My Role in Deathsport
I was in the 1978 science fiction film Deathsport with David Carradine and Claudia Jennings. It was one of the worst movies ever made. Even as I watched it filmed as a performer, I could tell it was a stinker. Here are some impressions I wrote about that experience.
I Was a Newcomer to Films.
Here I am fresh from the hinterlands standing on the set of an actual movie. The cameras and their attendant technicians, and the stars, who include David Carradine and a former Playboy Bunny turned somewhat actress named Claudia Jennings. Her real name is Mimi Chesterton. The title of this movie is Deathsport, and combines the cheap attributes of a space movie so popular in the mode of Star Trek, with the added thrills of motorcycle racing.
I'm in a leather costume formerly worn by a guy in a monkey suit in a picture called Planet of the Apes. Costumes like scripts circulate and re-circulate widely in Hollywood. That hasn't changed from the old days.
For now, I'm on top of the world.
My first objective on this picture as an unknown is of course to find a way to romance the leading lady (Jennings) in her trailer so I can advance in importance in the film and maybe even become a supporting star. I don't kid myself that I will supplant Carradine, the former TV actor coming off the hit show Kung Fu. But all I have to do is get Jennings interested in me and who knows what will happen.
And why wouldn't she fall for me? Don't I look gorgeous in my black leather futuristic suit?
I'm called down into a pit along with five other bit players, a hole dug into the ground, for my first scene. This is it. My entry into pictures. This is my big moment. The scene calls for me to look menacingly while Carradine mutters some words to the girl Jennings. She is hot. She does have a great little body, skimpily clad in a Me-Tarzan-type leather bikini. All I have to do is to glower and look tough.
I Really Looked Tough.
I figure she notices me already, and as I stand in the pit with the others, she approaches from above to climb down to join us. I turn slightly, glancing away from her, and with supreme confidence and arrogance, offer my gloved hand by holding it out, palm up, for her to use to step down. I don't look up at her, but look at my hand, expecting to see her soft palm clasp it. It remains empty.
She doesn't use it.
She is down in the pit with us.
She ignored me.
I feel a little deflated. But that's only a minor body blow to what follows. After the scene is shot and re-filmed a dozen times from every possible angle, for there is no more boring and tedious work than making films, even ditch-digging. After we're all sick of it, and I from my endless scowling and grimacing. After all that, she makes a disparaging flip remark about my looks. I get a reaction from her. But the wrong kind.
I'm crestfallen for a moment, then save grace by convincing myself that I'm so beautiful she just has to go and put me down into what she believes is my proper place. She doesn't pick on anybody else. That must be it. She is really hot for me, but has to maintain some kind of dominance. She'll probably get me in her trailer to make love to me later.
She never does.
I guess in my own way I'm just as ignorant and shallow as she is. That's why we should have hit it off. But even I am taken aback by her behavior. She is perhaps the most vain, egoistical person I have ever seen. She meddles in the production when she isn't being used on camera, flirts with the cameramen, complains and whines. Finally, ordered angrily off the set by the director, she throws a tantrum and runs in a huff to her trailer.
Claudia Jennings went on to achieve a kind of petty, tawdry fame as the queen of the B-grade cheapo science fiction and exploitation flicks until she was killed in her Volkswagen convertible in a head-on collision with a truck on Highway One near Malibu in 1979.
Carradine, on the other hand, was the opposite, likeable, willing to talk with the extras, laid-back and relaxed.
The film was a well-deserved flop.
Link Photo: Caption - The author poses as a motorcycle biker space alien.
Review: 'Man Of Steel' Only Holds Interest In Spurts Miley Cyrus Defends Smoking Weed