23 September 2011:
Film producer John Dunning has died, aged 84.
As co-founder of Canadian company Cinepix, Dunning
was behind a number of cult hits, most notably
David Cronenberg’s early classics Shivers
and Rabid. The Montreal company
started out producing softcore movies for the
French-Canadian market, such as Valerie,
Sex Isn’t Sin, The
Importance of Being Sexy and Keep
It in the Family.
After the success of Shivers,
Dunning would produce a number of popular horror
and thriller films, including Death Weekend,
Blackout, My Bloody Valentine,
Happy Birthday to Me and The
Surrogate, as well as 3D science fiction
movie Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden
Zone, and the Meatballs
series. He remained active in production until
the end of the 1990s.
has started to trickle out about the death of
George Kuchar, one of the most innovative and
interesting underground filmmakers ever to emerge,
and a huge influence on the likes of John Waters.
in 1942, Kuchar, alongside twin brother Mike,
shot numerous 8mm movies in the 1960s that played
alongside the works of Warhol and Kenneth Anger
during the underground movie boom of that decade.
His work was notable for its lurid, melodramatic
style that was influenced by the Hollywood epics
and B movies that the brothers had grown up on.
He would later move into shooting on video, making
a series on quirly, intimate little films.
best known film is probably Hold Me While
I'm Naked, and other classic titles (amongst
the 200+ films he made) include Pussy
On A Hot Tin Roof, Color Me Shameless,
Eclipse Of The Sun Virgin and
A Reason to Live, as well as
the feature film The Devil's Cleavage.
Kuchar also starred in his brother Mike's camp
science fiction epic Sins of the Fleshapoids,
and co-wrote notorious art/underground/horror/porn
films are among the most entertaining, original
and hysterical to emerge from the underground
scene - he was certainly my favourite filmmaker
from that varied collective. It's unlikely that
we'll see anyone quite like him again.
and film director Gualtiero Jacopetti died yesterday.
Details are a little vague, though he was 91.
alongside partner Franco Prosperi, virtually invented
the Mondo movie in 1962 with Mondo Cane,
a remarkable mixture of strange cultural activities
from around the world, presented in a cynical
manner. The film, originally banned in Britain,
remains as remarkable today as it ever way, and
its global success spawned decades of imitators.
Jacopetti, who had previously worked on exotic
nightlife movies like World
By Night, would go on to shoot several
other Mondo films - the direct sequel Mondo
Pazzo (aka Mondo Cane 2),
Women of the World, the brutal
and brilliant Africa Addio (aka
Africa Blood and Guts) and the
less well known Witchdoctor in Tails.
the start of the 1970's, he made the controversial
Goodbye Uncle Tom, which mixed
the Mondo style with dramatic reconstructions
to chart the history of slavery and racism, and
later in the decade he shot Mondo Candido,
which - despite the title - wasn't a documentary,
but more like a Pasolini-style historical erotic
films remain the high-point on Mondo cinema, and
while he spent much of his career either ignored
or reviled by critics, in more recent years he
has been seen as the brilliant documentarian that
he was, not least in David Gregory's documentary
film The Godfathers of Mondo.
Roberts Blossom has died, aged 87.
movie fans will know him best for his rare starring
role in Deranged, where he played
Ed Gein-inspired cannibal necrophile killer Ezra
Cobb. But he had an extensive career, usually
playing small, supporting roles.
made TV appearances in the late 1950's and through
the Sixties, but it was in the 1970s that he began
working consistently, in films like Slaughterhouse
Five, The Great Gatsby,
Close Encounters of the Third Kind,
Escape from Alcatraz, Christine
and others, as well as TV shows like Moonlighting,
Tales from the Darkside, The
Twilight Zone and more.
1990, he made what is probably his best known
appearance for mainstream audiences, in Home
died on July 8th.
Actor Peter Falk has died, aged 83.
He was best known for his work as Columbo,
the crumpled policeman who could solve even the
most intricately planned crime without resorting
to violence or aggression, a role he played for
over thirty years – the original 1970s shows
being amongst American TV’s finest moments.
While the stories for those early shows were uniformly
excellent, it was undoubtedly Falk’s performance
– complete with his ad-libs that would throw
co-stars off their game and result in a real sense
of irritation, that made the show work.
Outside his iconic work as Lt. Columbo, Falk appeared
in cult films such as A Woman Under the
Influence, Murder By Death,
The Cheap Detective, All
The Marbles (aka The California
Dolls), Wings of Desire
and The Princess Bride. In recent
years, Falk had been suffering from Alzheimer’s
disease, and his plans to shoot a final Columbo
TV movie would go unfulfilled.
