Saturday, October 13, 2007
Eight Legged Freaks Episode III: Review of the Shit
Here, pictorially, are the high points of my experience working on Eight Legged Freaks. First, the tractor trailer. On this day, we owned, with police assistance, a 2-mile stretch of deserted Arizona highway. The Special Effects department loaded about twenty canisters into the back of the truck (each the size and shape of a submarine torpedo), which were all filled with nothing but explosive fuel. In the storyline, the truck is attacked by spiders, the driver loses control, the truck skids off the road and blows up.
To "skid" the truck, the rear wheels are actually not touching the ground at all, because instead, there is a hidden set of wheels underneath and between the "real" wheels of the truck. (You can actually almost make it out in the picture.) Much like the fireman dude that rides on the back rear of the ladder truck, steering the rear wheels around corners, that's what we had. The stunt driver (who, in my opinion, has to have a pair of balls the size of grapefruits to willingly get in to a truck loaded with explosives that he knows he's supposed to crash) has control of both the forward motion of the truck and the hidden rear wheels.
So, in a perfect world, we roll the cameras, the truck starts driving, the director cues the "skidding" of the truck, and then when the truck hits the telephone poles in the ditch on the side of the road, the F/X guys trigger the explosions. We get ready, we get set, we go through all of the preceding events, the truck starts to "skid," it hits the ditch, the F/X guy presses the button AND...nothing. Truck stuck in ditch with about 4000 pounds of unexploded rocket fuel on board. Something didn't fire. So then we waited around for four hours while F/X and the Fire Department and the Stunt Team went in, re-rigged and fixed the problem. During this downtime was when we discussed some of the other finer points of the experience thus far on the movie, which included this:
Yup, she was sixteen at the time. And I am unashamed to admit that I freely hit on her and tried to get her drunk. I think her mom might have even been nearby at that point too. But I was very charming about the whole thing. Incidentally, the second take on the truck went perfectly. Blew the thing sky-high. Coooooool fucking shit.
This pic of Ms. Scarlett, by the way, is also symbolic in that it represents for the viewer the realization that This Is As Good As It's Gonna Get. At this point in the movie, you have reached the point where you have seen the farthest level of guts and gore and skin that you are gonna get. Kari Wuhrer is nowhere near getting naked, for any reason, and her teenage daughter, fresh from the shower, is about to be spun in a web of spider silk. So far, there's just been some green slime flying around when spiders get shot, and that's about it. A seasoned horror viewer is left with the sinking realization that here, with Scarlett in a towel, we are peaking. It's all downhill from here, and it wasn't much of an uphill climb to begin with.
As far as almost being killed: I was almost run over by the "toxic waste" truck, I was almost shot in the left eye with a crossbow from the other end of the deserted shopping mall, and I was also hit sideways with a hose from the Water Truck, which is the truck that will drive through a set spraying water all over the place for a desired photographic effect. I was standing next to it when the driver turned on the wrong valve. It wasn't really life-threatening, but try going from being completely dry and happy in one moment, and then an instant later you have been hit by a freezing, sideways Niagra Falls. Then it stops.
Oh, and I also had to wrangle and cue 40 ostriches in a field of mud in the pouring rain, which might sound like a complaint, but it's one of those experiences that are simply so absurd that it becomes philosophic: you reflect upon your whole life and how the sum total of all your decisions have brought you to this moment. ("OK, I am a 25 year old, adult male, college educated, it's 3 am, I'm in a field in Arizona, it's raining, I'm sinking into the mud, and I'm surrounded by ostriches. How did it come to this?")
So here it is, at long last:
WORKING ON EIGHT LEGGED FREAKS: *****
ACTUALLY VIEWING EIGHT LEGGED FREAKS: **
I'll try to get something else in here by the end of October, but I can't promise anything.