To backtrack a bit, I understand you appeared in Billy Girdler's "Asylum of Satan." Can you tell me a little about that experience?
I was a hooded figure in that film. Billy had initially asked us to write a scene. A dramatic magical ritual. So we proceeded to write a positive magical ritual masquerading as a black magical ritual. I mean, most people don't know what a black magical ritual sounds like, right? You can pretty much write what you like as long as it's in another language. So we started writing straight Latin. Good stuff. Very positive invocations of positive angels and things. It sounded good. Don and I thought, "That will be nice. People will think it's negative, but it's not."
Well, Girdler threw it out and we didn't know. So we came to the sets that day, thinking they were going to put our scene on, and instead, he had talked to this First Church of Satan guy. So this First Church of Satan fellow and his wife had written their own scene. And it was the best they could do to make it negative. It was panic. I told him, I said, "Billy, don't put that on there. It's not good to put that stuff out." I thought it was awful.
There's a story floating around about how a woman passed out during that scene. Some thought it had to do with the Satanists …
Oh, that was just too much C02.
Ah, I see. So how did you know Girdler?
Good question. I think Don knew Billy … I don't remember from where. Maybe through Lee.
What do you recall about Billy?
Oh just his energy, mostly. He had endless, endless energy. He was a very genial, lovely soul. We ended up being with each other for a couple weeks in the Philippines in 1975 while they made Project Kill. Don and I were there on a totally different mission. We were investigating psychic surgery. We investigated five different healers while we were there. But we stayed in the same hotel, so we spent a lot of time in the bar with Billy and Leslie Nielsen and Gary Lockwood. Very pleasant people to hang out with at the end of the day.
I just remember Billy's dedication and the joy he had in what he did. His concerns were totally -- he was on what he was on. He was always working. Whatever project he was on he was very focused. He loved to get Don talking about UFOs. He would sit there and listen to Don for hours. He did that a lot. He'd stay late and he and Don would sit around and talk about all these things.
So what led to your involvement with "Zebra Killer?"
That was one of those things where they needed somebody to be a set secretary. And I was still thinking along the lines of learning the business and actually going out and trying to get our script done. I was thinking, "Now this is great. I'll just be a part of the crew for this one." So I signed up and I worked like four days. Then Don took me off the picture so I really didn't get a chance to do much for Billy. I went and got some food -- maybe wrote a few letters on the set. I was also one of the dead bodies. I had some great bruises so they drafted me for a dead body. I think I'm the one on the bed.
I've also heard you helped a bit with "Abby."
All I did was find variant exorcism stories from other folklore -- there's a lot folklore about having a spirit taken out of one -- not just in one myth. Indian stories, you name it. I think what Girdler wanted at the time was ammunition to say, "Well there's this story and this story -- I didn't steal it from William Blatty. I could have stolen it from two dozen different sources."
The last feature film you worked on was Film Ventures' "The Force Beyond." Can you tell me what happened with that project?
A friend of Lee's was actually behind that one. A fellow named Donn Davision. I don't know where he got the money, but he got a fairly decent amount of funding for The Force Beyond. Don Elkins helped him as consultant. We got some really interesting people who had actually done some things -- for instance Francis Farley is a medium who does medical intuitive work. Very impressive record. Dino Tralo has done a tremendous amount of work on Atlantis and UFOs in South America. He's fascinating to listen to. Just all sorts of interesting people we got together for these guys. We went around and filmed discussions with them and so forth. It was a reasonably interesting documentary as far as we knew.
Then we saw the thing edited. It had been edited together with some really obviously fake, amateurish sensational, silly stuff. Donn Davison just completely wrecked it. He put on a totally false ending about how astonishing things would soon be revealed to the United States. It was just so obviously hokey. It made everything else junk. We renamed the movie "The Farce Beyond."
That was the end of L & L productions. We dropped filmmaking, realizing at last that this was not our forte.
We just didn't go any further.
To summarize, what do you think of "Hidan" nowadays?
I last saw it about five years ago. I showed it to somebody who was very curious. I'm kind of tickled by it. I'm quite fond of it, in fact. It was a lot of work but a lot of fun.