Austin and Mike are back and talking THE LAST OF US PART 2 (WARNING FULL OF SPOILERS min6:00 to min14:00), Mike’s inability to play games in a timely fashion, horror’s streaming mecca SHUDDER, and a fantastic talk with owner and President of Fright Rags, our friend Ben Scrivens!!
Austin: What's up guys you're listening to We're Grounded with Austin and Mike and we are sponsored by Death Wish Coffee when I say sponsor I mean fueled by, fueled by death, death. It's not filled, like I mean I am filled with it but...
Mike: Death Wish Coffee, Fueled By Death, you guys can go to deathwishcoffee.com and if you put in the code grounded, you will receive 12% off your order, not 10, not 11, 12% pop it in [crosstalk 00:00:41]
Austin: This is an even number, Mike.
Mike: Why go, let's pick 12, sure. They drew a number out of a hat and 12 was the number. So go to deathwishcoffee.com, pop in grounded into the coupon text area. And you will get 12% off. That's what it's called. [crosstalk 00:01:03].
Austin: It's basically how old we act. We're like 12 so that's why it's 12%, yeah.
Mike: Yeah professional term [crosstalk 00:01:09] text box. So deathwishcoffee.com, grounded, 12% off, get yourself the world's strongest coffee.
Austin: That's right.
Mike: New episode coming up right now.
Mike: Hi everybody welcome to Episode Three of We're Grounded with Austin and Mike. I'm Mike. That's Austin. And yeah, Episode Three. We've done two episodes already. And this is the third hence Episode Three.
Austin: One, two, yeah you're right. That is three. I can't believe we actually... I know we said this at two, and I feel like this is going to just be an ongoing thing like every episode we do. We're like, "Oh my gosh, this is four. This is five." I don't want to get ahead of myself, but you know what I'm saying.
Mike: Yeah. We're not there yet.
Austin: Don't put the cart before the horse.
Mike: That's correct. That's correct. No, I'm just thrilled that we've stuck with this now for three episodes.
Austin: Yeah, I mean, it is... for those that you don't know us. I mean, we have fairly busy lives normally. I mean, pre-pandemic, pre-2020 dumpster fire. Yeah, it was pretty busy. Now it's kind of wide open. And I feel like if this hadn't happened, we would not be three episodes in, we'd be one episode in, maybe, maybe not.
Mike: Yes. We would take on the business model that I know is very successful in the podcast world where you do one episode every year.
Austin: Leave them wanting more.
Mike: Yeah, I'm sure an audience will stick with you. If it's good enough, they'll wait once a year to listen to a podcast.
Austin: Yeah. You just got to pick a good month to drop it in, like a month that like people aren't too busy. You know what I mean? You can't do Halloween, you can't do Christmas time.
Austin: You can't do like [Spring J 00:03:21], like somewhere like in August.
Mike: Yeah, August is a boring-
Austin: Not much going on in August.
Mike: That's a boring month.
Mike: Yeah. So like-
Austin: That's what I'm saying. Yeah, it's a perfect time to drop in an episode except for we're ahead of the game. We've got three episodes. So you know, there you go.
Austin: Happy Anniversary to you. Aw, look at us getting all mushy.
Mike: What's been going on?
Austin: How's it going?
Mike: It's going, it's fine, it's good. Still thriving in our pandemic world. You try and do things that take your mind off of it, but ultimately, there's a lot of things at least in pop culture that put you right back in the mode of experiencing what a pandemic is like. I spent many, many hours in the last several weeks beating and ending The Last of Us Part II.
Austin: Many, many... how many hours was that? How many hours did that take you Mike?
Mike: Oh, it was... Well, because I'm so fast when I play video games. I mean, I just fly through them. It takes me-
Austin: How's Red Dead Redemption going for you?
Mike: I'm getting there. I'm getting there. For those that are not in the inside joke. Austin loaned me Red Dead Redemption II. I think the month it came out, right?
Austin: Oh, yeah. Because I was playing it, and then Spider-Man came out, I think. And so I was like, "Oh, you can borrow it because I haven't finished it yet, but I want to go to Spider-Man right now and then I'll take it." Here we are what? Like a year later-
Mike: Oh, I think it's [crosstalk 00:05:16] long. It's longer than that.
Austin: Has it? Oh, God.
Mike: I think it has been. I think it has been, and I still have not beaten that game. But I will say, you know, I mean, I enjoy the game. They just take me a long time. I fall out of it and then the bad thing about me is if I haven't played it in a while, not only do I forget what the story was, but I forget the controls. I forget how to play it.
Austin: Bro, you should try to be me. So I was playing on Stream for Last of Us, right? And I would bounce back and forth between that and Call of Duty and a bunch of other things on Twitch. And it would every time I get back in there, I would always stop the game right before something pivotal. Like spoiler alerts by the way, for anybody listening to this, we're going to be talking about Last of Us spoiler alert. So there are certain villains in that game that I didn't know about beforehand. And for some reason, I would unknowingly stop before one of them. So when I would come back in the game, and I've got this Call of Duty run and all this stuff going on, the controls are completely different so I'd get back in Last of Us and I would die right away because I'm like... "Ah, ah, run, no use a gun. Oh, wrong button, ah."
Mike: I get mad too. I get so mad. Like if there's a boss level, like there was... In one point of the game, you're in this like... oh, you're in a hospital. Yeah, it was like a trauma center.
Austin: You're talking about the [inaudible 00:06:47].
Mike: Big old demon like, is it the Rat King. They called it the Rat King Demon.
Austin: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Mike: Holy crap, man. Can I tell you, it took me like maybe 30 or 40 tries, and I would just get, just mad. Like my son's next to me, he's laughing, he's laughing so hard because I'm just like emotionally drained by the fact that I cannot beat this thing. And I'll just throw it down like I can't do this right now I got to walk away. And that happened many times on this game.
Mike: But also too, like and I think you and I talked about this earlier the tone of the game is also really heavy.
Austin: Bro, I stopped so many times like I would get to the point where I was just emotionally exhausted. Vanessa, would look at me and she's just like, "Are you okay?" And I'm like, "No, I'm not okay," because there's just so many heavy things that happen from the early death to like a bunch of other things. I don't want to say too much like if you're going to, you know, obviously spoiler alerts. There's some stuff that happens in the game. But from... they set the tone so early on that it just kind of like you either make the decision that you're going to stay with it and keep going, or you just bailed out there, you're like, "Screw this. I'm out. I can't do this."
Mike: Which I think has been the case for a lot of the... I think there's a majority of the hardcore fans that despise this sequel for some of the decisions it made in the story. Yeah, it's tough to talk about... I mean, yeah, let's just talk about it. And if you haven't played it, fast forward, we'll give you a time code for the interview of our guests later on, so you can just fast forward to that if you don't want to hear about this, but we're going to go full tilt because it needs to be talked about. Because the reason why I like it is because of the story decisions that were made.
Mike: But there's a major revelation in the first act of the game where Joel, who was the character you played in the original game, he's killed in the first-
Austin: Yeah, so basically, if you haven't played the first game, Joel is your main character, he's trying to save Ellie. He basically gets introduced this girl who's immune to the plague and she's the last hope for mankind. She's apparently the only one and in the end of the first game, he basically marks everybody in the Firefly camp, which was the opposition like they were the rebel scum there.
Mike: They were the bad guys.
Austin: Yeah, well, they were... Yes and no. They were the good guys and the bad guys. It's just one of those, it depends on your perspective. But so he takes them away and basically chooses to save her instead of saving the world. So then it just ends there and now we pick up in part two and Ellie is older. And it's just with Joel dying everybody thought this game was going to be all about Joel and it turns out, it wasn't and it's not even all about Ellie which is crazy.
Mike: Again, very brave story decision in that. For a majority of the game, you are made to play the person that kills the main character in the first game. You're made to play Abby. And at first you're like, "I don't want to play her. I don't like her. She killed Joel. She left Ellie almost dead." So you're forced to play her.
Austin: Because they set it... and they set it up very like these guys came out of nowhere, they hunted him down, they just cold blooded murdered him. And then through the play you realize all this stuff you start playing as Abby, and you're like, "God, I don't want..." And the gameplay for Abby is so long and you start figuring out that she has basically gone through the same thing that Ellie has.
Austin: So for the fact that Joel killed her dad, and all this stuff happens and then you start to feel sad. And then it's like, it's even worse because when you're playing with Ellie, you murder her friends, and you murder her dog, and you murder all this stuff. And then you play as Abby and then you're like, "Oh, the dog is sweet and the friends are not bad," and then it's just, they just give you these multiple perspectives of things and you're just like, it's just totally your mind is just melted and you don't know how to feel and you're so conflicted. It's like a true horror movie like just from start to finish. And it just, it leaves you unsettled all the way to the end and I love that about it.
Mike: Yeah, I do too. I do too. And I know we are the lesser group of some of the responses to this game. But I honestly think it's very brave of the storytelling too. And it's definitely isn't done a lot where it explicitly shows the consequence to kill them now, sort it out later mentality.
