On a recent Friday afternoon, David “the Rock” Nelson takes to the backyard of his parents’ house in DesPlaines, carrying a camcorder and a plastic bag containing a ripped flannel shirt, a six-inch plastic ant, rubber werewolf’s hands, and a werewolf mask. Nelson’s getting ready to shoot his latest movies–Devil Ant and Werewolf’s Revenge. Since I’m on hand he’s asked me to play a bit part. It’s difficult to say when they will be completed. Nelson has so many projects going on at once and he has little in the way of financial resources. He works about 20 hours a week as a telephone solicitor, raising money for the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police.

Nelson’s already produced several movies that range in length from 5 to 40 minutes. He sells them on videotape by mail order, at specialty video stores, and by passing out flyers in Park Ridge and DesPlaines. Titles include Mummy A.D. 1993, The Giant Fly, Pumpkinman, Werewolf vs. Dracula, Son of Werewolf, and Dracula From Space. Nelson says many more are on the way. “When I die, I want people to have a stock of movies to look at,” he says. “I want them to have a lot of entertainment. I’m gonna have a whole slew of pictures, man.”

In addition to writing and directing his movies, he also plays most of the major roles, designs the special effects, costumes, and props, puts together the sound tracks, and draws all the credits and artwork. He edits in his basement bedroom (which he calls his “dungeon”) using a camcorder and two VCRs. Nelson, who’s 38, often uses his parents’ backyard as a setting for his movies, but if he stumbles on someplace interesting or potentially scary–a cemetery, an abandoned building, an old motel–he will shoot on location.

Today he wants to get some shots of himself directing a movie, so he’s brought out an extra tripod. He’s short and pugnacious, all ex-marine torso, with a raspy, tough-guy Chicago voice. Over his T-shirt and jeans, he’s wearing a light blue polyester suit jacket with three cigars in the right pocket and a Golden Gloves pin on the left lapel. He also sports a pair of very shiny black wing-tip shoes. He puts the camera down next to a concrete wall, which ordinarily houses a grill.

“You know what I filmed here?” he asks. “Burning crab monsters. Real crabs. I put alcohol on ’em and burned ’em. They were sittin’ right on top of these rocks here. I filmed crab monsters getting burned, but I had the lens far enough away so the lens wouldn’t get burned. It’s gonna be in my movie Monster Invasion. Giant crabs. On those rocks. I had ’em burnin’. You see, there’s gonna be a scene where I throw a Molotov cocktail at ’em and go, ‘Fry, you stinkin’ crab monsters, fry,’ and then I’m gonna fry other monsters. I’m gonna show a close-up of these crabs. I’m pullin’ the invisible thread, making their arms go around, and–I did the sound effects–I’m goin’, “Awww! Awwwwwww!’ How do you like that? “Awwwww!’ Monster. And I got a picture of me doin’ it. There’s a photo of me, I have my mouth open. I’m goin’ like this with the alcohol and the crabs. Giant crabs gettin’ fried. But that’s gonna be in a couple of years, because I’m working on the other films, Vampire Woman, Devil Ant, and all.”

Nelson sets the tripod up next to his friend Mike Johnson, who he instructs to stand still and smoke a cigar. Johnson is tall and beefy, a part-time construction worker. Nelson fiddles with the camera, trying to get it to work.

“Is there a tape in here? Oh, I know what the problem is: the camera isn’t on. Stay right there, Mike, turn sideways, like that, right there, that’s it. Stay right there, I’m just gonna get a shot of you right now. Go on up, pull the stogie out of your mouth. When I give the signal, it means put it back in. That’s perfect!”

Nelson runs over to his car in the driveway and pulls out a megaphone. “Wait, I gotta get something else.” He whips over to the garage and comes out with a director’s chair. He’s now also wearing a wide-brimmed black felt hat. “Gotta get a shot of me sitting in my director’s chair. I should really do it without the hat.” He takes the hat off and puts it back on. “I haven’t got any films of me directing a movie yet. I thought I should do it today.” He runs around the yard, in front of the camera, doing his best imitation of Johnny Depp imitating Ed Wood. “All right, ready? Action. Cut! That was perfect! Perfect! One more take. Here, this time without the hat. Ready? Action! It’s uncanny! It’s uncanny! That was perfect!”

Nelson sits in his director’s chair. The camera is rolling. I’m playing a reporter who’s come to interview him for a newspaper story. It’s unclear to me what movie this scene will appear in, but it may appear in an outtakes reel, which Nelson often generously includes on his mail-order videotapes, along with trailers for his many movies, old cartoon advertisements for drive-in snack bars, rounds from his various Golden Gloves matches, and his two TV appearances on Fox Thing in the Morning.

