Whenever I hear actors talk about how hard their job can be, I usually roll my eyes. Yes, it may be challenging, but at the end of the day you're still just pretending. But when Marilyn Burns discussed the trials she faced while shooting The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, I took her at her word. No one could watch that film or Ms. Burns' performance in it, and not walk away in awe.
Burns died on Aug. 5, and although she appeared in other horror films, the hour-plus of sustained hysteria she delivered in TCM remains her crowning achievement in film. Sweaty, bug-eyed and screaming for most of the last half of the movie, Burns added an emotional edge to a film packed with lunatics, serving as a terrified audience surrogate trapped in a living nightmare.
It was a physical performance in hot, often fetid conditions, and Burns sustained a number of injuries during filming -- that black eye, she said, was real. In one of her last interviews (posted on ScreenCrush), Burns remembered the shoot this way: "Everyone wanted to forget about it after the misery of the whole shoot, listening to that agonizing chainsaw, smelling all of the smells, watching the decay of rotting chicken on the set. It was disgusting. It was miserable."
This year marks the 40th anniversary of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Burns, who lived in Texas for most of her life, was 65.
With all of the new titles either returning on Blu-ray or debuting on DVD in the next few months, does it reflect poorly on me that the one I'm most excited about is a limited pressing of the loopy giant crab flick Island Claws?
You can see the cover here. The only extra on the disc will be an on-camera interview with Ricou Browning, the Creature From the Black Lagoon stuntman who worked on the film. As we previously posted, Island Claws may have been an elaborate money laundering project for associates of the Medellin drug cartel. It was once a staple on cable TV, but has been unavailable on legit home media since it was released on VHS in the 1980s.
Scorpion and Kino Lorber also re-released the Georgia-lensed William Girdler film Grizzly, which is now on sale at Amazon (it's cheap, too).
I'll be interviewing director Jay Woelfel for an upcoming article on Ohio horror films (scheduled to appear in the October issue of Country Living magazine), so this week's selection is the trailer for his Columbus-lensed mini-classic Beyond Dream's Door.
Although he's lived in California for decades now, he periodically returns to his home state to shoot new movies, including Closed for the Season (2010) and Season of Darkness (2012).
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.