April 14, 2010
Get your exorcism on in Tehachapi this Saturday!
“Scream 4” opens tomorrow, but Kern movie fans looking for a unique scare should head to Tehachapi this Saturday, April 16th, for the world film premiere of “Legion: The Final Exorcism” at the city’s legendary BeeKay Theatre.
Written, directed, produced, and starring independent film wizard, David Heavener, the movie is based on a real life reported case of demonic possession. Much like its predecessor -- 1973's “The Exorcist,” the trailer to “Legion” looks like quite the fright fest. Two years in the making, Heavener hopes his addition to the popular horror genre leaves filmgoers with more than just nightmares.
“It's not like The Exorcist,” said Heavener. “It's horrific and scary, but the priest doesn't come in and get thrown all over the place. It's a bit of a different approach.”
Told through the eyes of character Father Michael San Chica, portrayed by Heavener, “Legion” began as a TV pilot in 2009 named “Confessions of An Exorcist.” Not picked up by the networks, the original planned series material was re-edited with added footage for release under its new title.
Above: Filmmaker, David Heavener
Heavener, who has a flair for working with minimal to medium size budgets, started out in the '70s as a Nashville singer songwriter, penning country songs for singers Marty Robbins, Billy “Crash” Craddock, Buck Owens' “Hee Haw,” and others. Discovered by Chinese b-movie director Michael Chu in 1985, he was cast in his first film, “The Border of Tong.”
“I was writing for Capitol Records, and he was a producer from Hong Kong. He thought I was an actor and asked me to do an improv. I did this bad impersonation of Clint Eastwood and got the roll in his movie. It was a martial arts movie and I couldn't even dance,” he recalled.
It may not be Heavener's most memorable work, but it did help lay the foundation for a blossoming new career. Producing similar action b-fare of his own with titles such as, “Fugitive X,” “Outlaw Prophet,” and “Lethal Ninja,” sometimes for HBO, his relationship with Kern County also began to grow after filming '91s “Prime Target” with the late Tony Curtis in Bakersfield, and '93s “Eye of The Stranger,” starring Oscar winner Martin Landau in Taft.
“I just remembered when I was writing for Hee Haw, Buck Owens was always going back to California. I always thought about coming back to Bakersfield, where Buck would hang out,” Heavener said. And he did, relocating nearby in the city of Tehachapi in 2004. “I think Kern is the best county in California.”
Carving out a niche for himself with nearly 30 feature films under his belt, Heavener says getting “Legion,” completed provided some minor challenges after being in production for 4 years. To remedy that, he cast his family in place of most from the original pilot cast.
Above: A scene from "Legion: The Final Exorcism".
“It wasn't too hard, because I was the star. The only thing was me getting older, but other than that it was pretty consistent,” he said. “We had our own studios and standing sets. It was difficult getting the original actors back, especially the lead who was (WWF pro wrestler,) Roddy Piper's daughter. I ended up using my wife who looked almost just like her. I shot from a distance and from behind her, and you couldn't tell the difference. The infant in the film is my baby boy, my son David plays me as a boy, and my nine year-old daughter plays, 'Tatiana,' the little ghost girl who comes back from the past.
While working on the project, Heavener recalls calling his friend, actress Linda Blair, to see if she was interested starring in the film. Not surprisingly, she offered up some advice based on her experienced being typecast all these years after making the original “Exorcist,” as a child actor.
“She couldn't do the film, but said, 'Be prepared, because anytime you make an exorcism movie your life is going to change drastically. It seems that no matter what you do, that's the only movie they're going to remember.'”
Heavener added that his personal beliefs on spiritual warfare from a practicing Christian perspective is what also sets his movie apart from what some viewers may expect as the theater lights dim.
“I don't want to offend anyone, but the ancient Catholic rituals are great for movies, but it's not the way to cast out demons. Most Christians don't understand the power they have. We have power over demons, but you have to do it in a certain way - as Jesus did in The Bible. “Legion” is more non-denominational, without being too preachy. There's redemption.”
Following Friday's screening, there will be a Q&A session with Heavener about the film's special effects and a discussion addressing the topic of demon possession.
“If you or anybody has a demon, or wants to cast out a demon - come on out and I'll show you how to do it,” he said.
All of the evening's receipts will go towards funding of Heavener's 1st Annual 'Ticket To Hollywood' International Film Festival, scheduled for October 14th through 17th in Tehachapi. Submissions are currently being accepted. For more information, visit tickettohollywood.org.
David Heavener official website
“Legion: The Final Exorcism” world film premiere
When: 8 p.m. Saturday, April 16, 2011
Where: Beekay Theatre, 110 S. Green St., Tehachapi
Information: 661-822-4037 or tctonstage.com
LOCAL MUSIC DUO GET PICKED TO FEATURE THEIR SONG IN LATEST TYLER PERRY FILM!
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Matt’s Picks: April 16!
Al Hendrix and The Dusk Devils at Ethel's Old Corral, 4310 Alfred Harrell Highway, Saturday, April 16th, 6 p.m., free, 661-873-7613. If you're looking for some real rock and roll, you should plan on taking a little drive out to Ethel's this weekend. Appearing live will be the great "lost rocker" himself, Al Hendrix. He's performed with many of the legends of the Bakersfield Sound, and is slowly getting his due respect as a member of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. He'll be playing all his hits, including "Monkey Bite" a song that caused quite a stir in '62 because of it's suggestive lyrics. That's rock and roll. Backing Hendrix will be Bakersfield band, The Dusk Devils.
Velorio and Holy Beast at Fishlips, 1517 18th St., at 9 p.m., Saturday, April 16th, $5 before 9:30 p.m. - $10 after, 661-324-2557. Two of Bako's coolest bands, Velorio and Holy Beast will be holding it down in downtown on Saturday night. Velorio always know how to work a crowd with their Latin dance fusion, while newcomers - Holy Beast have got some soulful grooves to tame even the most savage of them all! It's spring break and you ain't got nothing better to do - I suggest you head to this show! You can thank me with a beer or two later!
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*Also printed in The Bakersfield Californian, 4-14-11
***Don’t forget “Bakotopia Unplugged” open-mic night every Wednesday nights, from 8-11pm at Fishlips, 1517 18th Street! With your host, Matt Munoz.
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SEE YOU THERE!