Dennis Villelmi: A grave good evening, Miss Midnite; thanks for letting The Bees Are Dead to rest a spell in the Mausoleum and chat a bit with you.
Tell us something of the story of Marlena Midnite, and generally what goes on here in the Midnite Mausoleum.
Marlena Midnite: Well, you know, I live here, with a couple of monsters, a plant and my friend Robyn will drop by from time to time. We watch horrible/ amazing movies and generally get into all sorts of hijinks.
DV: Since the show’s initial television broadcast in 2010, Midnite Mausoleum has grown exponentially. In how many states are you seen now, and by how many stations?
MM: Oh, um, 2… but they are both on the same broadcast station, WQAD News 8 and WQAD MyTV 8-3, so technically one. Before we started our adventure into broadcast TV in 2014, from 2009 to 2013, we were on over 55 public access stations across the US from California to New York so the show became fairly well known across the U.S..
DV: And!… you’ve been recently featured in a Who’s Who of TV horror hostesses, “Vampira and Her Daughters.”(McFarland 12/29/16) Congratulations! How does that feel?
MM: I was pretty excited about it, although, I was just more excited to read the book, there have been SO many female horror hosts but many of them have kind of been buried by time and circumstance, so it was really gratifying that they all got their day in the sun (or moon would be more appropriate, I guess) again.
DV: So typically, you air the horror and sci-fi flicks of yesteryear; did these films inspire you to become a TV horror host?
MM: In part, I suppose, with out my love for them, I doubt I would have known about horror hosting in the first place. However, I think more so that my love of watching movies in general and conversation with others about them probably had more to do with it.
DV: Clearly, there’s always been, and will be, a nostalgia for the oldies; do you think horror today could be lacking something that earlier genre had? What modern horror movie franchises are you a fan of?
MM: There are SO many different types of horror. I really am most grossed out by physical effects, so some times I really miss all that disgusting slime, drool, puss and the like, but computer generated effects are getting better every day. I really enjoy nearly anything with monsters, ghosts or ridiculously fake splatter gore.
DV: Aside from bringing the Mausoleum to life with the antics of you and the other characters, you yourself also have a big hand in the design and construction of the sets. I’m thinking you have rather a rich background in artistry; what else accounts for such versatility on your part?
MM: Thanks and that’s very flattering but I actually don’t really have any background in artistry, I simply do what I need to whether I know how to accomplish it or not. I like making things, so I made the first set of puppets not knowing they would need to last. When I realized we needed new ones, it was off to the internet to watch tutorials and read up on how other people do it, and the rest is mostly trial and error. Ditto for the sets, I looked up how to apply paint to countertops to make them look like faux granite, and then I just applied it on a stupidly large level. I refuse to let not knowing how to do something get in my way of doing it, also I am really stubborn and overly patient, so even if it takes me years, it gets finished, one way or another.
DV: Going into 2017, you’re now taking the show to the online venue as well with “The Midnite Lounge.” No doubt this an exciting addition for you; where did the idea come from, and what can we look forward to with this?
MM: Since we are only on the one local channel now, I felt really bad about our fans who had been there from the beginning not getting to see our show any more, and due to several factors, we can’t/ won’t put the show up online in it’s entirety, so we decided something was better than nothing and decided to jump on the video podcast wagon. We haven’t really gotten into the swing of things there yet, but I think as we get everything running smoothly it will at least be something people everywhere can indulge in. We are working on several other ideas too, but those will roll out as we have time to roll them out.
DV: When not in the Mausoleum, the word is that Marlena Midnite is quite the gardener. Biggest garden in the Iowa hinterland? (Laughs)
MM: Oh no, definitely not, my garden is tiny by most standards, last year it was flooded and a groundhog ate all my potatoes.
DV: Let’s say we’re in a post-apocalyptic future: based on your knowledge, what edible crops would prove most resilient to the end of days?
MM: I would say anything you can store for a long period of time, so like carrots, beets, parsnips, rutabagas? I guess cabbage too if you are into that, or winter type squash. Actually, you could make all those things into soup… I think I might be hungry, now I am craving soup.
DV: As you know, last month the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists advanced the Doomsday Clock to two and a half minutes to midnight. Should we finally reach the midnight hour, what film would Marlena Midnite feature for the existential occasion?
MM: You know, thats really odd, some one else just asked us that question via the mail. I was on the spot then, so I couldn’t think of anything, but now that I have the time, and these are probably going to be unpopular options, but either David Lynch’s Dune (despite all it’s flaws, it is amazing to look at and features several actors and actresses I adore) or even more bizarrely Cat People, because, who doesn’t want to watch sex crazed were-panthers biting off Ed Begley Jr’s arm? Plus, Nastassja Kinski.
DV: Miss Midnite, The Bees will be leaving now, but it’s been a real honor. Perhaps we can visit the Mausoleum again sometime.
MM: Thanks for stopping by!