August, 2014

Sacrament in Spain

I know not many in the U.S. will ever see the interview that Marilyn recently did for the El Pais newspaper in Spain recently, so I thought I would share the translation here. It was a lot of fun for me to read, and I hope you enjoy it as well.


About Sacrament

Tell us about your role in Sacrament. 

Beulah Standifer, is a hard-working, God-fearing, no nonsense stern woman who runs and owns a small grocery store with her long suffering husband of many decades.

Is weird to come back to another Texas cannibalistic horror?

It was truly a treat to play opposite Ed Guinn, my Savior from TCM. The story of Sacrament is unique, powerful, mysterious, and frightening.

Do you see any similarities in the energy and passion of Shawn Ewert and his team and the atmosphere in Texas Chainsaw Massacre? 

Shawn’s script promised something new I had not seen done before and it worked.  It was a great experience to work with his cast and crew. Everyone was professional, supportive, enthusiastic and glad to be there and their bonding energy was still present at the screening. Sacrament takes you on a wild ride to the dark side. Enjoy!

About The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 40th Anniversary

Speaking with Daniel Pearl, he told me that you were “a bunch of hippies” in the middle of a infernal summer in Texas? Do you agree with this description? How was the mood and atmosphere of the shooting of Texas chainsaw massacre? 

It was in the middle of a miserable infernal summer in Texas but a “bunch of hippies” would have stayed in bed and would have never been able to complete the hardest,  longest, and ever challenging shoot of their careers.  Most of us had graduated with degrees in film or drama and were very serious about our chosen professions. Daniel’s much too modest to admit it. There were many problems to overcome due to budget issues so the crew had to find ways to make the shots work with the equipment we had on hand, there was quite a bit of improvising. The crew worked long hours from morning through the night and the actors were right there on the locations with them. However, the actors had little to do but hang out on the grass, dirt, or in the hot van the first week patiently waiting for the camera crew to be ready to shoot.

There were no trailers to retire to between shots, no food truck and no bathrooms for miles. We began with 5 actors, one DP, one sound man, one director, and one assistant in the van creeping down the road at about 5 miles an hour filming the beginning,the van sequence. It was so very hot as we  slowly put sweaty take after sweaty take into the can. This process seemed to drag along forever till we added one more actor on aboard, the Hitchhiker. Here was new energy, refreshing new dialog and here comes the big scene, the Hitchhiker puts some foil on his hand and loads it with gun powder.  Props came up and loaded up his hand and Ed Neal, the actor playing the Hitchhiker asked, “what do you want me to do?”.

He was told to simply light it with a match and there would be a tiny   explosion.  Everything went perfectly as planned till the match hit the excessive amount of gunpowder, we were very  lucky to all have made it home that night.  Finally, the van week was over and though many  emotions had been tested we were all grateful to move along . The film was sent off to the lab, a few days later, it returned, none of the footage made it to screen. We had some sort of technical problem.

Your role was incredibly physical. Tell me about how it was to shoot that incredible running in the forest with Gunnar? 

Yes, the role of  Sally  was physical but I was twenty three years old, I never thought I better hit the gym to do this.  Hell, I was out late at night with a bunch of  kids filming as I was really being chased by  an actor in a mask that he could hardly see properly out of  as he carried a screaming chainsaw.  An actor prepares, no the actor just runs as fast  as she can.

How was your relationship with Gunnar. He was as disgusting for not being able to wash himself as he has quoted? 

Gunnar is my  dear friend today, but back then all I knew was Leatherface. We only had one costume and for continuity purposes it couldn’t be washed. You could smell Leatherface coming and going.

Do you feel during the horrendous scene of the dinner the horror of your character? Do you ever feel that you were doing something too grotesque?  

The twenty six hour dinner scene smelled of rotten chicken, disgusting headcheese, exhausted crew and spent actors. We were all a bit crazed by then.

What is your favorite moment in the movie as an actress point of view? 

My favorite scene in the movie is when I am pushing Franklin through the woods and then we hear the sound of the chainsaw.  I still jump when I see it.

What about the laughing and crying at the same time in the final scene? Was an improvisation? 

As for the ending, we had to re shoot that shot too, more trouble in the lab. I was really crying and laughing, wondering if I ever was going to wrap this movie.

In his book, Shock Value, Jason Zinoman, stated that your relationship with Bill Parsley played a big role in the funding of the movie. It’s true that you knew some scandal related to Parsley and public funds and that you press him with this? Did you have any relationship, aside the professional, with him, and some of the gossip in books and interviews hint?

Warren Skaaren  was over the Texas Film Commission, Bill Parsley and I were on the board at its conception in 1971. We were able to bring many studio movies to Texas. Warren brought the script to Bill, who saw it as a tax shelter. I had met Tobe and Kim on the set of ‘Lovin Molly’ directed by Sidney Lumet. I auditioned and landed the role.  There was never a scandal related to Parsley and public funds! Legends get bigger and tales grow taller.

After the screening, there was much controversy about the team not being a part of the finanncial success on the movie. What is your point of view about this?

Look, it has been 40 years and people still care, that is quite a gift! Who would have thought?


Reprinted with permission from El Pais newspaper, Spain.

Saying Good-bye

It is never easy to say goodbye to people when they pass. It’s especially hard when you’ve grown close to that person, and count them among your friends. It becomes just surreal when they are someone that is in the public eye, and their passing takes over social media for hours. People outpouring their memories, condolences and their own “I remember when..” moments. I felt the need to write this today, not really for anyone but me and my friend Marilyn Burns. Still, I thought it might give a few of you a smile.

