Friday, January 20, 2012

Stories to Impress a Young Co-Ed OR How The Snake Thaws

Way back in 1985, a man named Robert Burge opened a film studio in Beaumont, Texas. They cranked out such hits as Sno-Line and Vasectomy: A Delicate Matter. They also produced a couple of trade films about the evils of drug use. Then, surprisingly, they were gone.

At this time, my dad was still head of the theatre department at Lamar University. He got notices whenever the studio was casting. It is because of this that my high school boyfriend now has a Bacon number of three. It is also because of this that I got to work at the studio - both on-screen as a teen experimenting with cocaine, and off-screen working in their prop department. It could have been tedious, as I was cataloging and organizing all of the props used in both movies, but the studio manager was a colorful ex-stuntman named Larry who had great stories that would make the time pass quickly. I only remember one of his stories, but I need to share it.

Larry was working as a stuntman on a film involving natives in a jungle. There was a big scene where the natives were to sacrifice an outsider to their snake god. Larry was the sacrifice. They had to tie him to a pole and then wrap a huge (living) python around him for the shot. To protect Larry from becoming boa chow, they iced the reptile down to make it lethargic. They set the scene, got Larry all secure, and then brought out the snake-sicle and wrapped it around him. All went well for the first couple of takes - the drumming, the dancing, Larry looking scared, etc. Then the snake started to warm up.

Apparently when a snake of that size tries to bring down large prey, one of the things that they do is stun it into submission by whacking it with their large, powerful head. Larry said that the snake started waking up and then realized that it was already wrapped around lunch. It sized Larry up and then WHAP! It knocked its snout squarely into Larry's forehead. As the stars dissipated, Larry realized that the snake had started to tighten its coils. Larry opened his mouth to call for help just as WHAP, the snake took another opportunity to beat the snot out of him. So now not only was Larry brain-scrambled, he was also bleeding from a large gash in his forehead. Thankfully, it didn't take long to realize that the make-up man had NOT applied his art to the living sacrifice and the crew rescued Larry and put the snake back on ice.

I'm not sure if they got all the shots they needed, but I don't think that they were able to persuade Larry to be snake-wrapped again.

Footnote: I looked Larry Swieboda up on IMDB. He's only listed as working on the two Beaumont films. Thinking back, he could have been passing down a story told to him, and I heard it as his own. He also could have just been uncredited on whatever film. Or he could have made the whole thing up just to impress a college co-ed. But it's a great story and I choose to believe it!

1 comment:

Patricia Mir said...

Funny thing, I got chased by a snake the other day! By the way, the story was true.