Carla Lisbeth Rueckert McCarty wrote, produced, cast, and starred topless in The Hidan of Maukbeiangjow, commonly known as Invasion of the Girl Snatchers. The level of personal dedication that flowed from Carla into the finished film boggles the mind. Without a doubt, this rare female auteur put her everything she had into her work. The result is an incredibly fun b-movie classic that continues to charm and delight cult film enthusiasts.
Fascinating, funny, and phenomenally intelligent, Carla took the time to discuss Hidan of Maukbeiangjow with WG.com. She and her husband Jim McCarty are renown figures in the areas of metaphysical and UFO research. Carla has authored/co-authored a number of popular books on channeling and other ethereal topics. You can read more about her work here: http://www.llresearch.org.
WG.com: How did this project get off the ground?
Carla Rueckert McCarty: Don Elkins and I formed a partnership in 1970. We had written a book and it hadn't sold. So we decided that perhaps we should make a screenplay out of it. So we did. And THAT didn't sell. We determined that we probably needed to learn to make movies ourselves. And we'd see if we could find somebody who wanted to make a movie. We'd write the movie and make the movie … and we'd do it for the experience. So we had a friend who knew Lee Jones named Richard Crunkleton. They were both pilots, I think. Richard knew Lee was sort of dabbling with movies -- so he got us together.
Lee offered to put up half of the money. And we could write whatever script we wanted to … as long as it had sex and violence in it. So Don and I wrote a script with sex and violence in it. You'll have to admit, it DOES have sex and violence in it. Lee read it and said, "That's a fine script." So we shook on it.
Basically, Don and I were trying to get experience in the film business so we could write a really good screenplay of a metaphysical nature and get IT produced. We thought this would be a good way to start learning the business.
Tell me more about Don Elkins.
Don passed away in 1984. He was an interesting character. He was a local guy -- grew up in Kentucky and taught physics and mechanical engineering at the state school. He actually started the mechanical engineering program at the University of Alaska in the 60s before he quit teaching. He was an avid UFO investigator back in the 50s. And he decided in the mid- 60s that it would be a maximization of his money per unit of time if he went ahead and worked as a pilot. So he worked for Eastern airlines which then let him spend a lot more time on UFO research.
He hired me in 1970 to write for him. We worked together until his death in 1984. We put out a lot of books and tapes on UFO's and metaphysical subjects. So Don was interested in making metaphysically oriented movies about love and light and spiritual evolution. Which is what he got out of the UFO picture. The most interesting information in all of the UFO material as far as he was concerned was the channeling material. So that was his angle.
What is the significance of the original title, "The Hidan of Maukbeiangjow?"
The significance of the title is tangential. See I was reading Oahspe at the time. It's a metaphysical bit of channeling written by a dentist or a doctor of some kind. He produced this thing in his sleep under the direction of angels. It's a huge, huge thing and it's very biblical in its language and very beautiful. It claims to be a history of the heavens -- the heaven worlds of earth. A typical biblical mish mash of good and bad stuff but some of the language is delightful. "Hidan" is a high place. and they share that terminology with the Old Testament. So "Hidan" is a high place of holy place called "Maukbeiangjow," it's part of a dodge I used on one of the characters. I decided I'd take all of the language from Oahspe and make him (Aph) be very high-flown. So a lot of Aph's language is right out of Oahspe.
Clearly, it wasn't a good title. That title never made it past the can. I think the "Girl Snatchers" was finally what it came out under.
So it was actually released on film with the "Invasion" title?
Yes, that was the title released on the reels. (laughs) Yeah, it went out to at least SIX different places with that title. Lee Jones was about as much of a distributor as he was a producer. (laughs even harder) Lee was a real slow going, easy going "didn't get much done" kind of a guy. And if he had just put that movie out there ... every single place it played, it outdrew the competition by the end of the week. Which I thought was amazing since it was always running against something that was vaguely known.
How widespread was the distribution?
Places like Louisiana, the most backwoods type of drive-ins. Lee sent out about six prints, and that's all he ever sent. He just never could get over to the post office to get those things out.
Who was responsible for the music in "Hidan?" It's really quite catchy.
Jim DeWitt did that. He was my first husband, actually. And he wrote all of that. We played around with music after college, but he never did anything with it. He's a steel detailer now.
(The toe-tapping main theme. Real media audio clip: 410 KB. Also available as a muddy WAV file: 601 KB.)
What were your inspirations in respect to the script?
We were just having fun with Mission Impossible. Of course we had to get UFOs in there because that was Don's main interest. So we had extraterrestrials, too. And we put magic in there because Don liked magic.
I understand another woman named Pepper was originally cast in the "topless role." How did you come to play the part?
Yeah, yeah, Pepper was perfect. She had a boob job and everything. But really, for the comic value, I was probably better for the part.
Our topless star read the script and quit the day before shooting. I was a woman and knew the lines, which at that point was irresistible. So I took the part. It was certainly a last-minute thing. I was, of course, terrible. If I'd just had a chance to think about it, I could have done it better, but I didn't have a chance to think a first thought about it. I was doing good just to remember the lines and figuring out how 60 seconds went into 90 feet of film.
I suppose my overriding memory from the film is of myself -- no top -- finishing acting in a scene and then bolting over to the script secretary's chair to capture the footage number, then dashing back for another take. I never went so long in mixed company while unclothed in my life. One of the soundmen eventually summed it up by saying it was a wonderful way to get to know me!
("Nice Glyphs!" WAV audio: 37 KB.)
Then there was the day that I was strapped down topless to Aph's table to be changed into a zombie. It's a distinct memory. The straps were real; I couldn't move. The crew broke for lunch. They were all thinking that they wouldn't be able to remember the continuity of the straps. So they left me there to go eat. THEY LEFT ME! I was strapped to that table for the next two hours!
There were spiders all over that house -- it hadn't been lived in for like, I don't know, three years at least. It had just been sitting there moldering. When I first came in to do the measurement for the set I had to comb like two dozen spiders out of my hair afterwards. They were just everywhere.
So I guess I must have had seven or eight spiders crawling all over me. And I couldn't do anything about it. It was just the most horrendous, awful experience that went on for like an hour and a half then finally they came back and we finished the scene. The things we do for our art, eh?