Podcast Episode 19: Rob Tharp Shares His Memories Doing Special FX Work for Class of 1999 (GIVEAWAY!!!)

Horror special FX artist Rob Tharp shares his memories (and his exclusive photos!) from his time spent working on effects for Mark Lester’s Class of 1999 — the sequel to Class of 1984 (shown on season 3 of The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs).

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As a special treat, both to celebrate the return of The Last Drive-In and to cheer fellow horror folks up (we know we’re not the only ones having a bummer year), we’re having a FREE-to-enter raffle for seven “Drive-In esque films” on VHS as well as ROB THARP’S -SIGNED- CLASS OF 1999 FX CREW T-SHIRT with an authentic “flesh” stain from when he was painting a dummy Patrick Kilpatrick! (“And that’s why you don’t wear white in a shop!”).

RAFFLE STARTS AT 12:00AM PACIFIC ON APRIL 29, 2022
AND ENDS AT 11:59PM PACIFIC MAY 6, 2022!

This raffle is now closed! Congratulations to winner Mark Enright!!

NOTE: There isn’t any REAL nudity in this video!! But I had to censor/cover the foam rubber Pam Grier “set” Dad painted to comply with ToS and such because it was real enough to be flagged (so silly lol but a testament to Dad’s FX painting, I suppose!). However, if you go down to the written transcript, the photos are unaltered. Shield your eyes when scrolling if fake nips offend thee! –Lauren*

Audio Only (Feel Free to Download to Listen on the Go!):

Full Written Transcript + Fun Extras:

[Instrumental music (HorrorFam.com Podcast theme AKA “Dance Monster” by Kevin MacLeod)]

LAUREN SPEAR: Hi! My name is Lauren Spear and you’re watching the HorrorFam.com Podcast! This is my dad, Rob Tharp.

ROB THARP: Hey!

LAUREN: You guys might remember him from the Beetlejuice episode and that time we talked about some of our favorite genre movies.

TINA SPEAR: [meows]

LAUREN: That… That’s what he looks like. The last few times, you only heard him — but now you can see him! [laughs]

TINA: [meows]

ROB: Okay. You see me.

LAUREN: Okay! Well, today we’re going to talk about Dad’s work on Class of 1999!

Since season 4 of The Last Drive-In is coming up later this week, we thought it would be fun to revisit Class of 1999 which is the sequel to a movie they showed last season, Class of 1984.

Rob Tharp painting Patrick Kilpatrick’s fake arm for Class of 1999

ROB: I’m hoping that Joe Bob breaks out Class of 1999 for at least one of the episodes for this season.

LAUREN: That would be fun!

ROB: Yeah. I don’t want to dig through my DVDs trying to find it so I can watch it again; I’d rather he showed it.

LAUREN: [laughs]

Well, we’ve got some pictures here. Did you want to talk about…?

ROB: These are pictures from behind-the-scenes from Class of 1999.

LAUREN: And one from Beetlejuice.

ROB: And one from Beetlejuice.

LAUREN: That one. Yeah.

ROB: Okay. Anybody who’s watching Joe Bob would recognize who this is! This is Pam Grier — from a gazillion movies that would appeal to Joe Bob people!

And, since she was the robot… what was she? Chemistry teacher? Anyway! She was one of the robot teachers in Class of 1999. We had to do fake robot teacher parts for the movie and my job was painting all the fake robot people. So…

LAUREN: I have a question! Since Class of 1999 was supposed to come out in 1989 but got pushed back to May 11th of 1990 and you said on the last episode you were on that you were working on these movies a year ahead of time… Does that mean that you were working on it in 1988 or were you working on it in early 1989 since it was supposed to come out around Halloween-ish for ’89…?

ROB: UNNNNNNNNNHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHGGGGGGGHHH???

LAUREN: [laughs nervously] …Too long ago?

ROB: UNNNNNHHHHHHHHHH!!

LAUREN: [chuckles]

ROB: I… I don’t remember. I’ll have to check!

LAUREN: That was a very audible brain fart there.

ROB: [laughs] Yeah!

