I almost don't want to write an intro to this post, as the subsequent entries are pretty powerful, and difficult to preface.
Phil is leaving us today. Tomorrow, he'll no longer be part of the BMD staff, instead exiting to head up the revival of Fangoria as Editor-In-Chief of the magazine and brand director. That's a huge honor and responsibility (as Phil outlined himself here), and we wish him the very best of luck (which, to be honest, he won't need due to being an overflowing fountain of talent and work ethic). But man, we're gonna miss him behind the scenes. Beyond being an incredible writer, he's just the greatest fucking person; a rock of support through good times and bad. That's invaluable to any team, especially a squad that was once as tight knit as Birth.Movies.Death.
Yet the show must go on, but not without a few teary (not to mention snarky) send-offs from the rest of us. Because Phil touched our lives in truly profound, unique ways. He's sincerely the "best of us", and boy, you don't ever replace that. Then again, we all know we won't have to. Because he'll always be a phone call or (especially in Scott's case) a ball-breaking @ away, just waiting to bestow whatever wise weirdness he thinks will help us out in that specific moment.
Unless it's about Pop-Tarts, because he's a fucking dunce in that classroom...
I met Phil in 2012 at my first Fantastic Fest, which is where I met pretty much every knucklehead I currently consider a friend. Even though I was a stranger - and not just a simple stranger, but kind of a bizarre stranger at the time - Phil shared his hotel room with me. The more I got to know Phil, the more I realized what a kind gesture that was from him. Over the course of that week, we basically became inseparable.
One time, when I lived in Minneapolis, my heater broke in the dead of winter, and Phil mailed me a lovely portable radiator. I once told him I was interested in re-watching Casino Royale, and suddenly a copy of the film appeared in my mailbox. He also gave me Chappie once for my birthday, but I didn’t take it personally.
The point is: Phil is generous and classy, and I adore him. He’s always been here, and I’m still surprised he’s not going to be here any longer. The podcast was pretty much dead, but now it’s super dead, and I’ll miss having that excuse to just openly talk about movies with someone who knows so much, and can share all those great perspectives on cinema. Such a waste to lose all that knowledge. R.I.P. Phil. Taken too soon.
Also, frosted or unfrosted, Pop-Tarts are trash.
Here's something you might not know about me: I'm an only child. Only children are everything their reputation suggests - spoiled, weird, either overly social or profoundly withdrawn, untethered from the competitive dynamic that underpins the lives of most people who grew up trying to outdo their siblings. They are also, in my humble opinion, inherently lonely people. The most social of us surround ourselves with casual acquaintances and associates. But at the end of the day, we still don't have that bond that so many other people have.
Being an only child is both a blessing and a curse, in other words. For me, it's long been a curse. But in Birth.Movies.Death., I found a crew that feels a lot like family. And if this unruly party of weirdos is to be my family, then Phil Nobile Jr. will always be my big brother.
Over the course of the past five years, Phil has been many things under the Big Brother umbrella. He's been my confessional booth, my consigliere, my shoulder to cry on, my life coach (I frequently disregard his sage and constructive advice, which is why Phil will tell you I have a "death wish"), my partner in crime, my sounding board for terrible ideas, and - my personal favorite - a friend I can mercilessly drag on Twitter without worrying about him taking it to heart. Phil returns fire in kind, and so it goes. Sniping at one another is the bedrock of me and Phil's friendship, and I wouldn't have it any other way (I would also not try and replicate this sort of friendship with anyone else, because Phil is truly one of a kind).
Today, Phil - who we often accuse of being "the best of us" - is moving on, and in the process he's all but proven us right: Phil's been selected to be the Editor-in-Chief of the soon-to-be-relaunched Fangoria magazine, where his fastidious (read: fussy and cowardly) attention to detail and known love of the horror genre all but guarantees this relaunch will be a success. Literally none of us could do this job, but Phil will absolutely crush it. I am deeply sad to be losing him from the day-to-day operations here at BMD, and I will miss the truly epic amount of shit-talking that occurred between the two of us on BMD Slack, but those feelings pale in comparison to how proud I am of my brother, and how certain I am that he will succeed.
