Savage Messiah: Ken Russell => Savage Messiah: Ken Russell => Topic started by: Iain Fisher on August 17, 2020, 01:24:40 PM

Title: Ken fired from Skeletons in 1997
Post by: Iain Fisher on August 17, 2020, 01:24:40 PM
A good article about Skeletons from 1997, directed by Ken Russell until he was fired and replaced by David DeCoteau.

“It’s so Hollywood,” laughs director David DeCoteau. “Your f**king craft service guy takes over a movie from you! I felt so bad for Ken, though; I mean Ken Russell was a visionary. But he did not leave Skeletons on a friendly basis. He was fired and, well, it was great for me because, looking back, I’ve just finished .

...I did craft service which was sort of like the set janitor and snack boy, you know what I’m saying? Like, if I were craft service in England, I would have been the boy that walked around with the tea [laughs]. Now, the first film I saw when I arrived in L.A. was Ken Russell’s Altered States (1980), and then I saw his early works at repertory theatres like Tommy (1975) and – one of my favourite films – The Devils (1971). So I was just thrilled to be able to work with Ken as a P.A. on Crimes of Passion (1984), which Don was producing. And then you obviously fast forward twelve years and I’m suddenly taking Skeletons over from him.”

… Russell, meanwhile, was infamously fiery; a berserker-like powerhouse with a long history of butting heads with the money men and anyone else he deemed to be in his way. His time on Skeletons was no different.

“Ken wasn’t too easy to get along with. He was very gruff, very aloof on Crimes of Passion; I only approached him once and was pretty much barked at to get away from him. And I saw that explosive temper of his often! And on Skeletons [the producers] were having a lot of trouble, a lot of conflict, with him over the film’s budget and scheduling. I think he’d lost the use of his left or right arm or something by this point too; I think he’d had a stroke so I was just like, “Poor Ken”. I really, really did feel so awful, especially as after I took Skeletons over Ken’s agent, the wonderful Bobby Littman, this British guy who used to run MGM in the UK, ended up signing me because I took over his client. So I took his film and his agent too, which was even more bizarre [laughs]!”

“But what happened was, at the same time they were letting Ken go, I was directing a little action movie for the same company called Prey of the Jaguar (1996). And the producers liked my cut of it, which I delivered to them on the weekend that they fired Ken, and they needed someone to take Skeletons immediately as they had a pay or play situation with Skeletons’ star, Ron Silver. Basically, Ron was going to get paid whether the film got made or not. So obviously it was more financially beneficial to make the movie, maybe make a little profit, but they wanted to do it on a more reasonable schedule. And that’s when I was hired.”

“I didn’t just say ‘yes’ right away. For one, I had to get approval from Ron Silver. After Ken was let go, he had that power so I was like, “Well, this is going to be a complete pain in my f**king ass. f**k it!”. I just didn’t want to deal with that kind of thing! And I didn’t need to do it because I had a few other offers but, seriously, they made me an offer I really couldn’t refuse. They came up with a lot of cash and said, “David, you really need to do this movie.” So I agreed and, thankfully, Ron approved.”

… But then when the company said, “Oh, by the way, Ken’s no longer directing it but the guy behind Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama is instead,” he was a little let down! I couldn’t blame him! So I promised him, I said, “Look, I will do the best I possibly can with the conditions and, as a matter of fact, I’d like to have you on the set every day. Every minute I want you actively involved in the creation of this movie”. And he was then really enthusiastic because I really had him there, talking and working with the actors, doing last minute rewrites and stuff. So he liked the fact that I brought him in on all these creative choices. But that’s something I like to do anyways: if I can afford to have the writer in Los Angeles or wherever I’m shooting, it’s just really handy for me.”

…“I am very, very proud of Knock ’em Dead. It’s a real sassy, Agatha Christie kinda thing; very funny and very commercial. It was written by Barry Sandler who wrote The Mirror Crack’d (1980) but, what’s really funny, is that he wrote Ken’s Crimes of Passion! We met on that, became friends and decided to make our little movie together all these years later. So, like Skeletons, I guess I have Ken Russell to thank for Knock ’em Dead too!”

