The Bad Movie Report
Making A Bad Movie:
My Personal Nightmare


Tales From the Set

One of the most damning things about getting older (besides having no idea what is going on in the World of Popular Music) is the way that memories from your childhood are crystal clear, yet you have no idea what happened to you last week. That's not a particularly astounding revelation, but I offer it as explanation of why things will be getting a bit choppy here. I'm not the type that keeps journals or diaries (Samuel Pepys is just too big an act to follow), so I'm relying on an increasingly faulty memory.

Besides... "tales from the set"? I gave myself an out for the episodic nature of what follows. The next three chapters will encompass the movie up through the first massacre. More on this later. This sequence, although first in the movie, was not filmed first... as I recall, this was done in the second week.

Principal photography took place in January and February of 1987, and we were blessed by one of the most temperate winters in Texas history, only recently surpassed by our last, El Nino-warmed winter. We arrived at The Cabin, early one morning. The Cabin was owned by some gas company CEO, was located on Lake Conroe, and was Quite Nice. Cast and crew stayed at a nearby condo, sleeping on foldout couches and cots, like a older (and very tired) pajama party. As usual, I bivouacked with the FX boys, in a large room that doubled as the makeup and TV room. (we had a constant diet of Romero films running).

On the second day of shooting, our luck ran somewhat sour, as a cold front moved in and temperatures plummeted just in time for the first night of nighttime shooting, catching several of us unprepared. When the second wave of actors came in, they brought coats with them. To backpedal a bit, when the characters talk about the approaching storm, the storm is real, and we were hauling ass to get the sequence filmed before we were hit by the thunderstorm leading the front. Amazingly, though, the sky looks unthreatening and the water calm, although the reality was quite different.

And one of my major memories of that shoot will always be standing outside in the pouring rain, setting up a rain machine outside a window. Real rain doesn't look right, you see.

As the second wave of actors (all the cannon fodder for the first massacre) arrived on a still-sunny, cheery day, Roger arranged for them to congregate by the side of the cabin, where we would be filming the next few setups; he had also arranged for Kent, in full Alfie makeup, to actually crawl under the house and leap out at his unsuspecting fellow actors. No one had actually seen Alfie up to this point, except Mark, and the reaction was all anyone could have asked for. Too bad we weren't filming.

The nighttime exteriors (the Marc vs. Alfie sequence) were shot in frigid conditions. I had to begin putting my coat on Kent between takes, as if we were scuba divers sharing an aqualung. Mark stayed pissed off most of the night because his legs were covered in Kayro syrup blood most of the night, and it was constantly yanking out leg hairs.

That first nighttime shoot had another side-effect; we went through an entire five-pound can of coffee in one night. Roger's wife, in charge of catering, refused to buy us anymore, which is the definition of sucked. Shoot a low-budget movie without caffeine? It can't be done. (Past that, we ate pretty well, thanks to Sam's Warehouse Club) We eventually got more from a small convenience store at the leakefront development; we also completely cleaned them out of soft drinks and cigarettes. The clerk was once overheard explaining to a dissatisfied customer that it was the fault of "those movie people".

The shower Roger chose for Holly to die in was done entirely in red tile. Look closely; there is blood all over the walls, but only evident against the grouting.

And Susan Lunt, who played Julie, gets the Good Sport Award: not only did she hang by her feet from some gravity boots for a good long while, but the prosthetic for her slashed throat was glued on entirely too well. The edges refused to be budged without removing her actual skin, so she was sent on her merry way with a bottle of surgical green soap and a sheepish grin of apology.

Now, next time, assuming the original script is where I think it is, and my OCR doesn't piss me off too much, we'll look at the first massacre as it was originally scripted, and then compare it to what is actually on film, as we meet our new friend, the Buick From Hell.