Sam "Underwater" Hatch hails from the green woods of Vernon where men are men and cows are scared. I mean sacred. Over the eons he has indulged in a number of distractions; screenwriting, rocking the six string, scratching the wax and amassing home theater gear being a few of them. Even with all of those distractions, going to the movies still remains his biggest vice. As one half of the Culture Dogs pack, he prides himself on being a lover of both the important art film and your average run-of-the mill blockbuster.
In other words, he's one of those annoying guys who refuses to call Citizen Kane the best film of all time. He'll say that he can enjoy its technical achievements until the (scared) cows come home, but until the story really moves him it'll never reach number one in his book. What a jerk. He'll also point out that he already knows Vertigo is the best film of all time. Okay, so the latter isn't exactly a run-of-the-mill blockbuster, or a blockbuster at all for that matter.
But enough of this character profiling nonsense - let's jump right into the important biography stuff. Sam was born “back in tha day” in lovely Hartford, Connecticut. Fed on a steady diet of drive-in trash and car chase flicks, he eventually experienced Star Wars at the tender age of (almost) five in 1977, and generally freaked out. For many years, he was essentially raised in the first Video Studio stores in those halcyon days of top-loading VCRs and MCA Discovision Laserdisc players. A constant fixture thanks to a parent who worked there, his tiny self would often recommend Apocalypse Now to random video shoppers without batting an eye. An insane parent also allowed that innocent eye (and its identical adjacent neighbour) to view such films as Halloween, Animal House and of course the family friendly A Clockwork Orange. He has since devolved into a deeply, deeply disturbed individual.
By the age of 8 he could tell you that it was Pat Roach who did stuntwork in Raiders of the Lost Ark and played both a sinister Sherpa and the muscular airplane mechanic. On one occasion, he deeply resented his parental unit trying to force him into watching Darby O'Gill and the Little People while a sweet bootleg cassette of Raiders was physically on the same premises. Indy - 1. Darby - Nil. It was also in this time frame that another parental unit took him to see a double feature of O'Gill star Sean Connery (Indy's dad) in a double feature of You Only Live Twice and Thunderball. Once again, he freaked out. He eventually got over his desire to become George Lucas (replaced by new fave David Fincher), but the poor fool still thinks he's James Bond.
So there you have it, the origins of a cinematic basket case. The years rolled by, and on came David Lynch, Terry Gilliam, David Cronenberg, Michael Mann, Krzysztof Kieslowski, John Woo, Dario Argento, that Quentin guy, Tim Burton, John Carpenter, Tom Tykwer, James Cameron, Senor Fincher and a host of other cinematic heroes. His tastes may have progressed (regressed?) or grown more refined, but he still often finds himself lapsing back into that (nearly) five year old punk watching Star Wars in '77. The one who saw Princess Leia on the screen for the first time and voiced out loud for the whole theater's enjoyment: “She's pretty!” The one who will probably deny ever having admitted that.
Kevin O’Toole was born in a small stable somewhere on James Street in Hartford’s Parkville section, but because it was midsummer, no wise men were to be had. In fact, you will usually find that wise men cannot be had. And, much to Kevin’s chagrin, no wise women either.
He attended New Park Avenue School, an aging and decrepit example of Hartford’s educational decay, but was soon shunted off across Greenwood street to Our Lady of Sorrows school, where he soon learned the importance of wearing ties and conforming. Having learned that importance, he went on to learn the importance of not conforming… and didn’t like that much either. After a brief return to New Park Avenue School (following a fourth grade stabbing incident, where one of his fellow inmates at O.L.S. decided to utilize a shiv made out of a number 2 pencil, to poke a hole in Kevin’s left arm), he soon moved on to an advanced education class at Hartford’s Kennelly school, where the main thing that was learned was that the 7th and 8th grade English teacher carried a gun in her purse for no apparent reason.
Somewhere before this time, came his first cinema exposures at the Parkville’s Rivoli theater (Kevin is proud to say that all his childhood schools no longer quite exist; he is sorry to add that neither does the Rivoli). One was a tearful matinee of Charlotte’s Web, which he recalls was “enjoyed” (in that curious way in which cinematic trauma can be said to have been enjoyed) from the balcony (GASP! A BALCONY! SIGH….!). Another would be that Mexican Santa Claus movie that they later played on MST3K.