Austin: Yep, because now you have to actually deal with all the actions that you made in the first game, which never happens, you never. Usually, I play Call of Duty. So I just kill people obviously, in that game, and that's the whole point and there's no repercussions of that. I mean, you die, you come back, you die, you come back, whatever. But in this is game you're playing through somebody's life. So you have to deal with the decisions that you made before. And the decisions you made inside that game, the part II which you deal with.
Mike: Yeah, again, the realization that you're playing a character who seemingly was the villain in Act I and all this story develops around the villain that causes you to see their perspective. And ultimately, to your point earlier, it's the exact same perspective we faced in the first game. And that conflict [crosstalk 00:12:32].
Austin: It's basically life.
Mike: Yes. And I know everyone's like [inaudible 00:12:36] are about escape. And yeah, they don't all have to be, and I think that was the... I would love to have been in the room when that creative team was coming up with what the story wanted to be and some of the, how did they want to manipulate the audience while they're playing and what discoveries do they want the audience to take on and be responsible for, as they're playing this game. And discovering that it is all about complete perspective that just because something's evil to you in this viewpoint, it's not necessarily evil to this other person's view and that I think is the very cool dynamic aspect to this game and why it's so dividing of its audience that it makes you have a conscience while you're playing.
Austin: Bro, even something down to something as simple as like Abby was they do that whole thing where Abby was seeing that guy who was married and or was basically having a baby with another girl and there was that whole com... you're like, "God, this guy's an asshole," and then you'd be like, you learn all this stuff you don't understand why Abby is doing this. There's so many things, not justifying it, but it's just there's so many little side things in there because like he ends up dying. There's just... Oh, God, there's so many things. Oh, God, it's going to give me anxiety all over.
Austin: Speaking of anxiety, I finally, finally, finally, finally after you telling me, after you showing me, after me coming over to your house and watching it with you, I finally pulled the trigger on Shutter.
Mike: You've done it.
Austin: I did it. I did it, I'm a big boy now.
Mike: Oh, man can I tell you, so I've been watching Shutter for a long time. Like ever since it... because I mean it was like-
Austin: From the inception.
Mike: Yeah, fear.net was around and then Shutter came along and I've been a customer ever since, it is like the programming they have on there it's just awesome. A lot of this stuff I own already but a lot of their original content they've been producing have just been amazing.
Austin: So far, I think I'm like a couple deep but the pool was the first you were telling me about. I watched that one and Revenge were the two standouts for me. Revenge was one of those ones that you're just like both those movies just gave me anxiety.
Mike: Oh yeah, The Pool. Again, we won't be too spoilery with this.
Austin: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Mike: The Pool is on Shutter right now. So anyone that is subscribing to that, The Pool is something that I recommend. However, if you are, if you do not like movies where... well this is a spoiler I guess. If you're a pet owner, and that's just something that you don't like to see harm come to your fur babies-
Austin: Don't watch The Pool.
Mike: ... don't watch The Pool.
Austin: I lost Vanessa in that movie in the end, I lost her.
Mike: Well, yeah, it's-
Austin: It's you just got to watch it. Go get Shutter, go watch The Pool, go watch Revenge. Actually, Mike you sent me a list and you said that these were the must watches and I have them right here. This is Mike's top 20 for now on Shutter, Revenge, Summer of 84, which I've seen before I love that movie. Tigers Are Not Afraid, Summer Party Massacre, Curse Series, Mandy, Horn War, One Cut of The Dead, Terrified, Mayhem, Bliss, Train to Busan, The Last Drive In with Joe Bob, which is just phenomenal, the series. Briggs, Scream Queen, My Nightmare on Elm Street. Daniel Isn't Real, is it The Theories?
Mike: The Theories, yeah.
Austin: The Burning, Scare Package, Blood Machines and Satanic Panic.
Mike: Yes. All on Shutter right now. Because we were talking about The Pool is basically the pitch, the elevator pitch of The Pool for those that haven't seen it. A gentleman who works in the film industry as a prop master was doing a shoot at a derelict hotel, a music video.
Austin: Olympic size pool.
Mike: Olympic size pool.
Mike: Huge pool. And the next day he's breaking the set down and all the props that he built for the shoot and decides to take a nap on a raft in the pool. What he doesn't know is as they were shutting the hotel back down into its derelict state, they empty the pool. So he's asleep-
Austin: That's not true. He tells him, he says, "Hey, I already started draining the pool. So make sure you're out of there."
Mike: Oh, he does. But he falls asleep.
Austin: He does tell him. Yeah, so he falls asleep.
Mike: So when he wakes up.
Austin: He's just an idiot.
Mike: He's literally when he wakes up he can't get out of the pool. And is stuck basically in a completely empty pool at a derelict hotel in the middle of nowhere.
Austin: Yeah, go watch it.
Mike: And all sorts of things happened. Because it's basically, it's cast, it's like it's like being deserted on a desert island.
Austin: It really is.
Mike: And what are you going to do? Except he's in an Olympic sized pool?
Austin: Especially because it looks like it's set in the Philippines. And I don't know, you don't ever really see how close it is to anything else and the way they make it seem is it looks like it's kind of in the middle of nowhere and if you've ever been to some of the like places over there they're pretty far apart from where the main cities are. So I mean who knows how close he actually is to anyone.
Mike: But basically if you can imagine all the things that could happen that are bad to a guy who is stuck in an Olympic size pool all by himself... well he's not by himself.
Austin: Listen, just don't go to sleep in the pool. You know what I'm saying? Just... but also go watch it.
Mike: Yeah. But again, there are some things in it that if you are incredibly sensitive, it goes there.
Austin: It really does go there. Oh, God... but yeah, so I'm neck deep in Shutter and I'm excited to continue that journey.
Mike: You've got so many great things to watch.
Austin: Oh, God I know.
Mike: Tigers Are Not Afraid is probably one of my favorite films of last year. So it's a horror, it is a drama, it's an art piece as well, in some respects.
Austin: 20 seconds about the movie, go. 20 seconds, spoiler free right now. 20 seconds about that movie spoiler free.
Mike: Tigers Are Not Afraid? No, that's tough. No, it's so much more than 20 seconds. In fact, you shouldn't know anything about it going in.
Austin: Okay, I don't.
Mike: You need to just watch it.
Austin: I don't.
Mike: Because you also hear the title? Like what is it about?
Austin: The Tiger King.
Mike: And that is just part of the mystery.
Austin: Got it.
Mike: No, it's really, really good. I will say maybe in the next episode, our next We're Grounded we should do Caden's summation of Weird Science.
Austin: Okay. Done. Let's do it.
Mike: [crosstalk 00:20:01] the next episode.
Austin: Go Caden. A new segment.
Mike: So next episode gang I've been introducing my son Caden to '80s movies, and also recording his reactions to what he's seeing. And the realization is, is that many films of the 1980s are fairly problematic in today's time.
Austin: And they're just a product of their time.
Mike: Yes. So Weird Science being something that Austin and I love growing up. I show it to my son thinking he's going to love it, and well, you'll hear next episode.
Austin: Yeah. New segment, go Caden.
Mike: Go Caden.
Austin: What else is new man? What else have you got? What's happening?
Mike: I mean, honestly, I don't mean to go back to Last of Us. But the one thing that was interesting about the Last of Us, that hasn't happened to me in a long time that my son made fun of me for was the fact that it's like 10 o'clock at night. And I'm in a major portion of the game and he comes down. He says he's going to bed so he kisses me good night. And I said, "Yeah, I'll be a couple minutes." 3:00 AM it's when I finished the game. Actually, I had no idea was that early in the morning by the time I got done and I haven't done that in years. But it-
Austin: The story just chains together. It's like you just, you think you're closer, and then it just keeps going, and going, and going. I remember there was one point I was playing in it. I was like, "All right, I'm going to get to a stopping point. And I'm gonna stop streaming." I'm going to get to a stopping point, and I'm going to stop..." And I never got to a point where I felt like it was a good point to stop. So it just kept going. Then I ended up playing for like five hours, and I felt like I didn't even make a dent. It's insane. If you haven't played it, make sure you guys check out Last of Us too.
Mike: Yeah, one thing that I did, just a couple of nights ago, I didn't even realize I had not watched the 3D movie at my house in a long time.
Mike: You know I've got a 3D TV.
Mike: I opened up and I had it forever on the shelf and just never got to it. That happens a lot. I've got a lot of unopened Blu-rays on my shelf that slowly, I'm kind of getting to finally. In this case, it was the 3D version of Hitchcock's Dial M for Murder.
Austin: All right.
Mike: Again, I've seen it before, had never seen it in 3D, except I remember at the old Universal Studios Attraction, The Art of Making Movies with Alfred Hitchcock. They showed a snippet of the 3D version of Dial M for Murder and that attraction.
