News Column

Horror in the Basin

September 10, 2013


Sept. 10--Body parts. Blood. Horrified high schoolers... at least, the ones still alive are horrified.

But scarier than their dead and dismembered friends is that tall mime running after them with a menacing chain saw, chasing two of them into a theater. Their fates are too graphic for this publication, other than to say that, well, they die horrible deaths.

This scene from Billy "Bloody Bill" Pon's upcoming horror film "Circus of the Dead" was shot late Friday and late Saturday. Between now and May 2014, Bloody Bill -- known in Odessa for running the Def Con 1 Haunted Warehouse and the movie's namesake Circus of the Dead Murder Maze -- expected to film several more scenes throughout Odessa for a film that he's hoping will see a national release beyond the film festival circuit.

"There's high hopes on this," Pon said. "My goal is to make a non-cheesy horror film, with clowns."

Pon said the crew has spent 22 days filming the project by late Saturday. Though the major scenes have been completed, there were about 16 days left of filming.

The film revolves around a front desk hotel manager named Don, played by Parrish Randall. Pon described Don as an average guy who took his family for granted as he worked, until he came across a circus troupe led by Papa Corn, played by Bill Oberst Jr. Pon said Papa Corn and company, through the course of the film's plot, take note of Don's attitudes and decide to kidnap him, take away his family and then brutally torture him.

Randall, who was more accustomed to playing the role of the torturer rather than the tortured in several B-movie horror films, welcomed the role reversal.

"Don is a rarity for a male ... he's victimized throughout the film," Randall said.

Portraying Don, however, is in itself torturous for Randall. Believing "acting is never really acting," Randall said he tries using real-life anguish in order to bring out Don's tears. Particularly, he flashes back to a day in 2003, when he found his mother dead.

"As morbid as it is, it's the most painful. I use that in my memory," Randall said, "and it works. They (the audience) think Don's crying over his kids ..."

Don's tormentor, Papa Corn, and his lot are bloodthirsty. Oberst, quoting Pon, described Papa Corn, the film's antagonist, as "a homicidal serial killer rapist with a strange tendency toward necrophilia, whose day job happens to be a clown."

And how did he get that way? That's one of the reasons Oberst took this role.

"There's not a reason, there's not a back story," Oberst said. "I have this girl cornered. She asks what I'm going to do, and he says, 'I'm going to do what I do.' ... Are some of us just born bad? I don't know, but that's why I enjoy this character."

Both Randall and Oberst said they knew Pon through film festivals and horror conventions, and went for their roles after Pon invited them.

Randall and Oberst both noticed the homages Pon paid to "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," pointing out the names of the two that ran into the theater -- Sally and Jerry, two of Leatherface's victims.

And the fictionalized Ector High School will probably stand out for the locals, if the actors can't quite remember the motto for the Mighty Fighting Chupacabras.

"What's the motto?" Chris Duesler, playing Jerry, asked Pon.

"Suck 'em dry!" Pon said.

Follow Odessa American reporter Doug Carman on twitter @OACopyDoug, on Facebook at, or call him at 432-333-7760.


(c)2013 the Odessa American (Odessa, Texas)

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