LAUREN: [laughs]

ROB: Well, it was either ’88 or ’89.

LAUREN: Okay.

Painting Pam Grier at All Effects

ROB: I just know that they got everything right in that movie!

LAUREN: Everything??

ROB: Pretty much.

LAUREN: He means right about the year 1999… Right?

ROB: Yeah yeah!

LAUREN: Okay.

ROB: Well, you were there! You remember.

LAUREN: Yeah. I was the class of 1999 [for middle school]…

ROB: Yeah. You had these teachers!

LAUREN: Ye…[laughs] Basically.

ROB: Anybody that ever wanted to see what Pam Grier would look like with no hair: She looked like that!

That… That’s not actually her, it’s an incredible simulation!

And there she is with hair. There’s me with hair.

Rob Tharp + fake Pam Grier — both with hair!

FRANK SPEAR: [stifles laughter from behind the camera]

LAUREN: [giggles]

ROB: There’s my airbrush peeking into the picture. Zoom in for a close-up on that.

LAUREN: Oh yeah! Right there?

ROB: Yeah. It’s right there!

LAUREN: Paintin’ her eyeball.

Rob Tharp painting fake Pam Grier’s eyeball

FRANK: [whispers] Can you tilt it up a bit?

ROB: “Tilt it up?” There…

LAUREN: That’s my husband, Frank, on the camera. Thanks, Frank!

TINA: [meows]

ROB: Thank you, Frank.

LAUREN: [giggles]

Patrick Kilpatrick’s (Coach Bryles) fake arm in Class of 1999 (1990)

ROB: This is the gym teacher’s arm. The gym teacher was Patrick Kilpatrick. He recently ran for governor during the recall election in California but he didn’t make it.

LAUREN: But… he’s still alive?? :O

ROB: Oh, yeah!

LAUREN: Yeah?

FRANK: [stifled laugh]

ROB: No, I mean he “didn’t make it” to be governor! He’s still with us!!

LAUREN: Oh! Yeah. Yeah! [embarrassed laugh]

ROB: Anyway, there’s Patrick Kilpatrick’s fake head. And there’s his fake body. I didn’t bother with this part because his fake body was going to be wearing clothes so, you know, I didn’t have to go into that much detail.

And this is the fake body that gets run down by the school bus. So, we did up a fake of him, put him in front of the stunt driver for the bus, and the bus plowed our dummy of him over!

Patrick Kilpatrick’s fake body for Class of 1999

FRANK: Hmm!

ROB: It would’ve looked better had he done it himself, but that would’ve had to have been his last shot in the movie.

LAUREN: [laughs]

ROB: There I am workin’ on one of his fake heads. I think that’s for the part where he stretches face to show that he’s really got robot parts underneath.

And there’s some of the fake body parts stacked up there.

So! Those are my pictures! This was back in an era before digital cameras so I never had as many pictures as I would’ve liked to have had for the stuff that I worked on.

Left-handed artist Rob Tharp hard at work!

LAUREN: Yeah.

ROB: But that was enough to, you know, pretty much represent that I did work on it. That and the check stubs.

LAUREN: Yeah! [laughs]

ROB: So…?

LAUREN: And here’s something else from when you worked on it! You wanna…?

ROB: Oh! Okay.

This is my collector’s item Class of 1999 shop t-shirt! As you can see, its got a picture of the robot PE teacher, Patrick Kilpatrick, right there showing his robot face. And that stain there? That’s really paint from the actual movie!

LAUREN: Yeah! Some “flesh” stains on there.

ROB: Yep! That’s “flesh” paint stains — that’s not food!!

LAUREN: [laughs]

ROB: Yeah… And that’s why you don’t wear white shirts at a shop!

LAUREN: [laughs]

ROB: Rick Stratton, who was in charge of the makeup effects for the shop, had these shirts printed for all of the shop rats like me that worked on makin’ all the monsters and robots and stuff for the movie. And…

TINA: [meows]

ROB: Yeah. That’s what we were: Shop rats.

The guys that got to go to Washington — I think it was filmed in Washington? — did all the stuff on the actual shoot, but we were the ones that were working at All Effects.

