21 May 2024

[continued from Part I]

TT: Tell us about the final scene...in the pick-up truck...

MB: We had shot it. Over, cut! I would never have to put on those horrible bell-bottoms with blood/Hershey chocolate syrup...with bees and ants...and they stood up every morning when I went to the set. They were like 'standing pants'!

TT: They were all caked with the syrup?

MB: Yeah, and the top too. We shot that and I was miserably hot. My hair stuck to my head, shoulders and chest because the syrup hardens in the sun.

TT: Your hair almost looks like a wig at the end...the color looks so dark.

MB: It's all the chocolate Hershey syrup and red food coloring in my hair. It's not a wig...that is Marilyn with her pretty hair flaking off everywhere. It's like you have glue on your head.

We shot it all and I was really happy. I went home and I said, "I will never, ever have to wear that outfit again." And they said, "Oh Marilyn...we've got some bad news. You have to shoot the ending over again." So at the end, on the truck...that's how I felt.

TT: The almost maniacal laughter?

MB: I was acting but I sure gave it all I felt at the moment. I didn't need to sink way down deep inside me to give that ending performance.

TT: It's about as real a moment as you can get...because of what Sally has been through.

MB: She's crazy! (Laughs.) That's why the laughter. This time it was really over!

TT: Did you bond with Teri McMinn, who played Pam?

MB: Oh, we were friends. We're all friends.

TT: Friends beforehand?

MB: No, I didn't know her before. Teri is real sweet.

TT: Have you ever had any cause over the years to revisit those locations?

MB: Well, I haven't. I would like to go to the restaurant in Austin or wherever it is...because I've heard it's good. I can't imagine a restaurant, a wonderful mom and pop place that's really good, being from that house. I'd like to see that.

TT: You mean, they just took the infamous main house, picked it up and moved it and made it a restaurant?

MB: Right.

TT: And what about the house that belonged to your family in the film?

MB: Oh, I wouldn't know. I'm always surprised by these things. When I saw rocks being sold on the Internet from a location used in the film...I just thought, oh man, this is too weird.

TT: What was the best part about the shoot?

MB: Just making a movie! I'm happy. I'm not complaining. Sure it was tough but I enjoyed every minute of it. I wouldn't have traded the experience for love or money.

TT: What was the absolute worst moment?

MB: I don't know, there were lots of them. From hammers and brooms and wrenches and fingers...

TT: Having the bag over your head?

MB: Yeah, all that was...amusing.

TT: Did you have bruises from Jim Siedow poking you with the broom?

MB: Oh, please. We shot that scene all night and Tobe kept saying, "Jim, it doesn't look real enough." It was four in the morning and I told Jim to just go for it. I know he felt really bad.

First, we had a wooden broom and then we had an idea to use a rubber broom. Well, a rubber broom hurts probably more than a wooden broom because it's denser. When I woke up, I had a black eye. And I had to keep remembering what scene I was shooting...to know if I had a black eye in that one or whether to cover it.

TT: Have you ever seen any of the other films based in part on Ed Gein?

MB: All of them. PSYCHO, Silence of the Lambs...

TT: Deranged...

MB: I can't believe that guy 'inspired' so many people. He must have struck a cord. He had to have been an incredible monster.

TT: Did you read about him?

MB: Oh, yeah. I've been talking about him for years since he was the inspiration behind this film. All we did was take the Ed Gein story, added a chainsaw, put it in Texas and had a bunch of kids.

TT: What's your relationship with Tobe Hooper now?

MB: I haven't talked to Tobe in a long time but he's a nice guy. I just haven't seen him in a long time. He doesn't go to some of the conventions and gatherings that some of us have gone to.

TT: Is it true there were hard feelings towards Hooper after the shoot?

MB: This is the deal. We got a teeny bit of money. And then we were gonna be paid from the profits. That's why the actors never wanted to return to the set. Because they didn't believe it would ever get distributed. Therefore, why keep working in hell when you're not gonna get paid?

