I have actually – right here on this blog! And I’m doing it again – bigger (and, okay, I’m biased) better – in a new podcast I’m making called the “How NOT To Make A Movie Podcast: The Making Of Bordello Of Blood”. Now, why you might ask, would anyone give a crap about a dumb little horror movie that came out a thousand years ago? Well, aside from the fact that that dumb little horror movie still makes the cable TV rounds every freakin’ Halloween, Bordello’s tortured making is an object lesson in what happens when you do things for all the wrong reasons.
Spoiler Alert? Nothing good.
When I set out to tell the story, I was doing it mostly for myself. I had been telling behind-the-scenes stories from Bordello’s set for years and years (when you hear them in the podcast, you will understand why). Making Bordello was a kind of personal Waterloo for me – except I didn’t know it at the time. All I knew was that it was a battle where, every day, I lost a little more ground and a lot more sanity.
Turned out – as I started to interview the rest of the filmmakers – I wasn’t alone. Nearly every one of us who made Bordello still harbored raw thoughts about it – nearly thirty years later! The process of making Bordello literally caused relationships to end: mine and my long-time-creative partner Gil’s, and Sylvester Stallone’s relationship with his fiancee at the time (when we started the movie), Angie Everhart. It caused people to quit the movie business and flee LA. People wanted to strike it from their resumes (and would have had the IMDb not made that impossible).
Things happened in the lead up to making Bordello – and then during its production – that still boggle the mind. For starters, we weren’t even supposed to make Bordello as the second Tales From The Crypt feature. We were three weeks away from starting formal prep on a whole other movie – a psychological thriller we were scouting in New Orleans when our studio, Universal, pulled the plug. They weren’t pulling the plug on a second Crypt feature, they were pulling the plug on the one we were about to make and substituting a whole other script (because of a deal they’d made having nothing to do with us). With three weeks till formal prep began, Universal insisted we make what was, in essence, a “student script” (albeit one written by Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale – the guys behind the Back To The Future films) regardless of the fact that we would have no time to rewrite it properly – or prep it properly.
Perversely, Joel Silver and Sly Stallone had far, far more to do with what happened than anyone else on the project. Joel wanted to keep his Big Star (Stallone) happy. So, he agreed to cast Sly’s girlfriend Angie as the Bordello’s villain – in part because Joel had already decided that we’d make Bordello in Vancouver, Canada instead of Los Angeles (where our loyal crew was). Joel was making Assassins in Seattle, just across the border. We were told – my partner Gil Adler and I – that being able to visit Angie in Vancouver during the weekends would make Sly happy – which would make Joel happy.
But, Sly was being sly. And his plans for Angie – once we cast her in our movie – had nothing to do with visiting and everything to do with ending their relationship – using our movie as some weird combination of “break up device” and “consolation prize”.
As you’ll hear, Sly’s romantic plans were but a small part of the slow-moving train wreck that was Bordello of Blood’s production. As I said – it’s an object lesson in what happens when you do things for all the wrong reasons. And we did literally everything for the wrong reasons.