By Shannon Weidman
In 2014 I joined a small group of 7th St Theatre volunteers who host the annual Hot August Frights movie marathon. Hot August Frights is a 12 hour movie marathon at the 7th St Theatre showcasing the best of the worst in old scary/creepy/horror movies. We have featured such classics as Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter, and Killer Clowns From Outer Space.
In the spring of 2014 our little misfit group was debating which movies we should show and what might we show in the 10 – 15 minutes between movies while people are stretching their legs and refilling their popcorn buckets. It was then that I got the genius (and overly ambitious) idea that we could make our OWN short horror movies to show between the “real” movies.
The first script I completed was called “The Purple Rose of Death.” It was an homage to silent horror movies like “Nosferatu” as well as to Woody Allen’s 1985 movie, “The Purple Rose of Cairo” in which a movie character steps out of the movie screen and into the real world. In my movie, a real life person would be lured INTO a horror movie. It sounded so easy.
I recruited friends and fellow 7th Street volunteers as my actors and crew and went to work. Our opening shot was going to be the exterior of a haunted house. 30 seconds into filming our fancy camera had a dead battery and our sunlight was gone. We turned on the high beams of my car for lighting and we filmed the rest of the movie using our cell phones.
After way too many hours of editing we finally put together a little movie that might not bring home any awards, but which we had a fun time making and we learned so much about the effort that goes into making movies. The movie (along with a few others we made) was shown between the “real” films at the 2014 Hot August Frights movie marathon and has not been seen publicly since. So.. for the first time since that initial screening, I present to you.. The Purple Rose of Death!