Mike: Because when it was originally shown, it was in 3D. And so they put out an awesome Blu-ray with a 3D version. So I started wearing the glasses, and my son comes downstairs. This is a trend now, I think. My son's telling the old man, here's things that you can do old man. He comes downstairs and says, "You know you can watch that through the VR without the glasses, right?" I'm like, "Huh?"
Austin: Yeah, because it's-
Mike: So for those who don't know-
Austin: ... set to read things in the 3D realm. So that's basically what virtual reality is. It's having the layer there so it's...
Mike: Well, it layers exactly as you would if you're wearing the glasses. But it's in the headset. So I watched the first half in the 3D glasses I was wearing and then watched the back half of the VR headset, which was awesome. It was cool.
Austin: Sometimes, I got I think the last 3D movie, I remember watching the Star Wars ones like that. And then I watched Parana 3D-
Mike: Wait Star Wars is in 3D?
Austin: Your TV. So you can set the way the TV is, you could set things that aren't 3D and you can change them to 3D. So you can change certain movies, you could play video games like that. There's all kinds of stuff.
Mike: Why don't I know this?
Austin: Dude, you should. Come on man, get with the times, Mike. It's not the '80s anymore, Mike. I mean it is but it's not. Dude, I got to show you this. Totally side note. Look what I just got from Mondo.
Mike: You are holding up a beautiful box set of The Avengers score on vinyl.
Austin: Yes, so this is Endgame and Infinity War. So it is a limited release, they only did a certain amount of these, they're sold out, and it's this beautiful box. So you get both gloves. You have The Infinity Gauntlet on one side, the Thanos sword and on the other side you've got the Nano Gauntlet which Tony Stark wore. And then it's got the two different sets with the different artwork inside from the soundtracks from [crosstalk 00:24:34].
Mike: Dude crack one open. Open one up, let's see the inside of one of them.
Austin: I don't want to open it. Do you ever get anxiety... I say anxiety a lot.
Mike: Did I just make you do something you didn't want to do?
Austin: No, I'm just like, "Oh, God." You ever feel like that when you get something in the mail and you're like, "God, I really want to open..." I'm such a collector though, it's hard for me sometimes to open stuff.
Austin: Like I get that like, what if I ruin it? What if later on I want to sell this and I can't sell it because... and then I'm going to call Mike and be like, "This is your fault."
Mike: Your face was priceless. It's like, I look like I asked you to like, give away a family member.
Austin: So there's that.
Mike: Look at that.
Austin: [crosstalk 00:25:16].
Mike: So yeah, so the cover is awesome art of the entire Avengers team. That looks like, the cover looks like when he says, "Avengers Assemble." Is that what it's depicting?
Austin: Yeah, that's what it looks like. It looks like it's the whole set. And then you have Captain America looking at Thanos.
Mike: Yeah, when because that, it's a... is it a trifold? I think it's a trifold.
Austin: Oh, it is. And then it's got them fighting.
Mike: Oh, look at that. Yeah, so that looks like the scene just before he disappears.
Austin: Yeah. So this looks like it's everybody that's in the movie, is what's on here. So that's one, so that's for Infinity War, put this back in here. This is the fold piece. And then on this side-
Mike: So he's breaking up in the next one. Another great piece of art the entire Avengers game.
Austin: I think this is the entire cast. Yep. And then you've got... Oh wow. So you've got Captain America, old Captain America on the bench.
Mike: Oh, no way.
Austin: Then Thanos, and then if you open it up again-
Mike: Oh, it's the final scene with Tony and Thanos. So beautiful piece of art.
Austin: That's insane.
Mike: Hand drawn version of that final moment before Tony says, "I am Iron Man," and does the snap. That's very cool. So that was from Mondo?
Austin: Yeah Mondo, another solid release between Mondo and Waxworks. My bank account is crying, man.
Mike: Speaking of bank accounts, did you happen to get any of the Joe stuff that Fright Rags was selling?
Austin: Oh, my God, dude. So, yeah, for those who don't know Fright Rags hit me hard again. They keep dropping tons of stuff but Jaws was this time. So you ended up getting, and so they brought, they released two different hats. So I have like the classic Jaw's shirt already. So I ended up getting the trucker hat because it had the just him coming out of the water and it matched my shirt so I got that one. I got the Chum Bucket shirts and I got the Drive-Through movies shirt because I really love that one.
Austin: But I know you got the Amityville or the not Amityville, the...
Mike: I got the hat. I just got the... I guess it's called a dad Hat because it's the-
Austin: The dad hat, that's what it's called, yeah.
Mike: Dad hat. So, I got the dad hat.
Austin: It says like Amity Island on it, right?
Mike: Yeah. It's like if you're a resident of Amity that's what it looks like. Oh man, but Fright Rags again they hold that license and they hold so many other horror licenses. Their shirts, socks. I mean all kinds, if you're a horror fan, you already know what Fright Rags is. If you aren't but you like Jaws or you like even Halloween would be like, whether you're a horror fan or not, you know about Halloween. All kinds of awesome licenses and products.
Austin: Dude and even like obscure things that you would never even think about like just random stuff. If it's something that you like, if it's something horror, the odds are you've been to Fright Rugs, because you search for it online and it took you there. That's how I found this shirt.
Mike: Yeah. So that is who we are talking to today. The founder of Fright Rags, Ben Scrivens. He's a very good friend of mine for several years. And he's one of us, man. He's a horror fan. He's-
Austin: One of us, one of us.
Mike: And again, he's been able to take something that he loves and turned it into a really great career. And in something that as a horror fan producing products that are just amazingly well done, and-
Austin: Just phenomenal.
Mike: ... Yeah. So we're going to talk with him about Fright Rags, about his passions, and yeah, and it'll be a fun conversation.
Austin: Let's do it. I'm excited.
Mike: So we'll go to that. So yeah, we'll be right back. I think we've got a couple things we'll have you listen to just prior to hearing our amazing interview with Ben Scrivens from Fright Rags.
Jeff: Wow, I'm not sure how I got here. But this is a really cool podcast. Well, while I'm here, I guess I'll introduce myself I am The Incredible Jeff, the host of Fueled by Deathcast, the weekly podcast from the Deathwish Coffee Company. Each week, I get to talk with a special guest from rock stars to astronauts about what they do, and what fuels their passion because we're all fueled by death. We want to leave this world a little different before we inevitably leave it for good. Follow Fueled by Deathcast on all social media, and subscribe today on iTunes, Spotify, or the Deathwish Coffee Company YouTube page. But for now, let's finish this awesome podcast.
Mike: Ben it's good to see you man.
Ben Scriven: You too man.
Mike: We have not seen each other in person since I think Slashback Video.
Ben Scriven: Yes.
Mike: We happened to be at the same place at the same time.
Ben Scriven: October, 2018.
Austin: So I'm jealous so you guys both got to see Slashback and I didn't. I made it for Evil Dead.
Ben Scriven: Oh, that was cool too.
Austin: I was the only [crosstalk 00:31:32].
Mike: Thank you for doing this, Ben. I know it was last minute and I appreciate you taking the time.
Ben Scriven: Yeah, man. I'm happy to do it.
Mike: How are you?
Ben Scriven: I'm doing well, considering the state of the world. I've been telling people just lately like obviously COVID is a bad thing and so many people that I know and other people have been affected whether it's their jobs, or getting sick, or even dying, a friend of mine from high school passed away from it. It's awful.
Ben Scriven: But weirdly enough, it's been actually kind of a good thing. And I know I hesitate saying the word good because I don't want people to think, "Oh, no, pandemics are great," but it's not. I wouldn't have chosen this. But my schedule was so packed for six months to this year to traveling and all this stuff, and you're just constantly going. I mean, you know what it's like, you have kids, there's obviously work stuff travel, there's... it's everything, it's not just one thing. And then literally, I mean, I was going into this year going, "Oh, my God, just get me to June because I can't, this is so much." And then all of a sudden, everything's gone.
Ben Scriven: And I was like, "Oh, so Saturday, I can just get up whenever I want hang out, or work around the house." It's just, it's, again, I hesitate to use the word, but it's actually been a really good thing and there's been a really good... there's been good parts of it I should say. Business wise, I would have never expected what happened because we've exploded. We are literally up over 50% from last year, which is insane.
Ben Scriven: Yes. So I mean, it's just, and that in and of itself is a good problem to have. But it's still a challenge for all of us because we're still splitting hours at the warehouse, and most of us are still working just from home. And so and we're going into our busiest... I mean, what would normally be our busiest time of year is Q4, I can only expect, I can only imagine what's going to be happening again.
Austin: I mean, you keep releasing stuff, like the Jaws stuff, you guys just dropped and it's going to be over, it's over.
Ben Scriven: I'll tell you, it's stuff like The Jaws that you never know, you just never know what's going to happen. And something like, we kind of thought the Amity hat would do well, it did like way better than expected. The Crusher, I mean, not for nothing, but you can get an unlicensed version of that plenty of places, you don't need to have to get it from us but we are happy to offer it the because we liked it, and we were able to do it on the vintage white, and we were only able to get a few of them, which we try to let people know. And then people were still very, very upset, because we sold out in literally like a minute.
