Cameron's Closet (1989)

R | 86 mins | Horror | January 1989

Director:

Armand Mastroianni

Writer:

Gary Brandner

Producer:

Luigi Cingolani

Cinematographer:

Russell Carpenter

Editor:

Frank De Palma

Production Designer:

Michael Bingham

Production Company:

Smart Egg Pictures
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HISTORY

The 6 May 1987 Var reported that principal photography began 27 Apr 1987, but other sources, including the 26 Jun 1987 DV, claimed the start date was 4 May 1987. The earlier date may have been inferred from a Cameron’s Closet casting call in the 27 Apr 1987 DV. It listed the “police psychologist” character as “Eden Haley,” but in the final film she was named “Nora Haley.” Also, trade papers named Anna Karin Productions as the film’s production company. However, it was not listed in credits. According to production notes in AMPAS library files, Cameron’s Closet was shot over ten weeks on several Los Angeles, CA, locations. Director Armand Mastroianni reported that he sometimes shot thirty-five camera set-ups during sixteen-hour days.
       Screenwriter Gary Brandner, who adapted his 1987 novel, Cameron’s Closet, changed the story considerably. In the book, “Cameron” was five years old, not ten, and his older brother, “Timothy,” was their father’s first choice as the subject of extrasensory perception experiments. Brandner combined Timothy and Cameron into one character for the film.
       The 29 Jun 1988 LAT reported that Cameron’s Closet was scheduled for release in Oct 1988, but the film was held up for over a year. Its earliest reported release was in Jan 1989 in Richmond, VA, according to the 28 Jan 1989 Richmond Times-Dispatch. Reviews were mostly unfavorable; the 25 May 1989 LAT pronounced that the film “never should have come out of the closet.” By the time it opened in Los Angeles, Cameron’s Closet was already being released on home video, ... More Less

