|still from 1979's The Terror of the Poison Mask|
As promised, I'm continuing to write about the milestones that are taking place for me throughout 2019. This month marks the 40th anniversary of the making of our first script Super 8mm film titled, The Terror of the Poison Mask.
About two years prior to the making of this film short, Dan ordered this Halloween mask out of a catalog. At night, sometimes Dan and I would knock on a neighbor's window, either wear or hold up the mask, only to be greeted by screams.
In March 1979, we came up with the idea of having me sit on the front stoop to my then-childhood home, pretend to mix up a potion and turn into a living skeleton who then turns neighborhood kids (Lee Davis in sweatshirt and Michael Green in the Browns jacket) into an object. Here's another one of my non-sequitur moments: Years before we shot this, I made it a practice to scare Michael because he was easy to scare. One day while Michael was riding on his Big Wheel, I told him that there was a huge football player running around South Euclid with a knife looking to stab kids riding Big Wheels. I'm not proud of that moment and perhaps many others, so I do hope that Michael has forgiven me -- or maybe he forgave me when we recruited him for this film.
I'm pretty sure those were some of my mother's finest glasses which we never got permission to use at that moment. Most likely, Mom was off in the family room in the back of the house -- indulging in watching the evening news while reading The Cleveland Press and puffing on a Salem Menthol. There were many times that I got away with a lot while my mother was engaged in deep conversation on her massive black rotary dial, long-corded Ohio Bell-issued phone while smoking and drinking saccharin-laced instant coffee. One time in the early 1970s, my sisters tormented me by occupying my room. They dared me to take an egg and throw it at the door which would then somehow get them out of my bedroom. While Mom was in one of her intense phone conversations, I promptly went to the family fridge, retrieved an egg, marched up the stairs and threw it as fast as I could at that wooden door. I'm not sure what transpired after that moment. My guess is that the girls laughed, and my mother screamed her head off -- with a Salem Menthol dangling from her lips.
Anyway, the entire thing was shot in my front yard and the next-door neighbor's yard. In the background, one can basically see the nearby park and the street in which I grew up in South Euclid. No bikes are trash bags were abused during the filming of The Terror of the Poison Mask.
I'm guessing that we filmed in late evening because the sun was quickly going down on us and we just wished to finish and get the cartridge processed.
Obviously, the humor about it is in the title itself, but this was the start of many clever ideas in future films. Music was added in late 1985 when I had some of our films copied over to VHS. Other films I uploaded to my YouTube channel feature music from YouTube-approved composers.