independent movies, you’ll get a real kick out of it," Gore says. For example, in the film, Amelie has a love affair with the answering machine from Swingers. It’s appreciating allusions like these that ultimately make you a film fanatic. And if you’re not, can you still appreciate the show?
"It’s great TV, it’s great drama. Everyone has basic movie knowledge. Everyone can speak a bit of Pop Culture-ease," says Gore, who is fluent in it. "I compare it to a sporting event. If you like movies, this is your Super Bowl, your Stanley Cup, your World Series."
Gore can’t end with a sports reference, though.
"It’s Quiz Show without the bad ethics meets Running Man and Rollerball," says Gore, pausing as his film encyclopedia cerebellum scans. "It’s Thunderdome. ‘Two man enter, one man leaves.’ It’s Thunderdome for movies.’"
Catch "Ultimate Film Fanatic" on Friday nights at 10: 30 p.m. on the IFC channel.