Ben Scriven: But I said, they are coming back. We literally cannot print more right now. We would, we would be running [these things 00:34:16] 24/7, but we can't. So again, you just never know what's going to happen. Even Chum Bucket a design we've had her five years in and out of stock, that sold tremendously well the other day. So I don't know anything is what I'm trying to say.
Mike: But that's also the beautiful part of having your own business and the discovery of how to run it and what are the challenges you're going to face and what are the surprises that are going to occur within that.
Ben Scriven: Exactly.
Mike: But let's back up a little bit because, again, you and I have known each other for a long time, a few years. We haven't been able to talk much but we're definitely aware of each other in our lives.
Ben Scriven: Absolutely, sure.
Mike: But what I'm fascinated with and it's a lot of what this, when Austin and I decided to do this podcast, it really was about you being able to interact with people that we know, that have been able to transform the thing that they love into a career and into something that other people can also love.
Mike: For you starting at, because I know you started as a graphic artist first in your younger days. What drove you to that when you were a kid? What were the things that, you know, why was art and that end of the spectrum, such a passion for you at a young age?
Ben Scriven: I don't, it's weird. Like I just always remember wanting to create and it was, it went from creating my own... like I used to draw my own [Hinman 00:35:44] characters and send them to Mattel to see if I could get them made.
Mike: Do you remember the names of the characters?
Ben Scriven: I don't remember the names. I'll tell you one really quick story though. And I really don't take credit for this, but it was just an amazing coincidence. I would send these drawings in and I finally got letters back saying, "We can't take outside [inaudible 00:36:00]." And I sent one in have a guy that you would put a clock, it was a clock on his chest and you would set the timer. And as soon as it went off, he would break apart like blow up.
Ben Scriven: Well, then they came out with a guy like a year or two later that had little clocks on that you put a little, like a tube on them and he blows apart. Now again, I'm not going to say I invented that, but I thought it was [crosstalk 00:36:23].
Austin: I say I didn't invent it, but I'm just say it's a weird coincidence.
Ben Scriven: I'm not saying I didn't invent it, but I invented it... No I'm just kidding. I mean, I bought them because I thought it was cool. But so I've always drawn, I've always... like I had these manila folders as a kid with lined paper, and each one of them, each manila folder had a title of a novel I wanted to write. I mean, the papers remained blank, but they were ideas.
Ben Scriven: So I've always... I don't know, I don't know what drew me to art initially, because I've just always known like, when I'd read comic books, I'd want to draw those comic books. I'd want to make movies because I saw the movies that I liked. I just, I always wanted to do the things that I liked already, you know what I mean?
Ben Scriven: So I went to school and originally to become a comic book artist and switched to film, and then quit school. And then when I went back, I went to be a graphic artist. And funny enough, nowadays, I get to kind of dabble in all of that stuff. So but I can't remember what maybe... And it's funny because my daughter, she's 13 now, she is just on fire creatively.
Ben Scriven: I mean, she started her own... I helped her start her own business during this whole quarantine thing, but she's just drawing all the time and making, like cooking and like, crafting and doing all this stuff. It's like she's literally like the Tasmanian devil around here. And I'm just like, it's incredible. So I don't know, it's just in the air, I guess.
Austin: Yeah. How did you take all of that, all the things that you dabbled in and then all of a sudden now Fright Rags. How did that transition happen?
Ben Scriven: So it was 2000... so when I had gone back to school, I had to start over and that's when I became a graphic artist. When I graduated, I was already... I don't want to say older but I was like three or four years older than I would have been had I stayed in school. So, I ended up like, "Okay, I got to get a job, my girlfriend and I want to get married and stuff." And she was kind of waiting for me because she had been out of school for a while.
Ben Scriven: And so I got this, a good job. There was a small company, a laptop bag company, and it was great. I was the third person on payroll. So I got to see everything, you know, all the inner workings of the business because my boss sat 15 feet away from me. And I got to take product photography and do ads in all of these things. So I got my hands wet in a lot of stuff. But it was all laptop bags. And after about a year of that it was still a good job, but I was getting... actually it was more, like six months, I was just getting bored. Like, I had time. Again, we weren't married yet. We were living in an apartment. We had lots of free time, which I don't know what that looks like anymore.
Ben Scriven: And so anyway, I was part of these horror forums, like message boards, this is pre MySpace even, you know.
Mike: Oh, yes.
Ben Scriven: You guys know.
Mike: Oh, yes.
Ben Scriven: So I would participate and I was always on these boards of friends [inaudible 00:39:12] became friends of mine like my friend Justin Mayberry who helped form Trick or Treat studios, he became a really good friend of mine because he had this one forum called Night Owl, where he made Michael Myers mask and things like that. And that's the stuff I loved. I wanted a real Michael Myers mask, I wanted to use the mask. And you guys know. I mean I'm just preaching to the choir.
Mike: Oh, yeah.
Ben Scriven: And so I wanted, again, I'm like, "Well, I want to do something cool and creative, and what can I make, and what can I do?" And I started thinking and ideas and I had some very mild experience in screen printing. And I thought, "Well, I've always been drawn to like, weird shirts." I remembered going into a Hills by us in they had a white shirt with just Gilligan's face on it or a shirt with Florence Henderson that said Mom underneath it.
Ben Scriven: I was just always drawn... like even when I went to places like Universal Studios or other places, I always want to make sure I got the right shirt or the right hat, it was right to me, it was only my own weird nast going, "No, that's not right. Because that doesn't look quite right. No I want it to look like that."
Ben Scriven: And I was always particular, and I also realized they never had any horror T-shirts. I had one Anchor Bay Halloween shirt that I think was a promo item. And I didn't even like that because the image was on the back. And I was just like, "No, no, it's not right." So I looked around and I was like, "You know, there's nothing around that really speaks to me at my whatever weird sensibilities." So I thought, "What if I created something." So I thought what about just a blank hockey mask? What about... and that's when I came up with the idea of WW Hockey Mask D, what would Jason do? And I'm like, "Oh, that's funny," because at the time, what would Jesus do was such a big thing.
Ben Scriven: I'm like, "I'd wear that." So anyway, those ideas were kind of almost like the manila folders with my line [crosstalk 00:41:03].
Ben Scriven: But the difference was, I showed them to Justin. And he was like, "Dude, you should put them on my forum." I didn't want to spam his forum with these things. And he actually put them on his message board and people started writing in like, "I would buy that as a shirt. I would buy that as a shirt." And I was like, "Okay." Because I kind of knocked him up on a shirt.
Ben Scriven: So I literally spent a weekend in September, it like Labor Day weekend 2003. I came up with a name, came up with a domain name, or I bought the domain name, hand coded the site, did all this stuff, spent 600 bucks on T-shirts that I thought how am I ever going to make this back? My wife is like... my fiance at the time was like, "We're saving for a wedding. What the hell are you doing spending $600 on boxes of T-shirts?"
Mike: If worse comes to the worst, you can always walk down the aisle in a what would Jason do T-shirt.
Ben Scriven: Everybody at the wedding is getting them, right?
Austin: You could get a shirt.
Ben Scriven: And I've never done anything like before. I'd always had the idea but I've never actually moved it to a point where I would execute on it.
Austin: This was before you could actually go online and like find a company to print the shirts and do all this. I mean, this is like you had to do a lot of legwork to get it to this.
Ben Scriven: Yeah, I mean, to be fair, it's funny you say that because you're right. There was definitely the barriers back then were hire to do something. Now I did use a company, an initial company online to do my shirts. Although the second run I found a guy that lived right around the corner from my work, who did it out of his garage and he did all of our shirts for the first five years.
Ben Scriven: And that was serendipitous. He came into our office because my boss was looking for someone to screenprint and he does it out of his house. And as he was walking by my little cubicle I go, "Hey, you do T-shirts?" He goes, "Yeah." He's like, "My address is this." I'm like, "Oh my God, you're like a stone's throw from here." He's like, "Come over after work, I'll talk to you about it." And then boom.
Ben Scriven: So yeah, I mean, it was definitely a little bit more of a barrier. I remember having to put the buy it now button like HTML, making sure every page had the same link in the same spot. Oh my God. Like these days you can go click, click professional website
Austin: Oh, God tying all the pages together and making sure all like URLs are-
Ben Scriven: [crosstalk 00:43:13] It's giving me like PTSD like I just think about it going, "Oh my God." Your button's off a little bit so when you go back and forth it just shifts, and you're like that's a pixel and you got to move it. And, oh, my God.
Austin: Oh my God. I forgot about that. We just aged ourselves, that's great.
Mike: Yeah we did. The gray hair on my face and my head, it does it already so it's okay. I still have my what would Jason do T-shirt that I bought in that first year you were selling those.
Ben Scriven: That's amazing.
