In an apartment converted from a garage in the sleepy town of Salisbury, Massachusetts, an independent filmmaker sits at his computer desk surrounded by posters of Basil Gogos, Norman Rockwell, Universal monsters, new Hollywood exploitation films, and vintage newspapers depicting the sinking of the Titanic.
Sharp-featured with a well-groomed beard and electrifying grin, Adam Pivacek sifts through promotional footage for his upcoming schlock horror-comedy film, Beach Booty Massacre— a film that I was lucky enough to act in. Years in the making, the film is finally wrapping up post-production. There is a perceptible buzz in the smoky air of the garage.
A few years ago, in this very garage, Pivacek was hard at work crafting a bizarre object from foam and wire materials. This frame was drenched in liquid silicone to compose the gruesome bust of the film’s grisly monster. Although the film is now nearly complete, almost every shot of Beach Booty Massacre was fraught with moments of chaos and fortuity.
During one shoot for the film, rehearsal for a sequence featuring a botched convenience store robbery commenced at a Salisbury Gulf station convenience store. Within minutes, actor Antoine Jones began waving a fake pistol in the air in preparation for the attempted robbery.
Police suddenly arrived at the scene, sirens blaring, pointing their (very real) guns through the convenience store’s windows. Jones immediately threw his fake gun down and spread out on the floor. In an instant, the rest of the crew followed his lead. Four local cops busted through the door. Pivacek glanced up to find three menacing semiautomatic rifles and a handgun pointed in his face. “We’re making a movie! We’re making a movie!” Pivacek screamed.
As soon as Jones, a young black male, admitted to wielding the fake gun, the sergeant barked orders to his underlings to place Jones in handcuffs. Pivacek, his father Steve, and actor Brad Haddock (not clad in a black ski-mask, as the local papers later reported) were also arrested. Strangely, the only officer who seemed to be upset by this ordeal was the sergeant. Other officers at the scene were in disbelief over the booking, some even engaging in friendly banter with Pivacek about his movie. Disappointingly, neither Pivacek nor Jones were read their Miranda rights.
Placed in a holding cell together at the old Salisbury police station, Pivacek and Jones were cooperative throughout their arrests. Unfortunately, the real reason for the sergeant’s misplaced anger was soon revealed. Just less than a week prior, a disgruntled Salisbury man charged at police officers wielding a machete, and was shot dead in the street. As a result of this incident, three officers were relieved of their service weapons, placed under paid administrative leave, and under investigation at the time of the ill-fated convenience store robbery call. An eccentric gentleman recognized locally for erratic behavior, whom Jones had spoken with at the store before the shoot, made the call to local authorities.
Pivacek and his crew were charged with disorderly conduct the morning after their arrest. Luckily, their attorney was able to get their charges dropped, with a conditional apology to the judge and eight hours of community service for each crew member. As Pivacek’s attorney noted, the terms of disorderly conduct apply to individuals creating a dangerous or distracting situation in public without legitimate cause.
“They can’t get you for this charge,” Pivacek’s attorney said. “You had legitimate cause: you were filming a movie.”
As humble indie filmmakers working with zero budget under rigid time constraints, Pivacek and Jones decided that it was in their best interest to ignore the fact that they were not read their Miranda rights and simply move on with the production of Beach Booty Massacre. Nonetheless, the botched filming of the botched robbery sequence (meta!) wasn’t the only precarious filming experience along the way.
On a separate occasion, one of the actors in the movie was set to shoot a nude scene originally slated for warm summer filming. However, the shoot was pushed back due to a lack of budget, and the actor in question ended up performing on a cold November evening. The next morning, he became severely ill.
Later, Pivacek and his crew set up to film at Hood Pond in Topsfield, Massachusetts, a lake with a beach that served as the primary location for the “Ferd Lake” setting in the film. Once again, police arrived. This time, though, Pivacek didn’t give them a chance to speak.
“We’re filming a movie,” Pivacek told police officers at Hood Pond. “Did you guys talk to your dispatch office? I called and informed them this morning.”
Although the officers thought Pivacek had his business in order, they pointed out that one of the actors (who just happened to be playing the role of the monster during that shoot) had expired plates. Thus, this actor was forced to go to the DMV the next morning so he could simply drive home.
Luckily, despite the inescapable moments of chaos and confusion inseparable with a DIY film shoot, Pivacek also experienced veritable moments of serendipity when filming Beach Booty Massacre.
“I loved when something would go off without a hitch—when the special effects for the death scenes would go off without a hitch and the lighting looked great—I’d be riding high after those shoots,” Pivacek beams. “Working with actors who are my personal friends was so fulfilling. I’ll write roles for these people until the end of time.”
Learning that he could use an ice cream truck in the movie for free was a fruitful moment for Pivacek. Growing up in awe of resourceful directors who made the most of connections while shooting films with extremely low budgets helped Pivacek maximize his slim resources.
