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Critical Collaborators: Dustin Barnes (Laserdicks Reviews)

August 29, 2011

Dustin Barnes on Dustin Barnes:

 

M.A. Moreno on Dustin Barnes:

As evidenced by the video above, Dustin Barnes had to overcome a major disadvantage in his filmmaking career. Naturally born with a voice that resembled that of a chipmunk, Barnes had to fight for the respect that he earned. He often chose to manipulate his voice in post-production to sound normal, as he did with our review series, but I think that there is something to be appreciated in his natural tone.

Barnes’s professional career began as a self-declared gonzo journalist in the blip-on-a-map known as Morrilton, Arkansas, following in the path set forth by his idol, Raoul Duke. With a Jack Kerouac novel ever resting on the dashboard of his antique convertible, Barnes explored the Natural State and reported on some of its more bizarre offerings. A friend from the region, actress Elizabeth Gracen, convinced him to turn his efforts from the written word to video journalism, and his modern on-screen persona was born.

I first met Dustin Barnes at a film festival in Port City, New Jersey. I was on the judicial committee for the Short Film Award of that year (2005), and I was quite impressed with the entry that he submitted: a bizarre travelogue set largely in a small Arkansas college town entitled Fear and Loathing in Russ Vegas. The short piece impressed me so much that I decided to propose an eventual collaboration with this young man, a la Roger Ebert and Russ Meyer. We promised to keep in touch.

Two years later, we met again at a Laserdisc Appreciation Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah, and he expressed an interest in online movie reviews. Since my wife and I had already separated at the time, I had lost interest in pursuing Cine-Cool Reviews any longer, but his suggestion of a retrospective series covering the laserdisc releases of well-beloved films quite intrigued me. The initial name we conceived for the series was Moreno & Barnes at the Movies: Laserdiscs in Review, but during the filming of the first episode, he decided to dub the show with the far more dubious name Laserdicks Reviews.

I initially resisted the title, but I discovered that the young hipsters on the Internet quite took to the lewd name. As such, I stuck with it until the unfortunate cancellation of the series. Whether or not Laserdicks Reviews would still live on today had I not accidentally stumbled into the home of Claymore Cutlass via temporal warp can never be known for sure, but I will always hold a special place in my heart for this exciting series and my old collaborator, Dustin Barnes. As will those who have snubbed all of my subsequent online series, I suppose…

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