Tuesday, October 5, 2010

John Carpenter Fanfiction: CARPY & THE CAP'N- PART 2: RETURN TO POINT REYES (2010, Sean Gill)


Author's Note: If you missed Part I: Los Angeles Prelude, may I suggest that you read it before proceeding.


6:35 P.M. June 21, 1992. The Old Western Saloon. Point Reyes, California.

The fifth day of the shoot had just come to a close, and John ruminated upon on the previous week's events while sitting by a pot-bellied stove and sipping on a bourbon. The film had been beset by a number of problems, but the cast and crew were still keeping their heads above water- so to speak. When he'd arrived on the 15th, though the actors' call wasn't for two days, Dennis Dun was already there, getting the lay of the land and doing some research on his character.
He'd be playing 'Captain Kwon,' and John didn't have the heart to tell him that any preparation might be too much, considering the level of dignity (or lack thereof) which the part entailed.

On the 17th, the rest of the actors arrived- familiar faces like Buck Flower, Peter Jason, Tom Atkins. Unfortunately, a few of the former principals were unavailable- Jamie Lee Curtis was off shooting pick-ups for FOREVER YOUNG, and Adrienne Barbeau was caught up in a miniseries called THE BURDEN OF PROOF, but on such short notice, John considered that it was to be expected. The most notable newcomer was the actor playing 'Blake.' The original Blake, of course, had been obscured by makeup and shadow and was played by special effects artist Rob Bottin. (When John had called to tell him he'd been 'replaced,' Rob had feigned indignation, and they'd joked around for a bit- but Rob was in the thick of it on a third ROBOCOP movie, so they didn't have a chance to adequately catch up.) The new guy was a fearsome gent whose performance as Philip Marlowe had really struck a chord for John- his name was Powers Boothe, and John was confident that he'd get on famously with the ensemble.

Kurt rolled in a bit late ("Captain Ron time" and all that), but John couldn't grouse too much because another actor was even later than he– "Rowdy" Roddy Piper.
Roddy, who would be playing Captain Ron's brother "Nardo," blew in on the afternoon of the 18th, but then insisted so sincerely that he'd misplaced his daily organizer in the wrong kilt and misremembered the date, that John felt strangely guilty for his premature annoyance.

The first scene they shot was a flashback between Captain Ron and Nardo, and John was immediately unsettled by the odd vocal affectation that Kurt was employing.
"What's with the voice, Kurt?"
"AHHHAAA! What, you don't like it, Johnny? It's Cap'n Ron's voice! Gotta keep it for continuity!"
John looked to Sandy, who shrugged her shoulders. "Continuity," she conceded.
John made something of a half-scowl which slowly transformed into a bemused smile. "This is CAPTAIN RON VERSUS THE FOG, after all," he told himself.
"I love the voice!" gushed 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper. "Can I do one, too?"
"Sure, sure," John consented. "Do whatever you want."

John overcame this dangerous initial detachment, and some of the best work thus far had occurred on the second day. It was full of action scenes, and John could settle straight in to the 'pure cinema' aspect of it.
Dennis Dun swished swords and swashed buckles, Powers Boothe looked scary as hell putting 'Rowdy' Roddy into a headlock, and Kurt swung across a deck on a rope like Tarzan. While it wasn't exactly Hawks, he was finding himself embracing the sort of filmmaking that hadn't really been seen since the days of Errol Flynn and Basil Rathbone. But he was finding the horror aspect to be somewhat lacking. Attempts at forcing Kurt and Rowdy Roddy to embrace the spirit of the picture and read H.P. Lovecraft's THE SHADOW OVER INNSMOUTH or THE DUNWICH HORROR ended in failure; but he finally convinced them to read THE TERRIBLE OLD MAN, which was only four pages long. The problem was not illiteracy, per sé– it was Kurt's Malibu n' margarita obsession that had now spilled over onto Roddy. These kitschy hi-jinks were not affecting the quality of their performances, John surmised, but they certainly had to be affecting the quality of their leisure time.

8:19 P.M. June 21, 1992. Near Tomales Bay, California.

John left the bar and, lighting up a cigarette, walked down a dirt road toward the marshes at Tomales Bay. Captain Ron's ship, The Wanderer (a Formosa 51 yacht weathered and painted for a vintage look) was docked by the shore.

On deck, he could see Kurt gyrating and boogieing about for an audience comprised of Buck Flower and Roddy Piper. Buck shook dollar bills about in the air and pumped his fists, apparently believing himself to be in attendance at a dogfight. John felt the brisk sea breeze blowing against his face and through his hair. He heard the silly debaucheries in the distance and gentle waters lapping against the smooth hull of the Wanderer. "This," he thought, "is why I do what I do." He stood there for a long time, eyes closed, his idyll uninterrupted... until a booming voice emerged from the empty space beside him.
"Hell of a sunset, isn't it, Carpenter."
John opened his eyes and turned to see Powers Boothe regarding the seascape with reverence.
"Sure is."
"Blake would see it as an invitation. The cold, beckoning finger which wrenches him nightly from a watery grave."
"What do you see it as, Powers?"
"What I see it as isn't worth a tin shit. While I'm here, I'll look like Blake, I'll talk like Blake. I'll think like Blake."
"Maybe you and Blake just have a lot in common."
Powers stared into his eyes with a coldness and precision which chilled him, and then chuckled, smiling.
"I'll see you around, Carpenter."
"Twelve noon, Captain Ron time."
"No..." Powers focused his eyes on a point in the distance. "I'll see you on 'Blake time.'"
"Oh yeah, when's that?"
"ANYTIME...." Powers winked. "Every time... All time..." Powers continued to mutter as he walked off.
John continued to watch the sunset, but with vague trepidation. "It's good," he thought to himself, "to be on one's toes while shooting a horror picture."

