There’s a great scene in Tim Burton’s ED WOOD in which Wood is talking to a Hollywood producer after dropping off a copy of his first movie, GLEN OR GLENDA?. When the producer tells him that it’s “the worst film I ever saw,” Wood assures him that his next one will be even better. That is the enthusiasm of the independent filmmaker. They are driven to tell stories on celluloid, often without the benefit of a budget, a talented cast, or a clue. The results may turn out brilliantly, but in many cases the results are varying shades of crap.

Still these filmmakers continue to ply their trade, hoping to catch someone’s eye at one of the many film festivals around the world, and thereby catapulting them into fame, fortune, and the ability to make any movie they want to in the future. Now, one filmmaker has turned his eye on this world and the result is a cross between SPINAL TAP and Francois Truffaut’s DAY FOR NIGHT, with just a little pinch of THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT tossed in for spice. Andy Wilton’s BEHIND THE SCENES OF TOTAL HELL is a hilarious look at what it takes to get an independent film off the ground and into a theater.

Wilton takes the audience along every step of the way, from disastrous attempts to raise funding, to script issues and having a cast with no ability to act, to the final product that just flat out stinks. Despite a number of reality checks, director Jamie Gunn (Grey McCullough) stands his ground, insisting that his dream must be brought to the screen. He has no plan, and even after losing a semi-workable script, he forges ahead with all of the drive and bravado of a con man–just not the talent.

McCullough is charming as the megalomaniac Gunn, manipulating friends and bullying perceived enemies while he pursues his dream of a film and the girl he fancies, lead actress Angel (Sarah Towndrow). In real life, he is the son of cult actor Ian McCullough (ZOMBIE), and he has convinced the elder McCullough to play the part of an aging actor whose name might help the team secure funding.

During the week long shoot, Gunn manages to alienate everyone involved in the aptly named TOTAL HELL. He loses actors, his monster costume is hilarious rather than scary, and most of the action involves running through the woods and throwing sticks.  Anyone who has an interest in making movies, or who has a working funny bone would do well to see this film. BEHIND THE SCENES OF TOTAL HELL is hysterical, and could just achieve the cult status Jamie Gunn always felt he deserved.

BEHIND THE SCENES OF TOTAL HELL is available to watch in its entirety for free, right here

About the author
John Porter
John Porter is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared on National Public Radio and in a variety of magazines. When he’s not staying up late watching horror movies, he’s usually reviewing theatre, working on Time For The Blues for WCVE public radio or performing stand-up comedy. You can follow his inane ramblings at http://mondojohnny.blogspot.com/.
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