Life After Forever Evil
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
Go back to your
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....
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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!"
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 Stormfront.net,
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.
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
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:
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).
I told her, "I wrote this crappy little movie called Forever
LOVE that movie!" she shrieked.
fan can be an unnerving experience.
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.
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.
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?
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
- 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.