Desert six-person crew rush remaining shots before the sun sinks. ©Michael Cartel
Shooting title for “Runaway Nightmare” was “Platinum Bombshell.” Name changed on slates two weeks into production.
Ralph and Jason’s business address.
Not too subtle indication that this just might be a dark comedy after all.
Runaway Nightmare actually had a shooting script, although often it was used as just a sketch.
JASON – “That’s just it, it’s too quiet and boring; nothing ever happens out here!”
Addendum to Page 1; revised dialogue; images over titles refers to 16mm I shot at the San Onofre nuke demonstration that was less effective than the desert pan that was used instead.
Two men bury an oblong crate in a shallow grave.
Ralph and and Jason dig up the crate after the men leave.
Fate is buried unconscious but still alive.
Much of the dialog when read out loud wasn’t acceptable and was re-written on revision notes.
Jason and Ralph gently load Fate into a van to their ranch house.
Ralph and Jason carry in the buried girl while unknowingly being watched.
A cult member runs past the kitchen window as Jason gets a wet cloth.
Jason tells the women that Fate was on the bed only a moment ago.
Ralph asks Leslie “You mean you didn’t plant her?” (then who did?)
The sequence is simplified by putting to use a large wall mirror that captures reactions from a hefty cast in one set-up, avoiding all but Ralph’s necessary reverse medium shot.
Torchy has been away from male companionship for far too long.
Andromeda tells Leslie that Fate is asleep in the bathtub just as she is to execute Ralph.
Ralph’s reverse medium shot widens to include Fate emerging (alive but groggy) from the washroom.
Much of the dialog was either eliminated or rewritten when it was rehearsed on the set.
Ralph and Jason think about what’s next while probing silent Pandora for information.
Reverse shot of Pandora (Kathy Mojas) in same van several months after Ralph/Jason scene.
Ralph and Jason plan an escape now alone with Leslie in the commune.
Before Ralph can get Leslie’s gun, several cult members appear from nowhere.
Ralph and Jason surrounded by cult women as leader Hesperia enters.
Ralph confronts Hesperia and gets slugged.
Pandora smiles for the first time anticipating the new candidates’ initiation.
Ralph wakes imprisoned with Jason.
In the dungeon, Ralph sees a chance to escape with Jason.
Sadie lets her captives escape so she can hunt them down.
Sadie captures her prey and will now torture them to death without Hesperia’s approval.
“You shouldn’t open things you don’t know about.“
Impromptu shot list
The difference between the script business and the edited scene is considerable. What seems to work on paper is often unacceptable when edited. There were also other considerations during filming since the actress playing Hesperia had disappeared during this sequence, a double had to be used. During post-production, another voice had to dub all of Hesperia’s dialog as well. Cindy Donlon’s (Hesperia) voice was deep and sensual while the dubbing voice-actress was whiney and unexpressive, no matter how much direction.
Zipper signals the start of the duel.
Quickly breaking down the script on the spot (above)
Sadie out-pulls Hesperia but takes her time befoe shooting.
Torchy and Masey watch the excitement.
Hesperia calmly watches the result of the exploding gun she had switched with Sadie.
“Oh wow man, her head’s all gone.”
Fate casually luxuriates on an apple after Sadie gets her head blown off.
Jason gets water-doused by Clio from the cellar ceiling door leading to the commune floor.
Ralph and Jason are told that they have to endure a series of initiations to join the cult. Jason is eager for the adventure, but Ralph is skeptical. Joining however, is mandatory.
Ralph and Jason go through the first of their ordeals.
Fate stabs the deciding vote.
Ralph and Jason are surprised by a final initiation.
Hesperia, Leslie and others welcome Ralph and Jason as the only male members of the cult.
The edited scene may have moved faster with cutaways of Ralph looking at images within the commune while the dialog was churning.
Joey tells Jason more than she should in the shadow of the broken plane.
Ralph gets shot at over his head and ordered to work.
Ralph walks past another reminder on the way with Torchy.
Ralph hears shower water running as he brushes his teeth. Soon one, then two women appear washing each other.
Two of the commune members mystically appear in the shower as Ralph brushes his teeth.
Ralph finds himself in a Alice-In-Wonderland tea party.
Clio is confused but Vampiria is amused as Ralph leaves the dinner table.
The sequence ends with Ralph jumping from his seat from the burn with rising music as Vampiria smirks with a flash cut to another scene. The result is burlesque and desperately needed to build an ominous, foreshadowy suspence before the fadeout.
Ralph gets threatened again while Jason has another intimate romance.
Ralph is stalked by commune member Vampiria, sometimes supernaturally.
I tried to carry much of the thin dialog with moving scenes, but this rope scene didn’t work on the Movieola, although it was included as part of the fantasy song sequence that isn’t in the script.
What appears to be a romantic scene with Jason in a bedroom turns out to be in the back of a traveling van.
At the tavern, Pepper (l.) becomes angrier at Ralph and Jason when Zero teases her about liking the men.
Ralph gets knocked into a juke box that lights up while reluctantly helping Pepper and Zero escape trouble.
The sequence of Ralph walking down the long, creepy hallway (not the static reverse shots or inserts) was filmed with Jerry Wolfe sitting in a rolling desk chair holding a camera being pulled by a grip for a dolly effect (because the crab dolly couldn’t fit in the hallway). The result was actually smooth and effective.
Ralph opens several doors through the hallway, this time interrupting Jason with two girls in bed.
The continuous shot of Ralph waking up tied with his outstretched arms began with a facial close-up and slowly dollied back (as the room brightens from the morning sun) looked very good. However, it slowed the film down and was never included.
To avoid being murdered, Ralph has to watch from every side, but misses danger from straight up.
The Leslie scene was never shot because it showed Jason as a victim of the cult rather than Ralph.
From the line “Ralph hears a beautiful voice…” begins a musical montage ending with Ralph and Fate together embracing in the night desert. Skeptical Ralph falls for Fate’s trick.
Hesperia decides to invade the warehouse
In the van, Ralph sits next to Andromeda on the way to the warehouse.
Ralph and the gang in a difficult drive to the warehouse.
Ralph has to punch the warehouse sky roof open after everything else fails.
Ralph takes a wrong turn in the dark just as Jason finds the light switch.
“I thought I saw a spider,” Mazey tells Ralph after taking a pot shot at his head.
Ralph tries to open the priceless suitcase while Pepper stares through him.
Cult girls after the warehouse assault, oblivious of their new threat.
The syndicate, from the warehouse assaults the commune.
Ralph gets shot-gunned by Hesperia to prove the strength of the bullet-proof vest he’s wearing.
Ralph sees something that may actually extend his life.
Ralph connects and sets the time bomb that he had seen when he was at the warehouse earlier.
“There is no god, nothing can save you now.”
The time bomb that Ralph had set is a minute late.
Fate gets Ralph’s call and pretends that everyone else has died.
“This is just where you’re getting off.”
Fate (Seeska Vandenberg) finally finds her fortune.
Ralph struggles after the explosion to see Jason and the cult girls in the van.
At the back of the van, the women ask Ralph what’s next for them now that Hesperia left them holding the bag.
Ralph sees men burying something in the distance.
As in the beginning, Jason and Ralph are thunderstruck by the contents of a buried treasure.
Final page of the original script. Five different endings were shot before one was accepted.
New ending included character freeze-frame developments
After the platonium explosion, Ralph gets contaminated
Both Vampiria and Ralph finally get what they’ve wanted all along.