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.
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
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.
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
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
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.