Mike: I still have it. Well, that's an interesting question. There really weren't... at that time, I know you could go to conventions. There were tons of you know silkscreen, screenprint T-shirt at every convention even at that time, but there really wasn't an online access, or at least now there's like, there's so many, there's so many different companies that are producing their own art and creating their own T-shirts.
Mike: So between then and now knowing that you... I think I can say this, you kind of pioneered the horror shirt realm, and now it's exploding into all these other companies. How do you... what's your creative strategy that then turns into a business strategy that keeps yourself still separated from what's out there already?
Ben Scriven: Well, that's a good question. I mean, well, to be fair, when I first started, just to go back to that real quick, [inaudible 00:44:35] was the only one that I knew.
Mike: That's right, yep.
Ben Scriven: I think I only became aware of [Sean 00:44:39] because I was looking... like when I thought of the idea, I went looking for what was out there, and he popped up and I think honestly, my first awareness of him was maybe a little bit with like [inaudible 00:44:47] ads, but I think it really hit home when I looked at his website when I was researching. And I said, "Okay, I get what he's doing. It's just not for me." So that's when I started my own thing.
Ben Scriven: And then weirdly enough within I think month that I started horrorshirts.com started which was started by Sean Clark and Crystal Lake Collectibles which was by a guy by Eric Nash, right? I think that was his name. He started doing this, is literally like and we didn't know each other at the time.
Austin: [crosstalk 00:45:20].
Ben Scriven: I mean, if you look at when the domain names were bought, they were all within a month. So weird, right?
Ben Scriven: But like Crystal Lake Collectibles came and went and then they were gone after few years, Sean obviously blew up doing his own thing with management stuff. So he stopped doing horror shirts long time ago, so and with [inaudible 00:45:36] Sean kept at it, but he was always printing his own stuff, which is totally fine, but I think he was limited in his distribution and things because of you being a one man shop, where I always made it... I made the decision early on. I wanted to sell horror T-shirts. I did not want to physically make horror T-shirts, if that makes sense. Like I didn't want to be the one screenprinting, I want to talk to professionals that do all this but I wanted to curate and coordinate.
Ben Scriven: Now fast forward 17 years pretty much later and you're right. There's a ton of companies now doing a ton of license stuff, a lot of great stuff. So with us we've evolved past just T-shirts. I'm always just trying to think of what would be cool. Like it literally starts with what if we had this. It's like, when we started trading cards, I'm like I love trading cards as a kid, but I wasn't a sports fan. I didn't collect baseball cards, my friends did but I loved the idea. So Garbage Pail Kids or The Jaws II cards or the Batman cards. I've got a ton of Dig Tracy cards and I've never seen the movie, It's still on my watch list.
Austin: Same. I actually have all the Digg Tracy comic cards, like all that stuff I never collected baseball cards.
Ben Scriven: [crosstalk 00:46:46] Marvel comic cards, and those came out, my mind was blown.
Austin: Actually the one sheater that like went together as a photo I was like, "This is insane."
Ben Scriven: And of course Fright Flicks, you know when those were out. So I thought, well, what if we just made our own and made it look like that and I found literally one person In the United States that can do the wax wrappers and all the other stuff. And that's why we started making retro cards. It was like, "What if we had Halloween cards that look like they came out in 1978?" And I'm like, "Oh." And if we as a collective internally go, "Oh my God," then it's like, "We got to make this happen." And so we chase that every day, we're chasing that dragon.
Mike: Yeah, well, and then the, I guess the fun exercise of there's something you really want to do, and there's a brand you really want, but it's not as accessible as you'd like it to be. So there's that quest to get it. I know, for me like for Horror Nights when I was doing that, same mentality. It's like, I'm a fan what would I love to experience? What would I love to walk through? What would I love to fully realize?
Ben Scriven: Absolutely.
Mike: And there are these white whales out there that you're like, "I really want to do that. But it's so far out there and seems so inaccessible." Or like, I'm sure you run into this too, like trying to find the licensers that actually own, to give you the ability to actually license.
Ben Scriven: Totally.
Mike: Especially with the older brands. It's so tough, because those contracts are all over the place.
Ben Scriven: And they got, you know, studios got gobbled up by studios that got gobbled up by studios. I mean, we literally, to give you an example that like when we got our properties with Lionsgate they were all the Vestron titles. And Vestron was its own company back then. But they acquired it from some other company. I don't remember the chain. But they literally said, "All we have are like literal contracts in boxes in a garage somewhere." Like, they have to go through them. And first we weren't allowed to do anything. They're like, "We don't even know what we have." I'm like, "I just spent a lot of money for you to tell me that you don't know what I can do." But we worked it out and everything was fine.
Ben Scriven: But that's, to your point, that's exactly it. I mean, these older movies, it's hard sometimes.
Austin: So how did you go about deciding what properties you're going to chase? Like what white whales, which ones that you grew up with? Which ones did you love, or it was just all over the place.
Ben Scriven: It's kind of an organic process because when I first started out, I did not have any licenses. So I was doing this completely unlicensed like most people. And I knew that wasn't a long term strategy, but I didn't have a business at that point. I mean, I was selling shirts, but I didn't, there was no way I was going to be able... I mean, I didn't quit my job, that other job for five years, you know what I mean? Like I was doing this on off hours at night, early mornings, dragging all my orders into the office to ship from there and then going out at lunch, just to ship international stuffs because I had to hand fill out all the forms, so my entire lunch hours spent doing that. So a lot of that was just me by myself. So obviously, I didn't have money to license.
Ben Scriven: My first license though was I didn't have to spend any money. It's funny. It's actually Sleepaway Camp II, that posters. That's not my poster. I'm just saying that I have it. I talked to the writer, producer and he was very kind and gracious and I was very... like I'm talking within the first year and he gave me a license for no money and we did... we've had it ever since. In fact, he passed away several years ago and he sort of just said, "Hey, there was a fan that put together the DVD, [John Kleisli 00:50:13], but he used to run the site and everything he's like, "Just go through him, he's going to own that now, so just go through him." So that's been the longest licenses we've ever had.
Ben Scriven: But as we moved forward and started getting more traction, it was like, "What can we afford?" And so we got like Toxic Avenger, Trauma was a little bit easier to work with. And then I noticed a friend of mine, well Mike you know him too, Damien from Mezco.
Mike: Oh, yeah.
Ben Scriven: I'd seen the announcement of them getting Mars Attacks. So I contacted Damien, he's like, "Oh no, here's who we talked to." So I contacted Tops and got the license for a limited edition product. And so then it was, I think we got a contact for Evil Dead II, which also lead them to the other properties that company manages. And as we grew revenue wise and business wise we could afford to take on more licenses and those licenses got ever more complex. Because you can get Trauma and then you can get Universal and they're vastly different how they work because Universal is a huge, huge company. They have way bigger requirements. So that was... it was always like you have this master list and you break them up by who owns what and then you try, "Okay Sony owns this crop, what's Sony like to work with? Oh, crap, we can't work with them yet. They're too expensive." And then we work with them now, but like these were all the things that we had to go through.
Mike: [crosstalk 00:51:34] even bundling as well. Like if you know, you got a story that has a couple things you could attach to that's going to be a more efficient contract and a spend.
Ben Scriven: Yes, and some of them do and some of them don't. Like they're big companies that will not bundle and they're big companies that obviously will. Like Universal is a great example. And in fact, and I'm not saying this just because you work there, Mike but Universal is probably one of my favorite companies to work with seriously.
Mike: I agree.
Ben Scriven: For as much as they might be restrictive in some ways in terms of... not restrictive, but like, the requirements they have, because they have a lot of requirements and their manufacturers and things. They still have been amazing partners. And again, listen, we're like, small, small potatoes compared to who they work with, and they treat us so well. That's a really good testament of, because honestly, there's some people that I'm just like, I don't want to ever work with you again. But it's funny, I was thinking about... Halloween is my favorite movie of all time.
Ben Scriven: And funny, I tried getting the license back in 2005. And I was so like, that was the one like, if I could just make Halloween merch. It's all, I mean, it's my dreams have come true. And I wrote Malek Akkad and we started... it's funny, I sent him this folder and this presentation and I had done like 31 Halloween shirts with limited editions. I sent him one, of course, I sent him an unlicensed product. So in retrospect, not a good idea.
Austin: What is this?
Ben Scriven: He like, "Number one, don't ever sell that shirt again." I'm like, "Got it. I understand." We had talks and then I think we were going to get there. And then his dad got killed. I've literally was eating my breakfast watching Today's Show and they brought that up and I was like, "What?" I mean, I literally just emailed Malek I think the day before.
Ben Scriven: So clearly all those talks just went, which I whole heartedly understand. And then years later, when I brought them back up, it took us so many years of almost there and not, almost there and not until 2013 when we got it so that was a good moment.
Mike: But the other thing too, I'm always impressed with Fright Rags in particular, is how fast you are in what is the now. For example, like I imagined too in the position that you're in now having done this for so many years and also being that... again, I can say this, because it's true, the upper echelon in horror merch companies.