“So tell me, David, what does it take to be a great film director?” I ask.

“Enthusiasm, my friend, and initiative. Like they said in the marines, gunnery sergeant Singer said, ‘Initiative, lads, initiative. That’s the most important leadership trait,’ he said, in the marines.”

“So by showing initiative, you can make movies?”

“Yes, and hard work, too. Initiative, hard work, not quittin’. Never give up, despite criticism. I get criticized all the time. But I didn’t listen to the critics. I just kept pumpin’ and crankin’ out those movies, man.” He gets out of the chair, whips off his jacket, and starts closing in on the camera, punching rapidly as he moves. A left hook, a right jab. “Hey, I’m a boxer and a marine! So don’t mess with me, man! Semper fi! Marine Corps! They better not mess with me! My critics better not mess with me, man, ’cause I’m gonna beat you up. Huh, huh, huh, huh, huh. Hmm, hmmm, hmm, hmmmm, heeeyah, huh, huh. Hmmm, yeah!”

He sits back down, his forehead sweaty and hair rumpled. “No, I don’t really want to beat you up. You know, I try my best. I don’t know why people criticize me. I’m a nice guy.” He barks into his megaphone. “I’m a nice guy, why don’t you people like me? I don’t understand. OK, cut!”

Nelson likes to point out that he was born the year Bela Lugosi died and that he shares a birthday with Bruce Lee. As a kid in Park Ridge he went to Saturday matinees and watched monster movies on television. He was particularly influenced by such films as Robot Monster, I Was a Teenage Werewolf, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, Lugosi’s The Return of the Vampire, and Christopher Lee’s The Mummy. Nelson graduated from Maine South High School in Park Ridge in 1975. Most of his actors attended Maine South at one time or another: Mike Johnson, Greg “Ozzie” Ozimek, Arrah Slichenmeyer, and Jerry Dio. In an article for Scary Monsters, a video fanzine, Nelson describes how he met his girlfriend Janet Okulanis, who, coincidentally, also attended Maine South. “I met a girl in the Osco store in Park Ridge (Sat., June 18, ’93) IL. As I paid the cashier for my video tapes, I did a magic trick (which I learned at age 12, when I was inspired by Houdini and the movie Houdini with Tony Curtis), and after the nickel disappeared I pulled it out of a young lady’s hair. She liked that and said, ‘Whooo! How’d you do that!? Where do you live? I live over here!'” Okulanis has since appeared in many of Nelson’s movies, including her own serial called The Adventures of Janet, and will soon star as the title character in Vampire Woman. Future films Nelson has laid out for her include Janet vs. Wolfman, Miss Werewolf, and Werewolf vs. the Witch.

In high school Nelson also became interested in boxing, and was particularly inspired by Smokin’ Joe Frazier. “He influenced me to lift weights, because I used to be a skinny little guy,” he says. “Ribs were showing.” Nelson fought in the Golden Gloves and continued to box after he joined the marines in 1976. He eventually reached the rank of corporal, but says he felt something was missing. In 1979 he became a born-again Christian. “When I was in the Marine Corps, I did a lot of sinnin’. I went out partyin’ and drinkin’. I still like to drink and smoke cigars. I got my stogies, man. Nothin’ like a good cigar. But back then I knew I was bad. I was afraid I was going to hell. That I was going to burn in hell. I let Jesus come into my heart. I got saved. Then I wanted to be a preacher. I wanted to tell everybody about it.”

After getting his honorable discharge, he was accepted at Maranatha, a Bible college in Watertown, Wisconsin. He graduated in 1986 with a BA in evangelism and a minor in English. He tried preaching for a while, but it didn’t stick with him. “I’m not one of those holy rollers, speakin’-in-tongues idiots. I don’t do that stuff. I still talk to people about it, I do. But at the same time, I swear I’m not perfect. I sin. I sin every day. I’m no better than everybody else. I just want to say that. I am no better than anybody else. I am a sinner. I like to have fun, too. There ain’t nothin’ wrong about havin’ fun. There ain’t nothin’ wrong with usin’ your talents. You don’t have to be a preacher, whether you’re a baseball player or an actor, if you try your best . . . even if you have a regular job . . . if you’re a plumber. . . . Just because I’m saved doesn’t mean I have to be a preacher. I can be an actor. I can make monster movies. I’m free. I’m not under law. I’m free.”

