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Monster for a Day: The Chance of a Lifetime

Hey man, you want a part in a monster movie? You want to play the monster? Impress your grand kids? Get your big chance?

Money? For one day of stardom? Forget it!

I’ll pick you up at 9 a.m. Bring a change of clothes. You’ll probably get muddy.

I’m laughing in retrospect. At myself and my naivety. I was smart enough to wear a pair of long underwear. And take a pair of ski gloves and a cap. He said we were going somewhere around Lake McCumber, beyond Shingletown, a few miles off of 44. It was alternating snow and rain. Cold. Windy.

Rene Perez, our local Zombie Movie King, makes three a year, writes the script, gets the actors — many of them local — finds the locations, films the scenes, edits, the whole works.

Then he turns the finished product over to a producer. The one he’s filming now has scenes from Shasta Caverns. The last one was filmed inside Shasta Dam.

Automatic weapons and zombies inside Shasta Dam. Who wouldn’t work for nothing?

I was cold as soon as I got out of the car at the filming location, not far below the McCumber dam. We set up while it was snowing but had to wait until it stopped to shoot. Lots of standing around under a tarp, wishing I’d a worn another layer.

My job involved crouching between two giant fir trees and ripping the fake arm off a manikin and gnawing on the bloody end while getting sprayed with fake blood.

The rubber mask, which had to be pulled onto my head and probably weighed 10 pounds, was warm but kept slipping forward, the eye holes sliding toward my nose.

We did about 10 takes. Each one required me to rip the arm off, while a quart of blood spurted from a hose into the air from the unseen body.

On the second take, the fake blood, which has a soap base to allegedly make it easier to remove, hit me in the right eye. My eye started to water, my nose started to run. It was a snotty, bloody sight when we finally pulled the mask off eight takes later. Rene made a face, as if the sight of me, his unpaid, freezing monster, was somehow revolting. My clothes, long-johns and all, were soaked with blood.

Then the witch arrived and I got to put on a different rubber mask, to play the part of her bodyguard, a pick balanced on my shoulder. At least I didn’t get sprayed with blood in that scene.

However, I did wonder if they clean the masks after each use.

But I didn’t ask Rene.