The 6 May 1987 Var reported that principal photography began 27 Apr 1987, but other sources, including the 26 Jun 1987 DV, claimed the start date was 4 May 1987. The earlier date may have been inferred from a Cameron’s Closet casting call in the 27 Apr 1987 DV. It listed the “police psychologist” character as “Eden Haley,” but in the final film she was named “Nora Haley.” Also, trade papers named Anna Karin Productions as the film’s production company. However, it was not listed in credits. According to production notes in AMPAS library files, Cameron’s Closet was shot over ten weeks on several Los Angeles, CA, locations. Director Armand Mastroianni reported that he sometimes shot thirty-five camera set-ups during sixteen-hour days.
       Screenwriter Gary Brandner, who adapted his 1987 novel, Cameron’s Closet, changed the story considerably. In the book, “Cameron” was five years old, not ten, and his older brother, “Timothy,” was their father’s first choice as the subject of extrasensory perception experiments. Brandner combined Timothy and Cameron into one character for the film.
       The 29 Jun 1988 LAT reported that Cameron’s Closet was scheduled for release in Oct 1988, but the film was held up for over a year. Its earliest reported release was in Jan 1989 in Richmond, VA, according to the 28 Jan 1989 Richmond Times-Dispatch. Reviews were mostly unfavorable; the 25 May 1989 LAT pronounced that the film “never should have come out of the closet.” By the time it opened in Los Angeles, Cameron’s Closet was already being released on home video, the 19 May 1989 Boston Globe noted.
       According to the 5 Dec 1993 Boston Herald, Cotter Smith and Mel Harris met on the set of Cameron’s Closet and later married.
       End credits contain the following: “Acknowledgments to: The Completion Bond Company; Albert G. Ruben Company; Bayly, Martin & Fey; Star Suites," and, "Special thanks to Grantree Furniture Rental; Ray Ban Sunglasses; Borden, Inc.; Proctor & Gamble Company; Pepsi Cola Bottling Company; Phillip Morris, Inc.; Adolph Coors Company; Standard Register; Drackett Products Company; Interface Communications; Louis M. Martini; Wente Brothers; Binney & Smith; Streathmore Paper Company; Rally Cream Car Wax; Coleman; Mercedes Benz of North America; Unique Product Placement; the Los Angeles Rams; Norm Marshall & Associates.” More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Boston Globe
19 May 1989
p. 47.
Boston Herald
5 Dec 1993
p. 49.
Chicago Sun-Times
1 Feb 1987
p. 29.
Daily Variety
10 Apr 1989
p. 2, 4.
Daily Variety
27 Apr 1987
p. 8.
Daily Variety
26 Jun 1987
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jun 1988.
---
Los Angeles Times
29 Jun 1988
Calendar, p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
25 May 1989
Calendar, p. 8.
Richmond Times-Dispatch
28 Jan 1989
Section A, p. 48.
Screen International
3 Dec 1988.
---
Variety
6 May 1987
p. 12.
Variety
13 May 1987
p. 6.
Variety
12 Apr 1989
p. 21.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Smart Egg Pictures presents
A Luigi Cingolani Production
An Armand Mastroianni Film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr/1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
Unit prod mgr, 2d unit
PRODUCERS
Line prod
Assoc prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Best boy elec
Swing elec/Grip
Addl elec
Addl elec
Addl elec
Addl elec
Key grip
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
Addl grip
Addl grip
Addl grip
1st asst cam
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
3d asst cam
Still photog
Cam intern
Rigging crew
Rigging crew
Rigging crew
Rigging crew
Addl photog, 2d unit
Addl photog, 2d unit
Addl photog, 2d unit
1st asst cam, 2d unit
1st asst cam, 2d unit
1st asst cam, 2d unit
2d asst cam, 2d unit
Cam equip
Lighting and grip equip by
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dept liaison
Art dept prod asst
Art dept asst
Illustrations for opticals by
Storyboard artist
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dresser
Leadman
Propmaster
Propmaster
Set carpenter
Swing/Set dresser
Swing/Carpenter
Const supv
Const foreman
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Painter
Painter
Painter
COSTUMES
Costumer
Ward asst
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
Mus eng by, 2d unit
Synthesizer programmed and coord by, 2d unit
Addl mus orch by, 2d unit
SOUND
Prod sd mixer
Boom op
Sd mixer, 2d unit
Sd eff ed by, 2d unit
Supv sd ed, 2d unit
Spec sd eff des by, 2d unit
Asst sd ed, 2d unit
Re-rec at, 2d unit
Re-rec mixer, 2d unit
Re-rec mixer, 2d unit
Rec, 2d unit
Rec, 2d unit
ADR and foley rec at, 2d unit
Mixer, 2d unit
Mixer, 2d unit
Prod sd transfers, 2d unit
Stereo consultant
VISUAL EFFECTS
Visual eff supv
Creature created and const by
Spec eff
Blue screen composites by
Blue screen composites by
Matte paintings by
MAKEUP
Prosthetic make-up
Prosthetic make-up
Make-up artist
Make-up/Hair asst
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Creative consultant
Prod consultant
Asst to Mr. Cingolani
Asst to Mr. Mastroianni
Loc mgr
Transportation coord
Driver capt
Driver
Prod auditor
Prod coord
Prod secy
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Extras casting
Caterer
Craft services
Craft services
Studio teacher
Police liaison
Legal services
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
COLOR PERSONNEL
Film laboratory
Col timer
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Cameron's Closet by Gary Brandner (New York, 1987).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
January 1989
Premiere Information:
Richmond, VA opening: January 1989
New York opening: early April 1989
Los Angeles opening: 19 May 1989
Production Date:
began 4 May 1987
Copyright Claimant:
Smart Egg Pictures, S.A.
Copyright Date:
1 June 1988
Copyright Number:
PA419198
Physical Properties:
Sound
Recorded in Ultra-Stereo®
Color
Lenses
Cameras by Arriflex
Duration(in mins):
86
Length(in feet):
7,830
MPAA Rating:
R
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

