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Elwood says he's been involved in similar projects since he's been a child, when he would make papier mache masks and do makeup for neighborhood friends. He and friend Mark Kimray would go see horror movies in their native Kannapolis, and with the use of a Super-8 camera, would begin working on a film the second they got home. After a period working with a production company in Shelby, Elwood landed a job on the short-lived series Probe on ABC, the first time he says he's worked with any real budget. Learning that director Sam Raimi was to film the sequel to the mega-popular low budget smash Evil Dead in North Carolina, Elwood drove down to Wadesboro, NC and showed him his portfolio.
"I learned so much from him," Elwood says. "We would work a 12-hour day, everyone would be hot and tired, and he'd say 'let's go shoot in the basement!' He was so driven." Soon, he and pal Tony Locklear decided to do a film, Killer!, for which they sought a $500,000 budget. A team of lawyers would have none of it. Remembering Raimi's edict of "don't let a budget stop you from making a movie," Elwood and Locklear decided $10,000 would work just fine. Again the lawyers balked. Undaunted, the pair went to the lawyers' office and placed a movie prop -- a lifelike (dead-like?) charred corpse -- under a sheet on the conference room table. Needless to say, they soon got their money.
3. Unknown Hinson
He may be our favorite country n' western troubadour, but Unknown Hinson is versatile enough to also be viewed as a demented freak. After spending 30 years in the state penitentiary, it's not hard to figure out where this hillbilly vampire hit-record machine gets his twisted, dark sense of humor. Unknown first came to light as part of the old Wild Wild South public access show, co-starring his former partner, the late Don Swan, as Rebel Helms. Hinson, actually singer Danny Baker, has earned a reputation as a rotten-toothed, blood suckin', hot guitar-slingin', fist-fightin', gun-totin', liquor-drinkin' babe magnet with a major violent streak. Gentlemen, hide your "wormens" when this fella's around because he's been known to duel to the end over a good-looking broad. Rumor has it that Unknown's been keeping company recently with weirdo celebrity couple Billy Bob Thornton and Angelina Jolie. Can't you just picture the three of them comparing their blood-filled vials or sharing some kind of crazy voodoo curse? Or maybe just knockin' back a quart of "party liquor" and beating the hell out of the first guy who objects.
2. Johnny Harris
In the past, Charlotte developer Johnny Harris had confined his political dealings to Charlotte's back rooms. This spring though, Harris launched a very public campaign to pass a $242 million sports and cultural referendum that would have built a new $190 million arena for the Charlotte Hornets. Harris set off to convince the serfs that they should think like him, clearly forgetting that his ancestors, who once owned much of the land in Mecklenburg County, had sold it to the very same serfs Harris so adeptly managed to insult during the arena campaign.
The scariest part of Harris' brief public venture was the peek into the mindset of Charlotte's bluebloods that it offered.
At one point, Harris went so far as to suggest that folks simply didn't belong in Charlotte if they didn't care to support the entertainment projects, some of which would have been financially inaccessible to many Charlotteans.
Harris grew up in a 24-room, 14,000 square-foot mansion on the 3,000 acres his family once owned between here and the South Carolina state line. Harris' grandfather, NC Governor Cameron Morrison, launched his political career by opposing suffrage for women and blacks, and belonged to the red shirts, a white supremacist organization that terrorized black voters.
With the family land and the multimillion-dollar fortune the Harris children inherited, Harris became the city's most influential developer, creating SouthPark Mall and the prestigious Ballantyne neighborhood in south Charlotte.
"This is their city, literally," a Charlotte Observer reporter wrote in a 1991 article about the Harris family.
After raising money for Gov. Jim Martin's 1984 campaign, Harris got himself appointed to the State Board of Transportation, where he managed to push through the completion of the southern leg of the outer belt, the expressway that circles the city and just happens to border Ballantyne, greatly increasing the land's value.