#2. Ed Wood Got a Church to Fund Plan 9 From Outer Space
Most readers have probably heard of Ed Wood, either as "the guy who made Plan 9 From Outer Space" or as the subject of the 1994 Tim Burton film with Johnny Depp as the title character. A World War II hero who also happened to be a transvestite who loved angora sweaters, Wood created some of the world's worst films, and as a result would be remembered longer than a whole lot of people who made good ones.
Citizen Kane never had any zombie-on-boob action.
The following story was also told in the Tim Burton film, though some of you who saw it probably thought it was too stupid to be anything but an addition by an imaginative screenwriter. The story goes that Wood, having a habit of making everything he touched terrible, found that securing funding for his magnum opus, Grave Robbers From Outer Space, was nearly impossible.
"You have got to stop approaching us like this, Ed."
Enter the Baptist Church of Beverly Hills, whose members were interested in producing a series of films about the apostles. Wood convinced them that if they financed a hit science fiction movie first, they could use the proceeds to produce the rest of their films. Which may have been a great idea, if the science fiction movie was not going to turn out to be Plan 9 From Outer Space (renamed from Grave Robbers From Outer Space at the Baptist Church's insistence).
No one knows God's plans 1-8, but 9 somehow involves Frisbees and terrible cinematography.
There was only one catch: The Baptists mandated that, to secure the funding, Wood and the entire cast had to be baptized into their church. They agreed, and the whole cast and crew -- from Vampira to pro wrestler Tor Johnson to Wood himself -- entered the waters of baptism and came out Baptists. Baptists who now had enough scratch to fund their monster movie.
All these satanic creatures have God's blessing.
In a twist that surprised absolutely nobody but the church and maybe Wood himself, the film completely tanked and of course did not produce the necessary funds to get the apostle movies made. And, whoever approved the use of church funds for the project was probably fired and ... his baptism revoked? Whatever the rule is there.
That'll teach you to Bapts!
#1. Melvin Van Peebles Suffered for His Art, or At Least His Penis Did
When filmmaker Melvin Van Peebles completed a hit film called Watermelon Man, a comedy about a white man who wakes up black one day, Columbia Pictures offered him a three-movie contract. In response, Van Peebles said, "Great, how about a porn film about a militant black man standing up to the white establishment?"
"At the end it'll just cut to black with the words 'FUCK HOLLYWOOD' flashing in neon for the next 30 minutes."
Needless to say, he now had no studio financing. So, Van Peebles took out a personal loan from Bill Cosby for $50,000, who was apparently as big a fan of militant porn as he was Jell-O Pudding Pops. With some starter money, Van Peebles got to work on what would become Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song.
Wow look, it stars a dog.
To defray costs, Van Peebles approached the project Orson Welles-style -- he produced it, directed it, acted in it, wrote the film's screenplay, scored the entire soundtrack and performed all the stunts. And by performed all the stunts, we don't only mean being thrown off of a truck; we mean personally doing the boning. And by boning, we mean having thoroughly unprotected sex with a woman he never bothered to have medically tested. He also had his 13-year-old son, Mario Van Peebles, film a flashback sex scene with a prostitute, and the scene is so graphic it's difficult to know if the sex is simulated or not.
It sure is difficult with all those boxes in the way.
Probably because the universe has a way of righting these kinds of things, Van Peebles Sr. contracted gonorrhea from the said boning. But because he was a lunatic, he filed a claim with the Director's Guild of America that claimed he was hurt while making his film and required workman's compensation. For the STD he got from having unprotected sex on camera.
Somehow (probably because it was the '70s), the guild took pity on his plight and actually mailed him a check. Which he used to not do anything silly like treat the gonorrhea, but to buy more film to complete the movie.
"Unless the Man pays for my STD, in which case, he's cool."
Knowing that the movie resulted in an STD and the emotional scarring of his son, Van Peebles today is completely ashamed of his actions. And by that we mean he brags about it every chance he gets.
"STDs? I've almost got the whole set."
For more terrifying behind-the-scenes looks, check out 6 Beloved TV Shows (That Traumatized Cast Members For Life) and 12 Classic Movie Moments Made Possible by Abuse and Murder.