Eight Legged Freaks
A year or so passed and several films came and went and I got a call to go work on “Arac Attack”. It was a film that Rolland, Dean, and Peter were producing about giant spiders. They were shooting it in Arizona and I was given about a month of prepro to create spider effects and mummified bodies. I was in heaven. A chance had come to make Monster Spiders!!!! I contacted Bruce, who was unfortunately tied up on “Black Knight”, but happily Corey and Brent were available. I set up a shop in my parent’s basement (I still work there. The price is right and it’s a nice space.) I also called my friends Scott Spencer and Rick Spears to come in and help as well as a few others which were more like day players. Corey was only around to help in the shop for a brief period, before he had to leave (During Christmas time) and he then went out to Arizona, before we would follow a few weeks later. In the mean time, we created various spider parts and even created several full sized spiders to have just in case and then Brent and I made our way to the desert. I have only flown over the desert on the way to California and have never spent any time there. It was a real treat to spend the next 6 weeks there. Our first shop was set up in a little room off of a gas station. It wasn’t much, but it was a space and it was awfully close to a nice source of Hostess cherry pies and Mountain Dews. After about a week at location, we would relocate to the Manastee Mall and set up in an old pet store complete with several mummified reptiles. It was there that we spent the next 4 or 5 weeks of the shoot. They had the sets built there and had various departments set up as well. The funny thing is that parts of the mall housed some churches and some stores and occasionally the quiet would be shattered by the sounds of hymns being sang or the smell of incense. Otherwise the mall was dead at our end with only the tunes of Jethro Tull or southern rock blaring from my little cd player. It was in that shop and on that film that I had the best time that I have ever had on any film. We would set our bodies up in the store front window and tarp the rest off from curious passer bys, but occasionally we’d have to chase off people with still cameras taking pictures like we were part of the Haunted Mansion ride at Disney. After a while Brent, who has a prankster’s spirit, would make up off the wall stories to tell the curious drop ins and would have me practically in tears trying not to bust out in laughter. One of the funniest nights, one of my crew (who will remain nameless) got a really bad case of gas. Frankly we all had a bit of the winds that night, but his would set off a smoke detector. Well we were filming in the tunnel sets, which is a pretty tight environment and he looked at me and quietly announced his release of a weapon of mass destruction. You could practically feel the temperature change in the room as the oxygen level dropped to an unhealthy state and a smell from the bowels of hell began to destroy our very brain cells. Lars the AD came in and said in his gruff voice, @#$%*! Johnson, did you do that? At that point the whole part of my brain that holds discretion had died and I pointed out the culprit and we took off, laughing the whole time. Well these tunnel sets were probably about 100 feet long and come to find out, the smell traveled to the other end like a shark looking for prey and invaded the nostrils of the poor unsuspecting crew. Considering one of the dangers in the film was supposed to be methane, I guess that a little realism was added to their motivation. The next day, my friend’s name was listed as “Stinky” on the crew list.
By the end of the shoot, we were all exhausted and a bit punch drunk. I received a bad burn on my hand and was bandaged up, but going full force. We had a scene where they were wanting to show a couple of guys getting cocooned. There was little time to cast the parts, so Brent volunteered and they got one other guy. They were webbed to the dirt floor and left to wait until all was ready to shoot. Apparently the other guy fell asleep and Brent was trying to get someone’s attention, but to no avail. The cameras began to roll and nothing. They yelled cut and came over to find out the problem. If memory serves me correct, the guy was snoring. So they woke him up (This was night shoots at this point and we were in long, long days) and gave them some more direction and rolled once more. Both of the guys start to squirm around as if a giant spider is about to get them and I recall Peter or someone shouting, “Can you all not move so much like the gopher in “Caddyshack”! It was hilarious, because that is exactly what it looked like. So after a couple of more takes, we got the shot and they had the crew applaud the 2 victims. The funny thing is that when they called out the name of the other victim, he replied, “That’s not my name”. We had thought that he was one of the caterers, but it wasn’t him. I heard a rumor that the guy wasn’t even part of the crew, but was just some guy who had dropped in to watch the shoot and got snagged to become a body. That was the last night and soon we all went our own ways. I have to really say again, how great of an experience it was for me and working with Peter, Dean, Roland and the rest, will always be one of my fondest film making memories.


Post 9/11 to 2009

Me sculpting a head
Corey and I working on spider
Corey and I working on a spider
One of the bodies made to be cocooned
lars and I
Lars and I puppeting some legs
brent webbed
Brent webbed to the floor

jay and body

Jay Arlen Jones and his fake body
some photos graciously provided by Jon Farmer
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