But we were in college and I was so grateful for the work. This wasn't Hollywood...this isn't a big movie. This is just kids getting together. And you know...what kids can PAY kids? We were promised what the profits would be. Since no one believed there was gonna be a profit, people just wanted to quit.

And what happened is, due to a whole bunch of circumstances, Tobe and Kim had to sell a lot of shares that they owned to finish. So then the movie goes out and does well and we find out there isn't that much of a pie anymore.

TT: Because they had sold off the shares?

MB: He had to finish the picture. And we were on such a budget. So there wouldn't have been money anyway if he hadn't finished the picture.

TT: And the picture was a big hit initially? Not like some movies that open and disappear and they become hits later on...

MB: No one wanted to walk past a billboard that said "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and not want to see it. People hated it, some booed it...they said people were getting sick in the theaters. People were screaming at the theater owners for having it. Well, naturally...what do you think that did to it? It made everyone want to go. It was infamous.

TT: Anything you want to add about the movie, thirty years later?

MB: When I was in London with Gunnar, we were walking down the street. And we went into an English Pub (to have actually fish and chips) and we just had a break from our little duties...you know, we did a lot of TV and radio and stuff...and we were walking down the street.

And I said, "You know Gunnar, they said we never got paid for this but for the last almost 30 years, it's been fun. And now we're in London."

TT: Cool attitude. Had you been to London before?

MB: Oh, yeah. I had been over there but this time I wasn't a tourist. It was great and this time I felt like it was old home week. It was insane.

TT: How did you end up in Eaten Alive?

MB: I have no idea.

TT: Any thoughts about that experience?

MB: Let's just say that very first scene in the movie...I didn't know about it because it wasn't in the script. Remember the line? The first scene? After my name flashes across the screen. The very first thing you hear is "my name is Buck..." My parents in Houston were in the theatre with a lot of other couples. I heard about it later on!

It was an interesting film.

TT: How so?

MB: Right by my dressing room, I had the spider monkeys. They parked them there.

TT: The one that dies?

MB: Yeah, there were two of them.

TT: And spider monkeys have a propensity to... smell badly, don't they?

MB: They do.

TT: Did you decide to wear the wig in your first couple of scenes?

MB: I did.

TT: The thing we like about that film is that it has kind of a double personality. On the one hand, all the sets look fake...like in a Hammer film. On the other hand, there's a gritty feel to it that comes out. It echoes Chainsaw a bit.

MB: Sure, I see what you're saying.

TT: Let's talk about the TV film Helter Skelter.

MB: That was fun.

TT: We love it. How did you get the part of Linda Kasabian?

MB: I auditioned. It was a Lorimar production at Warner Bros. I went home and I cried because I thought my audition was terrible. I was sobbing on my bed and thinking I was so awful.

TT: Do you remember what scene you had to do?

MB: Yes, it was the courtroom scene...where Linda is telling of the killing night.

TT: How did you find out you had the role sewn up?

MB: My agent called and said, "You've got the part." And I realized the reason why I was crying and thinking I was so terrible...is that what I just read for was so terrible. She's telling of the murders and I was into it.

Actors do things that are terrible and we do cry a lot when we think we've blown it...but I was sure I might as well leave Los Angeles.

TT: In other words, it was a good sign that you were upset because it was coming from the material?

MB: Yes, but I didn't realize that because I was young and didn't know better...

TT: Did you have strong feelings about how you were going to play the character?

MB: Yeah, I wasn't gonna shave my head. That's what all the actresses said in Hollywood: "We're not gonna go because you have to shave your head!" I got Kasabian so I didn't have to.

TT: Did the other three lead actresses actually shave their heads?

MB: No...because to get the part, you had to SAY you were going to. But in the end, Tom Gries (the director) was good to them and gave them skull caps.

TT: It looks good!

MB: I know. It saved their hair.