At around age 12, he was taken by his brother to The Movies, Westfarms (likewise, no longer) to see Jaws, his first ever PG film. Now suitably traumatized, he requested more, and was soon brought to more movies by said brother (the oldest of his brothers, and the second oldest of his six siblings, John). John would take him (in his VW Beetle, blowout comb securely tucked away in his passenger side storgage space) to see Star Wars, Superman, Flash Gordon and the Ralph Bakshi Lord of the Rings, where Kevin had his first good nap in a public movie theater.
When of high school age, young Kevin attended South Catholic High School, which boasted, at his enrollment, internal TV and Radio production studios, where Kevin embarked on his life long love of audio production, until “the man” vetoed his spots during the morning announcements, taking his pronunciation of the word “took” (“tuke”, as in the woolen hat) from his Bob and Doug MacKenzie impersonation as a drug reference. Oi.
High school saw him absorbing some of the wonderful movies of the early eighties, particularly the sci-fi stuff (EMPIRE, MAN, EMPIRE!!!), but also sensitive character drama (ummm…. Short Circuit…?). He also further developed his interest in comic books, especially when he duffed the Habit patrol in his junior year to finish his H.S. carreer at Conard High School in West Hartford (as yet still standing), which put him in bus proximity to the almost ledgendary West Hartford comics shop, the Bookie West (NOW GONE! DAG!).
After an appropriately wasted youth, he tried a bit more schooling (some community college, etc.), and absorbed still more movies, eventually happening upon Liquid Sky. Ah. Liquid Sky.
Having not yet been exposed to the joys/ pain of Edward Wood’s ouevre, he found the low/no budget flick a hoot, a silly, ridiculous piece of androgynous, rock and roll trash fluff. In his youthful ardour for such things, he recommended the film to his sister and future brother in law. The result? A revolted sister and a pissed off future brother in law, who “wanted to punch” Kevin after being subjected to Liquid Sky. It was at that moment that Kevin knew he would talk about movies on a show someday, but that would have to wait some twenty years…
In the meantime, he took such fascinating jobs as cashier and deli clerk, while pursuing sidelines in self-published mini-comics (one issue-collect them all!), and also spent time at Hartford’s Capitol Record Shop (wait… let me guess…. THAT’S RIGHT! NOW CLOSED!), where he ran into some strange folk who happened to work at a radio station at the University of Hartford (John, his eldest brother, had previously sported the station’s sticker on his VW’s bumper, promting Kevin to ask, “Wuh…?”). These folks included Susan (future Ambient Princess, and Psychedelic One), Marky DeLorenzoid, Android a.k.a. Andy Taylor, and Janet Planet (future and past synthesis hostess), all while our man would comb their used record section for cheap Talking Heads, Peter Gabriel and the Police.
Following a painfully stupid furtive attempt to join in the mid-eighties (let’s not go there), our man soon joined the staff of WWUH, beginning in the fall of 1988, when the ledgendary Chattering Mandible himself, Grant Miller, his co-worker from another job, was program director.
After fourteen years (during which he availed himself of the access to the biggest, widest library of music he’s ever seen, and hosted not only his own “Call It Thing” show, but fill-ins in virtually every genre the station offers), he got the bug to produce a movie show, and, urged on by the psychedelic one, and with his buddy Sam (who apparently was raised by a pack of wild 16mm projectors, or something), he began wirting and producing Culture Dogs, a movie show with a special focus on Hartford’s own re-burgeoning cinema scene.
In the summer of 2004, he turned thirty-nine, which I guess jane Smiley defined as two years past “the age of grief.” Of course, we may presume that Jane Smiley reckoned without the release of Gigli in the summer of 2003, which surely redefined that whole “age of grief” notion (at least for Ben Affleck) In the meantime, Culture Dogs continues, expanding just like that blueberry girl in Willy Wonka.
Pretty soon, it will have to be juiced or it will explode!