Horror hosting has been a long-standing tradition in the horror scene, and with the creation of YouTube, it makes perfect sense that the tradition would continue online. We were fortunate enough to talk with Sir Cophagus, Cody Lambert, a horror host for the YouTube age who runs Sir Cophagus’ Cinetomb. We talk about the origins of the character, sourcing movies to host, and the finer point of making a show.
Let’s see what we dig up, shall we?
Haunted MTL: What was it that started you on the path of Sir Cophagus’ Cinetomb? What was your “I should do this” moment?
Cody Lambert: Oooh… that is a complicated series of events, but long story short, I’ve always been a fan of monster movies ever since I was small. I suppose every child goes through the Dinosaur Phase and wants to learn as much as they can about them, but I wanted to learn how they made the Stop Motion effects work… that sort of Rabbit Holed into wanting to show people these movies and understand why they had this mentality of “No… because it’s old”.
Doug Walker was another big influence, he sort of made me realize that video was the way to get the word out there, especially with the success of Nostalgia Critic a second heavy hitter was MST3K and their ability to not just talk about the movie but also SHOW the movie. That all sort of culminated in wanting to Host these movies myself and finding a way to do that, learning about those who came before me such as Svenghoulie or Vampira, resulted in the birth of Sir Cophagus.
HMTL: I was going to ask about how the character of Sir Cophagus developed, actually. How did you create the character? What influenced that character?
CL: Well actually he is based on “Some Words with a Mummy” which was a satirical short story by Edgar Allen Poe, in which these 18th Century men shoot some electricity into a mummy, and to their surprise, he sits up and starts chastising them for rudely waking him up. He claims he is Count Allamistakeo and the rest of the story is both parties trying to one-up each other on whose civilization is better, with the men of “modern” times winning because the Count had never heard of cough drops. So I took that idea and combined it with essentially every other Mummy trope I could think of – the fez-wearing High Preist, Boris Karloff’s Imhotep being alive for so long that he has gone mad, Kahris being brought to America and getting lost in the deep south, all of that! Then of course you have some “Old Man trying to be Hip and Current… and failing” which I find hilarious.
Basically, the idea is that Sir Cophagus has been alive and aware this entire time and has been tossed from museum to museum until he has now found himself in The Cinetomb where he acts as caretaker to Hollywood’s Past, dusting off the cobwebs from the crypts and finding both forgotten gems as well as utter trash and allowing the viewers to decide if they are a Cult Classic that deserves to be remembered or if they need to be forgotten to time. It’s almost like we missed the first half of a Fish-Out-Of-Water-type story and are now watching him fumble around with the basics of modern technology.
HMTL: That’s really entertaining. The voice you chose for the role definitely gives the impression he spent some time in the British Museum for a while. How important do you think the backstory is to the character? How do you think that works its way into your choices?
CL: Well, I mean… I personally think it does weigh heavy on his decisions or more appropriately his presentation. He is a knowledgeable man who has had many different titles over the centuries, so I think, in his mind, he sees himself as an educator and he is trying to put his best self forward… which would explain why he seems so energetic.
HMTL: How do you go about selecting films for your show? Is there a checklist you work with?
CL: HA!!!! It’s the entirety of the Public Domain!!! Although in terms of order? It’s sort of a train of thought process. “The Monster Walks” features a Gorilla, “Tarzan the Fearless” has Gorillas in it but also a crocodile attack, “Track of the Moonbeast” has a reptilian monster in it that is designed similarly to a crocodile, etc, etc, etc… occasionally it’s just a “hey, two characters with the same name in two different movies.” Like I said, very train of thought.
HMTL: How do you source your Public Domain films?
CL: Thank God for the internet, am I right? There are multiple sources that site Public Domain films and series, so it becomes a matter of cross-referencing.
HMTL: It sounds like a fair amount of research goes into each episode. What is the most surprising thing you discovered in your research for an episode?
CL: Going to reveal this in the episode but…The fact that Buster Crabbe (Flash Gordon) HATED playing Tarzan but enjoyed playing a Tarzan Mockbuster. He actually stated that he thought “Tarzan the Fearless” was the worst adaptation of the character EVER.
CL: That and CUT-AND-PASTE cinema is a thing! Literally where typically Chinese “directors” would buy the rights to multiple films, cut them up, add more scenes with American “actors” which are usually tourists who knew Chinese, and produce multiple films to sell to the International Market… there are even anime that are done like that.
HMTL: What is the filming process like? Anything particularly challenging?
CL: Filming is really odd. I love and hate the camera being stuck in one position. There was a Canadian comedy series called, “Buck Staghorn’s Animal Bites” that played off the idea that the episodes were vlogs, and as such one of the common gags was to have the tripod fail, either by falling or tilting and I really liked that. I straight up stole that idea. I work within the confines of three walls and simply find a new way to adjust the angle. I purposely try and find new camera angles to keep from having a “stagnant” camera. It is one my favorite parts of filming is saying to myself, “does this look right? No? Great!!! Push the button” cause the whole thing is that even though I know how to shoot a scene, Cophagus doesn’t and so I play off of that.
There are days that I wish I had a fourth wall to play off of, but my fourth wall is actually a rabbit cage. Any time you hear Lilian acting up, that’s actually the Rabbit getting mad at how loud I’m being. That’s why those reactions are so genuine. Lillian’s entire presence was born from a ticked-off rabbit who just wanted to go to sleep. Lillian was never going to exist in the original version of the show, yet here she is, and I’m enjoying the idea that this 1,000-year-old mummy is a first-time pet owner.
HMTL: It sounds like Lillian is quite the temperamental actress.
CL: Now that I have an idea of what she looks like in my head, I seriously would love to build an actual Lilian prop or puppet, actually I’ve already started. The first part of her puppet will be in the crossover with Bobby Gammonster.
HMTL: If you had to pick three favorite horror works, be they films, shows, games, books, or a combination, what are your choices and why?
CL: Well… in terms of game I DEMAND that everyone hunt down the board game “Atmosfear.” It is a bit of a rarity these days, but you have a find and play it. In the game you play a legendary monster, you’re timed, you have a host called the Gatekeeper who randomly appears, strange rules, all in all, it is a Top Tier Halloween boardgame.
Movie… movie has to be “White Zombie,” which is almost like a gothic fairytale. For Pete’s Sake, the villain is literally named Murder! Which brings me to one of the best fan theories, which is that Murder Legendre was actually Dracula himself.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula is one of my favorite horror stories and genuinely did frighten me when I read it, although the only thing to trump that would be “The Amityville Horror,” that novel is SO well done, right down to the flies appearing on the bottom corner of the page as they steadily grow in number until they actually appear in the story.
If you are interested in Sir Cophagus’ Cinetomb -and after all, why wouldn’t you be – you can check out the show on YouTube. We’ve even embedded the first episode here for you to enjoy.
If you’re looking for even more Cinetomb, be sure to check out the upcoming events where you’ll find Sir Cophagus.
Please stick with Haunted MTL for future interviews. If you know of someone doing something cool in the horror scene, please let us know in the comments.