The Bad Movie Report

Making A Bad Movie:
My Personal Nightmare


Life After Forever Evil

So. You've just devoted the better part of a year of your life to making a movie. It's about to come out on video. What do you do now?

Sit back and wait for Hollywood to call.

Go to Disney World.

Go back to your day job.

If your choice was (3), congratulations! You have a very good grasp of how the real world works. If you chose (1), then you were me at the time, because, let's face it - all pretensions aside, I'm capable of incredible acts of stupidity and naïveté.

On the day the tape hit the street, make-up head J.C. Matalon and I flew in low and grabbed it up at our local video store (not a BlockWood, I hasten to add), rushed to his home/studio and shoved it in the VCR....

Well. The changes wrought I have gone over in earlier chapters; the original score was completely replaced, subplots excised completely, one scene I considered essential similarly cut (which prevented Reggie's confession of love from coming totally out of left field), and at least one scene left in which caused me to gasp, "and they left that in?". Looping now slightly out of sync, sound effects squashed.

Roger had offered to do the re-edit and re-mix himself, free of charge - what we didn't know was that our movie had become a chip in a brewing power struggle at the distributor, and anyone connected with the original production was locked out. Old story. First time we'd ever been participants in that story, however passive.

The effect was not disastrous. I mean, the studio took clippers to Touch of Evil and it's still a tremendous film (and this is, hopefully, the last time you will hear Forever Evil compared to Touch of Evil). The cuts did go a long way toward shortening the film (of course) and speeding up the pace of events. The original script took place over a year and a half; now, the scale is indeterminate.

And the effects of the release? Negligible. I wrote to various genre magazines, badgering them to review it; got a letter in Fangoria proudly proclaiming Forever Evil to be "a horror movie" (as the current vogue was to declare one's genre offerings to be anything but a horror movie), and made a couple of personal appearances at conventions. All in all, life was not measurably different then as it is now.

I did hear through the grapevine that it was the most successful of United's DTV offerings. I also heard this was due to a massive advertising and support campaign, just in case I was hallucinating that it was due to the movie.

Early in the 90s, one Sunday morning, I got a shock looking over that week's TV Guide, when I saw Forever Evil in the movie listings. Yes, United had sold broadcast rights to the USA Network, and we were to appear on that late-night bastion of modern crap cinema, Up All Night.

I believe I have at least two tapes of Forever Evil on the USA Network. Like most of the other features on that redoubtable program (Nightmare Sisters, Vegas in Space, you know... quality entertainment), Forever Evil was cleansed of what little nudity it had, much of the gore, and all of the profanity. More cuts were made, and though this version of the movie is the most incoherent, it is also the fastest paced, even somewhat enjoyable to my ultra-jaded eyes.

I learned a lot from these various versions. I also always thought I was the toughest critic the movie ever had (well, next to NiGhT oF ThE cReEpS), but then-host Rhonda Shears got in a couple of zingers on me: "I haven't seen this much excitement since Senate subcommittee hearings!" and "I don't know which is going to kill Marc first - Parker Nash or this script!"

It's been a long thirteen years since that day J.C. and I walked into the video store and demanded that freshly minted copy of a movie that bore our names. J.C. And Red Mitchell, the star, have since gone to their rewards - J.C. of a heart attack, Red in an auto accident. I've lost track of many of the people who worked on my little ragamuffin of a movie, but there are some with whom I still keep in touch:

  • Jim Eikner, the other make-up dude ramrodding the FX, alongside J.C., still lives in Memphis. Like J.C., he studied under make-up god Dick Smith and still plies his trade with movies and videos that shoot in that neck of the woods. Jim runs a Website that gives local artists a place to sell their wares at, and has spent a goodly portion of his life trying to get another of my scripts made into a movie.
  • Kent Johnson, who played Alfie the zombie, teaches school during the day and acts in regional theater at night.
  • Charlie Trotter, Lt. Leo Ball, also still acts - a few years ago I had the pleasure of playing Brutus to his Julius Caesar. True to Charlie's usual self-deprecating humor, he referred to himself as "Julius Geezer", and there was at least one assassination scene where Charlie and I slipped on the blood splashed across the stage and we wound up rolling around the floor like it was a John Wayne Western barroom brawl.
  • Diane Johnson, or Holly the revenant, is a licensed physical trainer specializing in the health issues of senior citizens. She and her husband adopted two Russian orphans a few years back, and she's flung herself into the Mommy role with glee. Have I mentioned she was the Best Man at my wedding? She looks pretty good in a tuxedo.
  • Jeff Lane, or Jay as FEphiles know him, went to Seattle, where he worked with several children's theaters, got married, and returned to Houston, where he still works with children's theaters. Presumably he never mentions to them that he was once eaten by the Buick From Hell. He may currently be seen as LZ Bones in thr PBS series Mary Jane's Flip-Flop Shop.
  • Roger Evans continues to ply his trade doing the occasional marketing or training video and some surprising movie restoration work. He also has a business and Website called Moviestuff, which offers low-budget solutions to high-budget problems. I remember being blown away when he saved one educational outfit a ton of money by supplying them with a forced-perspective rocketship instead of an expensive CGI prop. He also finished his first novel a while back, Transit, and it's a damned good read. It would - dare I say it? - make a good low-budget action flick.

