Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Cold in July


I had a real pleasant surprise during the end credits. It turns out this was based on a 1989 novel by one of my favorite authors, fellow East Texas boy Joe R. Lansdale. He is one of those writers you can absolutely rely on to never go the easy, obvious route, a man who will constantly surprise you. He can write horror, period pieces, and he has a great series starring two guys named Hap and Leonard, one of the more unusual buddy teams in fiction. Both are working-class, down-home, fairly uneducated, but true blue. They have been buddies since childhood, and each would die for the other. And Hap is white and straight, Leonard is black and gay. Whoa! In East Texas! These are delightful characters.

I have not read this novel but I have it on order at the library. I suspect it will turn out that the movie is very faithful, because the story has Joe’s unique touch all over it. Michael C. Hall, from Six Feet Under and Dexter, playing an ordinary guy who runs a framing shop, shoots and kills an intruder in his home. He suffers more than a little anguish over this, and even more when the dead burglar’s father, just paroled from prison, makes it clear that he intends to cause the man and his family a lot of grief, possibly kill them all. And from there … it never goes where you think it would go. Co-starring are Sam Shepard and Don Johnson, who does a really nice semi-comic turn as a Texas lawman.

So I was interested in what part of East Texas this was filmed in. Lansdale is from the Nacogdoches area, and the story was set in Texas. But it was filmed in Kingston, NY! Go figure! And in the fall and winter of 1969, right after attending the Woodstock Festival, my wife and toddler son and I lived in a tiny apartment in Kingston for about a month. We also lived in Hudson and in a rickety old Catskill resort that was technically closed for the season. Somewhere in there our old friend Jim Clarkson from Los Angeles found us, I have never known how, since we told no one where we were living, and we all climbed into my 1956 Buick Roadmaster and drove all the way cross-country to Marin County, with stops at my home town of Nederland, Texas, and a commune in New Mexico, arriving totally broke and driving on fumes. BTW, Jim Clarkson was the husband of Donna Clarkson, and they were the parents of Lana Clarkson, who was murdered thirty-four years later by that psychotic piece of shit, Phil Spector, may he be gang-raped every day of his nineteen-to-life sentence.

Ah, memories. Sweet and sad.