Aided by Ben Majors, scientist Owen Lansing conducts a telekinesis test with Cameron Lansing, his ten-year-old son. Cameron bounces marbles and moves wooden letters on a table without physically touching them. Later, as Owen studies a book called Demons and Dwellers of the Netherworld, Cameron plays in his bedroom closet with an action doll named “Champion” and a Mayan totem he calls “Deceptor,” speaking for them in different voices as they fight. Owen hears a noise in his son’s room, goes upstairs to investigate, and tells Cameron that his role-playing is dangerous. He puts Cameron in a mild hypnotic state in which the boy watches a flying seagull. Returning downstairs, Owen leaves a message on Ben’s telephone answering machine, telling him the “evil is here” just as he had predicted, and that Ben must destroy their papers. Owen carries a machete upstairs to Cameron's room and grabs the Mayan figure, but hearing a noise in the crawlspace above the closet ceiling, he lays down the machete and pushes up the trap door. When a hanging light shocks him, Owen falls and is decapitated by the machete. Elsewhere, police detective Sgt. Sam Talliaferro and his partner, Pete Groom, are on a case when Sam falls envisions a seagull, falls asleep, and dreams of a fleeing suspect leading him into a tunnel. In his unconscious state, Sam shoots a figure that leaps from a hiding place, and Pete awakens him. Cameron moves in with his mother, Dory Lansing, and her actor boyfriend, Bob Froelich, and unpacks his things, including the Mayan totem, in his new bedroom. At ... +


