Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Brief Chat with David Carradine...

In case you were under a rock this past month, one of the kick-assiest guy’s guys ever to lay a whuppin’ onscreen died. David Carradine, star of Kung Fu, Kill Bill, Death Race 2000, and many more classics of coolness, was found dead in a hotel room in Bangkok under mysterious circumstances.

But I’m not going to focus on how he died. I’ll just remember the brief chat I got to have with him just a few weeks prior to his death. David had been in Edmonton filming a short movie; the producer of the movie had invested in a lo
cal bar here in town called Prohibition, so naturally he got David to help christen the new establishment.

I swung by with my copy of Hell Ride, a film that despite the cheese factor still kinda grows on me with each viewing (review coming soon). Carradine had a brief but memorable role in that flick as the main baddie who gets his head chopped off by the good guys. I first encountered David, well, at least his head, at the Rue Morgue Festival of Fear in Toronto at KNB EFX guru Greg Nicotero’s table. Greg, who had done the makeup effects for Hell Ride, had Mr. Carradine’s head on the table with him.

Strangely enough, I would run into that head again months later. I worked in the production office of “Fear Itself”, the short-lived NBC reincarnation of the “Masters of Horror” series. KNB did the makeup and prosthetics for that too, although Greg and Howard Berger did the work out of LA and shipped it up to Edmonton. One day, I happened to stretch my legs and take a walk through the office to the prop department. A jar with a head in it (not an unusual sight in our office) caught my attention – the head was the same white and grey flocked noggin I had posed with back at the FOF. Mr. Carradine’s head had apparently followed me back to Edmonton.

When I got the chance to meet David, I had to tell him the story. I brought the photo along with the DVD, and he graciously signed both, and when I told him the tale of his severed cranium he looked at me with a grin and said “impressive”. I’m not sure if he was impressed by the story or by his globetrotting head, but either way it was a cool moment.

By then the bar was packed to the tits, so I took off to visit friends at another venue. But later on my drive home, I passed Prohibition again. Outside on the street was David, having a smoke and entertaining the crowd. I figured “fuck it”, and I parked and walked back to the bar. This time, away from the noise and loud music, I actually got to talk to him a bit. He was very kind, but a bit of a sly smart ass when he wanted to be. The ladies were trying to flirt with him, but he would always graciously say, with a wink and a smile “I’m a very happily married man”. And he seemed like he meant it. In fact, he even pulled out pictures of his kids for us, and bragged about them at length. It was a rare and cool moment to see a tough guy icon turned into proud papa.

By this point, he was done his smoke and looking to get back to the bocce game inside, so I got a quick pic, bid farewell, and headed home. I’d talked to his people about possibly getting him back here to screen “Death Race 2000” and have him do a Q&A. Sadly, I’ll have to make due with a few brief anecdotes on a patio. Let’s take solace in the thought that somewhere, David’s hanging with Steve McQueen, Bruce Lee, and Elvis, riding dirtbikes and drinking beer.

Cheers, David. Thanks for being one cool motherfucker.


Anonymous said...

Now that was the David,I have seen in interviews. Thanks for sharing that.

Robynn said...

Awesome, Derek. Just awesome. :)

Anonymous said...

GReat stuff D, Just got to work with my coffee and reading that got me all choked up. Damn you!!!

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