It was 1987 and I was assisting a really great make-up artist on a really low-budget stinker called SOUL TANGLER. Don’t even bother Googling this one, kids. To the best of my knowledge, the only video release this hunk’a shit ever saw was on Brazilian VHS some time around 1992.
Anyway, we needed an elaborate zombie make-up for the cinematic climax, and I volunteered to “go under the glop” as the make-up kids say. I was psyched. We built wrinkly appliances for my forehead and cheeks and topped things off with a big fake nose. We also built an enormous, empty chest piece with ribs that were stuffed with rubber guts. One bucket o’blood later I’m ready to make 16mm history.
We’re shooting in a dingy Long Island basement that’s crudely decorated like a mad scientist’s lab, where it’s humid, stinky and hot. There’ a half-inch of fake blood on the floor and the crew, such as it is, are slipping & sliding on the linoleum. But my zombie make-up looks cool, and this is really gonna make this movie! The Director calls “Action!” The lead actor is pretending to look around the laboratory, and that’s when my zombie shuffles out of a meat locker, dripping goo and dragging fifteen foot long intestines.
I attack the hero, wrapping my intestines around his neck like a lasso and I begin choking the shit out him. The Director has an ear-to-ear grin, the other make-up guys are on the verge of ecstasy, but unfortunately, my co-star…The “Hero”…is completely no-selling my blood-dripping, offal-splattering assault! The fucking guy has an absolutely blank look on his face, like he’s waiting for a bus…A really, really boring bus! We somehow wrapped the scene, and piled back into the car for the long ride home, sticky with Karo syrup and disappointment with what was supposed to be the “Soul Tangling” showstopper.
About a year later, I got a VHS copy of the rough cut. I’ll be honest, I don’t even know what I did with it. I have no recollection of how my zombie met with his obligatory gory zombie end, and I’m still picking latex bits out of my beard.
If there ever really is a Zombie Apocalypse, I only hope that I can be half as calm, cool and collected as the hero of Soul Tangler.