In 1986 Nelson started boxing again, signing up for the Golden Gloves after a ten-year absence, and boxed until 1991 as “the Fighting Preacher.” Meanwhile, his mother tipped him off that Gladiator, a boxing movie being filmed locally, was looking for extras. He has since appeared as an extra in more than 20 movies, including Groundhog Day, Mad Dog and Glory, The Babe, and Folks, as well as on the Untouchables TV series. Meanwhile, his own muse was beginning to stir. During the gulf war, inspired by patriotic fervor and a Saddam Hussein mask he had acquired, Nelson filmed his first monster movie, Frankenstein vs. Sodom Insane, in which the villain, played by Nelson, attacks Frankenstein’s monster, played by Mike Johnson, with all sorts of weapons, including a pitchfork. Quickly following were Sodom Insane vs. Werewolf, Sodom Insane vs. Dracula, and Sodom Insane vs. George Bush, who was played by Nelson’s father, Vernon. There’s also Frankenstein Meets John “Pain” Fakey, in which a serial killer imprisons movie monsters in his basement. All these movies were filmed at the Nelsons’ old house at 205 S. Hamlin in Park Ridge. After his parents sold their home and moved to DesPlaines, the house was torn down. Nelson turned that event into a short movie, Studio 205 Demolition.

Nelson’s movies do not conform to usual notions of plot, cinematography, dialogue, or continuity. They often seem as though they were hatched in the mind of a particularly hyperactive 12-year-old. Characters knocked down by monsters in one frame will be standing up in the next. Dialogue will refer to neighbors and friends of Nelson’s who are unknown to the rest of the audience. The sound tracks are choppy and tinny. Important battles will be announced, then never fought; if they are fought, they often prove to be unimportant. The camera is often out of focus, and scenes are sometimes off center. Most of the plots advance according to a peculiar kind of logic, informed by the movies Nelson’s seen, by his boxing career, by everything and everyone he’s ever encountered.

His small bedroom–his dungeon–contains a double bed, his editing equipment, and hundreds of posters, models, videotapes, and other assorted junk, all related in some way to movie monsters or boxing. Posters for movies like The Beast of Yucca Flats and The Giant Gila Monster hang next to ones of Joe Frazier and George Foreman. Pictures of monsters that Nelson drew in eighth grade are posted alongside ones he drew last year. There’s a box of Addams Family cereal in one corner. Nelson knows his inventory well and will go through it without prompting. He points to a photograph. “That girl there, that’s Janet, and that’s me chasing her there through the cemetery with an ax that I bought for Vampire Woman, my upcoming movie.” He turns to a junky-looking figure on top of a crate. “And I made that cyclops in seventh grade–that orange thing, that guy sitting right here–that’s a Quaker Oats box, and these are toilet tube rolls, and this is like a cardboard cup, and I made an eye, and I made a little horn, but the top of the horn broke off. Seventh grade, man, 1970? Yeah! And those monster pictures up there, those cutouts of Frankenstein’s head, the top one and the bottom right one, the tan-colored one, I made those. The green one was given to me by a guy called the Vampire. And that Dracula, way over on the far left, there’s a Dracula head cutout. I made that, too. . . . This is me and Bill Murray right here. . . . That’s me in The Untouchables. I was an extra in The Untouchables. That’s me dressed up like a thug. I was a guard for Capone. That’s me as a mummy, just my own personal thing. That’s me and John Waters. . . . Those monster things I made when I was in Bible college, 1983. I was like a sophomore, junior in Bible college, and guys liked it. Some of them thought it was evil because it’s Halloween monsters. I go, “Hey, man, you know, monsters are good.”‘

Mummy A.D. 1993 incorporates all of the best and worst elements of a Nelson movie. It opens with Nelson, dressed in a dark suit, a black cape, and a red fez, emerging from some bushes, approaching his parents’ garage, raising his arm, and saying in a vaguely Middle Eastern accent, “Arise, O mummy, from your tomb. The world has forgotten about you. You have slept a long time. Show the people of the world that you’re still around.”