I met Marilyn several years ago at Texas Frightmare Weekend when she was a guest of the convention. I had been a fan for years, and this was my chance to meet her and add her autograph to my Texas Chainsaw Massacre cowboy hat. We get to meet actors and directors that we love at these conventions every year, but for some reason Marilyn was different. I felt like she was actually engaged in our conversation. When I mentioned to her that I was working on a script, she told me that she would love to read it, and to keep her posted.


Marilyn and I kept in touch over the years, and that script finally turned into our first feature film, Sacrament. When I told Marilyn the script was ready, she told me to send it right over. I figured I would be lucky to hear back from her in a month or two, but Marilyn called me the next day with tons of questions about the character I had in mind for her, and telling me how much she loved the script. We talked back and forth over the next few months while we worked through the preproduction paperwork, and we were finally able to announce both her and Ed Guinn as part of our production. I could not have been happier, especially since I wrote the script with them in mind.

On set and off, Marilyn was a true pro and one of the sweetest people I have ever had as a part of my life. Between shots, she would pose with the other actors for pictures and cut up with everyone else while we moved equipment around for the next scene. When the camera came on, she was all business. Once we were rolling, Marilyn gave 150%. If I was looking for something else, she happily did it a different way, and if she wasn’t happy with it, we did the same. Not once did she complain about being tired, being sore, needing a break – nothing.


Marilyn was not a director or a cinematographer, but she had so much to offer all of us while we worked on that set because of the experience she had accumulated over her long career. She never made anyone feel like they were a bother for asking a question, she would just smile that “been there, done that” smile, and do her best to help out.


I remember her asking about my grandmother regularly when we would talk. Since her character was loosely based on my grandmother, she would often ask how I thought my grandmother might say something. “Would she do this? Would she do that?” She really made me think deeper about these characters than I had before. She brought a depth to them that they may not have had without her.

After we wrapped the film, we fell right back into our normal lives. It never ceased to amaze me when my phone would ring, and it would be someone I spent so many years loving on film on the other end of my phone. Marilyn was one of the most thoughtful people I have ever met. Whether it was a call to check up on me after surgery, or just calling to tell me happy birthday, Marilyn made everyone she knew feel like they were the most important person in the world.


After filming, Marilyn and I had the chance to do Texas Frightmare Weekend again, this time together as guests. If ever there was a person that could teach a class on how to treat an audience and fans, Marilyn could fill a semester. Everyone that came to meet her got the royal treatment. Even though she was sick with a cold for most of the weekend, she refused to stay in her room. She wanted to be among the fans that loved her. She and I would laugh at the “prima donna’s” that would gripe and complain about having to sign “another one of these damn things.” Marilyn understood that the fans were what got her where she was. She loved that she had been able to travel the world and meet thousands of wonderful people that showed her that same love in return.

When I would take her back up to our room to relax after the show, we would all sit around and listen to her talk about the original Chainsaw, and stories that no one else knew. It was like we were part of that group of “hippie kids back in ’74” on the set with her. She made you feel like you were part of the gang. One of my favorite memories of her was at that convention, and our friend Amanda reminded me of it last night. We were all sitting and lounging on the beds in our room before doing a podcast with our friend Corey Graham about Sacrament, Chainsaw, and anything else that came up. Marilyn, again sick with a cold, had been sucking on cough drops. When she asked for a beer, no one gave it a second thought, and we went right back to talking. After three or four sips of beer, Marilyn made one of the sourest faces I have ever seen, and said “Man, this beer is awful!” Then Amanda reminded her that she still had her cough drop in her mouth, and the room absolutely erupted in laughter.


I have to say that one of the brightest moments in my life was the premiere of our film, Sacrament. I was both excited, and scared shitless. I hoped that people would like the film. By the end, we knew we had won everyone over, and We all went to the stage for our Q&A. Having the whole cast up there with me talking about the work we put into the film was amazing. Having Marilyn and Ed there next to me practically had me in tears. It was, and is, truly an honor to have her last performances as part of a film we all worked so hard on. I could not have done this without her, and everyone else that put their blood, sweat and tears into it.


When I sent her flowers on her birthday, she couldn’t believe it. I have never felt so appreciated as I did when she called me gushing over the bouquet that I sent, just thinking it was a nice thing to do. She made me feel like a million dollars. I have rarely met anyone as selfless and giving as she was. Even after the premiere, when she would do interviews she would call and ask if there was anything special she should tell the interviewer about Sacrament. When we talked a couple of days ago, she was telling me about some new interviews for the 40th Chainsaw anniversary. She was giving them what they wanted for Chainsaw, but she’d be damned if they weren’t going to include Sacrament in there. She always made me feel important, and every talk brought a smile to my face. She had a mouth like a sailor if you caught her in the right mood, and it always made me laugh. Marilyn didn’t want people to make a fuss over her, but I feel like she deserved a bit of fuss.


That was the Marilyn that I knew. I loved her as a friend, and I am deeply sorry that she’s gone. As I scan through the social media world, I see how many people she touched. I am grateful that I was able to call her friend, even if it was only a short few years. Marilyn packed a lot of memories and love into those years. A piece of me passed along with her. I’ll miss you, sweetheart.