Thirty-five years ago, an Exorcist was sent to Stage 8 on the Manka Bros. Studios lot.
Strange shit was happening there and the only logical explanation was ghosts.
The film being shot on the stage was a horrible roller disco movie called “Juggle Boogie” – a sort of “Hatfields & McCoys” story about two rival juggling families who both owned roller discos across the street from one another.
I had only been on the job as head of studio for a little over a year. My father died in 1976 (and is buried underneath the Main Admin building – Bldg. 2) and left me the “keys” to the studio at the tender age of 18.
And now we, apparently, had a demonic possession of one of our sounds stages. Something I really didn’t want to deal with. At that age, I just wanted to be playing in my band, the amazing “King Khan.”
But I digress…
Initially, the reports of doors banging and food disappearing were easily blamed on cats, rats and the fat Studio Tour guide (Randy Wilcox) that used to steal all the food off of various production sets.
But when the all cats, rats and Randy Wilcox were discovered dead one morning, we knew something was afoot.
I had always heard rumors that the land where the Manka Bros. Studios currently resides was once used for a few Keystone Cops productions directed by Mack Sennett and that there was, in fact, an unsolved massacre of several Cops during a particularly grueling movie shoot.
Supposedly – and this has never been mentioned in public before – the murdered Cops were buried under the area now known as Manka Bros. Stage 8.
I happen to know for a fact that while the incident is true – it actually happened at Universal and the poor Keystone Cops who were slaughtered are actually buried in a mass grave under Universal Studios Stage 12.
What all that means is that we didn’t know what the fuck was going on at Manka Bros. Stage 8.
(And any of you Margie Louise conspiracy theorists can take a hike – that murder is unsolved, not relevant, and I will one day write about it… not today.)
So – back to the story – the Exorcist (I think he was from Tujunga) was called in. His named was Father Cain and I recognized him.
It turns out, Father Cain was an actor (Cain Montgomery) that used to audition for TV shows but never got a part. Sort of like those whack jobs who try to be actors for years and then decide to become palm readers and spiritual guides.
Father Cain said he saw “The Exorcist” and thought that would be a really cool job.
When he entered Stage 8, his eyes rolled back in his head and he started to jerk around like an acting class chicken (very unconvincing).
Because “Juggle Boogie” was already three months over schedule and nearly $1 million over budget (1978 dollars!) we continued to shoot while Father Cain attempted to exorcise the demons.
To his credit, Father Cain immediately found the demons – they weren’t very clever – and ordered them to leave the sound stage.
The demons were pretty harmless – just playing backgammon and trying to trip up the actors as they skated by.
It turns out, the “demons” were just some old character actors who my father wouldn’t let out of their “lifetime contracts” and, basically, kept ownership of their souls.
Father Cain and the Manka Bros. Legal department told me it would be very simple to rid the stage of the ghosts – just let the dead actors out of their contract obligations and they’ll ascend either into Heaven or Hell depending on the way they conducted their lives.
I refused. A deal is a deal.
To this day, there is a still a bunch of weird shit happening on Stage 8.
P.S. – Why the cats, rats and Randy Wilcox died is still a mystery. Maybe it was because of all that “demon poison” that some idiot prop guy kept putting out before they called the Exorcist.