Jim Larsen’s original masterpiece from the 80’s.
Nigel the Psychopath tells the story of Nigel. Nigel is a man who likes to kill people for reasons all his own. In the words of his brother, Chubby, “He’s not all that bad. He’s just a little mixed up.”
Nigel the Psychopath was shot on super 8 film and VHS video as an amateur production between the years of 1986 and 1989. It was never meant to be taken seriously, but many people find it entertaining.
Three versions of the movie exist on Youtube, There is the original super 8 film, a VHS movie called “Nigel the Psychopath At Large” and “Nigel the Psychopath: 33rd Anniversary Director’s Cut.”
Nigel the Psychopath: Behind the Scenes
Nigel the Psychopath came about as my answer to Friday the 13th, which was very popular when I was in high school. I wanted to do my own version of a psycho killer attacking people. This was 1986 when I was a sophomore in high school. The original Super 8 film was shot in the woods near where I grew up on a piece of land owned by Jimmy Dean, country music singer and sausage mogul. What happened was, there was some drifter who wandered back there and chopped down a bunch of trees and made himself a log cabin. He was trespassing and the police informed him he needed to move on. This left an empty log cabin, and I thought, wow! What a great location to film a movie.
I didn’t have big aspirations for it. I just wanted to tell a story with my camera that I could show my friends and take my projector to school and show it there too. Decades later, Youtube became a thing, so I digitized it and uploaded it where it seems to have struck a chord with some people.
The original Nigel movie was the only film to be shot at that cabin. Unfortunately, there were other people on the road who thought it would be fun to go knock down and destroy the cabin, so it didn’t last long enough for any sequels. What became “Nigel the Psychopath at Large” and “Nigel the Psychopath 33rd Anniversary Director’s Cut” is a blending of what was originally shot as a five part series, with footage from a couple of different attempts to make a part six. These were all shot between 1986 and 1989.
Of course, a number of different actors played Nigel, each with a different shaped body. It’s something the audience just has to accept with a suspension of disbelief. Who played Nigel in any given scene depended on who was available that day to play him. In all, seven different people played him. Five of them people were white, one was black, and one was albino.
When I put together At Large back in 1994, I focused on telling the story of parts four and five, since that was the true heart of what Nigel was all about. I still wanted to use some footage from the first three, and since I needed a dream sequence anyway, I used the footage from the first three for that. But in 2019 when I did the Director’s cut, I thought, what a waste of footage it would be to limit it to a dream sequence. There is some good stuff in parts 1-3. But it also seemed extemporaneous. If the story is really what happens in parts four and five, all that 1-3 stuff is a long build up to it. That’s when I got the idea to add narration and sort of put the focus on Joseph, although that was kind of stretch, I think it worked out okay.
With the Anniversary edit, I had all that footage to use, and I wanted to keep a good pace for the movie and hopefully not let it drag. I decided to just sort of blend it all together, introducing story elements early on instead of waiting to put it in later. There is lots of extra footage in there that has never been seen before. The reason for that is because I tried on two separate occasions to film a part 6, neither of which were ever completed, but I got some interesting footage from both attempts. The first attempt at a part 6 was shot after high school graduation when I was student at college at Montana State University. All the footage with the Cowboy and Sheriff Stinky after the credits of the Director’s cut came from that shoot. That was never finished due to lack of interest from the people I was trying to get to act in it. After shooting what we shot, people just didn’t want to do it anymore. The second attempt was kind of the same. I was back in Virginia, trying to make another Nigel film with the old crowd, and after we shot some stuff, life was just too much in the way with jobs, college, other friends and relationships, and other interests. By then, the old crowd was drifting apart and we just couldn’t seem to motivate ourselves to finish that movie. There is still a lot of footage that has never been seen from these shoots, which I may put together as an “extra footage reel” for Youtube one of these days if there is an interest in it.
When I did the At Large edit, I was still using analog VHS editing equipment, which was nowhere near as cool or sophisticated as the computer editing I can use today. Zipping through a digitized video file is so much quicker and easier than fast forwarding and rewinding through VHS tapes to find the shots I want, so it was more fun to do. Computerized editing today gives you a lot more bells and whistles to play with too, especially when it comes to transitions.
I do see a future for the characters. I’ve written an outline for what I imagine as a big screen remake. It’s important to me to stay true to the original version and the story it tells, so it will take place in the same time period and have the same characters and will stay logical to what is already established about the story. What do we know about what happened to Nigel after the end of the movie? He was arrested and hauled off to jail. At the end of Buttcrack, which was released in 1998, mention of his grave was made, so he’s either dead or faking it by then. If you watch the director’s cut all the way to the end past the credits, you know he was let out of jail and shipped to a mental institute in Texas where was eventually released and made his way to Montana. How does all this connect? I want to answer that question with the new screenplay. I can’t say I have aspirations to make this movie myself, but would be very happy to sell it to the right production company who can do it justice, should an interest be there. –Jim Larsen