Late 1975, George Town, Cayman Islands.
It was early Sunday morning when the film crew began to set up the props, mirrors and dolly tracks directly in front of the George Town post office.
Across the street near Comart, a few inquisitive goats and chickens gawked at all the commotion.
It was a different era. Grand Cayman was still an island that time forgot – unhurried, unnoticed, crime and traffic free – with no TV, traffic lights or radio, with the exception of ICCI FM – a student training facility.
At the time, our three islands were the gist of the cliché idiom – “those were the good old days.”
Director Anderson Humphries was on island filming “The Cayman Triangle,” a parody-satire, spoof movie for Hefalump Pictures, about a fictional pirate called Durty Reid Walker. The protagonist was portrayed by Reid Dennis who, at the time, was the editor of the weekly Cayman Compass and later proprietor of the renowned Durty Reid’s Bar and Grill.
Along with Reid, there was a cast of local characters who were signed up as actors for the agreed payment of limitless “greenies” (Heineken beer) and the opportunity to see themselves on the silver screen. Arek Joseph, Brian Uzzell, Steve Foster, Larry Cayasso, Andy Martin, Louis Hydes and Rudi Selzer were just a few in the infamous lineup of resident wannabe stars to be cast for the film.
The statue appears
On this particular Sunday, a statue was to be erected in the heart of George Town. A Sunday was chosen rather than a weekday so that the cast, crew and cinema photography paraphernalia would not get in the way of the daily routine goings-on in the capital.
The life-size statue was that of Durty Reid Walker, a swashbuckling, fanciful scoundrel who almost started World War III due to a legendary myth that avowed should anyone disturb his grave, Durty Reid Walker would be resurrected and all ships in the geographical figment of the Cayman Triangle would be sunk.
In the film, his grave was inevitably disturbed, so on this Sunday morning, while cameras were rolling, the statue came to life. Just how did that happen? No robotics or high-tech special effects in this production, so behind the plaster-of-Paris, there was a real person – Durty Reid Walker Dennis himself.
From the mortar’s interior, Reid winked at the play-actor tourists who were shocked, petrified and taken aback – but then that was what they were scripted to do.
As cameras were rolling and the director directed, Sam Jones from West Bay stopped his car along the curb at Barclays Bank. He had just left church service when he noticed the obscure statue in front of the post office. He also noticed that the statue was moving.
He took off his Fedora, wiped his brow and scratched his head. “What is that?” he asked himself.
“What is that?” asked his wife, who was too frightened to get out of the car.
Mr. Jones worked at By-Rite supermarket on Albert Panton Drive during the week, just a stone’s throw from the post office. Mr. Jones had not seen the statue the day before. In fact, he had never seen a statue in George Town. Jim Bodden’s statue was not to be erected until at least a decade later.
Curious, yet leery, Mr. Jones considered having a closer look. However, Mrs. Jones forbade it.
“Let’s go, Sam, this is the devil’s work! I told you to leave extra tithings today.”
As they drove off down Cardinall Avenue, Mr. Jones looked in his rearview mirror, only to watch the statue step down from its base and move, zombie-like, in his direction.
Mr. Jones stepped on the gas in a state of panic. Once he reached the corner of West Bay and “marl road,” he stopped at his cousin’s house and spilled the beans; he could not restrain himself.
While Mrs. Jones read her Bible and prayed, he made known his discovery.
“Have you been drinking again?” queried his cousin.
“No, I saw it also,” confirmed Mrs. Jones. “It’s Satan’s handiwork, only Lucifer could put up a statue overnight, and on the Lord’s Day at that!”
He then drove to his brother’s house who worked for Public Works; he would know what was going on.
“Have you been smoking ganja?” asked his brother, after he heard the amazing statue tale.
“No, no, no! If you don’t believe me, let’s drive back to town and see,” insisted Mr. Jones.
The statue disappears
As a small entourage from the West Bay populace gathered for a trip to George Town, the film crew outside the post office, oblivious to the Joneses’ plans, began to dismantle the scene.
Grips, microphones, electrical cords and dollies were placed in rented vans for the next filming location – Pedro Castle.
The cast went home for the day and George Town was back to its typical Sunday afternoon quiet. From Shedden Road to Fort Street, with the exception of a few stray goats, the streets lay empty.
The convoy of three cars and one police officer on a bicycle warily drove down Harbour Drive to make a left on Cardinall Avenue toward the post office. Several of the occupants had brought their Instamatic cameras. Mrs. Jones brought her Bible and Mr. Jones’s brother transported a machete.
“Something’s not right,” said Mr. Jones once they reached Edward Street.
“It was here just hours ago, a huge life-size stone sculpture, right here, on this spot.”
“Where’s the statue, Jonesy?” came a shout from another car.
Mr. and Mrs. Jones walked about in a stupor, as if narcosis had set in at one hundred fathoms. At first the entourage seemed as befuddled as the Joneses and then the wisecracks kicked in.
“Hey Jonesy, got any weed on you?”
“Better get a new prescription for your spectacles.”
“Maybe the statue was made of ice and it melted away.”
The ridicule toward the Joneses was relentless. Fortunately, Mr. Jones had a thick skin and Mrs. Jones had her Bible.
Though the curse of Durty Reid Walker was nothing more than a whimsical fable written by Anderson Humphries and Ralph Clemente, Durty Reid had already taken his first victims, now the most shamefaced, mortified couple on the island: Mr. and Mrs. Jones.
NOTE: Though this article is a tad embellished, the event was real. The names have been changed to protect the true individuals from further embarrassment.
The real “Joneses” were eventually vindicated when “The Cayman Triangle” was released in 1977. It won the best new director silver medal at the Virgin Islands Film Festival. It was reviewed favorably in Variety and also featured in Playboy Magazine.
The film premiered in Memphis, Tennessee, at a red carpet gala and at the old cinema in Cayman, as well as at the Virgin Islands Film Festival and Cannes International Film Festival.
The statue scene, which was shot in George Town, proved to be one of the favorite and most humorous parts of the movie.