Fright, Films, and Frankie Peacock
13th Gate promoting upcoming haunting season with series of short films
By Mark RedmondPosted Aug 1, 2012
A misshapen janitor sweeps the floor in a dingy, poorly lit industrial area. Amidst the dust he finds discarded teeth, an amputated shin, and a severed finger, which he promptly ingests, gutturally exclaiming, “Finger food!”
This janitor is Frankie Peacock, longtime greeter of the 13th Gate and signature character of actor Drew Cothern.
Cothern has been playing Peacock for close to five years. Getting into character at this point is no more difficult than “slipping on an old sock,” Cothern said.
Frankie Peacock has previously appeared in promotions for the 13th Gate, including a recent advertisement for 13th Gate sponsor Monster Energy Drinks. He is also the star of Leftovers, the second short film in a series of 10 to be released by the frequently awarded haunted Baton Rouge attraction in preparation for the upcoming Halloween season.
You can catch all of the shorts on YouTube by visiting the Midnight Productions page at www.YouTube.com/user/MidnightPro.
Leftovers follows on the heels of You’ve Got Guts, Kid!, the first short film released by the 13th Gate in the preview series. Guts, which had the working title Up in ‘Dem Guts, features the brutal vivisection of a young woman by a creepy amateur surgeon whose face remains unseen. Increasing the creepiness is the fact that the film features no dialogue.
“[My partners] were going for something that allowed itself to be creepy,” Cothern said. “[Something] that didn’t presume to be anything other than a snapshot – a moment.”
Cothern reveals all this while sitting across from me, slowly peeling the layers of Frankie Peacock off of his face and body. The 2-and-a-half-inch craterous sore that mars Peacock’s forehead is removed and gingerly attached to a piece of cardstock to be saved for the next shoot. The fabric around Cothern’s pockets is reddened from the stage blood on his hands, and the bright green contacts in his eyes startle a passerby.
“The next [short] to be released is going to be a campaign ad for president: Peacock 2012,” Cothern reported.
At about three minutes, the short will be close to the same length as Leftovers. Seven more short films will follow, all of them shot entirely on premises at the haunted house. One film will premiere each week until the beginning of the 13th Gate’s 2012 Halloween season.
“There’s a lot of give and take during this whole process,” Cothern said of the productions. “I’ll have an idea and Matt or Adam [Rabalais] will have one, and we’ll kind of tinker with it together. The Rabalais [brothers] do a lot in terms of the actual filming and editing…. They’re really geniuses, and I can’t undersell how great they are for this project. Without them, it simply wouldn’t exist.”
Cothern first worked with the Rabalais brothers on his ill-fated incomplete short horror film Swine Song.
“We were all kind of naïve getting started,” Cothern confessed. “And I got that first taste of directing and found that I was always so preoccupied with the story, the acting, and the actors that I couldn’t be there for the continuity that we really needed. The Rabalais brothers were.”
After filming for Swine Song came to a premature end, the material went unused until Adam Rabalais cut together a mock trailer from the existing footage.
“I got really excited [when I saw it],” Cothern said. “A lot of the footage that we shot looked really good.”
Cothern wasn’t the only one who took notice. Dwayne Sanburn, the owner of the 13th Gate, who contributed to funding Swine Song during its production as a learning experience, asked the production team if they could create promotional web videos for the attraction.
In addition to funding, Sanburn gave the crew access to the 13th Gate for use.
“We have use of the 13th Gate costumes and props, and these sets are professional quality – movie quality,” Cothern said. “With Dwayne’s sets and make-up and access to their actors, we jumped at the opportunity.”
Guts was filmed in “The Asylum,” one of the many environments inside the 13th Gate, and Leftovers was filmed entirely in the attraction’s lobby.
“Most of our filming takes place in one area of the Gate,” Cothern said. “It’s more practical. Shoots being what they are, with limited crew and time, it makes more sense; so we try to write them specific to one area.”
An upcoming short inspired by Frankenstein will be filmed on at least two different sets.
“That’s one of our more ambitious pieces,” said Cothern, who will portray the titular mad doctor.
For the role, he’s drawing inspiration from the classics: “It’s going to be as close to Colin Clive [who played Doctor Frankenstein in James Whale’s iconic 1931 film] as possible without being Colin Clive.”
But what of Cothern’s most well known character?
“Frankie has taken off,” Cothern said. “This weekend I’m doing a fundraiser for the 10/31 Consortium that raises money for Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital.”
The Consortium is a local non-profit organization of self-proclaimed “Halloween enthusiasts,” and the group hosts several events throughout the year, including the annual Halloween parade, which will begin its route at the 13th Gate this year.
We haven’t seen the last of Frankie Peacock, and there are still weeks of 13th Gate short films to come.