This loopy crime thriller from stuntman-turned-direct Jim Feazell also bore the alternate titles Wheeler, The Mama's Boy, and The Hurting before a poorly re-edited version made it's way to video years after it's initial release. And yes, that is a young Linnea Quigley, featured during footage added to the film in the late 1970s.
We were excited to see that a new DVD start-up, Vinegar Syndrome, will release Paul Kener's obscure early slasher film Savage Water early next year. The Utah-lensed film never received a legit U.S. video release (nor did Kener's companion film, Wendigo). Below are two articles about Kener. The first details the production of Savage Water. The second, from the mid-1980s, is even more interesting: Kener planned to make a Ted Bundy biopic while Bundy himself was still awaiting trial in Florida. Even better, the multi-state production was set to star former "Brady Bunch" actor Barry Williams as Bundy!
From Deseret News, July 26, 1978
Killer Comes to Court in Locally Made Movie
By Corey Peterson
Deseret News Staff Writer
RIVERTON -- A killer came to court in Sandy last week, a man
who brutally and methodically murdered five people during a river-run down the
Colorado through the Grand Canyon.
But Sandy police could do nothing about it.
They'll have to wait like everyone else until Talking
Pictures Inc. releases its new feature film, "Savage Water," in
TPI is a Riverton movie company. Its offices are in a
trailer behind the home of its president, Paul W. Kener, 2015 W. 13550 South.
"Savage Water" is the fourth feature film for TPI.
Sandy city's court room was used as the setting for a
dramatic trail sequence, Kener, the film's director, said.
The film is a cross between "Deliverance" and an
Agatha Christie-type who-dun-it, he said.
Dave Savage, a river-runner, takes a group down the
Colorado, but one by one, five people are murdered. Only in the final scene is
the killer revealed. Kener declined to say who.
Kip Boden, a Utah river-runner by summer and a writer by
winter, wrote the screenplay. The players are all local professionals.
Most of the river-running, murder and mayhem scenes are
shot. About 30 percent remains, Kener said.
TPI is one of several independent Utah movie companies and
represents the growing power and role of independents in the movie industry.
It also represents the realization of a dream.
Kener, 32, grew up in East Mill Creek. In the ninth grade at
Wasatch Junior High School, he and friends became interested in filmmaking and
reeled off 13 8-millimeter movies.
But for Kener, the dream remained. He earned a degree in
cinematography and worked for a Utah company filming an outdoor adventure,
Hollywood had the industry locked up until about 10 year
ago, Kener said. A young filmmaker had little chance while Kener was still in
But then the independents began to break the industry open.
"Four-walling" was the technique used. Independent companies, instead
of releasing films to theaters for a split of the receipts, rented theaters
That gave theater owners a guaranteed income and avoided the
distribution lock Hollywood had on the industry. Saturation advertising was a
key element of the independents' surprising success.
"Four-walling" is no longer extensively used. Too
many theaters were rented for $30,000 when only $10,000 in tickets were sold,
The independents however got established and now, the
companies have the competitive edge on Hollywood, Kener said.
In Utah, a movie can be made for far less money in less
time. Filmmakers here avoid exorbitant wages demanded by industry unions. In
Utah, a feature film can be made in six months; in Hollywood, it would take two
years, Kener said.
Keener first realized his ninth grade dream seven years ago
when he formed Filmmakers Studio. That name was dropped in favor of Talking
Pictures Inc. four years ago.
Everyone in the company is involved in making movies.
Kener, president, is a producer and director. Vice-president
Rolf Nordgren is sound producer. Ray Smith and Lonnie Fausett, members of the
board of directors, are producers.
Karen Kener, Paul's wife, handles the paper work.
In addition, Karen and her soft-rock band, the KC Classics, sing
the theme in "Savage Water" and she plays a key role in the movie.
Kener confessed he is more comfortable behind the camera. In
fact, he said he's terrified at the thought of acting.
The Keners' two children, Chad, 5, and Angela, 7, however,
are often enlisted to go before the cameras.
"Savage Water" could be TPI's turning point, Kener
TPI's first feature film was "One Second From
Eternity," a documentary about racing on the Bonneville Salt Flats.
Second was "The Streak Car Company," a 1974 film
that cashed in on the short-lived streaking fad of 1974.
Third was "Wendigo," a dramatic film based on an
Indian legend of the supernatural. That and "Savage Water will be released
about the same time.
For the first time, TPI will have more than one film in
circulation. A fifth movie is also in the works.
The company has also made about 60 other commercials,
educational and promotional films.
"Savage Water has everything for it -- action,
adventure, suspense and a fail-proof plot.
The key is entertainment, Kener said. The thrill of thejob is to see an audience become
engrossed in a film. "Savage Water" is something a film-goer can
believe could actually happen.