All Effects was shop that Eric Allard owned. He and Rick Stratton teamed up for quite a few projects. And Eric would handle all the robotic-type stuff. His most famous project was probably Short Circuit and Short Circuit 2 — the Number Five robot in that was Eric Allard’s creation. He was really good with that kind of stuff! Telemetry robot stuff where he would wear… He had like a suit that he could put on and whenever he moved the robot would do the corresponding action! It was a lot of fun to watch.

LAUREN: [chuckles fondly, remembering]

ROB: He also did the Energizer bunnies for the Energizer Bunny commercials that were on for years and years. That pink robot rabbit that pounds the drum? Yeah. Eric did all those commercials.

So… You were asking me about funny stories that I would remember from Class of 1999?

LAUREN: Yes.

ROB: The two that come to mind were how I was kind of embarrassed to be painting Pam Grier’s…uh…um…

LAUREN: [laughs]

ROB: Yeah.

LAUREN: He’s turning red! ♥ [laughs]

ROB: [embarrassed laugh] Yeah.

FRANK: [chuckles]

ROB: …Chest.

And then, after about the fourth set… Er… Would it be a set??

FRANK: Yeah! There’s two!

LAUREN: [motions to her own chest, laughing]. Yeah. “Set.”

ROB: I was getting really bored!! But I was so proud of the color match! Because I had to mix up a special color and I couldn’t… I watched the movie and I couldn’t tell what was real and what was Pa— Er. No. What was Pam and what was foam rubber!

Class of 1999 body parts painted by Rob Tharp

LAUREN: Yeah.

ROB: Because she had to open up her skin to show acetylene tanks underneath as part of her robot self.

LAUREN: Yeah.

ROB: So…

And the other thing…

LAUREN: Maybe you can help me find a new foundation match? [laughs]

ROB: Yeah. You’ve gotta stay out of the sun!

LAUREN: [laughs]

ROB: The other thing that I remember was Lesa Nielsen — who’s a real talented make-up artist — she did the hair work for the movie. And the guy who played the gym teacher? Kilpatrick. He swore up and down to her that he was gonna have his hair slicked back in the movie and so, when she did the hair work for the robot, she hand-punched all the hairs into the robot head—

Patrick Kilpatrick’s robot head, painted by Robert Tharp (painting happens before hair)

LAUREN: Oh, maybe—

ROB: And all the hairs were…

LAUREN: Oh. Sorry!

ROB: Huh??

LAUREN: Maybe you should explain, like, the needle that you have to use to do that?

ROB: Oh. Yeah.

Every hair is individually punched into the foam rubber with a needle. And the way that you angle the needle to poke the hair in determines which direction the hair goes.

TINA: [meows]

ROB: Is that clear?

TINA: [meows]

LAUREN: um… yeah. It’s like a—

ROB: Clear as mud.

LAUREN: [laughs]

ROB: Okay! Anyway! The way that she applied the hair to the robot head was based on his saying that he was going to be wearing his hair slicked back.

LAUREN: Yeah.

ROB: And he showed up for the shooting with his Julius Caesar hairdo intact!

TINA: [meows]

ROB: So, she was SUPER disappointed! It looked like she had done… you know! Bad hair work on it. But it wasn’t her fault!

LAUREN: Let the record show!

ROB: Yeah!

TINA: [meows]

LAUREN: It wasn’t her fault!!

ROB: Yeah!!

LAUREN: And that’s not something that could easily be changed either!

ROB: No.

LAUREN: ‘Cause it’s, like, punched into the head!

ROB: Yeah. You would have to… You would have to start over from scratch.

LAUREN: Yeah.

ROB: And there just wasn’t the time to do that.

LAUREN: The time. The money.

ROB: So, anyway, she’s gone onto other triumphs and, frankly, I don’t know whether anybody out there would even realize that it wasn’t supposed to be the way that it is in the movie… But WE knew!! And we were very disappointed!

TINA: [dramatic yowl]

ROB: We got over it.

LAUREN: [laughs]

ROB: We’re okay now.