TT: You didn't meet Linda because she was in the witness protection program, correct?

MB: I wouldn't have wanted to meet her.

TT: Did you have sympathy at all for her? In other words, what kind of connection did you need to make with Kasabian in order to play her?

MB: At the time, I was able to relate. It's kind of like in Chainsaw - under those circumstances, I'm sure I wouldn't have been a good date. With Linda's circumstances, you go somewhere else.

You can't play a real person if you don't have some amount of "sympathy" at the time.

TT: Did you feel threatened when you were filming?

MB: When I was at Paramount Ranch, an extra came up to me and put her nails in my arm and said, "Linda wasn't there that day."

TT: An extra who was sympathetic to the Manson family?

MB: Yes. That was interesting...

TT: That's kind of scary. Couldn't they weed those people out?

MB: You'd think so...

TT: Was Vincent Bugliosi (who prosecuted the case and whose book was the basis for the film) a presence on the set?

MB: Yeah, he came on. In fact, he called George DiCenzo (who played him) and told him he had to do the ending over.

TT: Why?

MB: Because he said he was much more dramatic than the portrayal. He said, "I'm much more flamboyant than that!"

TT: Had you read his book?

MB: Of course.

TT: What was your impression of Steve Railsback, who played Manson?

MB: He's a real nice guy but I didn't know that because when I saw him, he had on the beard and the hair. He WAS Charlie. I never saw him clean cut like he is.

TT: Helter Skelter was one of the biggest TV productions up until that time. It must have been a different experience from some of your previous pictures.

MB: Oh yeah, it was a great experience. And it was pretty awesome because of the subject matter. And nobody really wanted to touch it. It was kind of like...who wants to be in that picture? Who's actually gonna do that picture?

TT: How did you get along with the other actresses?

MB: They were all great. I mean, they're all wonderful people.

TT: Every couple of years, we hear parole updates on the various participants. Do you still follow the story?

MB: Oh yeah, I always look. Susan Atkins is saying that she wants to get out and we're being unfair to her. She's a born-again Christian and a religious person.

TT: Any thoughts on your 1981 psychic/zombie film Kiss Daddy Goodbye?

MB: We can probably skip over that one! You've found some gems out there! Where did you find it?

TT: It was put out on video.

MB: Uh, okay. That's good.

TT: You didn't know it was available?

MB: I heard it was but I don't go in search of it. It's not like I call my friends and go, "Hey man, if you're in the video store and see this one...will you pick it up for me?" (Laughs.) I don't think so.

TT: Do your friends ever tease you about some of your films?

MB: No...but I might say something about seeing some strange looking guy in the parking lot, and they'll say, "Did he have a chainsaw?"

TT: It seems like many people who have made films in this genre say they don't really care for it. Do you yourself enjoy horror films?

MB: I do.

TT: Do you have a favorite?

MB: They're all favorites. I used to watch horror films on Saturday mornings. I like them all. I'm like you guys. You've got more films on your website than I know! And I thought I used to have the category down...

TT: Thank you! Which genre do you enjoy the most?

MB: I like it all. I like mysteries, suspense, horror, comedy, historical...I run the whole gamut. It's all wonderful.

TT: Have a favorite movie?

MB: I don't know...I can't name favorites because I like them all.

TT: That's understandable. If you like a wide range of movies, it's hard to pick one.

MB: All the energy and time you put into your website of all these films...you really have to have a love of film to do what you do.

To say what's the greatest...it's hard for me to say.

TT: What are your thoughts on your performances? Are you critical?

MB: Oh no. It's there on film. What am I supposed to do now? (Laughs.)

TT: Can you tell us what you're doing now and if you would like to continue acting?

MB: I still work in theatre and I direct stuff here. And I have this little community place where we put together plays. I still would love to go into acting but I'm in Texas and I'm union. That's not always an easy thing here.

TT: Well, Marilyn...we wish you the best. Thanks for talking to us.

MB: Thank you.

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