"Balls in horror movies are inherently scary," sez I, led astray on a tangent by a second pint of Gleamhound's Sobering Syrup. "If they are not bouncing downstairs of their own volition, they are in the hands of evil creepy children, or even the chief embodiment of evils."
The primary subject of discussion had been our application to the NZ Film Commission for funding. In support we have supplied them with sketches and storyboards. There had been secondary subjects of discussion as well but they had remained in the Indoors Voice because head barmaid Evangeline van Holsterin has been known to repossess glasses even before they are completely finished, if she judges that customers are verging upon rowdiness and lack of decorum.
The "evil creepy child" in the storyboard did not come out looking quite as intended. We have not heard back from the Film Commission for a while and I am worried that they are going to steal all our work and use it as a cover story to repatriate a group of diplomats who are hiding from a post-revolutionary regime in some distant country.
"Perhaps the plot is not sufficiently horrific," I persevered. "It follows through a process of geometrical and imeluct -- inelumpt -- unavoidable logic, that if we put lots and lots of balls into the plot, it will be even scarier."
I have always been impressed in the latter movie by the bravery of the red-and-white striped ball which is dropped in the river, after bouncing downstairs and freaking out George C. Scott's character... only for it reappear a few frames later. The ball's performance was so memorable that nine years later it was lured out of semi-retirement to reprise its role, in slightly different make-up, in the 1989 version of The Woman in Black.
Imagine my disappointment to discover that for that scene the film-makers used a stunt ball.