After 1-1/2 years in production, the much anticipated and critically acclaimed “Escape From Hell ” is released to VHS. DRC Production’s signature touch of spectacular special effects immerses the viewer in worlds that most have only imagined. The following is from the Director’s Diary during the making of the film. Recorded Dec 23rd, 1999.
Hopefully, it is the last day of production in the old high school gym (we turned into a studio) at the Old Liberty Godparent Home in Lynchburg, VA. It is another winter day without heat in the building. The kerosene tunnel heaters have been blasting all day in the large gym, but the place still feels pretty cold. There is a constant smell of kerosene day and night.
Dan Kruse, Paul Stober and Greg Provance have been the major leads in the hell sequences. They have been acting in front of a large 40’ x 40’ green screen that hangs from the rafters and drops to the gym floor. The green screen is being used for many of our special effects sequences in heaven and hell.
Glen Piegari, our sound man and newly appointed stunt coordinator, has rigged a harness on Dan that will lift him by two ropes via a hydraulic scissors lift and then drop him about two stories off the ground. Thanks to Glen’s mountain climbing experience and Dan’s athletic abilities, the stunts turn out beautifully. The ropes will be removed in post-production creating the illusion of a free fall.
Randy Smith, our co-producer and master of all aspects of production, is currently working on the prosthetics for the “worm scene” in hell with Tommy (played by Greg Provance). This particular effect has taken several weeks to create—from molding the actor’s body to developing synthetic skin textures. In this scene in the film, Tommy is being “eaten alive in Hell by worms.” The effect will combine the use of prosthetic and computer generated images.
Randy and a few members of the crew place the headless and armless prosthetic body of the character of Tommy on a table. Greg stands behind the fake body and presses his neck, head and arms in the appropriate places, creating the illusion that they are one.
When the camera and lighting are ready, Randy kneels just out of camera frame and pushes a combination of live worms, cow intestines and other like parts through the stomach of the fake body, as Greg screams in agony. The visual image is one of extreme horror and we feel that the effect was a success. The crowd, which consists of actors, crew and bystanders, cheer as the word “Cut!” is yelled on the set. With some post-production work, the “special effect” promises to be very effective.
It is now getting close to 11pm and we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The Lord has provided three additional grips (crew) to help breakdown the equipment to load into the large U-Haul truck. As we setup the final green screen sequences, the crew begins the tremendous task of carrying the lighting gear and accessories into a large room for inventory.
Meanwhile, Dan Kruse (who plays Eric) finishes his last special effect scenes that take place in the boiler room. Because an actor was unable to make the shoot, Randy Smith stepped in to play the lead angel. Thankfully, there are few lines for Randy to memorize and we move pretty quickly through the scene.
Finally, there is one last scene to shoot, which someone loving coined “The Pod People.” This scene consists of most of the crew being placed individually in front of the camera screaming. We will add computer effects of each person being eaten alive by a strange “Venus Fly Trap” like creature. It is now close to 1am and everyone quickly scrambles to load the truck. It is an extremely brutal task. We are all exhausted and we’ve got to load very heavy pieces of equipment into the truck, because the gear must be driven to Charlotte, NC by noon tomorrow.The task is completed at 3am. Randy Smith jumps into the truck and drives it to the hotel to get some sleep for the long trip. We all say our good-byes and head to our respective beds for a little sleep. My job is to drop JRB off at the airport in Roanoke in the morning, pack the camera gear and raw footage, and ship everything FED EX to their final destinations. Prayerfully, Randy will be back by 5pm to return the U-Haul.
Read our full review of “Escape From Hell ”