There has to be something about a person that only appeared in a few genre pictures in her career that spanned almost 70 years, but it was her first genre pic, made 65 years ago, is what she is remembered the most from. Sure, it could be because it was the last great classic monster film from Universal, but Julie Adams appearance in it had something to do with it as well. There was more than the Gill-Man watching Adams in The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), that is for sure.
If you’ve spent more than 5 minutes on the internet in the last 24 hours, you’ve read the news that Adams passed away yesterday at the age of 92. I had the honor of meeting her a couple of times at different cons or movie screenings and she was always so lovely and friendly to her fans. As long as the Gill-man is remembered, Adams will be right along there with him. Our thoughts go out to her friends and family during this difficult time.
Wow. This one stings. Whether you grew up watching the early black and white classics from Roger Corman or the Joe Dante flicks from the ’80s and ’90s, you knew who Dick Miller was. Even if he was in the smallest of parts, when he appeared on screen, it was usually followed by “Hey! It’s Dick Miller!”
Yesterday, Miller passed away at the age of 90 years old. He had close to 200 screen credits, starting way back in 1954, in Roger Corman’s Apache Woman, as an Indian named Tall Tree, even though he appeared as other characters in the film as well. This started a long time relationship with Corman. The following year, Miller appeared in his first genre picture, Corman’s It Conquered the World with Lee Van Cleef, Peter Graves, and Beverly Garland. He would stay with Corman’s company for many more productions, such as Not of this Earth (1957), Bucket of Blood (1959), The Terror (1963) and so many more. In the ’80s, he was a constant regular in pretty much anything Joe Dante directed, such as The Howling (1981).
Miller could have the smallest of roles, sometimes in just one little scene, but he would make an impact that fans would remember. And even though he has now left us, remember that he has also left us a treasure trove of wonderful memories that have been captured on film, for us to enjoy and to continue to enjoy for generations to come. Dick Miller was at the very first horror convention I ever attended, back in 1988. He was a legend then, and 30 years later, he still is one. And in another 30 years, he still will be a legend. Actually even more…he’s freakin’ Dick Miller!
Our thoughts go out to his friends and family during this difficult time.
There are those directors that may have only worked in the horror genre a couple of times, but still have made quite a big impact. Jorge Grau was one of them. News came out today that he has passed away at the age of 88.
Grau only directed two genre films, Ceremonia sangrienta (1970), released over here as The Legend of Blood Castle, and his most famous one, No profanar el sueño de los Muertos (1974), most commonly known in the states as Let Sleeping Corpses Lie, though it has quite a few other monikers it was released under.
Watching Corpses for the first time in my youth made me aware of a few things. This was one of the first color zombie films that featured a lot of gore. I mean a LOT of gore, courtesy of Giannetto De Rossi who would later work with Lucio Fulci on many of his famous gore/living dead films. But Grau also showed audiences the European way of not following the traditional aspect of the genre. He didn’t follow the normal conventions of the zombies, putting his own spin on them, still making them very effective.
Grau directed over 30 features over in his career that spanned almost 5 decades. For him to only direct two horror films, one of which is considered a classic in the zombie sub-genre, ranking it right up there with Romero’s best, shows that he had a strong voice and vision. One that it is still seen and heard over four decades later, as much as it will be for generations to come.
Our thoughts go out to his friends and family. He will be missed, but never forgotten.
I’ve been going to conventions for over twenty years and have met more than a few celebrities over those two decades. Some are very cordial, while others a little standoffish. But there are few that compare to the pure joy that I felt from meeting James Karen in an elevator at Chiller convention back in the mid ’90s. As we were talking the elevator down to the show, Mr. Karen walked in and could immediately tell from the black horror t-shirts we were wearing that we were there for the show. He immediately said hello and started talking to us as the doors closed. He wasn’t embarrassed by his work in the horror genre, or that some young fans were geeking over the fact that we were in the same elevator as Frank from Return of the Living Dead! He just seemed so happy to be there and loved the fact that we were fans and knew who he was. While the ride only lasted a minute or two, it is one of the best memories from my convention memories. I met him again a few years ago and he still gave off that same vibe to his fans. So it was very sad hearing of his passing.
The funny thing is that if you look at his immense filmography, with over 200 screen appearances, he only appeared in a few horror titles. But in those, he created very memorable characters, such as the real estate developer in Poltergeist (1982) or the bumbling but loveable Frank in Return of the Living Dead (1985). His very first film appearance was in the wonderfully titled Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster (1965), as well as appearing in so many television series and even more commercials, starting back in 1948, in a production of A Christmas Carol. But before that, he started acting on the stage. He made his Broadway debut in 1947 in a production of A Streetcar Named Desire, being Karl Malden’s understudy.
Horror fans have lost a friend, as well as an extremely talented actor, who could make you love his character as easily as hate him. He was that good. He will be deeply missed. At least we still have his films to keep his memory alive. I know that each time I pop in my copy of Return of the Living Dead, no matter that I’ve seen the film countless times, James Karen will still make me smile and laugh. So he will never be forgotten.
Our thoughts go out to his friends and family during this difficult time.
I was just commenting the other day that either I have missed them or the number of our genre stars that we’ve been losing has been much lower than previous years. And then we lose Stelvio Cipriani last week, and now there are two more.
If you are a fan of Italian cinema, whether it be westerns, giallo, or horror, then you’ve most likely heard the work of Stelvio Cipriani, who passed away on Monday, October 1st, at the age of 81. With a career that spanned over 50 years, composing scores for over 200 films, he has help make those movies even better with his music.
He started studying music at the age of 14 and composed his first score when he was 29, which was The Ugly Ones (1966). He would contribute scores for such films as A Bay of Blood (1971), The Iguana with the Tongue of Fire (1971), Death Walks on High Heels (1971), Baron Blood (1972), Tragic Ceremony (1972), Rabid Dogs (1974), Tentacles (1977), The Great Alligator (1979), Nightmare City (1980), and so many more.
Thankfully for us film score fans, a lot of his work has been released on CDs, which allows not only us, but newer fans to discover and continue to enjoy years to come. So that his work with always be with us, which means he will always be remembered. Our thoughts go out to his friends and family.
One of my favorites from Hammer Studios is one of their 1966 “Cornish Horrors”, Plague of the Zombies, made back to back with The Reptile. From the incredible look of the zombies, to the bad-ass villain played by John Carson, to the straight-laced hero played by André Morell, it always delivers the goods, each and every time I watch it. Another one of the reasons is the rest of the stellar cast, including Jacqueline Peace, who plays the doomed Alice. Pearce’s performance gives the viewer such a feeling of dread because we all know what is going to happen to her and we can’t stop it. And then in The Reptile, she gives another performance to draw the audience in with her pathos.
In both of these films, not only did she have to create these characters and grab hold of the audience, she also had to endure quite some time in Roy Ashton’s makeup chair. But she not only played a couple of iconic Hammer characters, she caught the attention of many fans. So we are very sadden to hear of her recent passing.