Mike: People are coming to you as well. Like you're... well Shutter, like Shutter being this amazing company, this awesome horror Mecca that we have now to be able to gravitate towards. I was impressed with like, I had just watched Scare Package and boom you've got T-shirts right then in there.
Ben Scriven: Well, that was, it's funny, they came to us for that. Well-
Mike: That's awesome.
Ben Scriven: It's so funny about that because people, you know, I was there that night too. And well, the thing about shutter has been great. I mean, it's a weird way that things work. You spend a lot of years and time building relationships and getting to know people and it's like that weird investigative thing on the wall where you're drawing lines to people and stuff. And I think with Scare Package, they came to us. People were actually saying, "Fright Rags, we need a shirt. Fright Rags we need a shirt." That was all over Twitter, like that whole weekend. And I'm like, "What's this movie?" Because I hadn't tuned in right away and things like that. And then I'm, "Oh, yeah, okay." Because I'd seen the artwork and I was like, "Oh, yeah, they're showing that. Okay, cool." And then the writer director contacted us and I'm like, "Well, we should do..." And at first, I was like, I don't know if we could fit this in. We were way busy.
Ben Scriven: And then I'm like, "Wait a minute, we had to move some things around anyways. I'm like, I want to do that poster art and then we can probably with a couple other designs, throw in there with it and see how it goes." But yeah, even like Joe Bob, like, I've known Joe Bob for several years, because we had him up here and [all 00:55:30]. We had him here in Rochester for a screening, and he would hang out with them all again, he's so good, and that, we had started working together. So that is like 2016 that was two years before he even came back on Shutter, you know, he came to Shutter. So with him coming to Shutter and blowing up and I knew one of the producers of the show on Shutter. So like it's just you started, like I know him actually from Trauma when we did our original deals like 10 years ago.
Ben Scriven: So it's the way, it's kind of an incestuous business in a good way, because people know each other and if you're a good partner to work with, and hopefully you've worked with each other and you've got a good rapport, then I'd like to think that that begets other relationships. For me that's been the case.
Mike: Yeah. [crosstalk 00:56:19] Go ahead, Austin.
Austin: No, I was just going to say that it's funny because, once we were talking, I just got a text message. It says, "It's Christmas in July get your request in now." And it's, but here's the thing, these are awesome, because it's just I swear to God. So it's awesome because a lot of times, especially we were talking about how busy we are in our lives before... I mean, obviously, everything has kind of slowed down now. But I traveled five, six days a week and getting text messages, or getting reminders on stuff and the advertiser pop up or any... some obscure thing that I want that pops up on your site, I'm able to actually get in and get it because I don't always surf online and I always stay in tune with my stuff and love that I can get other option of telling me what's new and what's coming out.
Austin: And you guys, to Mike's point, like always, every time something, like if I watched something all of a sudden it's internet's such a weird place, but I'll see ads and like usually it's like Fright Rags right away. It's like, "Hey, check this out, it's coming out..." or I'll get a text message, I'm like, "Oh, my god, I just watched this, this is great. And I can go right there." And it's so cool how all of that works now. But I just I love that. It's not the model, but I just love the ability that we have access to those things, and we're able to get them and now I can go shop my Christmas in July.
Ben Scriven: I'm the same way man, I get the tweets or the messages. And I'm like, "Oh, like Mondo's putting that out." We've had days in the office, we've actually rescheduled our podcast because of a drop that Waxwork is doing because we're literally all at our computer ordering the same thing. And we're [crosstalk 00:57:49] like, "Just ordered it, just got it. Yep, got it." So I mean, we're the same way, like it's no difference.
Mike: What are you, so in the horror realm right now, what are you excited about in the horror realm? Like what are you watching?
Ben Scriven: So during the beginning of quarantine, I watched a lot more movies in the beginning of it mainly because it was still kind of like... well for us it was still like well winter II and that season it was like still cold out. So like as it's summer I love being outside. So if I can be outside as much as I can, so I tend... although I just got an outdoor movie theater setup, so we're going to be doing more outdoor movies. But so I went through like the Amityville Horror entire collection, right? Save for like two of the weirder ones but like the Vinegar Syndrome release and then the first one, whatever release it was, the first three, which I mean, I've seen the original plenty of times but I'd actually never seen two or three and then The Haunted Items series.
Ben Scriven: So I was like, I want to delve into franchise, right? Did all of final destinations because I've never seen them before, right?
Ben Scriven: Same with Insidious, I'd seen Insidious in theaters now I'm trying to go through the whole thing. So I just, I've actually been doing a lot of rewatches. And I think part of it is, if I'm watching a movie, it's usually the weekend, right? Thursday night, Friday night, or maybe Saturday night, and I just burned out sometimes from the week. And [crosstalk 00:59:20] get into a mental space where I'm going to sit down and watch something new. I want to sit down and watch something that I know. And it's like a warm blanket or like that pair of shorts that you like so much. Just like, I just want to put it on and zone out.
Ben Scriven: So, I mean, I've watched plenty of new stuff and have to go back to my letterbox and think about what's new. I mean, even some of the stuff on Joe Bob's watching that, which is always great because he's doing his commentary. So that's just [crosstalk 00:59:48].
Mike: How... and what an amazing era we're in where he's back on TV. We're blessed with his perspective and watching a lot of things that he would never have been able to run when he was doing Monster Vision or his earlier stuff?
Ben Scriven: Yes and no commercials. Like I love that it's a movie and him and then the movie and then him. It makes it hard sometimes because it's like it makes it hard to go to a bathroom or something if there were commercials that would be a good idea but it's just so... you're right like I don't know, I just feel... I can't believe when some people are like, "No good horror comes out now or all blah blah blah." I'm like, do you realize where we're living, like the time that we're living in when older movies are coming back in these restored 4k-
Ben Scriven: Gorgeous I was just watching [crosstalk 01:00:37] the other night. I'm like, "Oh, my God. The artwork, the items you can buy, the product, just the product." I mean 20 years ago seeing Halloween III you were like a pariah. Now if you say you don't like Halloween III because it doesn't have Michael Meyers everyone looks at you and goes, "Dude that conversation ended in 2002." It's okay to like Halloween III now and by the way you can buy a gazillion things for it you know?
Mike: Yes. Yeah, it's become its own universe now which is amazing because you're right it was this black sheep for so, so long. And again if you're the true fan you know Michael Myers is in Halloween III.
Ben Scriven: Technically he is.
Austin: But on top of all that I mean you have Shutter which is pumping out brand new original content nonstop.
Ben Scriven: [crosstalk 01:01:30].
Austin: Stuff that you'll never get access to, stuff that goes to film festivals, like all kinds of stuff and I'm angry because I was late to pull the trigger on it. I hadn't because I had so many between Hulu and Netflix and DC Universe and all these other apps like I was trying to burn through this stuff and I kept putting it off and Mike's like, "You gotta check it out." And then Vanessa went through the summer wean phase and now I'm in the Shutter phase. I'm very excited, man. I've been, I think I'm like 20 deep now and I'm just non stop and it's just [crosstalk 01:02:00].
Ben Scriven: Yeah. I signed up right when it... well, I don't know if it was right when it came out. That was early on, I was thinking to myself, I'm going to sign up for a year. And I'm like, "But these are all movies that I own already." It's like... because I was worried it's just going to be another whatever, like Fear Net was really cool for a while, you know, it was a little different.
Ben Scriven: But like, all these things that come up and then go and you're kind of like... listen, I want everything to succeed. So I'm not like poohing it. It's just sort of like, you just wonder what's going to happen. I'm like, "Okay, well, what's Shutter going to do? Is it just going to be a streaming service for movies I already have? Maybe I don't need it."
Austin: That was my thought too.
Ben Scriven: Yeah. And that was to be fair, a few years ago, like 2016, 2017 or whatever. And then I started noticing some original content, but I feel like in the last two, three years, it really hit the stride. And it's just been really great to watch and see it evolve, especially because they are under a larger company like AMC, and they have, see the kind of freedom it seems like they have is really cool. And it's I think it's a huge asset in the, "horror community." I think It's really for us fans, it is an incredible asset and relatively inexpensive one too.
Mike: Yeah, well, what I really love about not just Shutter but just the accessibility of horror right now for again, items that we never had we were growing up, but like your kids, my kids, like my son will turn 15 in September and like his whole, the whole horror realm only recently in the last two years kind of just completely widened. There still some limits to some of the things that I'll allow him to watch at this time, but those limits are fairly... are a little more broad right now.
Mike: But like just the ability for my son to watch these things that I remember having to really seek out and going to the mom and pop video stores hoping they had the one copy of Toxic Avenger that wasn't rented out constantly because if you knew about it, you were renting it all the time.
Austin: Or waiting for the Drive Through or the Drive In to get it.