Also passing on today was top comic book artist
Gene Colan, who was aged 84. Colan was probably
best known for his excellent work on Marvel’s
Tomb of Dracula comic, which he illustrated
throughout it’s 70 issue run in the 1970’s.
He also illustrated Dr Strange,
The Avengers and many other titles,
gracing them all with his unique, moody style.
May 2011: It's been a bad few weeks for deaths.
night, news emerged of the death of B-Movie starlet
and Playboy model Yvette Vickers.
Her mummified body was discovered by a neighbour,
and it seems she may have been dead for up to
a year before being found. She was best known
for her appearances in 1950's cult classics like
Reform School Girls, Attack
of the Fifty Foot Woman and Attack
of the Giant Leeches, but had a long
career in film and television, often playing bit
parts. In the 1970's, she had bigger roles in
What's the Matter with Helen
and The Dead Don't Die. She was
Playboy's Playmate of the Month
in 1959. She was 82.
been reported that Thundercrack!
star Marion Eaton has died, though full details
have yet to emerge. More as and when.
director Harry S. Morgan (real name Michael Schey)
died on April 30th. Morgan's name seemed to be
on more or less every German porn film shot in
the 1990's and beyond, and he made on-camera appearances
Angela Scoular died April 11th. She's appeared
in the original Casino Royale,
On Her Majesty's Secret Service,
Doctor in Trouble, Here
We Go Round the Mulberry Bush, and both
Adventures of a Taxi Driver and
Adventures of a Private Eye (in
different roles), as well as numerous TV productions.
Bannister, who died April 14th, spent most of
the 1970's starring in hit sit-com Are
You Being Served?, and made numerous
other TV appearances (including a recurring role
in The Tomorrow People), as well
as appearing in Au Pair Girls.
Pisier had a long and distinguished career, appearing
in some of the best European films of the 1970s,
most notably Julie and Celine Go Boating
and The Phantom of Liberty. Her
other work included Trans-Europe Express,
The Vampire of Dusseldorf and
The Other Side of Midnight.
William Campbell died April 28th. He's probably
best known for appearing in Francis Ford Coppola's
Dementia 13, but also starred
in numerous films and TV shows from 1950 to the
late Nineties, including Running Wild,
Eighteen and Anxious, The
Naked and the Dead, Night of
Evil, Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte,
Portrait in Terror, Blood
Bath, Black Gunn and
Pretty Maids All in a Row.
Styrene was frontwoman of punk pioneers X-Ray
Spex, and best known for acerbic hit Oh
Bondage! Up Yours. She was 53.
April 2011: News is filtering through that actress
Elizabeth Sladen has died.
was best known and loved as Dr Who's
assistant Sarah Jane Smith, joining the series
in 1973 where she co-starred alongside Jon Pertwee.
For your writer, this was the peak period for
Dr Who, and after she left the
show (following Pertwee's earlier departure),
it just didn't seem the same. Clearly, I wasn't
alone thinking this, and - unusually for pre-revival
Dr Who assistants - she would
make several returns to the role, including the
failed TV pilot K-9 and Company,
the Five Doctors special, a number
of radio shows and more recently in several episodes
of the new series and her successful spin-off,
The Sarah Jane Adventures. She's
still best assisant the Doctor ever had.
Dr Who, Sladen had made several
appearances on TV before her big break, and after
leaving the series, she would continue to act
in British television productions. Her death comes
only a few weeks after the death of fellow Who
star Nicholas Courtney.
details are currently vague, her death has been
attributed to cancer. She was 63.
9 2011: film director Sidney Lumet has died, aged
his career in TV during the 1950's, Lumet would
go on to direct some of the finest films in the
history of cinema, yet never achieved the reputation
amongst the general public that lesser directors
had. His feature debut was the brilliant 12
Angry Men in 1957 and his subsequent
work was equally dazzling: The Pawnbroker
(the film that finally broke the taboo against
nudity in mainstream cinema), Fail Safe,
The Hill, The Anderson
Tapes, The Offence,
Child's Play (not the Chucky
film!), Serpico, Equus
(pictured), Dog Day Afternoon
and Network are amongst his most
impressive works. He did the ocassional stinker
(The Wiz) and his fair share
of disposable titles (Murder on the Orient
Express, Prince of the City,
The Morning After), but his best
work is rarely equalled.
final film was Before the Devil Knows
you're Dead in 2007.
Actor Farley Granger has died, aged 85.
