In the 80's to 90's changeover, Jeff and I were practicing our bagging skills at the local Food Lion. The number of hours spent at the front of the store, bagging tons of items was monotonous enough... when the store partnered with CNN to ease the boredom of shoppers waiting in line, it became almost intolerable.
CNN installed televisions in the checkout lanes for shoppers to watch the news as they waited for their turn for check out. Someone in the powers that be decided the average wait time was about 5 minutes, meaning that the same music, news, and even commercials were shown EVERY FIVE MINUTES. If you work for an 8 hour shift, even with breaks and running to get things, you have a solid 5+ hours of hearing this same information. And, as I can remember, they may have updated it once every day or so.
Hearing the same Snuggle Fabric Softener commercial every five minutes (over a period of days) spawned what you are about to watch. While mopping one night, my brain began twisting a story around a guy who kidnaps the Snuggle bear and kills him. Gunfire, Metallica and a stuffed, lovable bear were the components to a serious relief in monotony. I pitched the idea to Jeff, who, being just as twisted as myself, began brainstorming. It took one night to film the first "movie," which we showed in the break room at the FL. Everyone seemed to love it, which turned into a sequel, then trilogy (taking a week to shoot the second film, and a month for the third). By the end, we seemed to know what we were doing so much more then when we started. My idea, Jeff's technical savvy, and both of our senses of humor gave birth to this wonderful, twisted and overall meaningless story. Enjoy!
— Jason Hatfield, Creator
20 years later, I gotta say, with the rise of Indie's like "The Blair Witch Project," the subsequent celebrated style of "Cloverfield," and the online social circulation of SNL's digital shorts, we were way ahead of our time. Our Snuggle shorts I, II and III got a lot of mileage in an age when social networking was all offline and actually involved leaving the house.
When Jason approached me with the original concept, my first thought was, what can we do to take the viewer from silly joy to lip-curling horror in less than 20 minutes.
We considered using a real Snuggle commercial to kick things off, but it quickly became obvious we had to begin by crucifying the commercial itself; the voice, the terrible puppetry (or lack thereof) and the horrible big band LP Jason had lying around. I reserved clips from the actual '91 spots that inspired the slaying, 20 years later for the pre-kidnap credits.
Few folks know the Lenoir cops or "COPS: Lenoir" brought filming to a screeching halt when they answered a "noise complaint behind Food Lion." They didn't take too kindly to the vast plastic yet lifelike arsenal of weapons in our possession. Keep in mind, toy manufacturers weren't required to place the orange plastic tips on the muzzles of toy guns when we were growing up. Thankfully we avoided a "suicide by cop" scenario!
After 20 years, I never noticed Snuggle's last words were, "Do you want some pine...?" My favorite line, underneath Jason's still nameless vigilante character screaming at Snuggle in the car on the way to Gamewell Middle School... "I didn't do anything." Exactly.
It's been my own personal mission to get Part I back out there, this time in the digital world, while it's still the "20th anniversay." The tapes have really degraded over the years, so most of my time working on it has been spent restoring what I can frame by frame. The hardest part is stripping the sound down and rebuilding it, foley, 5.1 surround, applying filtering to help get it to full 1080p HD. Beefiing up the resolution and building surround channels for the DVD/Blu-ray discs took some time. Thank God for HD.
Our short, dark comedy's popularity prompted two sequels and spawned a reboot in 1995. One of these days, we'll pick up where we left off. Enjoy!
— Jeff Hartman, Director
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