You done good, dumbass. Now get out there and make us proud.
We all have our favourite things about Phil Nobile Jr. There’s a lot to like. But honestly, it’s hard for me to pick a specific experience; as trite as it sounds, I’d just like to talk about what an overall quality human being Phil is.
In my experience, Phil Nobile Jr. is the very model of a modern gentleman. He's a man who will go out of his way to make his colleagues feel welcome and appreciated; whose quiet, confident, attentive manner fits into large social occasions as snugly as it does into personal one-on-one chats; who, upon hearing you're visiting his town, takes you out not just to lunch but to a restaurant that was once a major location in an M. Night Shyamalan movie.
These qualities - not to mention his smart, crisp writing - are all admirable, but my favourite thing about Phil is his openness towards change and new ideas. Phil has always been keen to hear and learn about perspectives different to his, taking every opportunity to seek out and amplify new voices. There’s little I respect more in people than self-awareness, and Phil possesses that in spades. It feels weird to call someone “mature,” but Phil’s willingness to continue maturing - treating it as a process rather than a state - fits that description perfectly. In that respect, he’s a role model for us all.
There’s no doubt in my mind that Fangoria will benefit from Phil’s intellect, style, and curiosity. I’m as excited to see what he does there as I am sad to see him leave us here at BMD. Gonna miss you, Phil. Can't wait to see what you create.
I often joke that my superpower is not caring about what random people say on the internet. Up until earlier this year, there wasn’t a thing some jerk in a comments section could say that would shake me or make me upset. After writing a news post that revolved around a subject matter fairly personal to me, one comment came out of the blue that knocked the wind out of me, and I wasn’t sure how to reconcile with how it made me feel or how bring it up. But it turned out I didn’t have to.
The BMD staff communicates in snark almost all of the time. We collectively poke at one another constantly, but the moment something gets real this little group of largely different people snaps together as one unit faster than you can blink. I didn’t have to say a word about the comment before Phil was checking in to make sure I was okay and trying to make me laugh. It was a small thing that I’m sure he hasn’t thought of since that day, but it both meant a lot to me and speaks volumes about the type of person our Editor-at-Large is.
Phil’s the type of guy that will get murder eyes if you give the Lyft driver the wrong directions to the breakfast joint you’re trying to get to at two o’clock in the morning, then try to understand what led up to that event so it can be avoided in the future. In that instance, the answer might have been “don’t invite the new people to you and Evan’s Fantastic Fest midnight breakfast joint”, but that personality trait carries over into other aspects of his life as well. He may not agree with you, but he’ll always take the time to try to sort out why you may feel the way you do. You might get dragged just the tiniest bit, but he’ll still be listening to your points to see if there’s something he can learn from the situation, or a way that he can be more inclusive the next time.
Those traits (and his superb Pop-Tart opinions) are what are going to make him the perfect Editor-In-Chief for Fangoria. He knows how to curate a diverse set of voices, and make all of them confident enough to shine while still making sure there’s a laugh or two thrown into the mix. His writers may not always get their way, but they will always be heard, and there are few things more important in a leader. Phil Nobile Jr. has a huge task in front of him, but there isn’t a doubt in my mind that he will absolutely kill it in his new gig. May your Topo Chicos be plentiful, and your snack channel thrive, my friend.
I have never had the pleasure of actually meeting Phil in person. To me, Phil has always been text on a screen, either through instant messenger or his excellent articles, but it's hard to overstate just how much of an impact he has had on my life. I've had my share of struggles breaking into any sort of success at this whole business of being a film writer, but Phil was one of the biggest sources of support I've ever had the fortune of meeting.
Whether through the inane ramblings he let me publish through "Say Something Nice", or his continual pushes for me to become more involved at BMD, Phil is easily one of the people whom I will always give the most credit for encouraging in me the confidence and providing the advocacy for me to make it as a writer. It's bittersweet to be joining the BMD crew just as he is leaving, but I know he's going to do amazing things with Fangoria. He is a warm, supportive, open-minded man whom I think of as a lifelong friend, even if we've really only seen each other represented as text on a screen. I'm coming for you at Fantastic Fest this year, Phil, and I am giving you the biggest damn hug I'm physically able.