Cut to the garage, from which the mummy, also played by Nelson, emerges. His face is matted with a flour-and-water mixture, and his wrappings are constructed from a white sheet that Nelson bought at Kmart for $2.99. The mummy stumbles from the garage, grunting, toward the camera. Cut back to Nelson in the fez. “Now go, show everyone who you are,” he says. “Show them you’re still alive and well. Yes, go and show the world you still exist!” The camera, taking the mummy’s point of view, jiggles around Nelson’s backyard. Grunting is heard. Then Nelson in the fez commands the mummy, “Go and get the house of Nelson. They have caused me much trouble. Go and get them.” The mummy follows his command and breaks down the door of the Nelsons’ house. In a dimly lit scene, the mummy attacks Nelson’s father, Vernon, who screams, “Eh, eh, it’s the mummy, it’s the mummy!”

Cut to a phone ringing. It’s answered by Nelson, who this time is dressed as himself. “Hello, Detective Nelson’s office,” he says. “May I help you? You saw a mummy? Now settle down, settle down, ma’am. Are you sure you saw a mummy? You did see a mummy. An Egyptian prince? Thank you ma’am, I think I know who that is. Thank you very much.” The phone rings again. “What?” Nelson says. “You saw a guy wrapped up in bandages? An old guy? Sir, did it look like a mummy? It looks like it came from the Field Museum? I see. And what? You saw a man in a red hat? Looked like an Egyptian? Thank you sir. Thank you very much.” He hangs up the phone and says, “Now I know who it is. It’s gotta be my brother. I’m calling the chief.”

Meanwhile, the Egyptian prince commands the mummy to attack Nelson’s actual brother, Phillip, who runs down the street and, after briefly fumbling with his keys, gets in his car and drives away. Cut to a 30-second shot of squirrels jumping around. Cut to a moon shrouded by clouds, and a fade-out. When the movie resumes, the Egyptian prince is picking leaves to make a bowl of “mint-leaf soup” to revive his tired mummy, who drinks it, grunts, and throws it on the ground. Cut to Detective Nelson, who’s calling the chief in order to tell him the movie’s plot. “Yeah, chief, it’s me, your old friend, Detective Rocky Nelson. Hey, it looks like my brother’s up to his old tricks again. He’s got amnesia. He thinks he’s the reincarnation of that old Egyptian prince, King Ramses. Remember that mummy he found about a year ago? And he kept it in that garage? Thought it was his tomb? Well, now they say he’s revived that stinkin’ thing. That thing stinks! It’s been walkin’ around all over Park Ridge and DesPlaines and Chicago scarin’ people. We’ve gotta do something about this. There’s only one way to deal with this. I’m gonna have to use my gun. Yes, I may have to use violence. My first big crime. I’m nervous. I’ve got butterflies, man, but it has to be done.”

Then in a very choppy scene the mummy lopes toward a trailer home to attack the chief, played by Nelson’s friend Andrew Morritz, who fights it off with a Ping-Pong ball gun. The prince then sends the mummy after Detective Nelson, and they do battle. The mummy swipes at Nelson, and Nelson shoots at the mummy, but his bullets have no effect. The mummy takes another swipe at Nelson, who reacts as though he’s been hit, even though it’s obvious he hasn’t. He falls to the ground, and the camera zooms in on his Golden Gloves pin. He gets up. “I gotta get the mummy, man. I gotta get the mummy,” he says.

Next, Morritz fights the prince with a baseball bat, but the prince wards him off with a gun. “I will get you, Andrew “Chief’ Morritz. You are an irritation to me. You irritate me! You irritate my father, and you irritate my whole family, and my sister also, and my mother. Therefore, I will get you. I will sic my mummy on you!” Morritz then throws a smoke bomb out of camera range. The prince kicks it back into the shot so he can succumb to the smoke. He falls, but gets up and vows revenge. In the next scene, Detective Nelson implores Morritz to get his “Andrew “Chief’ Morritz Sword” and attack the mummy, “but don’t hurt my brother. He’s got amnesia. He doesn’t know what he’s doing.” There’s another shot of an ominous-looking moon.

In what amounts to act three of Mummy A.D. 1993, the mummy attacks Janet Okulanis, who Nelson had met met two days prior to filming. Nevertheless, she receives top billing in the movie for her brief scene in which the mummy throws her to the ground and she fights him off with a massive squirt of Mace, represented by the spray from a garden hose. Her first line in a Nelson movie is “Eh, it’s the mummy!” Finally, Detective Nelson, disguised as an old man, attacks the mummy with a cane. Morritz then chases the mummy around the yard with a sword. “Get ‘im, Chief,” Nelson shouts. “Get ‘im with your sword, man!” Morritz chases the Mummy into the garage. Cut to the Egyptian prince, who says, “Well done, O mummy. You have done well. You have done a good job. You have shown the world that you still exist!” The camera lingers on the garage for a moment, and Mummy A.D. 1993 comes to an end. The whole affair takes about 15 minutes.

