In the fall of 1984, I got a call from Sylvester Stallone’s PR man, Paul Block, asking if I would be interested in working on Rambo II film in Mexico. I’d known and worked with Paul numerous times before and really liked working with him, so I said yes.
When we all arrived in Acapulco, where we were housed in a lovely hotel on the beach, we didn’t know that the biggest typhoon in years was headed our way. Our first day of shooting was in the jungle behind Acapulco and it would be pissing down rain. When we arrived it was doing just that and we started our day’s work anyway. I got some of my favorite Rambo II shots that day and it was like working in a warm shower. After a couple of hours, we were told to leave because the only road home was about to collapse. It did collapse, but only after we just left.
Most of our work took place in the jungle behind Acapulco and it was very hot, smelly, humid and rainy. We also shot on a river and at a waterfall only reachable by helicopter, and at a Mexican air base. We dealt with lots of small, biting insects, large nasty spiders, and really nasty biting snakes that were called ten steppers because, if one bit you, you walked ten steps before you dropped dead. In spite of all of these diversions, we managed to have many good laughs and enjoy our shoot.
Many funny things happened on this location. Sly getting pantsed by Richard Crenna during a interview with Maria Shriver for national morning TV and then Sly hitting Crenna in the face with a cream pie during his interview; mud fights while working in the jungle; our Thanksgiving dinner with smuggled turkeys; and the crew being so covered in soot from the burning tires at the POW camp set that our hotel security wouldn’t let us in because we were all unrecognizable.
We worked with many wonderful people there and had many great times. I remember working with our wonderful Italian camera crew, grip crew, and electric crew, the legendary British cameraman, Jack Cardiff ASC BSC, our great British production crew led by the outstanding assistant director David Tomlin. I will never forget the wonderful lobster dinners with Richard Crenna and his wife at his beautiful beachside hotel.
When we got bored on our Sunday’s off, we made up our own Trivial Pursuit games about the names of movie cowboys horses and we quickly learned that if we ate a lot of garlic with our pasta, that the small, biting bugs with big teeth would stay away.
We did have a very sad moment, when our lead special effects man was killed at the waterfall after slipping on a moss covered rock. We are always reminded that filmmaking is a very dangerous business and that accident certainly drove the point across to us that day.
More photos from Rambo II: