“Roller Boogie” starred Linda Blair as a young skater who along with her friends teams up to stop the closure of their favorite rink from an evil magnate. Former Friday scream queen Kimberly Beck also starred in the film. For Lester working on the film was the most fun he’s ever had on a project, and maybe the most interesting given that he once again was teamed with an eclectic crew of former and current stars beginning with “Exorcist” star Blair who would go on to team with Yablans in “Hell Night.”
“Oh yeah, I loved ‘Boogie.’ Still do,” says Lester with a laugh. “I don’t care what people say. The picture did okay too. Anyway, Linda was at a point in her career where after ‘The Exorcist II,’ you know, her career was kind of in a slump. We had a list of actors, but we chose Linda. Part of the reason was that her asking price at that moment was what we could afford. Another thing was that she was about to go on trial in Texas for something, and there was lots of publicity around her, so I think that hurt her, but she was great. She eventually had to leave to go to the trial but she did great in the film.”
Aside from Blair, “Boogie” gave Lester a chance to work with ace cinematographer Dean Cundey, then fresh off his “Halloween” triumph, and “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” photographer Daniel Pearl, who would go on to work on “Class of 1984.” As well, “Halloween” and frequent Carpenter camera operator Raymond Stella worked on the film. “Oh yeah, those guys were great, although I don’t remember working with Daniel on that one. I think he did a lot of the roller skating camerawork,” says Lester. “You could see that Dean was a great talent. Those guys made the film look really slick. They made it look at least twice what it cost.”
Once “Roller Boogie” was completed, Lester threw his hat back in the producing ring when he oversaw production of Tobe Hooper’s classic “The Funhouse,” but not before he was offered the chance to direct another, more notorious film – “Hell Night.”
“Bruce Cohn Curtis, he’d worked on a lot of the ‘Roller Boogie’ script which was credited to Barry Schneider,” recalls Lester. “Well, he had this script called ‘Hell Night,’ and he told me the story about the kids trapped inside this haunted house with this monster after him, and I liked it. I really wanted to direct it, but in the end, I passed to begin ‘The Funhouse’ and of course, ‘Class of 1984.’ I wish I had directed it though.” As far as Yablans casting “Boogie” star Blair in “Hell Night,” Lester says, “I didn’t have anything to do with her getting ‘Hell Night.’ I guess Irwin loved ‘Boogie’ and he thought Linda was still a big horror name.” Producer Yablans now lives in the quiet lane, out of the movie business, at his 25-acre horse ranch in Santa Ynez, California.
Get the whole story and read part three of DIRECTOR MARK LESTER AND THE CLASS OF 2002>>>