I've always been a huge fan of Hallowe'en and everything about it. Ghost stories, tales of haunted houses, monsters, horror movies, candy...really, what's not to like? Kevin and I were even MARRIED on Hallowe'en, way back in 2004, shortly after we finished up a movie called Space Zombies: 13 Months of Brain-Spinning Mayhem! How apropos.
As I sit at our iMac, listening to Blue Oyster Cult's Don't Fear the Reaper, followed by the theme to the TV show True Blood, and Warren Zevon's Werewolves of London, I'm reflecting on how much influence Hallowe'en and all things horror have had on me, my writing, my projects. As much influence as animals have had on my life, I think. But I've usually infused a little...or A LOT...of comedy into those projects as well. I thought I'd post about them here and there over the month of October, starting with what I could probably consider my/Triple Take Productions' first foray into horror-comedy fare.
It was 1999, and my good friend Rob Downes and I had recently seen The Blair Witch Project that August. And then the Blair Witch parodies sprang up like fungus in all the moist places you don't dare look. And we had a production company, so why wouldn't we gather our creative friends in a room and crank out a short film quick as we could? There was even a contest held in LA seeking comic Witch parody shorts for an ad hoc anthology with the promise of distribution. Though we weren't able to get our version to that contest in time, we got that short onto SCREAM (Corus Entertainment's horror specialty channel at the time) and SPACE (as well as Space's specialty channel known as Drive-In Classics, featuring such classic films as Conqueror Worm, starring Vincent Price, as well as many Roger Corman and Russ Meyer flicks, and many, many more obscure features...Jean Rollin, anyone? Coffin Joe?). It ran as an interstitial for about two years, even though several years had passed since it had been made. It also screened at the then Bloor Cinema, during a monthly festival called Video Vaudeville.
That short film is called The Scary Bitch Project, and it stars Kim Croscup, Jeff Hannaford, and Rob Downes. Judy Singh and Greg Davies were our main crew. I directed, because that's what I do and because I am bossy.
There were bit parts for myself, Judy, Greg, several residents of Fergus, and my Mom and Step-Dad as well. We shot it in Fergus, Ontario over the second last weekend of September in 1999. It was a blast. And the shoot at night, in the middle of a small forested area between Fergus and Elora, was actually pretty terrifying from time to time. Okay, more often than not, it was terrifying. Especially when Rob and I had to wander away from the rest of the cast and crew so we could make school bell sounds and so Rob could scream in the distance for the camera.
So, it's totally dark and we're surrounded by trees, as will happen when you're in the woods, and we can only vaguely see our friends in the distance. They shout action every now and then and we wait a few seconds before making whatever noise we're supposed to make. But between those takes, I swear I heard someone snap a twig somewhere behind us. Several times. Of course, we could see nothing, but fear-logic told us that it had to be that weird guy who stopped Judy and Greg earlier that day to "make sure you ain't gonna go campin' or drinkin' in the woods tonight."
That peculiar man did not resurface, thank all the gods and Odin and the little baby Jesus. And no one from any of the neighbourhoods close to our wooded area called the police, despite the blood curdling screams Kimmie unleashed take after take after take...which was a good thing for us, but what about that fictional victim Kim was portraying? It's good to know everyone will just mind their own business despite the sounds of violence deep in the woods.
The catering for this film has to have been the very best of all the little shoots we've done for Triple Take. This is entirely because my Mom, Maureen Bell, made us a fantastic lasagna dinner. You can't beat home cooked meals, especially when your Mom knows what she's doing! This would not have been the same if it had been a home cooked meal prepared by, say, me. No, not the same at all. A whole other terrifying experience.
At any rate, The Scary Bitch Project was a really fun way to begin my filmmaking career outside of Ryerson University. I hope you'll check it out sometime (those of you who haven't).
You can download The Scary Bitch Project from Triple Take's online shop.
You can also get a copy of The Scary Bitch Project as a special feature when you buy the Space Zombies: 13 Months of Brain-Spinning Mayhem! on DVD.
I'll save the Space Zombies story for the next post...