Horror movie filming under way in Tehuacana
By Roxanne McKnight
Horror movie buffs are on the edge of their seat as a sequel to the 1973 classic “Don’t Look in the Basement” is being shot at Tehuacana’s Trinity Institute, formerly Westminster College, the scene of the first movie.
The usually empty street beside the old buildings is lined with cars, production trucks and vans as the director, camera operators, actors and technical personnel work on the production. About 40 cast and crew members, almost all from the Dallas area, are on the set each day.
Anthony “Tony” Brownrigg, son of the original director, S.F. Brownrigg, is directing this sequel, and the younger Brownrigg’s mother, Libby Hall, has a small part in it.
“The original ‘Don’t Look in the Basement’ was a drive-in flick; now it’s got a cult following,” said Tony Brownrigg during a lunch break Tuesday on the set. “Dad wasn’t able to make a sequel before he passed, but he talked about it for years, so we’ve been spending years trying to get a sequel put together.”
Shooting began Monday and is scheduled to continue for three weeks. Most of the action happens indoors and not readily accessible to those who would like to see the filming. Fans shouldn’t have long to wait, however, as Brownrigg said he expects the movie, called “Id: Don’t Look in the Basement part 2,” to be out by the end of the year.
Brownrigg co-wrote the sequel’s script with Megan Emerick, who is also playing one of the parts. Some of the other cast members include Frank Mosley, Arianne Margot, Andrew Sensenig, Willy Minor, Frederic Doss, Jim O’Rear and Scott Tepperman.
“Dad had always wanted to do a sequel,” Brownrigg said. “We took some of the notes he had made over the years and decided, ‘We’re going to do a sequel, a modern-day thriller.’ In the first film, almost everybody dies except for two of the main characters, Sam and the nurse. We have Sam who’s actually going to be back 40 years later as an elderly patient, so we’re continuing the story of the guy that survived the last movie and basically ending his story, finding out what happened to him all those years later. It’s more of a supernatural thriller than a horror movie.”
Brownrigg didn’t have to search hard to find people to work with him on the movie.
“We’ve got a lot of passion behind it,” he said of the sequel, “and a lot of people that have wanted to come out and work on this. They basically contacted us and said, ‘Can I work on this movie?’ because they’re fans. There are horror directors everywhere showing up because they just want to be part of it. It’s really been an exciting experience.”
The younger Brownrigg is enjoying the technological advances that have taken place in the past 40 years.
“It’s a huge difference,” he said. “My father would have killed for some of the equipment that we’ve got now. Our budget now is not much bigger than his was when he did the first one, but with this one, we’ve got a lot better equipment.”
He expects the movie to be released late this year.
“We’ll be done shooting in the next three weeks, and then we go into post-production,” he said. “It’s going to be –”
Suddenly he paused, his voice choked with emotion.
“It’s a very personal experience for me,” he said. “I know that Dad is watching from wherever he is, watching down, making sure I do everything right – and don’t try to compete with him!” he ended in a smile.
Brownrigg asked his mother, Libby Hall, to play a small role in the movie, which came as a surprise to her.
“I never thought I would be in the sequel,” she said, breaking into laughter, “but I’m glad. It feels like it’s going very well; I’m very happy about it.
“I think he would be so proud,” she said of her late husband.
David Rennke is one of three executive producers for “Id: Don’t Look in the Basement 2,” along with Danny Redd and Andrew Sensenig, the leading actor in the film. Rennke is on the set, monitoring the filming and doing initial editing.
“We’ve all worked together for years,” Rennke said, “and we knew Tony and we knew that he had this great story, so we thought, ‘Let’s partner up with Tony and make this great movie.’ We didn’t want to remake the first one because Tony’s dad made that and it’s considered a cult classic in its own right.
“There’s a lot of continuity,” he said of the film. “There are a few characters and a theme that run through from the first to the second one. Also, we’re going into a supernatural thriller story. We think it will have broad audience appeal. It’s supernatural and spooky, but it’s also got a great story and is not just a blood-fest. It has a lot of good story elements and a lot of good acting. We wrap up Sam’s story because at the end of the first movie we never find out what happens, so now we tell his story into the present day and give him some closure and open up a whole new broad story to go along with it. We’ll bring some closure to the story of Charlotte as well.”
The man who played the original character Sam has passed away, so actor Willie Minor is playing Sam in the new movie. Camilla Carr, who was in the original film, is being featured in this film, too, Rennke said.
And do he and his fellow producers have an eye to another sequel after this one?
“That’s definitely something we’re talking about,” he said. “We think there’s just a lot of potential for the characters in the story and it’s a great location. We’ve got a great team working on it. You know, when you get something that’s working, you think, ‘Let’s see if we can keep it working as long as it will.’”
Rennke expressed appreciation and gratitude to the people of Tehuacana and Mexia.
“The whole area around here has been so helpful and supportive,” he said. “Jim Parker, who owns The Trinity Institute, has been just fantastic, and his team of people have really been a big help and really gracious to let us come back and film the sequel here. The residents of Mexia and Tehuacana have been very nice, too, and supportive. We just really enjoy being here; it’s a beautiful place and the weather’s beautiful. In a way we’re working hard, but we’re having a little vacation from the city of Dallas, where it’s a little more hectic, so it’s nice. At night when we finish shooting, we come out and hang out under the stars.”
More information about the movie may be found on Facebok at Id-Don’t Look in the Basement part 2.