The full article from 12 Jan 2020 by Matty Budrewiczis is here
https://theschlockpit.com/2020/01/12/bones-of-it-skeletons-1997-david-decoteau/ (https://theschlockpit.com/2020/01/12/bones-of-it-skeletons-1997-david-decoteau/)

Title: Re: Ken fired from Skeletons in 1997
Post by: Rosebud on October 27, 2020, 09:16:05 PM
Very interesting article.  I am quite family with some of David DeCoteau's work, if only because of his association with Charles Band of Full Moon.  "Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-o-Rama" has been a guilty pleasure of mine for years.  It is so weird that they both would ever be considered for the same job.  Of course this occurred during the lowest point of Ken's career, when he directed dreck, like "Mindbender" and "Dogboys."
Title: Re: Ken fired from Skeletons in 1997
Post by: Iain Fisher on November 03, 2020, 01:27:40 AM
I had never heard of David DeCoteau before and his films do sound like guilty pleasures.  I was going to get Skeletons just to see what Ken could have been involved with.  Maybe I will use lockdown in the UK to also find Sorority Babes and Leeches.

Mindbender is strange, there is some good imagery but the film is a poor vanity film for Uri Geller.  I've not watched Dogboys for ages (wonder why!) but I don't remember anything good about it.
Title: Re: Ken fired from Skeletons in 1997
Post by: Rosebud on November 10, 2020, 11:30:18 PM
I need to check out "Skeletons" too.  I will be curious to hear what you think about "Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-o-Rma."  If anything the movie is worth watching for the fact that the film features the big three scream queens of the day, Linnea Quigley, Brink Stevens, and Michelle Bauer.  Also, I think it is really interesting to find out that David DeCoteau worked craft service on "Crimes of Passion."
Title: Re: Ken fired from Skeletons in 1997
Post by: Iain Fisher on December 06, 2020, 06:48:10 PM
I watched Skeletons (the David DeCoteau version, not the later film with the same title).  A good serviceable film worth watching on TV but not one to watch again.  Difficult to see how Ken would handle it and how he would have handled actors like Christopher Plummer and James Coburn.  It could have been another Billion Dollar Brain (which has lots of good bits) or Dogboys (which doesn't).  Or Ken could have surprised us just as Tommy and Altered States showed his versatility.

(**** spoilers ****)

Basically a newcomer to a town investigates a death with the supposed killer in jail and lead actor Peter Crane becomes more and more convinced the man jailed is innocent.  The more he investigates the more the townspeople turn against him till only one person seems to be sympathetic- I guessed early on this person was the actual leader of the cover-up.
Title: Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-o-Rara
Post by: Iain Fisher on December 06, 2020, 07:08:08 PM
And I watched DeCocteau's Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-o-Rara.

****** spoilers ******

It is what you would expect, 3 chicks who have showers etc etc and then about 40 mins into the film the creature, an imp, appears totally unexpectedly.  Wikipedia says "loosely based on the classic short story The Monkey's Paw" but what the film is about isn't really relevant.  It is good cheesy fun in the same way as Roger Corman- think The Wasp Woman or Creature from the Haunted Sea or Ray Kellogg's The Killer Shrews, but with nudity.


Title: Re: Ken fired from Skeletons in 1997
Post by: Rosebud on December 27, 2020, 07:55:18 PM
I love the mentioning of "The Killer Shrews," which is another guilty favorite of mine.  I watch it at least once a year. A Ken Russell remake of "The Killer Shrews" would had been amazing!!!
Title: Re: Ken fired from Skeletons in 1997
Post by: Iain Fisher on January 19, 2021, 01:56:51 AM
Yes Killer Shrews is a film so bad it is good, and just like you I have watched it lots of times.


Of course the shrews are the best/worst part.  Here reasonably good


but here !!!!


It is part of my "100 horror films" set on about 20 DVD, some really forgettable, others great.

Do you know Mystery Science Theatre 3000 (MST3000)?  They take really bad films (mainly horror or sci fi) and have a man and two robots (don't ask) in the audience giving a great taking the piss commentary, for example Earth vs the Spider (skip the into go straight to the film)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IiUQ78kozjk (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IiUQ78kozjk)
Title: Re: Ken fired from Skeletons in 1997
Post by: Rosebud on January 26, 2021, 07:13:31 PM
I love the screen shots of the Shrews that you uploaded. The worst looking shrew looks like a paper mache high school art project.  I haven't seen the Killer Shrews Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode.  I need to check it out.  I've watch a few other Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes over the years and always got a kick out of them.  Thanks Iain for the link.