Granger is best known for his roles in Hitchcock’s
Rope and Strangers on
a Train. But he also appeared in many
other – often Italian - cult favourites,
including Senso, Hot
Bed of Sex, So Sweet, So Dead
(later re-edited as the hardcore film Penetration)
and The Man Called Noon.
His extensive TV work included shows such as Wagon
Train, Ironside, Get
Smart, Hawaii 5-O, The
Six Million Dollar Man, The Invisible
Man, Matt Helm and Tales
from the Darkside.
17 2010: Actor Michael Gough has died, aged 94.
mainstream viewers probably know him best as Alfred
in the four Batman films that
started with Tim Burton's movie in 1989, Gough
had a long and interesting career appearing in
cult classics. His first horror film was Hammer's
Dracula in 1958, and from there
he became a genre regular, starring in films like
Horrors of the Black Museum,
What a Carve Up!, Konga,
Phantom of the Opera (also for
Hammer), Black Zoo, Amicus' first
portmanteau film Dr Terror's House of
Horrors, The Skull,
Berserk!, Curse of the
Crimson Altar, Trog,
The Corpse (one of his most impressive
roles), Ken Russell's Savage Messiah,
Horror Hospital, The
Legend of Hell House (a cameo as a corpse!),
Satan's Slave, The Boys from Brazil
career slowed - slightly - after the 1970's, but
he would make appearances - usually in supporting
roles - in bigger films like The Serpent
and the Rainbow and Sleepy Hollow,
as well as the Batman series.
More recently, he did voice work for several animated
03 2010: Actress Maria Schneider has died, aged
remains best known for starring alongside Marlon
Brando in Bertolucci's controversial 1972 film
Last Tango in Paris, aged 19.
She would go on to appear in numerous European
movies, the most famous of which is Antonioni's
notable films include Mama Dracula,
Haine (also starring Klaus Kinski)
and René Clément's Scar
the 1970's, she struggled with drug addiction
and the notoriety of Last Tango,
but nevertheless managed to keep working, her
last film being 2008's Cliente.
world's finest film score composer, John Barry,
has died aged 77.
was responsible for some of the most memorable
film scores ever composed - as well as the best
of the Bond soundtracks, he provided memorable
scores such as the sleazily bombastic music from
Beat Girl, as well as Zulu,
The Ipcress File, Petulia,
Midnight Cowboy, the 1976 King
Kong, Walkabout and
many more - including such oddities as Starcrash,
Bells (aka Murder By
Phone), Howard the Duck
and Game of Death.
music is amongst the most memorable ever recorded,
ranging from the epic to the subtle, and was often
the best part of a movie. prior to his soundtrack
work, he led jazz group The John Barry Seven,
mixing jazz and rock in pioneering style. If you
haven't heard any of their work, check it out.
It's pretty good.
2011 has kicked off with a shocking number of
Pete Poslethwaite died on January 3rd, aged 64.
He had appeared in numerous films and TV shows
and was once described by Steven Spielberg as
"the best actor in the world". His work
included Alien 3, The
Usual Suspects and the remakes of The
Omen and Clash of the Titans.
the same day, actress Anne Francis died, aged
80. Best known for Forbidden Planet
and the TV series Honey West
(pictured), she appeared in many films and TV
shows, including Blackboard Jungle,
The Twilight Zone, The
Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Satan
Bug, Columbo and dozens
bass player Mick Karn died on January 4th aged
52. Japan formed in the mid Seventies but rose
to prominence as one of the more credible synth
pop bands to emerge in the New Romantic era.
same day saw the death of Gerry Rafferty, who
led Stealer's Wheel in the early 1970's before
having a huge hit with Baker Street
as a solo artist in 1978.
author Dick King-Smith died aged 88. His book
The Sheep-Pig became the movie
Borgnine • Damiano Damiani • Stephen
Dwoskin • David R. Ellis • Jon Finch
• Annette Funicello • Bigas Luna •
Richard Lynch • Chris Marker • Nagisa
Oshima • Carlo Rambaldi • Angharad
Rees • Danny Steinmann • Hollie Stevens
• Kirdy Stevens • Eric Sykes •
Gore Vidal • Simon Ward
Kandi Barbour •
David Croft • William Finley • Robert
Fuest • Ben Gazzara • Bill Hinzman
• Bert Jansch • Davy Jones •
Zalman King • Sue Lloyd • Harry Morgan
• Cynthia Myers • Charles Napier •
Barney Rosset • Bert Schneider • Joe
Simon • Don Sharp • Victor Spinetti
• Andrea True • Susan Tyrrell •
Jane Waters •