10:45 P.M. July 20, 1992. The Lighthouse at Drake's Bay.

The final day of shooting. It had been a real doozy. They'd managed to pack so much into one day already, and yet they still had one final scene to shoot. John reflected on the day's events and the Herculean accomplishments of the cast and crew:

At 11:00 AM, they'd shot Tom Atkins' nude scene. It was a closed set, but Kurt and Roddy had managed to sneak in, and they made noises approximating flatulence throughout by pumping their cupped hands in their armpits, much to John's chagrin. Gary Kibbe, being a pro of the highest degree, got the shots he needed anyway.

At 2:00, they'd shot Buck Flower's big death scene. In the first FOG movie, Buck played a character named 'Tommy Wallace' who had met a grisly, watery end. In the second, he played a character named 'Lee Wallace ('Tommy's' brother) who met a grisly, watery end. "How come you play such a good hobo?" asked Sandy, a few days into the shoot. Buck grinned a terrible grin from behind his unkempt, fleecy whiskers, and suddenly any answer whatsoever would have been entirely redundant.At 5:00, they shot Blake's monologue, which was one of the centerpieces of the script. There'd been a lot of argument about whether or not Blake should actually speak, but as soon as Powers had been cast, the decision was unanimous: to not let him speak would be a crime. Powers nailed it in one take. When John had congratulated him on his excellent work, Powers curiously closed his eyes and inhaled and exhaled with great purpose. Much later, nearly everyone present would claim they had felt an icy chill and seen a green mist curling under the door, despite the fact that all of the fog machines had been safely powered down...

At 7:00, they did the close-ups for the chase scene. The stunt driving was long in the can (shot in late June), but to finish the scene was something special- you see, it involved a 1958 Plymouth Fury (a car quite familiar to fans of CHRISTINE) being driven by Kurt Russell.
Dennis Dun was riding shotgun, and slinging verbal barbs to and fro with Kurt. John figured that Kurt would heartily enjoy getting behind the wheel of a '58 Fury, but he only razzed him for all the ones he'd needlessly destroyed during CHRISTINE. "It wasn't needless," protested John, but Kurt loudly unleashed some witty jeer about "hot roddin' sonsawbitches" which drew the applause of the crew. John couldn't decide whether it was the sheer number of scenes to stage or Kurt's charming insolence which was making the day dawdle so.

At 9:30, they shot a pick-up of buddy-bonding involving Tom, Dennis, Kurt, and a few local volunteers. The scene was pure Hawks, and it was terrific to finally shoot it.
He'd briefed the boys two days earlier at a screening of RIO BRAVO in his hotel room– "He showed us ourselves, the way we area, the way we should be... that's why you gents are pulling together to engage Blake– he already got his revenge, but still he wants more. All you want to do is live self-determining lives. Blake, conversely, is self-obsessed. Blake is chaos. The title may be CAPTAIN RON VERSUS THE FOG, but that's not how Hawks would've looked at it. It's not the HIGH NOON model: GARY COOPER VERSUS THE GUNSLINGERS. It's the communal model. The RIO BRAVO model. JOHN WAYNE AND DEAN MARTIN AND RICKY NELSON AND WALTER BRENNAN VERSUS THE OUTLAWS. There's just not room for that on the marquee."

Finally, it was 10:45. Time for the final take of the final scene of the final day. The lighthouse shone ominously in the moonlight. A brisk ocean breeze was blowing into shore.
Kurt, Powers, and Roddy were ready and set. John looked through the camera's eyepiece and nodded to Gary Kibbe. He turned and smiled at Sandy. "This is the martini," Sandy declared to the crew.
Captain Ron dashed up the grated metal steps of the lighthouse, Blake's shadowy presence on his heels. Out of nowhere, Nardo leapt on Blake's back and the beach bum wrestled the wraith quite skillfully, allowing Captain Ron to escape to the lighthouse's roof. Enraged, Blake battled, gained the upper hand, and tossed Nardo down a flight of spiraling stairs, incapacitating him and allowing Blake to proceed to the roof where he could settle his affairs with Captain Ron. Blake glided up to the staircase's end and tore the metal portal from its hinges. Slavering like a wild beast, Blake approached Ron and the camera tracked across to a pair of feet, standing their ground quite stoically. Only they weren't the familiar sand-encrusted flip-flops we'd seen moments before– it was a pair of combat boots tightly tucked with gray camouflage pants. The camera tilted upward to reveal...


Anonymous said...

Powers Boothe?! This just keeps getting weirder! I like it!

J.D. said...

Yeah, Powers Boothe!

Also, nice addition of Roddy Piper as "Nardo." hah!

Sean Gill said...

Anon. & J.D.,

I was about to insert Ironside instead of Boothe, but I didn't want it to become about Ironside...this week belongs to Carpy!

Glad you enjoyed Nardo- it just felt right.