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Monday, December 14, 2009

Assorted Bits & Pieces: 2 Recent Departures From Italy & Hong Kong

With the passing of Paul Naschy earlier this month, only a few days prior, European cinema lost another luminary.

This pic and the next: RETURN OF THE BLIND DEAD (1973) aka ATTACK OF THE BLIND DEAD

Tony Kendall (real name, Luciano Stella), the star of several dozen Euro cult films of varying genres passed away November 28th in a Rome hospital. Although he didn't have the following other performers did outside their native land, Kendall is still a recognizable face in Spanish horror films. Possibly his most notable performance in horror would be as the protagonist in Amando De Ossorio's excellent sequel to his own TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD (1971), ATTACK OF THE BLIND DEAD (1973). He also featured in Ossorio's THE LORELEI'S GRASP (1974) as well as the Paul Naschy horror flick, THE PEOPLE WHO OWN THE DARK (1976).

Kendall also starred in a successful string of Italian spy pictures as well as some Euro westerns such as the awful BROTHER OUTLAW and DJANGO AGAINST SARTANA (both 1970). Earlier in the 1960's, Kendall appeared opposite former peplum star, Brad Harris, in several western films such as PIRATES OF THE MISSISSIPPI (1963). These mimicked the style of the wonderful Karl May German westerns such as TREASURE OF SILVER LAKE (1962) and WINNETOU, THE WARRIOR (1963). Kendall also starred in an Italian clone of KING KONG entitled YETI, GIANT OF THE 20TH CENTURY (1977).

On the opposite end of the spectrum, one of Hong Kong's most notable bad guys passed away recently.

Chen Hung Lieh in the violent and bloody Wuxia tale from respected director, Yueh Feng, A TASTE OF COLD STEEL (1970)

Chen Hung Lieh, the star and co-star of many late 60's and early 70's Shaw Brothers productions died on November 24th while shooting a television program for the TVB network in Hong Kong. Chen, like so many HK actors, went through the Shaw's training course and began acting in movies in the mid 1960's with roles such as THE TWIN SWORDS and TEMPLE OF THE RED LOTUS (both 1965). His first notable part came as one of the main villains in the seminal King Hu movie, COME DRINK WITH ME in 1966.

From there, Chen played many bad guys in swordplay dramas such as THE RAPE OF THE SWORD (1967), DEATH VALLEY and TWIN BLADES OF DOOM (both 1968). He did play a good guy in THE WINGED TIGER (released 1970). Being a protagonist didn't suit Chen as his face was perfect for conniving villainy. He took on more bad guy parts such as A TASTE OF COLD STEEL (1970) and the wuxia fantasy/horror hybrid, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE (1971). He left the Shaw's in 1971 and did a slew of independent action films such as a memorable turn as 'One Man Army' in the delightfully absurd, colorful and bloody swordplay film FEARLESS FIGHTERS (1973). His roles in both Chang Cheh's avant garde tragedy DEAD END (1969) and Chu Yuan's THE VILLAINS (1973) are also notable.


I Like Horror Movies said...

Im only vaguely familiar with either of these guys, but with the list growing dramatically in 2009 it seems that our era of filmmakers is drawing to a close..

venoms5 said...

Yea, both those in front of, and behind the camera have been dropping like flies as of late.

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