Born Sept. 14, 1900 – Died May 16th, 1979
Director Florey is almost as famous famous for the movie he DIDN’T direct as much as the ones he did. He was the one that brought the idea of doing Frankenstein as a follow up to Dracula (1931), as well as H.G. Wells’ The Invisible Man and Edgar Allan Poe’s Murders in the Rue Morgue. He was attached at one time to do Shelley’s novel but after a failed screen test with Bela Lugosi, he was dropped from the project, giving him Poe’s Murders to do instead. Florey apparently didn’t read his contract close enough because when he thought he was going to do Frankenstein, his contract said that he would direct “a picture”, not a specific one in particular. But many of the elements from his script would later be found in the final Whale picture.
He started working in Hollywood as a journalist, even working in the foreign publicity department for names like Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford. He started directing in 1927, with the film One Hour of Love. In 1929, he directed The Cocoanuts, the very first Marx Brothers film.
Nonetheless, Florey would go on to give us a few great genre films, as well as working in just about every other genre out there. While not as much of a classic as Frankenstein, his adaptation of Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932), starring Bela Lugosi, is a perfect example of how they were really pushing the limited in the Pre-Code era. Florey would also direct Peter Lorre in two other well made titles, The Face Behind the Mask (1941) and The Beast with Five Fingers (1946).
Eventually, he would later move to working in television, where he stayed for several years.
He may be knowns as the guy who almost directed Frankenstein, but I think he could be very proud of his output, in the horror genre, as well as in genre. It is just up to us fans to make sure he is remembered.
Born Aug. 17th, 1946
Briant had studied law at Trinity College Dublin, but felt the calling of another profession: that of the actor. He started acting at a young age, even nominated by the London Theatre Critics in 1973 for The Most Promising Newcomer from his performance in ‘Children of the Wolf’. He had signed a contract with Hammer Films and made 4 films for them back to back. They were Straight on Till Morning (1972), Demons of the Mind (1972), Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter (1974), and Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974). He also appeared as the title character in a TV movie remake of The Picture of Dorian Gray (1973).
In 1983, Briant moved to Australia and has worked in both film and television over there since. He also has become an accomplished writer, publishing 7 novels so far, as well as publishing his autobiography, entitled Always the Bad Guy, in 2011.
Granted, for me, Briant will always be known as one of of the actors that Hammer was trying to use as the next generation of Hammer stars, once held by Cushing and Lee (even though they both continued to work for the studio). Unfortunately, the end of the studio was already on the horizon so as good as Briant was in the few pictures he appeared in for Hammer, it was too late for the studio that once dripped blood.
Born March 27th, 1914, Died October 11th, 1998
Richard Denning (born as Richard Denninger, but was told to change it by the studio because it sounded too much like Dillinger!), never started out to be an actor, going to school for business, and even graduating cum laude with a master’s degree in business administration. But once he got the acting bug, there was no stopping him. After winning a radio contest called “Do You Want to Be an Actor?”, he got a screen test with Warner Bros. They passed on him, but he did sign with Paramount. While he didn’t make a ton of pictures in the horror genre, he made a few, including The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954). He also appeared in Roger Corman’s The Day the World Ended (1955) or Edward Cahn’s Creature with the Atomic Brain (1955), or appearing with Mara Corday in The Black Scorpion (1957).
He would have a pretty successful career in non-genre films and a lot of television, but always left a mark with me in the genre pictures he did appear in, even when he was not the nicest character like in Creature from the Black Lagoon!
Denning had married one of the genre’s early scream queens, Evelyn Ankers, who starred in films like The Wolf Man (1941) and Son of Dracula (1943).
Born Apr. 14th, 1930 – Died January 16th, 2019
Dillman is one of those actors that if you grew up watching made-for-TV movies and feature films throughout the 70s, then while you might not know the name, you’ll know his face. From appearing on TV in one of my favorite Night Gallery episodes (Pickman’s Model) to movies like Fear No Evil (1969), Moon of the Wolf (1972), and The Dark Secret of Harvest Home (1978), to feature films like Joe Dante’s Piranha (1978), Irwin Allen’s The Swarm (1978), to the best movie ever to feature flaming cockroaches, William Castle’s Bug (1975), Dillman was always interesting to watch. Whether he was playing the villain or the hero, he always delivered. He was one of those faces from my childhood fandom that I’ve always remembered fondly.
Born in 1932
If you have watched any movies from the Philippines, especially in the exploitation genre, then you’ve most likely seen Vic Diaz’s face somewhere. He has been a staple of the Philippine film industry since the late ’50s and had continued to work quite a bit through the ’90s. Whether he was just a bit player or given a bigger role, he was always recognizable and memorable.
He made 12 movies alone with director Eddie Romero, titles like Beast of the Yellow Night (1971), Black Mama, White Mama (1973) with Pam Grier, Beyond Atlantis and Savage Sisters (1974), both with Sid Haig and John Ashley. Not to mention other cult titles like Blood Thirst (1971), The Big Bird Cage (1972) which was directed by Jack Hill, Superbeast (1972), Daughter of Satan (1972), co-starring Tom Selleck, Vampire Hookers (1978), and many other delightful titles.
