Norwalk resident Hope Wilhelm simply was “looking for something to do” when she auditioned for a horror movie in May. Little did she know she would snag the starring role.
On Saturday, that same film — “Curse of the Flesh” — will get its world premiere at 7:30 p.m. at the Sandusky State Theatre. Wilhelm, 37, plays Candy, a college student taking culinary classes who discovers some odd circumstances after she starts dating a substitute professor with whom she was infatuated.
“Let’s just say my mouth dropped when they called me for the lead role,” the 1989 Huron High School graduate said. “Actually, I didn’t have any prior acting experience.”
Director Jim Welch calls Saturday’s event “the small town version” of a film premiere, complete with limousines, lights and the red carpet treatment. DVDs of the film as well as promotional posters will be available for purchase at the public show. After the movie, Welch will show some “bloopers” and three deleted scenes.
“We’re going to make it a big show,” he said.
“I’ve got my outfit and everything’s ready to go,” said Wilhelm, who works in the shipping, receiving and data management departments at Busch and Thiem in Sandusky.
“Curse of the Flesh” was filmed in at least 15 different locations in Huron and Erie counties and boasts a cast of 23 actors. Wilhelm filmed her scenes at Berry’s Restaurant, Lyman Harbor, a home in Huron, a Port Clinton elementary school and even her former apartment, 318 E. Main St.
“We started filming the first weekend of June of ‘07, but we were pretty much wrapped up in October,” Welch said.
While filming in Port Clinton at the end of June, the director recruited school janitor Barb Boss.
“She was thrilled to death. … She (plays) one of the students,” Welch said. “I told her if she was going to be here (anyway), I was going to put her to work.”
Except for veteran horror movie actress Eileen Dietz, who played Pazuzu’s face in “The Exorcist,” the cast members are volunteer local residents. Dietz is in three different “Curse” scenes which covers between 10 to 12 minutes of screen time.
After everything was said and done, Welch and his niece, Renee Matthews, faced more than 900 minutes of footage. The initial cut of the film lasted 110 minutes, but the pair edited it to 104 minutes.
“My goal was to be between 90 and 110 minutes,” said Welch, 45, whose full-time job is working the printing press at a small Sandusky factory.
Matthews, who filmed many scenes, said it “wasn’t that bad” choosing the appropriate material while editing.
“It was very time consuming, but everything came together more quickly than I had anticipated,” she said. “I chose most of the scenes myself. Jim and I think a lot alike, so it made it easy to decide on what to use.”
One of the deleted scenes to be shown Saturday was problematic during the editing process. Welch said the clip shut down the computer every time it was played, even after four computer experts analyzed the footage.
Welch declined to discuss the scene, which comes near the conclusion, in detail “because it gives away the twist.”
The director said the owner of the Neal Street, Sandusky, home — where the scene takes place — claims the basement has been “severely haunted” for years.
“Something popped up in the film,” Welch said. “It moves. It’s not anything that was there when we filmed because we would have known it. … They can look at it and guess for themselves (what it is).”
Matthews couldn’t recall anything unusual happening when she was filming.
“I personally did not see or feel anything. I was too focused on getting the scene filmed right because of the basement being a little cramped,” she said.
Tickets for Saturday’s premiere of the straight-to-DVD horror film “Curse of the Flesh” are available by calling the Sandusky State Theatre box office at (419) 626-1950 or toll-free at (877) 626-1950 by logging onto www.sanduskystate.com.
Interested in reading more about Jim Welch’s movie? Click onto the blogs portion of the Reflector Web site — www.norwalkreflector.com/blogs — and type “Curse of the Flesh” in the search field. This will connect you to several blogs reporter Cary Ashby wrote about his acting experience during the first day of shooting.