LAUREN: Yeah.

TINA: [agreeable meow]

ROB: So, there’s probably other stories, but I’m not going to embarrass the other people involved.

Anyway, really talented crew on that! They’ve all gone onto bigger and better things. And, if any of them are watching out here: Miss you!!

TINA: [meows]

ROB: So, you wanted me to sign the shirt, right?

LAUREN: Oh! Well, let’s say WHY!

ROB: Because you asked me! [laughs]

LAUREN: [laughs hard] No!! But!

In addition… We’re going to be raffling off these VHS tapes! Because they seemed like something people who watch The Last Drive-In would enjoy and…

ROB: This one is NOT Twisted Brain!!

LAUREN: Yeahhhh! It’s…

ROB: This one is The Folks at Red Wolf Inn under a different title even. Uh… What was the title on this one?

LAUREN: Horror on the Menu? Something like that.

ROB: Terror on the Menu?

LAUREN: Terror on the Menu. Yeah. I think…

ROB: Something on the Menu!

LAUREN: [laughs]

ROB: Anyway, it’s a better movie than Twisted Brain, but I was shocked when I brought this home and found out that I had been given a different movie in that box! It’s a nice box though!

LAUREN: Yeah! Whoa…

ROB: Hey! What the?!

LAUREN: You’re tearing apart the set! [chuckles nervously]

TINA: [meows]

ROB: See?? Nice box! [box opening sound] Totally different movie inside. There it is!

LAUREN: Now we… We don’t own a VHS player anymore so hopefully these all still work… But, if not, at least they have nice boxes!

ROB: Yeah!

LAUREN: And there’s a couple of them… Was it The Sentinel? A few of them have the… Everyone loves the classic green “Horror” sticker that used to come on rentals and, you know, previously-owned tapes, so…

ROB: My favorite Paul Clemens movie!

FRANK: [chuckles]

LAUREN: So you get a couple of those. [giggles]

[HorrorFam.com Zander painting falls] Oh! My painting!!

ROB: Oh!

LAUREN: [laughs] Aw. Oh, well! It’ll be fine.

And so, in addition to all of these cool VHS tapes, Dad’s giving away his shop t-shirt from…

ROB: My shop shirt!!

LAUREN: From Class of 1999! [laughs] With… authentic stain!!

Okay! Anyway! It’s been washed, but the stain is still there. We know a lot of people really like those authentic things! And he’s about to make a new stain because he’s going to sign it for whoever wins it!

ROB: I’m gonna sign the stain!

FRANK: [stifles laugh]

LAUREN: [laughs]

It’ll be like a nice POOF! Splat… Splatter background!

ROB: Should I just put my name?

LAUREN: Sign how you usually sign! You’ve signed things for fans before.

ROB: Okay.

LAUREN: [laughs]

ROB: It starts with an R…

FRANK: [stifled laugh]

ROB: Then, they can take this shirt to all the conventions and get everyone else to sign it!

LAUREN: Oh yeah! That’s a good idea!!

ROB: Yeah! So I’m going to leave space on the shirt for other signatures.

Plenty of room to collect more Class of 1999 cast & crew member signatures!

LAUREN: But yours will be their favorite! ♥

ROB: [laughs]

LAUREN: [laughs]

ROB: A… That looks like a Q!

Okay… wrapping up…

LAUREN: And if anyone doubts that this was really signed by you, they can just refer them to this video and be like “Look! That’s the guy!! He signed it. On camera.”

ROB: “He had a lot of trouble with spelling!”

LAUREN: [chuckles] “His name’s only eight letters total and he was having all sorts of problems!”

ROB: There! Wha…?

FRANK: [whispers] Hold it up!

ROB: Oh!! [stage whisper] RIGHT!

LAUREN: [giggles]

ROB: There it is! Look at that. Signed! On the stain.

Lauren Spear (left) admires her father/Rob Tharp’s (right) signature on his Class of 1999 movie crew shirt

LAUREN: That’s him!

ROB: Okay!

LAUREN: All right! So… Do you have any other… Anything else you wanted to say, or…?