Aided by Ben Majors, scientist Owen Lansing conducts a telekinesis test with Cameron Lansing, his ten-year-old son. Cameron bounces marbles and moves wooden letters on a table without physically touching them. Later, as Owen studies a book called Demons and Dwellers of the Netherworld, Cameron plays in his bedroom closet with an action doll named “Champion” and a Mayan totem he calls “Deceptor,” speaking for them in different voices as they fight. Owen hears a noise in his son’s room, goes upstairs to investigate, and tells Cameron that his role-playing is dangerous. He puts Cameron in a mild hypnotic state in which the boy watches a flying seagull. Returning downstairs, Owen leaves a message on Ben’s telephone answering machine, telling him the “evil is here” just as he had predicted, and that Ben must destroy their papers. Owen carries a machete upstairs to Cameron's room and grabs the Mayan figure, but hearing a noise in the crawlspace above the closet ceiling, he lays down the machete and pushes up the trap door. When a hanging light shocks him, Owen falls and is decapitated by the machete. Elsewhere, police detective Sgt. Sam Talliaferro and his partner, Pete Groom, are on a case when Sam falls envisions a seagull, falls asleep, and dreams of a fleeing suspect leading him into a tunnel. In his unconscious state, Sam shoots a figure that leaps from a hiding place, and Pete awakens him. Cameron moves in with his mother, Dory Lansing, and her actor boyfriend, Bob Froelich, and unpacks his things, including the Mayan totem, in his new bedroom. At police headquarters, Captain Navarro reprimands Sam for falling asleep on duty and orders Sam to see the department psychologist, Dr. Nora Haley, about his ongoing insomnia. Sam admits having weird dreams to Dr. Haley, but insists he has no psychological problems. Meanwhile, Cameron clashes with Bob, his mother’s boyfriend, who tells the boy he does not want him there. Cameron goes into his closet and plays a war game between Champion and Deceptor. Later, lying in bed, Cameron hears a growling noise in the closet. Bob and Dory also hear it downstairs, but Bob thinks the boy is being a nuisance. Going upstairs, he tells Cameron that only crazy people talk to themselves. Cameron tries to stop him from looking inside the closet, but a demon burns out Bob’s eyes and throws him through the window onto the roof of his car in the driveway. When Sam and Pete arrive to investigate, they cannot explain Bob’s exploded eyeballs or the long arc his body took from the window to the car. Dory’s brother, Alan Wilson, arrives. Dory has no idea what happened after Bob went upstairs to her son’s bedroom, so Sam talks with Cameron. Seeing a poster of a seagull in flight, Sam remembers the bird from his dreams. He asks if someone else was in the room, but the boy is uncertain. Dr. Nora Haley enters and informs Sam that Captain Navarro sent her because a psychologist must be present when a child is questioned. When she takes Cameron out of the room, Sam looks into the closet, finds the Mayan totem, and puts it in his pocket. He has a vision of Cameron walking through the tunnel. Downstairs, a policeman accidentally bumps a vase on the mantle, and Nora is shocked when the toppling vessel returns to its perch, as if moved by an unseen hand. She notices Cameron nearby, staring at it. Sam drives home in the night fog, but stops when something passes in front of him. Hearing Cameron’s voice, he gives chase to a running figure until a man with a meat hook comes out of the shadows. As Sam fires his gun, he realizes the attacker is his partner, Pete, and awakens in terror. In Dr. Nora Haley’s office, Cameron admits feeling partly responsible for Bob Froelich’s death, and Nora confides that she saw Cameron move the vase telekinetically. At headquarters, Pete informs Sam that Dory’s ex-husband, Owen, died seven months earlier under strange circumstances in Cameron’s closet. Later, at Nora’s office, Sam befriends the boy by giving him a Los Angeles Rams medallion. He takes Cameron to the park for a hot dog in order to interview him, and assures his protection. When Sam asks about the dark totem, Cameron admits that it is one of his “friends.” That night, Cameron hears a sound in his closet, and yells at the demon inside to leave. The demon throws Cameron against the wall, accelerates the ceiling fan, and pushes the boy onto the ceiling toward the spinning blades. Dory opens the door, but cannot stop the fan. Cameron screams at the demon that it has no power because it “isn’t real.” The fan suddenly stops and Cameron drops onto his bed. Pete is radioed to Dory Lansing’s address, but nobody is home. Hearing a growl, he goes upstairs to Cameron’s room, opens the closet, and finds an eyeless Bob Froelich waiting for him. In the morning, Dory tells Nora that she has removed Cameron from the house because something is trying to kill him. Nora asks if Dory knows about her son's telekinetic abilities, and wonders what experiments Cameron’s father conducted with him. Dory still has her ex-husband’s scientific papers, so Nora and Sam return to Dory’s house to get them. As Nora reviews Demons and Dwellers of the Netherworld, Sam searches Cameron’s closet. The two drive to the remote cabin of Ben Mayors, who drunkenly explains that Owen believed he could tap into the “vast, unused powers of the mind” by channeling through his son’s developing consciousness. However, something went wrong, and Ben left the project. He gives Sam a videotape of the experiments. Outside, Nora gets into Sam’s car, but he hears someone calling his name and goes into the woods alone. The dead Pete appears in the mist and announces he wants to show him the thing in the closet. As Sam follows his partner, Pete turns into a demon. Simultaneously, Cameron’s bed shakes, bringing his mother, Dory, running to his room. The dead Owen visits Ben’s cabin, tells him he was supposed to destroy the videotape, and orders him to kill Cameron. When Nora finds Sam in the woods, he is shaken and unable to talk. Putting him to bed at her place, she finds the videotape in his coat pocket and watches an experiment in which Cameron moves the Mayan totem with his mind. He also projects mental images of his mother and a demon upon the wall. Meanwhile, as Dory sleeps, a monster kills her brother, Alan Wilson. Cameron runs outside screaming for help, but Ben arrives and forcibly carries him to his late father’s house because he is the only one that can destroy the demon. Ben guides Cameron into a meditative state, and the seagull glides through the sky. Nora finds a photograph of the totem in the demonology book and learns that it is a Mayan demon that can be summoned only by an innocent child. Sam dreams he is chasing Cameron in the tunnel, and the boy turns into a demon, but Nora awakens him with news that Cameron is missing. Citing the demonology book, she announces that Cameron can only be freed of the demon at the place where he brought it to life. Hurrying to Owen’s house, Sam and Nora find Ben dead and Cameron unconscious. Sam steps into the closet and follows Cameron through the tunnel, but is attacked by Pete, who turns into the demon. In the bedroom, Nora places the totem in Cameron's hands and tells him to send the demon back to hell. The boy concentrates and screams, “No!” The totem glows and explodes, dispatching the demon. Sam returns, and the three embrace. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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