So the next time you’re watching a movie from the Philippines, keep your eye out for our pudgy little friend, Mr. Diaz. I’m pretty sure he will be in there somewhere.
Born: March 12th, 1946
If you are a fan of horror movies from the ’70s and ’80s, then you just might have seen Cundey’s work. If you’re a fan of the early works of John Carpenter’s, such as Halloween (1978), The Fog (1980), and The Thing (1982), then you definitely know his work, as well as his talent! Cundey is now one of the top rated cinematographers in the business. But before all of that, he was working quite often in the horror genre, shooting some classic titles and making them look better than they ever should have.
Just look at his early resume and you’ll see a lot of favorites listed there, such as The Witch Who Came from the Sea (1976), Creature from Black Lake (1976), Ilsa: Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks (1976), Satan’s Cheerleaders (1977), Without Warning (1980), Jaws of Satan (1981), and the list goes on. But it probably his work with Carpenter that he is most known for, making five pictures with him, which now are all considered essential titles in the genre.
So even while he may have gone on to work more in the bigger budgeted Hollywood films, we owe this man a lot of thanks for the way that some of these great films looked.
Ottaviano is a face that even the die-hard horror fans won’t recognize… outside of the famous makeup he wore in Lucio Fulci’s Zombie (1979). You see, unbeknownst to even him, it was his face under the makeup and words, that was splattered across the movie posters and video boxes all over the states.
He started his film career as a stunt man and sometimes actor in small or bit parts, or at times a lead role. As an actor, he appeared in films like Nightmare City (1980), Rats: Night of Terror (1984), Cut and Run (1985), Zombi 3 (1988), and Zombie 4: After Death (1989). But as a stuntman or stunt coordinator, he worked on tons of horror and exploitation movies in the ’70s and ’80s, titles like Starcrash (1978), The Humanoid (1979), Cannibal Apocalypse (1980), Cut and Run and Demons (both 1985), and many, many more. He’s one of these many nameless actors who appear in some of our favorite films, but never really received any sort of fame because they were always either behind the scenes, usually having their names changed to more American sounding, and were usually appearing in the low budget titles. But now, this is a start!
Born Feb. 10th, 1926 – Died April 15th, 2008
While the gorgeous Hazel Court really got horror fan’s attention when she starred opposite of Peter Cushing in Hammer’s Curse of Frankenstein (1957), she had already appeared in couple of horror titles, such as Ghost Ship (1952) and Devil Girl from Mars (1954). But it was Curse that made her known as an early Scream Queen.
She would appear in Hammer’s The Man Who Could Cheat Death in 1959, in the underrated film Doctor Blood’s Coffin in 1961, before hitting it big with Roger Corman fans in three of his Poe films, Premature Burial (1962), The Raven (1963), and The Masque of the Red Death (1964), where she got to work with other horror icons like Boris Karloff, Vincent Price, and Peter Lorre.
Not only very appealing to the eyes, Court was a fine actress that could play the villainess just as easily as the heroine. In 2008, she released her autobiography entitled Hazel Court: Horror Queen.
Born Dec. 2nd, 1924 – Died Dec. 2nd, 2016
While Davis might not have worked hardly at all with the movie industry, he was an accomplished illustrator and cartoonist who’s work would inspire many horror fans and filmmakers for years to come. While he did do a lot of work for Mad Magazine, it was the art he did for the horror comics that William Gaines put out in the early ’50s that inspired future horror fans.
After being turned down by several other comic book companies, he went over to E.C. Comics, met up with owner William Gaines and company and was hired. He would work on their most famous titles, like Tales from the Crypt, The Haunt of Fear, as well as the rest of the E.C. titles. His artwork was incredible and set the standards for a lot of upcoming talent. He was also one of the fastest artists, according to Gaines, completely penciling and inking 3 pages a day at times.
Davis did work on a few movie posters, most notably for horror fans was the one he did for Horror Hotel (1960), as well as designing some of the characters for Rankin/Bass’ Mad Monster Party? (1967). Davis was one of those artists who’s work inspired so many people, and not just fellow artists, but little budding horror fans that would devour his comics, even to this day.
Born July 23rd, 1942
Born as Enrica Bianchi Colombatto, she changed her name to Ericka Blanc when she got into movies. Fans of Euro horror may recognize her face, since she has worked on some great films with some great talent, from the giallo to westerns to horror. Blanc was the first woman to play the famous character Emmanuelle in the 1969 film Lo, Emmanuelle, which would later be played by several other actresses over the years.
For for us horror fans, it was her work in films like Mario Bava’s Kill Baby, Kill (1966), the rarely talked about The Vengeance of Lady Morgan (1965), The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave (1971), working alongside Paul Naschy in A Dragonfly for Each Corpse (1975), and one of our personal favorites, Jean Brismée’s The Devil’s Nightmare (1971). So don’t be surprised if you’re watching a classic Euro horror films from the ’60s or ’70s and see this lovely lady’s face appear on the screen. If it does, the film just got a little better.