Phil Nobile, Jr. once sent me a text demanding that I turn on Lifetime. 'Cause Phil is the type of guy who lets a lifelong fan of The Lost Boys know when something like A Tale of Two Coreys is on TV. While he may be revered as BMD's "Bond Guy", it was his horror and personal editorials that first captured my attention. Phil was one of the first writers here that I admired, so much that I felt compelled to speak to him about his work. It's thanks to his encouragement and support that I'm here writing for this site. After meeting and hanging out together at many Fantastic Fests over the years – I will always regret being too drunk to try those unfrosted Pop-Tarts – he has become one of my favorite people and I am grateful to call him my friend.
Phil's always been there to put sad goodbyes into words for the rest of us, but I guess we're on our own with this one. You will be greatly missed around here, my friend, but Fangoria has truly found the best man for the job. I can't wait to watch the whole damn world discover and admire your work. In the meantime, feel free to text me day or night with any more sweet updates on the Coreys. xoxo
James Emanuel Shapiro
Since I'm new, I feel like an outsider with Birth.Movies.Death. I've just moved to Austin, and I knew a lot of the BMD crew thanks to some crossover with my work in Drafthouse Films, so it was easy for me to slide into a social routine with the ones based in Austin, 'cause I needed buddies to watch movies with and they've allowed me into their circle little-by-little. In short, I'm still getting to know everyone.
Phil's not in Austin, but I felt like I knew him better than any of the other regulars before I moved to ATX. Why? Well, Phil wrote this incredibly moving and honest piece about his father taking him to James Bond movies while he was growing up. and how he viewed those films following his dad's death. His writing here was so personal and so honest and he was connecting it to a franchise I've long adored. I guess I felt someone writing something like this that was clearly so close to him and how he sees himself; I admired that a great deal. I always liked Phil's writing and his insights. BMD is a cast of characters with a ton of strong personalities, but for whatever reason, Phil and his writing always struck me as the scholarly one. It probably has to do with his writings coming from angles that were different from others at BMD. I guess I should clarify - everyone at BMD is coming from a different perspective - but Phil's didn't feel rooted in what I tend to think of "internet film writing and criticism". So, when he wrote something that was this personal - this human - it was something to truly enjoy.
Now, it's my father who's slowing sliding towards the infinite. I try to see him more often now and try not to get into stupid arguments about things that really don't matter. But occasionally I think about the stuff I shared with my father, and what I'd write about him in the context of things we did together that were bigger than both of us. That makes me feel sad, but also lucky 'cause I'll have those things after he's gone, and I can thank Phil for helping me think this way.
Good luck with your adventures at Fangoria, Phil!
I've known Phil from a time before BMD, as he directed a Halloween documentary and featured me in it as a "film historian", a title I probably do not deserve but have embraced in jest over these past eight years. Obviously, the quickest way for me to like someone is for them to demonstrate an affinity for the Halloween films, so the fact that he was directing a tribute to them quickly put him in my "cool" book. I was delighted when he joined me as one of the original lineup of contributors to the site back in its Badass Digest days, and as a fan of ribbing and ball-busting, I can honestly say there are few people on the planet I enjoy trading (loving!) barbs with as much as I do Phil, especially when it comes to his abhorrent taste in Pop-Tarts.
But my absolute favorite memory of the man and our time together as colleagues was not about a film or bit of news - it was when he went out of his way in Austin during a Fantastic Fest to make sure I had some Dunkin Donuts waiting for me when I arrived a day later. You see, this was before we had them in Los Angeles, and as a former Bostonian, I probably formed a chemical dependency on the damn things, and I was hoping to just beg someone to drive me there. Phil instead decided on his own to make the trip and bring some back, and if you've ever been to Fantastic Fest (or any fest, really) you know that going off site for any reason means sacrificing an event or screening, so doing this for me was a true act of kindness. This selfless maneuver was matched only by the time a few years later when I arrived late to the festival and someone paid for a taxi to come collect me and bring me to a gathering of my friends.
