Glasgow Comedy Festival

DOUBLE TAKE IN OUTER SPACE: Interview with Des Mangan


25 years ago, Australian comedy team Double Take, led by Des Mangan, travelled the world, redubbing old B-movies in a string of sold-out live shows. In 1993, one of their shows was translated to film with the cult comedy Hercules Returns, directed by David Parker.

Next week, for GICF, Matchbox Cineclub present the world premiere screening of Double Take In Outer Space, a newly-restored document of Double Take’s live redub of Italian Star Wars rip-off, Starcrash.

Kate Coventry talked to Des to find out more.

It all seems very loose and almost improvised, but how much preparation and rehearsal would go into the Double Take shows (and Starcrash in particular)? What kind of form would that prep take?

The Double Take shows were all totally scripted by me. Once the script was finished, we would rehearse the whole thing until we could do the show without holding our scripts. You had to be constantly looking at the screen so you could see when a character started talking and when they stopped.

Somebody once described it as the literal definition of the word 'screenplay' - you would sit in a cinema watching this cheesy old movie on the 'screen', while the Double Take team were at the back of the cinemas on microphones performing the 'play' live.

That's not to say we didn't throw in different gags when we were touring the show. Because we were live we could throw in a joke about something that happened in the news that day. You couldn't get a more topical film than that. When was the last time you were at a cinema watching a film and the movie made a joke about something that had only happened hours ago?

 How did you select the films used in the shows?

 I watched a lot of shitty films.

Did random things catch your eye, and just cry out to be used; or were you looking for specific elements to make things work?

 A bit of both really. When watching a film to be used as a potential Double Take it had to have enough bad visual elements - continuity errors, overacting, etc - that you could use to sustain a full length show.

I remember when I did the first Double Take back in 1986, the cinema owner gave me three VHS tapes of bad movies that he knew he could get film prints of. I can still remember the movies. They were Massacre At Central High, Astro Zombies and Three On A Meathook. I told you I watched a lot of shitty films. (BTW, we ended up doing Astro Zombies.)

And that kind of set the tone for future Double Takes. You really want to get two reactions from the audience of a Double Take show - "This is really funny" (hopefully) and "I can't believe someone actually made this crappy film!"

What was it about Starcrash that made it a candidate for the Double Take treatment?

Crappy special effects, stilted acting, bad perms, David Hasselhoff - who could ask for anything more!

Matchbox Cineclub presents Double Take In Outer Space at The Old Hairdressers on Thursday 17 March 2016 at 7pm. Tickets are £4 and are available here.