In June 1993, while attending the 35th annual Famous Monsters World Convention in Crystal City, Virginia, Nelson met Conrad Brooks, who’s famous to monster-movie fans as Jamie, the policeman in Ed Wood’s Plan 9 From Outer Space who uttered the line “it’s tough to find something when you don’t know what you’re looking for.” On the Greyhound ride back to Chicago, greatly inspired by meeting one of his heroes, Nelson wrote on a cocktail napkin the scripts for two new movies to star Brooks. In July, Nelson traveled to Baltimore, Brooks’s home, where he shot his longest picture to date, Conrad Brooks vs. Werewolf, or The Werewolf of Baltimore. Nelson, naturally, plays the werewolf; also featured are Brooks’s older brothers, Ted and Henry, both of whom are killed by the werewolf. Watching Conrad Brooks vs. Werewolf, which runs 44 minutes, is a pretty excruciating experience; particularly difficult to stomach is a 15-minute sequence set in a cemetery where Brooks repeatedly runs over the werewolf with his car, screaming, “This one’s for Ed Wood, buddy! This one’s for the marines!” After the six-day shoot, Brooks and Nelson had a falling-out, the details of which are not exactly clear. The second movie–Man From Plan 9, in which Brooks battles space aliens–was put on the shelf. Nelson will be reviving it soon, under the title Monster Invasion, with Nelson playing the Conrad Brooks part.

Conrad Brooks vs. Werewolf received a scathing review in Scary Monsters. “David Nelson has a lot to learn if he’s ever going to emulate, or even imitate, the no-budget desperation of an Ed Wood movie,” wrote reviewer Rob Hauschild. “He should start by watching some movies. . . . With not one redeeming quality about it, Conrad Brooks vs. Werewolf has the entertainment quality of a biology film strip. It seems that no care was taken in any aspect of the production . . . high school locker room gags fill in for any sort of script or plot. . . . The appeal of Ed Wood’s movies is that no matter how bad they are, you can feel in them a genuine love for filmmaking. This is a middle-aged fan exploiting actors he probably never heard of before paying three bucks for their autographs at a convention.”

Not everyone treats Nelson so harshly. In the same issue, another reviewer, “The Raster Man,” wrote about a collection of Nelson’s short films. “He is trying to make us laugh–he wants us to laugh. And laugh I did. . . . Nelson is a creative, funny, talented guy. His films are filled with humor, sight gags, slapstick, puns, and monsters . . . they are definitely worth a view . . . don’t deny yourself of some pretty hilarious stuff.” Regardless, Nelson does not heed his critics. “I’m not worried about my movies being ‘professional,'” he wrote in a letter to the editor of Screem, a horror fanzine. “I do get criticized because they aren’t. Be proud of your accomplishments! So what if people say it’s not up to their standards! They are just jealous that they didn’t make the movie. These are miserable people, who only criticize others, they don’t spend enough time working on their own soul. None of us are perfect, except Christ. Let’s not be jealous of each other, but be glad when each other succeeds and lift up the fallen.”

When Nelson’s trailers were shown at this summer’s Chicago Underground Film Festival, a packed house at Delilah’s bar went crazy for them, hollering and screaming with laughter. Michael Flores, a Chicago actor and director who also heads the Psychotronic Film Society, is one of Nelson’s champions. “If you watch his films alone, you just sit there goin’, ‘What?’ In a group, it’s like watching John Waters or early Mel Brooks,” Flores says. “I think it’s all meant to be entertaining, and it is entertaining. For the first couple of minutes there’s silence, and then laughter builds, everybody’s laughing and clapping, and they all start talking about it when it’s over.” Flores calls Nelson “the Ed Wood of the 90s.” Naturally, Nelson calls himself that as well. “When structural filmmakers sit down and plot out a film like that, it takes them months,” Flores says. “Rock just does it. He just wants to do it, and that’s what he does. Ed Wood was a lot like that. . . . [Nelson] was beaming at the show at Delilah’s when the crowd started cheering. I don’t think he had ever seen his films shown before an audience before. I think that’s what he wants to do. I think he wants to make these monster movies. It’s something he’s loved since before he got into boxing, and when people cheer and laugh and hoot and howl at him, I think he’s happy about it. . . . There are no pretensions, and everything he does really does come from his heart. The word amateur, when you break it down, means ‘with love,’ and he really does everything with that kind of love. I made the joke to several friends that before any of us get a movie up in the theaters Rock’s probably going to have one, because he’s just so obsessed with it.”

