The Devil's Rain (1975) directed by my late friend Bob Feust.
"Martin Fyffe," cried Jimmy Greaves, Satan's Minister on Earth and hotshot Brit director in the everlasting Kingdom of Hollywood, "Martin Fyffe, my disloyal servant, come forth and claim the fate that I have prepared for thee!"
Jimmy Greaves, visibly sweating saddlebags in a Viyella plaid shirt on Skype, was quick to add, "I don't want people to know that I want the soul of Martin Fyffe... People can't know that I am up to this sort of thing."
In Nomine Satanus!
What my Master of Celluloid wanted was the head of Martin Fyffe on a spike -- a childhood friend who had grown to Judas and ripped him off to the tune of $20,000.
"I can't be connected with this thing in any way, shape or form," said Greavsie, sounding way too much like a Hollywood b-movie bad guy for my liking, "I have a reputation to think of."
Don't we all, my dear...
I told the reincarnation of Alfred Hitchcock that collecting a debt in London was "not cold blooded business" and that it could be done through cut-outs. The only thing Greavsie had to supply was tangible proof.
"The collections agents must have documentation, the debt must be legit or it's a no-go, no-show."
Time to repay your debts to Greavsie, Martin Fyffe
The goat-headed media-mogul was less interested in the money, and more intrigued by the menaces.
Bob was directing William Shatner in a scene, he put an arm on his shoulder and said, "Look Bill..." Shatner flipped and pushed Bob back screaming, "Don't touch me, don't touch me!" Luvvies eh?
"I just want Martin Fyffe to burn, burn, in the name of Satan, Lucifer, Lord of the Fire, Saint of Light, Master of the Earth, I want Martin Fyffe to suffer...just as long as nobody knows that I had anything to do with this, OK? I don't want anything or anybody to connect me to this..."
"You have my word, Sire."
Bob said the production company ran out of $ during the shoot and a lot of SFX had to be done on the sly
The eyeless follower pointed out to Greavsie that the most important thing was retrieval of the debt.
Tansey from Raining Stones the greatest debt collector ever committed to screen
Consigned to the role of useful idiot, I called up some collections agency contacts in London. They were glad for the biz, would buy the debt and add 80% interest (holy cow!) I got back to Greavsie. The plot had changed. Now the thief-traitor Martin Fyffe owed Greavsie $10,000 and not $20,000 as earlier stated.
"My Lord, for $10,000 you got rid of him permanently, and it's cheap at the price..."
Ernest Borgnine and Anton LaVey in The Devil's Rain
"But Martin Fyffe is a blasphemer who has defiled all that is holy!"
"What method you favor for Judas, firing squad or crucifixion?"
"Whatever the method, there will be no sporting chances for Martin Fyffe!"
The Crucifixion of Christ by Tintoretto (1568)
"I see, the preferred method is crucifixion, then."
Better the Devil you know than the Devil you don't.
"Yes, you witless dolt, I want Martin Fyffe nailed to the walls of his God forsaken bungalow! Where's my Valium? A Valium, a Valium, my casting couch for a Valium!"
Greavsie came down to Earth and explained that coz he was a successful director people thought he was loaded and the old friend was no exception. Reality was an ex-wife (gorgeous, pouting, Ukrainian), a big mortgage, humongous tax bill and one outstanding nervous breakdown still to get over.
"Times are hard... I only earned $932,000 in 2012..."
Aw, diddums, not exactly food stamps.
Despite the strict orders of this Satanic figure, I called up Saint to discuss the matter.
"What the fuck? He's living in a fantasy land! What the fuck is he doing calling you up about debt collecting? We're supposed to be making films, not busting heads! I'll be damned if you'll go along with any of his nonsense!"
Saint told me about the figure who had fallen from the favor of Lucifer. He had once met up with Martin Fyffe to discuss "a really lame web series and computer game about teenage vampires...which is how Greavsie came to loan Fyffe $20,000 in the first place..."
"Is he brass, is that why the Devil's man wants his money back? He was complaining about his earnings for 2012 to me."
"I dunno. All I know is the guy paid back half the loan, had a tiff with Greavsie on the phone and now refuses to pay the rest. Jesus, Alex! This guy is living on Fantasy Island with Tattoo and Mr. Rourke ordering hits from LA and acting like some two-bit character from a gangster film, it's as if he has gone from watching a movie to acting in one. I'm worried about his grip on reality, wanting the legs of his ex best mate broken by some faceless thugs in fog soaked London, ha-ha-ha!"
But it's a sweet way to end a friendship, isn't it?
I explained to my old friend that debt retrieval was not an unknown practice in the Age of Recession. Saint agreed to stay tight lipped until Greavsie brought it up with him. And, when he did, Saint was going to advise against action, urge Greavsie to chalk it up to experience, and write it off.
A few days later, once I had managed to ascertain the last known whereabouts of Martin Fyffe (talking in a loud voice over cappuccinos down Brick Lane), a call came through from Greavsie on Skype.
"About that thing in London, call it off, put it on the back burner."
"Aye Sire, as you command."
No need for Tansey and Ted from Raining Stones to pay Martin Fyffe a visit and crucify him to the walls of his bungalow, good. Saint sent me a message.
"Greavsie is mates with Martin Fyffe, again."
"Whatever happened to Martin Fyffe wandering through eternity a creature of nothing, neither of Heaven nor of Hell?"
"He got his $10,000 back after threatening Martin Fyffe with the promise of menaces. Not exactly a storm in a teacup. Greavsie was so mad he wanted to turn Martin Fyffe's life into a charnel house and the latter gave in and apologized for taking the piss."
All's well that ends well, I guess.
A film so shit I started doing the Guardian crossword