Jack H. Harris – Rest in Peace

Harris and BlobJack H. Harris isn’t a name that immediately comes to mind, even for most horror fans, but it is because of this particular individual that we have one of the most original alien invaders in movie history, the 1958 film The Blob! Harris started in the business at the very young age of six, working as a performer on the stage. He later became an usher at a movie theater, eventually getting into publicity and distribution, finally becoming a producer. His first film was The Blob, but later gave us titles like 4D Man (1959), Dinosaurus! (1960), Equinox (1970), Beware! The Blob (1972), Schlock (1973) giving a young John Landis his start, Dark Star (1974), and Eyes of Laura Mars (1978). He also produced the 1988 remake of The Blob, though it seems he didn’t care for it too much.

Two years ago, he published his autobiography entitled Jack H. Harris: The Father of The Blob, which we reviewed here on the site. It is a great read with a ton of fascinating stories, and one that I would recommend.

But we are sad to say that Mr. Harris has passed away at the age of 98. With being responsible for so many entertaining films in his career, he might not be as well known as some of the bigger names in Hollywood, but his films have definitely made an impact on millions of movie-goers. Our thoughts go out to his friends and family.

Bill Paxton – Rest in Peace

bill-paxton-ripIt’s been just over a week since the world lost an amazing talent, actor Bill Paxton. I had tried to write something about it a couple of times over last week, but just couldn’t get it out. He’d been a favorite mine, as well as many genre fans, mainly since his performances as the cowardly yet heroic Hudson in James Cameron’s Aliens (1986). But like his portrayal of the marine Hudson, Paxton gave so many levels of character to all his roles, and he was always such fun to watch on screen. Even his cut-throat killer Severen in Near Dark (1987) was a treat to watch. Two of my favorite lines to quote from that movie were both from Paxton. “We keep odd hours” and anytime I walk out into the sunlight, I always remember him shouting “Fucking daylight!”

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John Hurt – Rest in Peace

john-hurt-ripThe world lost a true talent yesterday with the passing of actor John Hurt, who passed away at the age of 77 after a battle with cancer. While most horror fans know him for his role in Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979), where he literally gave birth to a new breed of monsters, he did appear in quite a few other horror films, such as the incredible chilling 10 Rillington Place (1971), The Ghoul (1974), Roger Corman’s Frankenstein Unbound (1990), and Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy (2004). Not to mention the countless other roles that he appeared in, even playing Doctor Who in a special episode, and doing it quite well.

Hurt was an actor that when he appeared on the screen, he got your attention. With his unique voice, it could sooth your thoughts as well as send chills up your spine. Such a talented craftsman. He will be missed, but always remembered for his stellar performances, and definitely never forgotten. Our thoughts go out to his friends and family.

Miguel Ferrer – Rest in Peace

miquel-ferrer-ripThere are some of those actors that play a character with such zest and passion, that as a young film watcher, they are forever cast in your head as that type of person. My introduction to Miguel Ferrer was, like many, in the 1987 film Robocop, where he played a young executive determined to make a difference. While he wasn’t really a bad guy in the film, he definitely showed his power in a tough role. But then a couple of years later, in DeepStar Six (1989), he really showed me how much of a jerk he could be! The real shame is that Ferrer was one of those actors that could play on both sides of the drama, and even be funny! But when he played a bad guy…man was he good.

So I was sadden to hear that he had passed away after battling throat cancer. He was one name that when you seen it pop up in the credits, you knew you were in for a great performance by him, even if he was in a minor role. While he did play in a few genre features, like The Stand (1994) and The Night Flier (1997), he also appeared in countless other TV shows and movies, really showing his range as an actor.

Our thoughts go out to his friends and family during this difficult time. He will be missed, but never forgotten.

William Peter Blatty – Rest in Peace

william-peter-blatty-ripThursday, we have lost the author of one of the greatest horror novels of all time, William Peter Blatty. If you’ve never read the actual novel of The Exorcist, you’d be surprised at how effective it is, digging into your core just as much as the film version, if not more. That’s how good Blatty was. Strange though that before this novel, he was known for the most part as a comedic writer, writing several films for Blake Edwards, including the Pink Panther movie A Shot in the Dark. But once The Exorcist came out, there really was no turning back for him and he would always be known as “that guy”. But while it did pigeon hole him, he told the Washington Post in 2013, “I can’t regret The Exorcist. It’s done so much for me and for my family. And it’s given me a great deal of freedom to write what I want.”

Ever since he heard about the story about a 14-year old boy that was ‘cured’ by an exorcism in 1949, Blatty knew there was a novel in there, but it took over twenty years for it to finally come to be, in 1971. Two years later, director William Friedkin turned the book into one of the scariest films of all time, which actually got Blatty an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. A decade later, he would write a sequel to the book, called Legion, which he then adapted and directed the film version, entitled Exorcist III.

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George Kosana – Rest in Peace

george-kosana1-ripWell 2017, that didn’t take long.

The name of George Kosana might not ring a bell with some movie fans. Or even the name Sheriff McClelland, which is what he’s known for. But if you say the line “Yeah, they’re dead. They’re… all messed up”, then they will know who you’re talking about. Kosana plays the sheriff in Romero’s 1968 film Night of the Living Dead. He did appear in a few other films afterwards, such as There’s Always Vanilla (1971), another Romero film, as well as a couple other low budget titles. Kosana recently passed away after battling several different illnesses, according to lifelong friend, John Russo.

That is the sad part of a film that is almost 50 years old, that we are losing more and more people that were part of making that film so great. We had met George a few times over the years at different conventions. He was always so nice and friendly and loved talking to his fans. While he might be an icon, he is definitely and important part and will be missed.

Our thoughts go out to his friends and family.

Don Calfa: Rest in Peace

don-calfa-ripOkay 2016, enough, huh? I mean, you’ve only got a few weeks left, let’s end it on a something more than these obits, shall we?

There is something about a movie that can have the best dialogue, the best makeup effects, production values, locations, and everything else to make it a memorable feature. But if you don’t have the right cast making these characters come to live, it will just come across flat and uninteresting. Actor Don Calfa made his career at bringing characters to life. Whether he was in a feature film or just a small part on an episodic television show, it was magic when Calfa came on.

My first memory of him where he stood out was as the guy who lived across the ravine from Dudley Moore in Blake Edwards 10 (1979), who was always having sex parties. But it also could have been one of his seven different appearances on the TV show Barney Miller, which I used to watch religiously. But no matter what show it was on, he makes an impact. He worked with directors like Spielberg, Scorsese, Bogdonovich, Levinson, and many more.  He was quoted in saying that “I’m not a star, I’m a journeyman actor.” I think he was right.

Of course, we horror fans know him from one his greatest characters, that of Ernie Kaltenbrunner, the mortician from Dan O’Bannon’s 1985 film Return of the Living Dead. From his dialogue to just the way he acts, he gives the horror genre an unforgettable performance, and one that he puts RotLD in a lot of fans Top Ten lists.

Don Calfa RIP2.jpg

Calfa passed away last Thursday at his home in Yucca Valley, California, just two days before his birthday. So, on what would have been his 77th birthday, let us take a moment to remember Calfa and the incredible and memorable performances that he gave us over his career that almost reached 50 years. You will most definitely never be forgotten and always remembered by us horror fans. Even if it as a white-haired mortician. Our thoughts go out to his friends and family.