And then there's me.

This site should give you a fair idea of what I've been doing the last few years. I've sold one more script (which molders in development hell) and optioned another one - twice - only to have the option lapse. Twice. Been told by an agent that she would never represent anything as poorly written as my script (which would have been devastating had she not been criticizing the script I had sold the day before). And been told by more than one producer that my scripts are just too damned intellectual. But there are a couple more things that are more germane to the subject at hand.

First, several years back, my wife and I spent the summer working a show at a local theme park - Six Flags Astroworld, to be exact. It was a grueling, but overall positive experience; I rather wish I'd had it when I was, say, twenty years old. Five shows a day, six on Saturdays... it's a proletarian grind, and possibly the closest thing to vaudeville I'll have an opportunity to experience in this lifetime. I lost a lot of weight. I also lost a ligament in my left leg, which pretty much ended my dancing career.

I do not offer this information to present one of the many reasons I use a cane, but rather as a backdrop to the following:

One night, we gathered at the house of the show's tech director for a cast get-together complete with barbecue and et cetera - me, my wife, and "the kids" as we referred to them - the rest of the cast were college students (and yes, they referred to us as "Mom" and "Dad"). I was in the kitchen cutting meat when my wife, Lisa, came into the room. "What was the name of that movie you wrote?" she asked. "Ha!" I snorted. "Forever Evil." "You're kidding", said another voice. Standing next to my wife was one of the Characters (meaning she wore the Sylvester the Cat suit in the 100-degree Houston sun).

"No," I told her, "I wrote this crappy little movie called Forever Evil."

"I LOVE that movie!" she shrieked.

The first fan can be an unnerving experience.

Turned out that when she was younger, her parents went out one night and as they lived in one of those apartment complexes with its own video library, she went in search of a scary movie and came home with Forever Evil. She claimed it terrified her. Had to sleep with all the lights on, afraid to get off the couch lest something reach from under the furniture and grab her ankle. She was clutching crosses and holy water until dawn, one can only presume.

Which led to the next get-together happening at my house, with a viewing of the movie, much to my dismay. It was the first time I had watched the movie with a virgin audience in years. The previous viewings had either been with people involved in the production, or hardened convention-goers. There were gasps, "eeeeew"s during the gory parts, and a couple of shrieks. It went a long way toward mellowing my feelings toward the flick.

United has since become VCI, and Forever Evil has gone into subsequent re-printings and these days sports a new box design. Every now and then there is talk of a DVD version with an audio track by myself and Roger, but this has never gotten past the talk stage. I am loathe to encourage anything so provocative as a letter-writing campaign, but if my astute readership chooses to drop the worthies at VCI a line or three hundred, well, who am I to quibble?

Finally, to end this long strange trip as near to the present as possible, a few months ago I got the following e-mail:

If a movie producer came up to you and offered to let you film the story that eventually mutated into FOREVER EVIL and have complete control of the film (i.e., not allowing cutting of the film for "ideal length," script changes, and the other problems that plagued FOREVER EVIL) without studio interference, would you do it or would you not make the film?


The answer - with a short pause to pretend that I am thinking about it - is a resounding Yes!, although, these days, it wouldn't quite be the same story; I'm older and in a different place than when I was a college student banging out that original story on a dinged-up Smith Corona typewriter with a bucket of white-out by my side. I like to think I have a better grasp of story mechanics, character and dialogue. But for all its heartaches, ulcerations, disappointments and setbacks, making Forever Evil was educational - at least one grip referred to it as "a storymaker" - and I still feel the basic story is good and certainly worth telling. There is much I would scrap, but much I would save.

But oh, yes, I would do it all over again. And some day, I will.