Wait, that was Phil too.
Look, the guy's a damn saint is what I'm saying, and as my longest-running comrade in arms here at BMD, I am particularly sad to see him go. But like any good horror fan, I've been wanting to see Fangoria revived, and I can't think of a more committed and genuine lover of the genre to do it. We've had the better part of a decade to let Phil improve the quality of our brand - time to let someone else benefit from his skills.
Human beings are born incomplete. Sure, we have our families around - who raise and care for us - when we enter this world. Yet it's the individuals we meet along our own path that truly complete who we are as people. It sounds incredibly corny, but think about how something would always feel like it was missing if not for that best friend or close work colleague, with whom you share daily jokes, minutiae, frustrations, triumphs, tragedies, recipes (for food or disaster), sex stories, drug stories, sobriety struggles, relationship woes, and everything else in-between. A single person doesn't fill this void; for most, it's a collection that's located few and far between. The special ones, who are with you every day forward from the instant you discover one another.
Phil helps complete me in a weird way. He has since the moment I met him - at a rep screening years ago - and he always will, until I'm cold and in the ground, and there's just no more. Before BMD or Badass Digest, we passively knew each other from the CHUD message boards. Then it was from the Philly film scene, where we'd see each other at Exhumed screenings (Ex-Fest for life, motherfucker). We'd meet up at horror conventions in Cherry Hill, and he introduced me to an assortment of individuals - including a strange, friendly man who carried around binders of photos he'd taken with literally hundreds (or maybe even thousands) of celebrities throughout the years. After helping produce a particularly hard shoot - profiling Philadelphia serial rapist and torturer Gary Heidnik - I met up with Phil at a New Jersey bar, and I saw how profoundly shaken he was after having spent hours with would-be victims who escaped this madman's clutches. To blow off steam, we went and watched weird ass exploitation movies at his house, where he introduced me to character actors like Timoth Carey. It's just a comfortable wavelength I've never shared with another human, before or after.
Then, a piece of Phil's writing helped save my life. When my wife of eight years left me, I wasn't sure how I was going to continue on. My mind went to dark places, and I quit drinking for a spell, because I no longer trusted myself. Thankfully, Fantastic Fest occurred immediately after the split, and Phil helped me navigate a bar without a drink ("always have something in your hand, even if it's club soda"), and was constantly checking in to make sure I was having a good time. This followed a string of unsolicited texts leading up to the annual event, mind you; some as quick and simple as "doing OK today?"
By this point, I'd moved from the Philadelphia area to Austin, and felt all alone when the woman who'd made the journey with me suddenly decided she wanted no part of a life together any longer. Yet, from over a thousand miles away, Phil made sure I knew someone cared. It was personal comfort that combined with his piece on David Cronenberg's The Fly (titled "I'll Hurt You If You Stay"), detailing the Canadian auteur's fascination with change, and how we as human beings are always evolving and transforming. There was wisdom there, and it's still some of my all-time favorite film writing (that I revisit once a year), as Phil transmuted a cinematic text into a personal examination regarding faith and love that I required at that exact moment.
Phil may be leaving BMD, but I know this odd wavelength will remain, no matter where either of us live or work. He'll always be a phone call or text away, despite his absence from the BMD Slack channel. I'll look forward to seeing him at festivals (the best parts of my year, honestly), and sharing opinions on whatever the hell we just saw. I'll still bug him to send me my Night Warning DVD back (which he's now kept longer than my Lifeforce Blu-ray), and he'll probably still surprise me with incredibly thoughtful gifts on my birthday (the man's bought me more original De Palma one sheets than I have room on my walls for). Because you're only gifted a few of these types of folks during your lifetime, and you gotta hold on to their thoughtfulness, their talent, and their kindness, regardless of whatever changes life brings. To boil it down to a silly comparison to one of our shared favorites: he'll always be Major Charles Rane, and I'll always be Johnny Vohden. Whenever he needs me, I'll just get my gear.