ROB: I really enjoyed this.

LAUREN: Oh?! Okay! Good. [laughs]

ROB: I did.

LAUREN: Well…

ROB: We should talk again sometime.

LAUREN: We were planning to talk about your work on The Blob and…

ROB: [makes the “wrap it up; I need a cigarette” gesture]

LAUREN: …other…stuff…

ROB: Okay!

LAUREN: [chuckles] I guess that’s about it then.

ROB: Okay!

LAUREN: So, good luck to whoever enters in the raffle to win this shirt and these tapes! And THANK YOU for watching and/or listening to the HorrorFam.com Podcast!

ROB: THANK YOU!!!

LAUREN: Byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!! This was Rob Tharp!

ROB: [spooky noises] OooOOOOooooOOOOOhhh…!

[brief silence before a blooper]

“Talky” Tina Spear always has a lot to say! (When we talk, she talks lol)

LAUREN SPEAR: [laughs nervously] Okay! [laughs more]

ROB THARP: Thanks for having me back on your show!

LAUREN: Th—

TINA SPEAR: [meows loudly]

LAUREN: Thank you?

FRANK SPEAR: [chuckle]

LAUREN: Hi, Tina! She was on the show last week.

ROB: Wanna be on the show again, Tina?

LAUREN: [laughs]

ENTER TO WIN!!
(Rob Tharp’s Class of 1999 T-shirt + 7 VHS Tapes)

RAFFLE STARTS AT 12:00AM PACIFIC ON APRIL 29, 2022
AND ENDS AT 11:59PM PACIFIC MAY 6, 2022!

This raffle is now closed! Congratulations to winner Mark Enright!!

Raffle Rules & Legal Stuff:

Due to the rowdy nature of these films (think of some of the flicks featured on The Last Drive-In!), this raffle is for legal adults (18+) only.

Also, due to its weight, we can only afford to ship this fabulous prize to folks in the United States of America. We tried and tried to figure out a way to ship Internationally (we know we have several HorrorFam.com fans in Canada and at least one in Germany and we love you ALL!!), but even the “flat rate” prices were far beyond our budget.

You aren’t signing up for anything by entering your email address, we just need it so Lauren can contact you if you win. Be sure to confirm your email address after you enter so we know you’re not a robot (check your inbox for an email from lauren@horrorfam.com!). All entrant email addresses will be immediately deleted from our system as soon as the final winner responds/accepts the prize.

In order to accept your prize, you must be willing to provide a legal mailing address that’s able to receive USPS delivery/packages.

No monetary purchase is necessary to enter! GOOD LUCK AND HAVE FUN!! ♥

The Fabulous Prizes:

The Beast Within (1982) – 98 minutes.

A VHS rarity, The Beast Within was difficult to come by for collectors when it was new and it still is today! It was released briefly to DVD in 2001, but was quickly Out Of Print. Then, it was finally released on Blu-ray thanks to Scream Factory in 2013 but is, as of this writing, Out-Of-Print there as well! The Beast Within (“My favorite Paul Clemens movie!” – Rob Tharp) is about a couple trying to figure out what’s up with their teenage son…

The Sentinel (1977) – 92 minutes.  

Starring Cristina Raines, Chris Sarandon, Ava Gardner, and Burgess Meredith with appearances by Tom Berenger, John Carradine, Christopher Walken, Jeff Goldblum, and many others, The Sentinel is a supernatural horror film based on a 1974 novel of the same name. The story follows a model whose apartment building is actually a door to Hell. For a long time, the 1984 MCA Home Video VHS tape release was the only way to view The Sentinel, but it eventually came out on DVD in 2004 and finally as a Scream Factory Blu-Ray in 2015.

Street Trash (1987) – 101 minutes.

Made to “democratically offend every group on the planet,” Street Trash is a horror “comedy” in the Melt Movie sub-sub-genre (essentially the body horror sub-genre, but someone gets “melted” into goo at least once!). The plot involves bad booze being given to vagrants and their resulting goooooory deaths. This film played at Midnight shows and is most famous for a scene in which two hobos play Monkey in the Middle with a third homeless person’s severed penis. The tagline on the VHS tape reads “Just when you thought you’d seen it all!”

