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Beverly Washburn on Spider Baby

As Told To Donald Vaughan

DV What was it like to film Spider Baby?

BW It was a wonderful experience, but the movie had a very low budget. The entire film was shot in 13 days, so there wasn't a lot of time to spend on each scene.

DV Tell us about working with Lon Chaney.

BW I absolutely adored Lon Chaney. He had nicknames for Jill and me. I have no idea how he came up with them but he called Jill "Cracker Ass" and I was "Bubble Butt." I can't explain it, but it always made me laugh. At the time of the filming it was well known that Lon Chaney was an alcoholic, and it was in his contract that he could go to his trailer every afternoon to have a little drink so that he wouldn't get the shakes. It never interfered with his acting and he was a total gentleman, soft-spoken, kind of like a gentle giant.

DV Did you get along well with Jill Banner?

BW Very much so. Jill and I got along famously, and everyone else on the cast seemed to genuinely love each other. Sadly, Jill was killed in an automobile accident in 1982.

DV Your costar, Sid Haig, has experienced quite a resurgence as a performer, thanks to Rob Zombie.

BW Sid was hilarious and it was very hard not to laugh while he was drooling and getting totally into his character, Ralph. Jack Hill was also fabulous to work for. He would tell us what he wanted since he was the director/writer, but at the same time he let us give our own input to our characters. I worked with him and Sid again in Pit Stop.

DV Why did it take so long for Spider Baby to be released?

BW After the filming ended there were some legal problems with the two men who had put up the money, so the movie just gathered dust for years. We all thought it would never be released, and of course none of us had any idea that it would become a cult favorite so many years later. Jack Hill worked very hard at getting it released and now it's actually all over the world and has a huge following. It has aired on Turner Classic Movies a few times and I've been told that Quentin Tarantino is a huge fan. Lon Chaney first turned it down because it wasn't in the budget to pay him his usual fee. But he really liked the script and wanted the part so badly that he finally agreed to work for less money.

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