“My dad’s company, Dependable Security Systems, installed security cameras for Steve Mandracchia, an actor who plays a ‘Masshole’ in the film,” Pivacek says. “Years ago, I mentioned to Mandracchia that I was a freelance videographer while working on his salvage company’s surveillance cameras, and he asked me to make a commercial for his dumpster rental sales—that turned into my first freelance paycheck.”
While hanging out and watching ‘70s zombie trailers after filming the commercial, Pivacek told Mandracchia that he reminded him of an Italian mobster. Mandracchia asked Pivacek to write him a role in his upcoming film, and Pivacek immediately agreed, creating the part of a “Sicilian Masshole.” In the early stages of writing Beach Booty Massacre, Pivacek’s script depended entirely on whatever resources were in his immediate proximity.
“Steve told me to let him know if I needed anything else from him, so I asked him if he had access to an ice cream truck,” Pivacek says.
“Yeah,” Mandracchia responded. “One of my drivers, Angel, has an ice cream truck.”
Twenty minutes later, Mandracchia called Pivacek and said, “You got the truck.”
When Pivacek learned he had access to the ice cream truck, he kept writing the movie the way he intended.
“The ice cream truck was a major part of my storyline,” Pivacek reflects. “I helped Steve out in the past and we honed in on our shared enthusiasm for horror films. Opportunities like this one arose because of genuine connections I made with people throughout my life, and these opportunities helped get this movie made.”
Pivacek found local talent for the film from the north shore Mass music scene, offering soul-powered Peabody blues rockers Heavy Necker and punk/power pop band Carissa Johnson & The Cure-Alls spots on the film’s soundtrack (Heavy Necker’s lead singer, Chris Cardone, was cast in an acting role as well). Pivacek was also fortunate to cast Haverhill standup comic Alan Richardson in the tantalizing role of a stereotypical glutton.
“Since the horror genre is so focused on sin-factor and personifications of evil, I wanted to explore who deserves to die through casting archetypal roles,” Pivacek says.
More fortune came for Pivacek when he cast legendary tattoo artist and historian Lyle Tuttle in an unexpected cameo. While helping a close friend of his girlfriend with her stand at a tattoo convention in Manchester, New Hampshire, Pivacek noticed Tuttle’s name on the program schedule.
“I knew I had fit him into the movie, because showcasing everyone’s real tattoos is a big part of the film, including my own,” Pivacek says, noting his own Troma Entertainment-inspired shoulder tattoo of a hazardous waste barrel frothing with toxic chemicals. “I phoned the production director of the convention and he told me that he didn’t predict Lyle would object to the idea.”
Like other contributors to Beach Booty Massacre, the tattoo community rallied around Pivacek’s passion project.
“Filming the Tuttle cameo was out of this world,” Pivacek elaborates. “I felt like I was dreaming the entire time. He’s such a cool guy with an awesome sense of humor.”
Pivacek’s girlfriend, Molly Crissinger, took behind-the-scenes photos while Pivacek filmed Tuttle in a meeting room at the convention. Pivacek wrote up a last-minute public service announcement, which Tuttle delivered with style
“I’ve learned that if you don’t ask, you’ll never know. That’s the way I live my life,” Pivacek muses. “I try to be mindful with every person I meet because I know that, when you put out your energy with every person you meet in life in a positive way, it’s going to come back to you in a positive way. You see that in the making of this film.”
Although Beach Booty Massacre has taken him considerable time and effort to finish, Pivacek’s number one hope is that his faithful tribe hasn’t lost sight of the most valuable lesson of all: do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Pivacek has always had collaborators, but Antoine Jones is his main accomplice. Working with Jones over the years has taught Pivacek the value of comedy, both as a genre and an authentic life force.
“Making this movie with Adam has been wild for me,” Jones says. “He approached me with the role of a heartbroken thief looking for a kindred spirit, and that’s exactly where I was at personally at that time.” Jones had been laying around devastated on the couch, but when filming came around he was at the beach having a great time. “That’s what I would have been doing with my homies anyway,” Jones says. “I acted my way through my own personal issues.”
Now that Beach Booty Massacre is set to hit select theaters on the east coast later this year, Pivacek and Jones have new projects in mind. One such prospect is an official website for Pivacek’s company Up the Stairs Productions, where he will post upcoming suspense shorts.
“I’m into murder and mayhem, but I’m not limiting myself,” Pivacek says. “Antoine asked me to join him as his co-host on his new podcast about movies that we both love and hate—how hateable movies are easy to love, and lovable movies are easy to hate.”
With this podcast, Pivacek and Jones plan to explore film history, original films and their remakes, and the generational impact of film narratives now told at a much faster pace. Allegories are timeless for Pivacek and Jones, and they plan to share their passion with audiences for years to come.
Beach Booty Massacre will be released later this year. For more information, you can follow the film on Instagram.