Friday, October 7, 2011

MOVIES FOR HALLOWEEN PART 4: HORROR IN FRONT OF & BEHIND THE CAMERA

We all know the behind the scenes stories surrounding certain horror & Halloween-themed movies like The Twilight Zone (a freak helicopter stunt caused the death of Vic Morrow and 2 child actors), The Exorcist (William Friedkin would constantly do dick-ish things on set to keep his cast and crew on edge) & Brandon Lee's death on the set of The Crow. But those aren't the only shocking and/or disastrous production stories surround horror films. Lets take a look at a few more...


THE BROOD
David Cronenberg's crazy-ass first wife

Interviewer: Pretty widely documented as a very personal film, a reflection of a difficult divorce, The Brood feels the most bitter of your films to me.

David Cronenberg: Yes, it's the only movie that I've done that has no humour in it. I can't recall one joke--I'll have to look at it again to be sure, but no, it was a very personal film in a way that most of mine aren't.

David Cronenberg is kind of downplaying things a bit in this interview excerpt. Before the filming of The Brood, a horror movie that partially deals with a man's wife going off to be treated by a radical psychiatrist in a cult-like environment, Cronenberg was going through an unusual divorce/custody battle with his first wife. In fact, what was going on with his wife kind of reflected some of the plot in The Brood. The former Mrs. Cronenberg got involved with a religious cult and wanted to take their daughter with her on a permanent retreat. In an effort to stop that, David had to rush to his daughter's school so he could get to her first and essentially "kidnap" his daughter from his wife (but I guess it was for her own good). So if you look at The Brood a certain way, it could be seen as an obvious mirror onto Cronenberg's own real life.


CLOWNHOUSE: 
The term "CinePHILE" takes on a whole new meaning...
Director Victor Salva's creepy mugshot
Imagine you're a young kid about to act in your first horror movie. Even though it's just a movie there's still a lot of pressure. You don't wanna mess up and you're filming scenes where crazy clowns are chasing you through the woods trying to kill you. But imagine if when the director (Victor Salva) yelled "cut", the REAL horror was just beginning because you were being molested out back in a trailer by the very same director. That's right, the late 80's horror movie Clownhouse will always be infamous for the statutory rape case surrounding it. Before Victor Salva blessed us all with the Jeepers Creepers saga, he was a convicted sex offender that served a little over a year in prison. After his release, his friend/mentor Francis Ford Coppola kinda took him under his wing and Salva went on to eventually direct Powder (a film some look at as a double-meaning for pro-pedophilia) which was produced by a subdivision of Disney. People always find it odd that Disney hired David Lynch to direct a movie (the straight story) yet a lot of people don't even realize Disney hired a convicted sex offender to direct a movie.
Clownhouse actually isn't bad at all. It came out during the minor "creepy clown explosion" of the late 80'-early 90's (clown house, IT, killer klowns from outerspace, etc). I remember watching it on HBO in the 4th grade and being scared. And now that I'm older and know all the stuff that went on behind the scenes, it just adds an extra level of creepiness...



THE SHINING: 
Stanley Kubrick is a dick to Shelley Duvall
Stanley Kubrick and Shelley Duvall argue on the set of 'The Shining'
I was in this phase a few months ago when I was watching Robert Altman's 3 Women a lot. On the commentary track Altman admits to being mean to Shelley Duvall during a lot of their collaborations. When I heard this I thought about all the shit she went through working with the great Stanley Kubrick during the filming The Shining. What is it with great directors always fucking with Shelley Duvall? Obviously I don't know her personally, but i know enough from watching her in movies and interviews that she gives off the vibe of a Kindergarten teacher. Why would you yell at someone like that? Being on the set of The Shining must have sucked for her. Stanley Kubrick yells "ACTION" and Jack Nicholson is chasing you through a hotel with an axe. Then he yells "CUT" and he starts fusing at you in front of the film crew. At the end of the day I guess it all worked out because Kubrick got the crazy frantic performance that he wanted out of Duvall and we all got a timeless classic.


THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU
"Heart Of Darkness Part Two"

John Frankenheimer (Director): I will never work with Val Kilmer again

David Thewlis on working with Marlon Brando: he would be in the middle of a scene and suddenly he'd be picking up police messages and would repeat, 'There's a robbery at Woolworths'

Marlon Brando to Val Kilmer: You're confusing your talents with the size of your paycheck


OK so maybe this isn't a horror movie, but it involves freaks, mutants and monsters. Close enough. It was almost like Marlon Brando brought the aura of Apocalypse Now with him to the set of The Island Dr. Moreau. Both movies went through major production problems, yet the main difference is that one movie (apocalypse) turned out to be one of the greatest movies ever made, while the other turned out to be pretty much the opposite. The original director, Richard Stanley, was fired and replaced by John Frankenheimer who didn't get along with Val Kilmer (like a lot of directors), Marlon Brandon was just as eccentric as he was on the disastrous set of Apocalypse Now and once the film was wrapped co-star David Thewlis distanced himself from the movie. Stanley also tried to sabotage the production once he was fired.
But the funny thing about all of this is that let's say there were no production problems and everyone got along. The movie would have still been bad. The one positive thing that came from this disaster is that it spawned one of the greatest reoccurring characters on Southpark (Dr. Mephisto)...



ERASHERHEAD:
David Lynch's fear of fatherhood and another connection to David Cronenberg
David & Jennifer Lynch on the set of 'Eraserhead'
David Cronenberg and David Lynch are often compared to each other. After reading a few books on both Cronenberg (cronenberg on cronenberg, david cronenberg interviews, the cinema of david cronenberg) and Lynch (lynch on lynch, beautiful dark, david lynch interview), I've come to learn that the comparison really stems from Lost Highway (Lynch) and Crash (Cronenberg). Both films involve elements of existentialism, violence, sex, cars, and they were both released in theaters around the same time. Naturally Lynch and Cronenberg have other similarities in their filmmaking styles as they've worked with some of the same actors (Jeremy Irons & Naomi Watts), both of their films are surreal, and they've both adapted cult-ish books. But Lost Highway & Crash will always be their strongest connection. ...Until now.
For two directors who are always compared to each other, I'm surprised I've never read anyone make an earlier connection between Eraserhead (Lynch) and The Brood (Cronenberg). Both films are warped, twisted, semi-autobiographical tales about the fears of fatherhood. We already discussed The Brood's connection to Cronenberg's real life, but the story of Eraserhead is in the same ballpark. A few years before the famous midnight movie was made, David Lynch became a father. At the time of his daughter's birth he was broke, living in a bad part of Philadelphia and just wasn't ready to start a family. That's essentially what Eraserhead is about - A man ("Henry") forced in to marriage & fatherhood after getting his girlfriend pregnant. It's commonly known that the mutant baby Henry's wife gives birth too represents his daughter (who would grow up to become a filmmaker like her father).

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