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Interview with Ian Keldin (Ian Hardin)

April 2000

Ian Hardin

Keith: How did you get involved with Cannibal?

Ian: At [the University of Colorado at Boulder], I did a short film that parodied the origins of the bible called "He Is Risen, Indeed." After reading the script, Trey (who was working at the film rental desk) asked if he could play the part of Jesus. He was very funny and we had a great time working together. When he finished the script for "Cannibal," he asked if I would be interested in joining the production.

How would you describe the others that worked on the movie?

Neurotic and confused but very committed.

Did you actually sing your own part for the songs, or did someone else sing and you lip-synched?

I sang all of my own parts and played drums on "Hang the Bastard" and "The Trapper Song."

Frenchy was the only lip-syncher.

Was that beard you had real or makeup?

Ironically, aside from Robert Muratore (Frenchy Cabazon), I was the only actor with real facial hair.

Are you as religious as the character you portrayed in the film?

Trey cast me as Bell because he thought I was generally "preachy" when expressing my opinion. Luckily, I'm neither religious nor homicidal. Although I've never had gangrene...

What did it feel like being jacked in the face with a butcher knife, shot through the face with a gun, stabbed in the eye with a stick, and nailed in the chest with a pickaxe?

The only thing I remember about that day was the feeling of red Karo syrup creeping into my eye socket every five minutes. Overall, the special effects were really fun because they were so campy. But the "real slaughter" day (as we called it) sucked for me.

What was the funniest thing that happened during the making of the movie?

Hotel room antics. Trey and Matt would often call Andy Kemler's (Nutter) room and pretend to be the management complaining about noise. Andy took it upon himself to hush the entire cast and crew of 30, all of whom liked to party in his room, saying something like, "C'mon you guys, seriously, we're going to get kicked out!" He never picked up on the fact that the "management" only ever bothered him, and that the plaintiff who called every night was from a completely different ethnic background.

What was the hardest thing about the shoot?

Trying to pretend like I wasn't in love. My wife (executive producer, Alexandra Kelly) and I were both trying to get out of other relationships at the time so we had to be sneaky. Of course, our liaisons were lost on no one. Also, organization was nightmarish at times, but we always found a way through.

In the original "Alferd Packer" trailer on the Cannibal DVD, who were you playing the part of? And is there a reason they decided to change your part?

In the trailer I played Miller, the butcher. I was standing behind the guy playing Swan (Marty Leeper) as Jon Hegel (playing the part of Bell and who - ironically - went on to play Swan), shot him. Later, Trey decided to typecast people based on how well their personality fit the role. Since Marty bowed out for reasons I can't recall, Jon was called upon to fill his place. I was cast as Bell for reasons described above.

A newspaper called Cannibal the 90's answer to the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Do you think Troma should encourage the same type of theatrical distribution and audience participation that Rocky gets?

Judging from past audience reaction, I think a Rocky Horror approach would do very well.

Has the movie spawned an increase in tourism for the locations you filmed in?

Good question. You should ask the Colorado Chamber of Commerce.

What will you always remember about making the movie?

Producer Alexandra Kelly and I started dating during pre-production (December, 1992) and have been together ever since. I will never forget the incredible times we had making this film.

Can you tell us any secrets about (or in) the movie?

Okay, I'm going to bullet point as many as I can remember:

  • Most of the crew failed Film History to make "Cannibal," which was shot during weekends and on spring break in 1993.
  • Moira Kelly was originally slated to play the part of Polly Pry. She bailed after her agent heard about us promoting the film at Sundance, a fact he was apparently not privy to. We still have her signed letter of intent. She is listed in the credits as "The Dropout - M.K."
  • The script was originally modeled after Homer's "Odyssey," with the Japanese Indians representing the Sirens, the wounded confederate soldier representing the Cyclops and the search for Lianne representing the odyssey itself.
  • In the scene where Noon pulls a shoelace out of his mouth, an alien "visitor" head was strategically placed over his left shoulder.
  • During "Lets Build a Snowman," when Swan is tap-dancing in the snow, the snowman's head was replaced with a visitor head in the wide shot.
  • There is a visitor somewhere in the crowd scene at the end.
  • The bar fight at the end was originally a rap number called "Shatterproof" that was cut from the final version because Trey thought Packer came off too tough.
  • Trey ended up singing Frenchy's part in "The Trapper Song," although Robert certainly gave it the old college try.
  • The "purple flower" shot during the "The Trapper Song" was achieved with color-correction in post-production. The leaves were actually green.
  • The same person played both the skunk-headed trapper Loutzenheiser and the Cyclops.
  • The brief dance in "All I'm Asking For" where the miners are supposed to dip and stand up in unison took 14 takes, the most of any scene in the film.
  • Noon's father in the mining pit is really legendary avant-garde filmmaker Stan Brakkhage, who teaches at CU.
  • The scene where Swan sees snow for the first time was shot in two locations about 100 miles apart. The main scene was shot at the Colorado National Monument in Grand Junction. The actual snow was shot at The Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs several months later.
  • It really hurt when I got hit in the face with a snowball during the first "Indian" scene.
  • Alex and I were almost killed in an avalanche on Ouray pass after shooting the "Cyclops/sheep" scene. The rest of the crew had already left the location. We stayed behind to make sure all equipment had been collected. Coming down the mountain, we came around a rather sharp corner with no guardrail just in time to see several tons of snow land on the road right in front of us.
  • The sheep from the "Cyclops/sheep" scene was actually shot several hundred miles and edited in later.
  • Trey was thrown from one of the many "Lianne" horses early in shooting, fracturing his hip.
  • The scene for "This Side of Me" was shot five times because of inclimate weather (it was shot outside on a beautiful cliff a couple of times), fogged film and an eventual change of lyrics. The scene that ended up in the final version was shot one week prior to the film's completion.
  • Frenchy's dead body on the gallows at the end is really Alex Kelly in a furry jacket. The last scene was re-shot because Trey and Toddy did not kiss in the original scene (Trey was too shy). He and Toddy started dating shortly thereafter. Later, Trey wanted the film to end with a passionate kiss, which meant I had to strap on that damn stick-in-the-eye again. But it was worth it.

Do you still keep in touch with anyone from the movie?

Alex and I still run into Robert Muratore and costume designer Elki Neiberger, both of whom live in Denver. Toddy Walters and I played in a band together for three years following Cannibal. She recently moved to L.A., but we have her over to the house whenever she's in town. Most everyone else on the crew eventually moved to L.A. or New York, so we don't see too many familiar faces around town.

Have you worked on any other films besides Cannibal?

The year after "Cannibal" Alex and I produced a low-budget feature film that I will not name.

What are you up to nowadays?**

I own my own video company that specializes in documentaries. I also play in a band called "Greenhaus," the CD for which can be found at [now defunct website]. Alex and I have two beautiful daughters aged 10 months and 3 years. Alex is a 5th grade teacher. We live a quiet and happy life in Denver. We haven't seen Trey or Matt in a few years, but we laugh our asses off at their on- and off-screen antics. They are truly funny people.

**Update as of December 2004: Ian still owns his video company. However, he now plays in a fusion jazz project called "Zed" ( He and Alex now have three beautiful children - a 15 month-old son and two daughters aged 5 and 8. They still live in Denver.

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