Mike: Yeah, but the fact that my kids, your kids, anybody of that younger age right now has all of these amazing pathways to all kinds of different horror and all different levels. That's the really amazing thing right now, and also the horror personalities. The people that are out there right now not only writers directors and or like yourself people that are promoting the brand by giving the fans things they want, but you've also got these amazing just personalities that exists now that are on Twitter and Facebook that have perspectives that challenge some of the things that you've always thought about a certain horror film or a book. There's just so many different things going on right now. It is a Mecca right now, which is so cool.
Ben Scriven: It really is. I envy my kid because like, it's funny, my daughter's not into as much she's going to be 14 later this year, but she doesn't really care about horror. But my son is going to turn 11 next week and I mean, it's so funny, like you said, like, we had to seek this stuff out. And I do think there's something lost with having to hunt. I think there is... and I'm not, I don't want to be like old man get off my lawn, but like I do-
Austin: Get off my lawn.
Ben Scriven: ... I do think there's something to be said for the thrill of the hunt, and going into each video store or trying to track something down whereas if it's all-
Austin: Because it drives the passion.
Ben Scriven: Yes, if it's always there. Like, here's the thing, I literally like that right behind me. I have an entire home theater setup projector. I've got over 1000 Blu-rays of everything. My son can walk in there and like almost I mean, if I let him, he could watch almost, it's at his fingertips and it's just crazy. If I was at 11, I'd be like, "Oh, my God," mind blown, but you're right, we had to go hunting for this stuff, but I almost feel like I wouldn't trade it in some way. Then again, different perspective, it is what it is.
Mike: Well, and also, for us back then there was this also secretive nature to it too. Because it wasn't nearly as heralded as it is now in pop culture. It was this underground.
Austin: I had to wait like that little period of time after school where the bus would drop me off and I knew my parents wouldn't be home for another like two hours. I'd go over to my friend Matt's house and he would sneak into his dad's closet because his dad used to work late and he would pull out videos and we would watch the VHSs that he would have hidden in his closet and I had like a two hour window to watch it because I told you I couldn't watch that stuff. So it was only like that was the only time I got to see it. I would go to the video store and I would pass and I would see the cover or I would see something and I would like write it down. When I got home, I like remember, write it down and then I would tell Matt and he'd like go look for it in his dads... like that was my process of getting it which nowadays you don't have to do that just Apple TV or whatever your poison is.
Ben Scriven: Exactly. That's the thing, people are spoiled and I think there's a little bit... I do think it begets a little bit of the... I don't want to say entitled type of thing, but I just feel like you get sometimes it at least a little bit more whinnyness where I'm just like, "What are you complaining about? We got so much stuff at our fingertips."
Austin: But it's so easy. When it's hard it makes it, it's like, "Urg."
Mike: Well, I know for my son too, I'm constantly reminding him of the things he has at his fingertips that he does, like, "I'll get to it, when I get to it." Because it's always there, you know?
Ben Scriven: Yeah, that's the other thing, yeah.
Austin: He literally the other day I asked him to play Call of Duty, his son with me. I was like, "Yeah, come play Call of Duty." He's like, "Yeah, yeah, I'll come upstairs." And so he gets on the thing and goes, "Dude, there's a download. I'll just play some other time." And I'm like, "It's okay man, just download it." He's like, "Yeah, I'll, do it some other time." And I'm like... I remember when AOL first came out, or like when online first came out, and you'd like have to wait like 10 minutes to login and then downloading anything took like hours. And I was just sitting there and I'm like, "All right, I guess I'm just..." I'm so used to that stuff, it doesn't like bother me. But yeah, he was just like, "I'm done."
Ben Scriven: It's so funny. You said that because real quick story. I remember. I'll never forget this. It was 1995 or '96, '96, and I was on my computer at home and it was, I don't think it was called halloweenmovies.com at the time, but it was definitely one of the official Halloween movie websites. And it was first ever images of the Halloween TV edition. Now, it's so funny because the first time I ever saw Halloween, I was four and it was the network premiere on NBC in 1981. And that's when they had those TV scenes. So I always remembered as a kid thinking, "No, Loomis was in a conference room or some room. No, they were in the asylum. No, it never said they were brother and sister in the first one. Where..." I'm remembering these things. But every time I rented the movie it didn't have them.
Ben Scriven: So it was they had finally done the Laser Discs. So then they had screenshots. So what I'm saying is there was like literally 10 pictures, I clicked the link to go to the website. I went downstairs, had breakfast, got in the shower, [crosstalk 01:09:00] upstairs so they could load. Exactly. I gave myself 25 minutes to see 10 pictures.
Austin: Bro kids don't even know.
Ben Scriven: They don't even know. Dude, but even us though-
Austin: [crosstalk 01:09:12] It's literally like, "Hm, hm, hm." You're like, "Oh, the [crosstalk 01:09:19] so awesome."
Ben Scriven: But even now I'll get on my phone and be like I'll go to website like, "It's not even loading, I'm done."
Austin: This 4K video is taking 20 seconds to load I'm out.
Ben Scriven: It's still buffering.
Mike: It's coming from space, it's coming from space.
Ben Scriven: I'm not exempt here so I can't really complain too much at the same time because I do the same thing sometimes but we remember we know.
Austin: Oh, yeah. It's funny I've been going back like we were talking about going back and watching stuff like I'm watching Shutter, I've been going back and I'm trying to find TV shows that I used to watch and Peacock like they just came out with a whole MVC thing. So I started watching Seaquest DSV. And I haven't watched it in so long and I remember putting it out. I remember watching it back in the day and being so enamored with how beautiful it looked and the and the graphics and everything, and I'm watching it now and I'm like, "This is awful."
Austin: I cannot believe... it looks like, it just it's so crazy how spoiled we are with everything now, watching these things, because I go back and watch it and I was showing it to Vanessa and she goes, "You thought this was futuristic?" I'm like, "It was back in 1993 you shut your mouth."
Mike: And it's Roy Scheider. So everyone stop what you're doing and [crosstalk 01:10:36].
Austin: And he's back in the water and there's no shark. So just calm down okay.
Ben Scriven: That's great.
Austin: [crosstalk 01:10:42] He was phenomenal on that show.
Mike: Ben what are you, you know, you've been with your company for so long. What about it still is that fire and that passion for you even to this day?
Ben Scriven: I think it's honestly it's the thing that was the first that started it all to begin with. It's the connection with people. I'm not joking, like, I'll never forget it. Joe Scaringe was my first customer ever and I remember hitting the button to go live or whatever, I'm telling people on Night Owl and he just happened to be the first person that ordered. And it's a weird thing when you've spent time making something, whether it's designing it yourself, making yourself or at least getting it going and getting it out to the world. And someone on the other end of that is sitting there going, I'm going to give you my money because I want that thing that you made.
Ben Scriven: And I actually still have a folder at the office that's still the first month of orders from PayPal ever. Like I just had them printed out. I never got rid of them, shredded them or anything.
Austin: That's cool.
Ben Scriven: It's just, it's funny because I don't look at individual orders much anymore. It's just not on my shipping team does that and stuff like that. And I don't look at all the customer service emails anymore because I have a couple people to handle that.
Ben Scriven: I mean, I'm in it in sense of if I need to get involved, that's fine. And I know what's going on. I'm on social media all the time checking those comments. But even this morning, I was going through some ordered set with our new website design, I had to figure something out or some glitches. So I had to go through individual orders, checks and things. And it was almost overwhelming. Because I know, I follow obviously, I have to keep track of what we're making and the orders and stuff like that. But when you start looking at individual people and their ordering, and I'm like, "People are out there, and they just want to order our stuff." And it's a small thing, but it's a huge thing. And we don't take that for granted.
Ben Scriven: I mean, believe me there are days, I mean, people, we did not have a lot of happy people the other day with his crew shirt. There was a lot of emails. There was a few hundred emails that Kimmy and Liz had to deal with, those are customer service people. And there's definitely headaches, there's definitely... and it's not like we're sitting here going, "We don't want you to have our shirts." It's [crosstalk 01:13:02] at all. So it's, we want to make everybody happy. And the thing about everyone who works with me is they want the same thing as much as I do. They're not doing it just for a job, they love this stuff.
Ben Scriven: So I think it's just, for as many headaches as it can be on all aspects, it's still that connection to a customer. To know that somebody's out there that wants our stuff so bad that they're willing to get up early, or call in sick or go off to the bathroom and order like that's ridiculous to me. Because I know that feeling as a consumer, I know when I want something really bad and I'll put reminders, and I'll get online and I'm ready. So to have that reciprocated on their end to us, it's unbelievable, man. I can't put that into words what that feels like.
Mike: Yeah, I think that's one of the great things about being, you know, however, each one of us are a little different in our involvement, but being a part of this type of culture and again, the fan culture.
Ben Scriven: Yeah.
Mike: And also being one too, you're not separated from that.
Ben Scriven: Oh, yeah.