If "Savage Water" makes the kind of money Kener
hopes it can, TPI could be past struggling for investment money.
From the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, March 10, 1984
Portions of Ted Bundy Movie to be Filmed in Tallahassee
Herald-Tribune Wire Services
Parts of a new movie called "The Obsession of Ted
Bundy" will be filmed in Washington, Florida, Utah and Colorado, the
Washington State Motion Picture Bureau announced Friday in Seattle.
Bundy, formerly of Tacoma, Wash., is on Florida's Death Row
while his appeals on three murder convictions wind their way through the
He was convicted of the 1978 murder-rape of Kimberly Diane
Leach, 12, in Lake City and the slayings of Lisa Levy and Margaret Bowman, two
students at Florida State University in Tallahassee, also in 1978. Portions of
the Bundy film will be shot in Tallahassee, producers said, although no dates
have been released.
The $2.3 million film will star veteran television actor
Barry Williams, 29, best known for his role as the oldest brother in the
Utah-based Kener-Smith Productions intends to begin work
immediately on the film. Paul Kener, the director, was in Seattle on Friday
scouting locations and unavailable for comment.
In addition to Tallahassee and Seattle, filmmakers will go
on location in Salt Lake city and Vail, Colo.
Bundy has been charged with killing a vacationing Michigan
nurse in Colorado and was convicted of kidnapping in Utah. He is a prime
suspect, though has never been charged, in a string of more than 30 other
murders of college-age women in the mid-1970s in the Northwest.
In some cases, witnesses recalled the victims were last seen
with a mysterious, smooth-talking stranger who sometimes introduced himself as
"Obviously, no one wants to make money off Bundy; he's
not a shining example, but if someone is gong to make film about him it may as
well be made here as anywhere else," said Bill Cushing, assistant director
of communications for the movie bureau in Seattle.
Cushing said he wouldn’t comment on the artistic scope of
"Decisions are made by artistic and business people
based on what they think will happen at the box office," he said.
"It's a free country, they can film where they want."
The film company estimated it will spend between $500,000
and $750,000 in the Seattle area. Cushing said the shooting will have a $1.5
million to $2.5 million impact on the local economy.
Filming will take place in June in downtown Seattle and Lake
Sammamish, east of Seattle, where several women had told police they had been
approached by the mysterious "Ted." Two women, Denise Naslund and Janice
Ott, disappeared from the park on July 14, 1974, the day the man calling
himself "Ted" was seen there. Their bones later were found near
Issaquah, east of the park.
Casting for 16 speaking parts is under way and between 50
and 100 extras will also be hired locally, said Cushing.
The movie is based on an original screenplay and is
scheduled for release by the end of the year.
Producer Raymond H. Smith and director Kener have teamed up
before, most recently to make "300 Miles for Stephanie," a made-for-TV
movie that was aired on NBC.
We've quite a run of Trailer of the Week entries without any actual trailers, and here's another one! This is a clip of George Gobel from Harry Thomason's The Day it Came to Earth, which you can still see on the out-of-print Image DVD that released nearly a decade ago.
After many years of piddling around, several false starts and numerous delays, my book on regional horror films (aptly titled Regional Horror Films 1958-1990: A State-by-State Guide With Interviews) has finally been unleashed by the good folks at McFarland & Co.
If you are interested in picking up a copy, you can try your luck here and here. It's also supposed to be available as an e-book, although I haven't seen it turn up in that format yet. I'll keep you posted.
So why should you buy this book? Here are some highlights:
* It's the first-ever print reference work to include entries on such regional obscurities as Satan Place, The Wednesday Children, The Beast From the Beginning of Time, Silent Death, Demon From Devil's Lake, and the previously unheard of Southern Shockers.
* In-depth interviews with filmmakers Milton Moses Ginsberg (Werewolf of Washington), Robert W. Morgan (Blood Stalkers), William Grefe (Stanley), Robert Burrill (The Milpitas Monster), Lewis Jackson (Christmas Evil), and more!
* Rare, behind-the-scenes photos from The Dead Next Door, Werewolf of Washington, Blood Stalkers, Southern Shockers, and Shriek of the Mutilated.
* Listings of more than 350 independent horror and sci-fi films, organized in a handy state-by-state directory.
There are also plenty of fun newspaper admats and old VHS box art images in the book. Since space was a limited, I've posted a few images below that wound up not being used, but that are kind of cool anyway. Enjoy!
The Dead Next Door is a blog about regional or "backyard" horror and science fiction films made from the late 1950s to the earlyl 1990s (and beyond). These films were released during the peak years of independent film production, created by a motley crew of seasoned pros, gifted amateurs, and enthusiastic genre fans, along with dozens of eccentric dreamers -- doctors, lawyers, insurance salesmen, publishers, commercial filmmakers, TV production crews and moonlighting pornographers -- all looking for their big break or a fast buck or both.