An actor who appeared in a film directed by an Edmonton filmmaker charged with murder said he was uncomfortable that the people working with him appeared to be using real swords while he was duct-taped to a chair.


Edmonton actor Chris Heward said Tuesday he appeared in a film directed by Mark Twitchell, who is charged with first-degree murder in the death of John Altinger, 38. ((CBC))

Chris Heward appeared in House of Cards by Mark Twitchell after responding to an ad on an online casting website.

"I was the guy that got killed in the film," Heward told CBC News on Tuesday.

"They duct-taped [me] around the wrists on both sides," he said about how Twitchell and a crew member prepared him for filming. 

"They duct-taped the ankles to the legs of the chair. It was a steel chair that they welded together. Very uncomfortable. It wasn't made for comfort, I guarantee that.…

"And later, just before they started, they duct-taped my mouth as well."

Twitchell is charged with first-degree murder in the slaying of John Altinger, 38.

Police allege Twitchell lured Altinger to a garage in south Edmonton through a dating website, and then killed him in a sequence that was similar to the film Twitchell was making.


Mark Andrew Twitchell, shown here during a CBC-TV interview in May 2007 about his filmmaking, is charged with murdering John Brian Altinger. ((CBC))

In the film, the victim is lured to the garage through the internet, duct-taped to a chair, tortured and cut into pieces, police said.

During the shoot, Heward said he was very uncomfortable with what was going on, and he wondered why an actor was using what appeared to him to be real samurai swords.

"I felt the blades and they were very sharp," he said.

"This is not a nice scene," Heward said. "I was nervous."

Two weeks later, Heward was contacted and interviewed by Edmonton police detectives.

Heward said they asked him what he knew about the snuff film industry.

"It just hit me like a … I can't even say how much that floored me," he said. 

Police also asked Heward if he knew where Altinger was. Heward didn't even know who he was, he said.

Altinger was last seen alive on Oct. 10. His body has never been found, but police said they have enough evidence to charge Twitchell in his death. 

Twitchell was scheduled to appear in court in Edmonton on Wednesday, but his appearance was put over until Dec. 3.