Some of Sugar Creek’s Baked Beans (Easter Eggs)
Sugar Creek was written with many biblical themes, from characters to events, everything has purpose in exploring the story of man and sin. Such things as characters being given apples when they are about to discover the knowledge of good and evil, or Christine (Christ) washing Adam’s feet, are all over the film.
The color selection was very important. In the present, or Revelations, greys and blues were selected to give the valley a cold, dark reality. In the past, or Genesis, gold was given to make everything vibrant and warm. It was a happy accident that the golds were used in the past night shots. Director of Photography JP McCauley left the filter on as he turned on the camera the first night of shooting. James went with it because the dark gold gave a feeling of Adam’s decent into hell.
Dan Kruse actually walked barefoot in many of the environments, and performed most of his own stunts, including being in the freezing water of the horse trough.
The Horseman was played by Jody Stelzig during horse stunts, and James Cotten.
The moment where Kevin Gage kicks James Cotten was adlibbed when Cotten’s character Jimmy “smiled wrong” at Gage’s Sheriff Warton. After that, the action had to be repeated for several takes and shots for continuity. Cotten loved it, wanting to get “Gage was here” tattooed on the bruise. The crew liked it as well.
Three weeks of shooting took place at a Boy Scout Ranch outside of Damascus, Arkansas, where the cast and crew “holed up” in a dorm style building.
Sugar Creek was, at times, an organic experience. One of Cotten’s favorite scenes, Kane talking with Christine, was written just before shooting it. Dayton Knoll, playing Kane, was asked to memorize the scene in five minutes to perform it. Due to some construction issues, the end of Pete had to be changed. Mike Ortiz and Jackson Burns came up with the idea for The Horseman to pull Pete on fire behind his horse. That is actually Mike Ortiz making the trip in flames, a first in cinema history.
Another theme for the movie was Cotten’s experiences in Hollywood. Like Adam, Cotten felt alone, left in the Valley of North Hollywood, California. After finishing Corman’s Demon Slayer, he was looking for help to make it as a filmmaker, but found none. Also like Adam, Cotten found the answer was himself and decided to return to Arkansas and by hook or crook make his goal happen.