Austin: That's the huge thing though is like there's a difference between getting licenses and just putting stuff out because there's a lot of sites to get licensed and put stuff. But when you see like passion behind design and coming out with cool stuff that actually interacts. When you're a fan and you're putting stuff out for other fans, it's awesome because you can tell the difference between those things. Like I found so many cool things, so many obscure things on Fright Rags, and I'm seeing shirts on other sites, but it's just like, "Hey, let's... Here's this IP enjoy [crosstalk 01:14:38] on a shirt." And it's cool to see the passion. You can tell from online, from social media presence all the way down to the website. And I think that's definitely something that drives fans especially in the horror community and just in the nerd community in general.
Ben Scriven: Sometimes I feel like Tom Hanks in Big. You know when he was in his office and he's like doing the stuff and it's like yeah, like I get to make stuff or be involved in making stuff that I want. It's just, seriously like when we can have a hand in creating something that I would have again been that consumer on the computer ordering it when I saw it, it's such a trip man. And like, I'm again, going back I'm just going to keep chasing that dragon because that's what keeps me going and fired up.
Mike: And that's also when you know it's going to work, because you're just excited about it as everyone else, you hope everyone else is.
Ben Scriven: Exactly.
Mike: And we're our own greatest barometer in a certain aspect of that process. One quick thing I want to ask you, because it was something... I totally forgot to ask you this earlier. Your artists, how do you acquire the artists? Are they coming to you? Are you seeing something out there that just that makes you go, "Wow, who drew that I'd love to get them to do this."
Ben Scriven: It's definitely both and we've definitely had people approach us. Justin Osborn, who's been one of our longest regular artists he approached me back in like 2010 I think it was. And he was a pretty young guy at the time. And I just... his stuff was just incredible, so we got him. And then Kyle, he's been doing way more for us the last couple years. I've known him since 2007. And he's done stuff for us intermittently, but I wanted him to come on with us. He was doing stuff for some other companies. I was like, "Hey, if you want to be exclusive with us, let's talk about it, because I'd really like to work with you more." Because I like his style. I'm personally drawn to it, so I like... and his stuff does sell well.
Ben Scriven: And then there's other artists that I'll go, I want to work with that person because they have a specific style. And nowadays, it's weird because it's evolved too like, our collections, especially because we've worked with some of these titles for many years like Halloween, trying to come up with something new every year or every couple of years even. It's still fun and challenging. And it's funny because every time I think what else can we do, we come up with some other idea or we see an artist. I'm like, "Oh, what if they did that," like, "Whoo." And then I'm just excited all over again, even though we can still resell some of the stuff that we've done before, because that stuff still sells well. I want to keep it fresh, you know.
Ben Scriven: So it definitely is a little bit of both. If there's somebody where I'm like, I really want to work with that person. I'll usually shoot an email and see what's going on. But it's funny. We've gotten into a groove over the last maybe year and a half where we've got Justin and Kyle and then we kind of have a rotating other kind of staff, but people whose-
Mike: A pool.
Ben Scriven: Yeah, yeah, exactly. We're like, "Oh, we want to [pool 01:17:40] cover. So we know this person is going to be able to do that." We want this sort of look, we know that person can do it. And again, if it's something different, we're like, "Oh, or maybe I'll see like, that would look good on a shirt. Let's try to contact that person who did that poster," or something like that.
Mike: Yeah. That's wild. Well, Ben, you're you're doing great work. I mean you've got two very loyal customers here for many years.
Ben Scriven: I know. I see your head and feel the hoodie in the background. So I know it's a picture [inaudible 01:18:10].
Mike: You mean here in my real office that's behind me?
Ben Scriven: Yeah. [crosstalk 01:18:16] really there.
Austin: But that's the... you mentioned like trying to come up with something new, that was cool. I've never seen the hat and the whole varsity kind of style for that, I hadn't seen that yet. But I've seen his mask or just like pumpkin or the knot. like you see those things so it's cool to see those different evolutions of that stuff and I am a huge obviously, a Monster Squad fan but like I can't ever find and the stuff that I find is all the same stuff. So when I found this shirt I was like, "Oh," and you have the option to request a reprint which is so awesome because it was out of print. I requested, I got the notification, I ordered it right away and Shaboom.
Ben Scriven: That's amazing.
Austin: Oh, I love it.
Mike: Again, you're doing great work and I know you guys are small, relatively small team.
Ben Scriven: Only seven people, you know.
Mike: Yeah, and I met most of your core team, I think at Slashback.
Ben Scriven: Everybody, you met everybody.
Ben Scriven: That was it.
Austin: It was a team outing.
Mike: There's a lot of, not only respecting what you do but also how you do it. And also then you can tell from having meeting your team there's also a cool family friendship atmosphere too that-
Austin: Oh, yes.
Mike: ... certainly helps being a still a small business, but a business that's worldwide from an online presence. It speaks volumes and yeah, thanks, man. Thanks for being honest with us and talking about Fright Rags.
Ben Scriven: No problem. It's a pleasure, man. I love talking to you guys. It's awesome.
Mike: Yeah. We've got to do this more often. Maybe not recording.
Ben Scriven: Yeah, no, that'd be great man.
Austin: Just nerd out.
Ben Scriven: Yeah, we can dish in some details and whatever.
Austin: I like it.
Mike: Awesome. All right. Well, thanks, Ben. And we'll be right back with a little bit more We're Grounded with Austin and Mike.
Mike: All right, we're back. Great talk with Ben.
Austin: Dude, I love... dude, I love Fright Rags. I love Ben now. That's the first time I've ever met him. Obviously it's virtual. A lot of meetings now are happening virtually, but it was really cool man.
Mike: Ben is a good guy.
Austin: It's cool to hear [crosstalk 01:20:30] story, their journey of how they got there. And I wear the shirts all the time, so it's...
Mike: And it is cool for me like to hear some of the things that he goes through from a licensing standpoint in trying to acquire some of the things that he wants to produce. It's very, very similar to some of the things we've encountered in Horror Nights in the past. So that was really awesome to hear your some similarities there, knowing that we're in the same realm from a horror product standpoint. But he's, he's awesome. And again, his team is like they're like a happy family. Very, very small group of people producing all this great content.
Austin: Which is cool, man. Because you can, it's just like quality control, but it's easier when you know the people you're surrounded with and you trust them and you're doing this, you all love the same thing. It's like the two... you and I like, I know the things you like, you know the things that I like, we know we're here. We know what we're going to get out of this. And it's awesome to be connected to somebody and it's cool to hear his passion through all that. How he enjoys meeting the people because that's, I've now gotten to meet two or three people that I would have never met before and it's cool to hear their journey and just to see how we're all connected in this realm of being grounded. Full circle.
Mike: And I think that's a good place to kind of wrap this episode up my friend. Episode Three in the can, We're Grounded.
Austin: Boom, boom. Yeah, and you know what? Side note, the people, everybody that's listened so far, everybody that sent us any input... like anything about podcasts or said they enjoyed it or hated it or whatever it is you feel about it we appreciate you guys for listening and checking it out [inaudible 01:22:15].
Mike: Yeah, and contact us. Reach out if there's things you want us to talk about or if there's something cool in pop culture that you found that we can talk about on the show, let us know.
Mike: There's a lot of different ways you can contact us obviously we've got our own personal Twitter accounts and Instagram accounts but for the sake of keeping everything organized within the podcast realm-
Austin: Hit them with the tags.
Mike: Yeah, reach us on our official We're Grounded social media links. On Twitter it's @wergroundedpod, that's on Twitter. And then on Instagram, it's grounded_pod. And those are two really great places to, you know, if it's dedicated directly to this podcast and things you want to hear or compliments-
Austin: Yeah, slide into our DMs, tweet us.
Mike: Yeah reach out. That's what this is about. We want that back and forth with people that are listening and hopefully enjoying this podcast.
Austin: Yeah, because it's not just the two of us. It's all you guys too. So we want to, you know, we're all grounded together. We're all in this together not to sound super cliche, but yeah, so we want to hear from you guys. And also don't forget to go to deathwishcoffee.com and use the code grounded to get your 12% from us to you to get fueled by death, please.
Mike: Yeah. You can also find all of the episodes on deathwishcoffee.com as well. You hit the Explore tab, you'll see a drop down and We're Grounded is right there in the drop down. Click that and you'll see all of the prior episodes. You can also find all the links to our Apple podcast and Spotify.
Austin: Make sure you get on iTunes and subscribe and also on Spotify, wherever you listen, we're available now. We appreciate you guys.
Mike: Absolutely. And Austin, thanks, man. This was fun.
Austin: Thank you, Mike. I appreciate you, man.
Mike: I appreciate you.
Austin: I want that other hoodie you got in the back since you got two of them. I want it.
Mike: Oh, you mean in this real background I'm in right now of my office?
Austin: That's weird. You have two of them [inaudible 01:24:28]. All right guys, we'll catch you next month. Thank you for listening to We're Grounded with Austin and Mike. We'll catch you next time.
Mike: All right.
Jeff: This has been We're Grounded with Austin and Mike. A Deathwish Coffee Company podcast production. As always drink deep and thanks for listening.