Brazil (1985) – 131 minutes.

This 1985 satire set in a dystopian future isn’t exactly a horror film, but it’s regarded as a cult classic. Written and directed by Terry Gilliam, Brazil stars Jonathan Pryce (Mr. Dark in Something Wicked This Way Comes – a movie I would consider one of my “Kids Horror Films That Aren’t for Kids”), Robert De Niro, Ian Holm, Bob Hoskins, and a ton of other people. It’s a bit difficult to describe, plot-wise, but as far as horror goes… it helped inspire the survival horror video game We Happy Few!

Terror on the Menu (1972) – 90 minutes.

THE MOVIE: Terror on the Menu AKA Terror at Red Wolf Inn AKA Folks at Red Wolf Inn AKA Terror House is about a college student who wins a vacation package to a country resort run by elderly cannibals. A plot-point inspiration for 1998’s I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, this early ‘70s flick is widely accepted as one of the first horror comedies!

THE BOX: Twisted Brain AKA Horror High is a 1974 horror film where a nerd turns himself into a monster so he can maim and murder everyone who made fun of him.

Subspecies (1991) – 90 minutes.

The first in a series of five movies, Subspecies is from the early era of Full Moon’s direct-to-video horror movies. It’s a vampire story, filmed in Romania, that has some nice scenery and some fun stop-motion and puppet effects.

The Haunting of Julia (1977) – 98 minutes.

An adaptation of Peter Straub’s novel Julia, The Haunting of Julia AKA Full Circle stars Mia Farrow (Rosemary’s Baby) as a grieving mother who moves into a new home after the death of her daughter, only to be tormented by a different child’s ghost! Unlucky. This film was released in the UK and Canada in 1978 (as Full Circle) but didn’t arrive in the United States until 1981 (as The Haunting of Julia). As for this VHS… The VHS cassette tape is from the original 1981 home movie release from Media Home Entertainment, but the box is from the 1988 re-release from Magnum Entertainment! This is another example of movies and their boxes getting mixed up and then being sold (though not as extreme as Terror on the Menu in the Twisted Brain box haha). Anyway, as of this writing, the VHS releases are the only official releases of The Haunting of Julia (though bootleg DVDs made from the VHS tapes are available, it seems).

Rob Tharp’s Class of 1999 Special FX Crew Shirt

If you watched and/or listened to the HorrorFam.com Podcast Class of 1999 episode, you already know pretty much all there is to know about this one-of-a-kind collector’s item! It was given to Rob Tharp while he was working on Class of 1999, he wore it while working on said movie, he had an “oops” with some of the Patrick Kilpatrick skin-tone paint he was using, he tried to wash it but just ended up shrinking it, and now… here it is!!

This shirt is a Men’s XL, but due to washing/drying machine shrinkage it’s closer to a size Large (and the neck hole is ridiculously tiny!). You’re more than welcome to attempt wearing it if you win it, but it’ll likely far better serve you as a display piece.

It’s been washed and signed by Rob Tharp — special FX artist from some of your favorite ‘80s and ‘90s horror films as well as a Halloween mask maker for Don Post Studios for over 40 years — with plenty of room left to collect additional signatures from any other Class of 1999 cast & crew members you happen to meet at conventions.

This shirt is truly unique and an absolute MUST HAVE for any fan of either Class of 1999 or Rob Tharp! And, if anyone doubts it’s authentic, you can refer them to this podcast episode and they can witness the historic signing! Very, very cool.

ENTER HERE:

RAFFLE STARTS AT 12:00AM PACIFIC ON APRIL 29, 2022
AND ENDS AT 11:59PM PACIFIC MAY 6, 2022!

This raffle is now closed! Congratulations to winner Mark Enright!!

RAFFLE STARTS AT 12:00AM PACIFIC ON APRIL 29, 2022
AND ENDS AT 11:59PM PACIFIC MAY 6, 2022!

This raffle is now closed! Congratulations to winner Mark Enright!!