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Craig Baxley - A Profile

by Dale Pierce

October 2005

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Craig Baxley has been involved with numerous elements of the film worls during a long career, which has more recently seen him entering the realm of director and making a name for himself. Read on to learn a bit more about this talented and active man.

Baxley first started gaining fame for himself as a stunt driver, stunt man and stunt coordinator in a nubmer of films, as well as tv shows. He was incolved with various stunts in The Long Riders, the original Night Stalker tv series, the Dukes Of Hazard tv series, Charlie Varreck, The Parrallax View, Mr. Majestyk, Predator, Diamonds Are Forever and many more films. It was here he learned the craft of film-making, watching some of the best of actors, such as Warren Beatty, Charles Bronson, the Carradines and more, while also keeping a watchful eye on the directors. By all evidence, he absorbed like a paper towel. What he saw clearly stuck with him.

He eventually made the jump from being in front of a camera to behind it, as an assistant director and then a director. It was in this new phase of his career that he became most applauded, especially for a series of Stephen King horror movies shown as mini-series ventures on tv.

Storm Of The Century dealt with a group of people on a small island off the New England coast, preparing for a massive blizzard to strike. As the town begins to shut down, a mysterious stranger shows up, kills an old woman, calmly waits to be arrested and thrives on his stay in the local jail. Is he a demon? A warlock? The devil himself? No one is really sure, even at the end, when his evil intentions become known. By this time he has used his magic powers to turn everyone against each other, with a whole series of killings taking place.

In this film one wonders a bit if some of the victims didn't bring on this killer from the twilight zone themselves. At times viewers even want to cheer when these characters get what is coming to them. Evil begets evil, but sometimes the good manage to survive, though no one escapes unmarked.

Likewise, Rose Red drew critical acclaim. King borrowed heavily from Shirley Jackson's novel The Haunting Of Hill House (which Robert Wise's groundbreaking film The Haunting was based on), with a series of investigators going into a massive mansion in Seattle, where a series of murders, suicides, vanishing and supernatural happenings have taken place. Again, evil begets evil as some of the characters fall under the influence of the house and its ghostly residents, leading to a climax that is anything but happy.

Baxley's eye for stunt work, special effects and timing, due partially to his past career, helped this film out greatly, elevating it beyond just another haunted house tale.

In conjunction with Rose Red, Baxley also worked on a psuedo-documentary on the Rose Red house and the "real" investigative team going into the place, in The Diary Of Ellen Rimbauer. Designed to pump up interest in the film, this production took pieces of the fictional "diary" of the house's mysterious owner, coming across like something that might be seen on The Travel Channel, on America's Most Haunted Places. Curiously, there were people watching who thought Rose Red was a real house and there were actually investigative teams going in to exorcise the place. Shades of Welles and his War Of The Worlds radio broadcast.

Then came Kingdom Hospital, about a hospital built on the location of a massive mill disaster in which several children died. The spirits in this King story did not pass away pleasantly or remain dead. Draw your own assumptions of the plot to follow.
  

In 2005 this director saw considerable action with back to back work. First there was World At War, the third of Cloud Ten's Left Behind series, dealing with the coming of the legendary antichrist. Though just released in late October, the movie has gained praise from  Christian and secular audiences alike, some seeing it as a great spiritual piece, while others view it as a fine horror film. The final scene, with the villain walking unscratched out of a collapsed, burning skyscraper and into the camera lens with a triumphant smirk brings chills to all but the most steadfast onlooker.

This film was followed by Triangle, in post-production in October, which will be seen as another mini-series on tv. This  work enters the outright horror realm once again, though in slightly more subtle form. A group of survivors of supernatural incidents within the Bermuda Triangle attempt to find the reason behind such happenings. Little else remains known to date about this, so we will have to wait for it to hit the screen.

Curiously, in World At War, Baxley directed Gordon Currie to the role of a lifetime as the arrogant antichrist. In Triangle, the star is Sam Neill, the actor who played Damien, another antichrist, in Omen III, over twenty years beforehand.

 

© by Dale Pierce


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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

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