In Devil Ant, I’m to play a reporter, come to interview David “the Rock” Nelson. Instead, I am attacked by the title creature, which, as Nelson describes it, “is that creature. Radiation, or he crawls outta the ground. This is that creature. That’s Devil Ant, comin’ to get you. Blehh, ehhh, ehhh!”

My scene goes well, requiring only two takes, and now we are on to filming Werewolf’s Revenge. Nelson explains my part to me, and to Mike Johnson, who’s still hanging around. Nelson’s now wearing the flannel shirt and werewolf hands. “You come in through the gate, you’re comin’ for an interview again. And then I’m gonna film you comin’ around the house, and then I’m gonna come outta the shed–there’s a shed back there–and I’m gonna jump outta the shed and kill you. You’re lookin’ for David the Rock, and instead a werewolf comes out and gets ya. And then Mike, you’re gonna be a victim in Werewolf’s Revenge, too. You’re just gonna be in front of the house, and the werewolf kills you. You can be talkin’ to my mom or something, or my brother.”

Johnson pouts. “I wanna fight the werewolf,” he says.

“No. Be quiet, Mike. First I gotta get a scene of me coming in the gate. See, the werewolf’s been running around Baltimore, right? Now he arrives in Chicago. No, no, we don’t want people to know there’s a werewolf. If I show me coming into the gate, they’ll know I’m hiding in the shed.”

But before he films me coming in the gate, Nelson gets a shot of a plastic garden frog. “I’m gonna get a zoom-in shot of the frog. He’s kinda funny.

“Close-up,” Johnson says.

“OK, quiet, Mike, quiet. Gonna get a real close-up shot.”

“Should I say anything?” Johnson says.

“No, don’t say anything.”

Nelson films me coming in the garden, looking around, peering through some bushes, and approaching the shed. His mother, Harriet, comes out of the house, bearing a Tupperware container full of trail mix.

“That’s my mom,” Nelson says. “Hey mom, wanna be in my movie?”

“Oh, no, no movies for me,” she says, although she did appear as “Lady With the Big Broom” in The Giant Fly.

It’s late in the afternoon, and Nelson needs to go to work soon. His mother reminds him.

“Aw, mom, we’re almost finished with the movie!”

“Well,” she says, “don’t be late for work.”

“I won’t, mom. Jeez!”

Nelson’s camera is also running out of batteries. “We’ve got just enough to do it, just enough power,” he says. “It can be good enough. It doesn’t have to be perfect, as long as it’s on tape.”

“Lemme just be a gardener, a passive gardener,” Johnson says.

“Mike, Mike, you’re in the next scene, we’re running out of battery here. Mike, Mike, stay outta the way!”

Nelson goes into the shed, carrying his werewolf mask and wearing his werewolf hands. When he taps on the shed, I open the door, and he leaps out at me. We wrestle on the ground for a while. “Arrrrrrrrrgh!” he screams, and I scream something similar. Johnson, who’s wandered away, yells from the front of the house, “Dave, hey, c’mere! This guy needs help!” Nelson rips off his mask and angrily turns off the camera. Someone has stopped by the house. He needs directions to Higgins Road in Elk Grove Village. Nelson, still wearing his werewolf gloves, points out the way.

“I gotta get goin’, man,” Johnson says.

“You can’t go now, because I need you in a scene,” Nelson says, turning to me. “It’s hard to direct in werewolf gloves. You gotta tuck in your shirt, man. Hey Mike, don’t go nowhere, man!”

“I won’t.”

Filming begins again, and Nelson and I are struggling on the ground.

“I wanna wrestle the werewolf,” Mike says off camera.

Nelson rips off his mask. “Mike, you’re always talkin’ during the scene. You’re always talkin’, man! You’re fucking up the movie, Mike, you’re fucking up everything!”

Mike looks sheepish. “But I wanna wrestle the werewolf.”

Suddenly, Nelson’s eyes get bright and playful. “No, wait, that’s a good idea! After I kill him, you come in and say, ‘I wanna wrestle the werewolf.’ You say, ‘Lemme wrestle with you, werewolf, pick on someone your own size,’ and you can do your karate moves.”

Mike starts doing his moves. “That’s it, man, put both fists forward, put your hand out,” Nelson says. “‘Pick on someone your own size, werewolf.’ That’s perfect, perfect, perfect, man, that’s perfect. This is gonna be a great movie!”

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Lloyd DeGrane.