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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Undertaker & His Pals: Cult Classics & Class Acts

This second entry from the Undertaker's Parlor contains 30 actors, actresses and filmmakers all associated in some way to fantastic cinema. Among those featured here that have passed over into the great beyond have resumes with both high profile movies and the "good stuff". There's also a slew of 60s Sword & Sandal stars and just as many Gorgeous Ladies of the Drive In.

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CHARLES E. SELLIER JR. (November 9th, 1943-January 31st, 2011)

Sellier may likely be most famous (or infamous) for directing the controversial Kris Kringle horror flick, SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT (1984), but there are many who will remember him best for writing the novel 'The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams' as well as adapting it into a movie and television series that starred Dan Haggerty. His other family oriented endeavors are a curious dichotomy when sitting next to his directorial effort of one of the nastiest slasher movies ever made. Sellier also directed the "War Is Hell" exploitationer, THE ANNIHILATORS in 1985. He also produced the obscure cult flick, THE BOOGENS (1981). Sellier died at his home of undisclosed reasons.

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TURA SATANA (July 10th, 1938-February 4th, 2011)

Before becoming a cult icon during her association with Russ Meyer, this striking woman of Japanese-Filipino-Indian-Scottish-Irish descent had already enjoyed a fascinating and event filled life. The exotic and bosomy performer will be best remembered for her dominating role as Varla in Russ Meyers's FASTER, PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL! (1965) and to a lesser extent in Ted V. Mikels's ASTRO ZOMBIES (1968) and the same directors influential, if under the radar THE DOLL SQUAD (1973). Satana passed away in Reno, Nevada from heart failure.

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DAVID F. FRIEDMAN (December 24th, 1923-February 14th, 2011)

Trash peddler and exploitation barker Friedman died from heart failure at age 87 in Anniston, Alabama. Paired with gore guru Herschell Gordon Lewis, this dynamic duo were behind such low budget moneymakers like BLOOD FEAST (1963), TWO THOUSAND MANIACS! (1964) and COLOR ME BLOOD RED (1965). He produced other movies of varying quality including the likes of SHE FREAK (1967) and JOHNNY FIRECLOUD (1974). Friedman hit the goldmine with the controversial ILSA, SHE-WOLF OF THE SS in 1974, a film that caused both a sensation and an uproar mainly for its star, Dyanne Thorne. Nearly everyone else involved with the production used a pseudonym--including Friedman. A pioneer of porn and anything remotely trashy, Friedman is a cult icon in the exploitation arena.

Michael Gough(left) from PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1962)

MICHAEL GOUGH (November 23rd, 1917-March 17th, 2011)

Gough had reportedly been sick for over a year and passed away sometime Thursday the 17th at home with friends and family around him. Gough will always be remembered by his devoted circle of horror fans for a brilliant string of lead antagonists, co-starring roles and supporting bit parts that always added an air of class to even the most daft of drivel. Aside from his often mentioned BATMAN movies, the mention of Gough's name will bring a smile to those who remember him fondly from the likes of HORROR OF DRACULA (1958), KONGA (1961), THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1962), DR. TERROR'S HOUSE OF HORRORS (1965), THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE (1973) and HORROR HOSPITAL (1973). Reportedly, Gough rarely ever discussed his pictures, but some of those listed above would have been far less fun without his contribution. The cause of death was not released, but Gough's memory will live on.

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JAMES ARNESS (May 26th, 1923-June 3rd, 2011)

At 6 foot, 7 inches tall, Arness gave new meaning to "tall in the saddle". He blazed a staggering twenty season trail in the hugely popular western drama series GUNSMOKE which ran from 1955 to 1975 accumulating an unbelievable 635 episodes. Originally, John Wayne was offered the part, but referred his friend, Arness, instead. It was the last western show on television when it was canceled. The show had been threatened with cancellation for an increase in violence, but Arness kept Dodge City in business carving an indefatigable image of Marshall Matt Dillon all those years including a series of GUNSMOKE television movies. His first movie was as the alien visitor in the classic sci fi horror film THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD (1951). He later appeared in a lead role as a good guy in THEM! (1954). Arness was the older brother to Peter Graves. He died at his Los Angeles home of undisclosed reasons. He was 88 years old.

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YVETTE VICKERS (August 26th, 1928-___, 2010)

The death of this former Playboy Playmate of the Month has been one of the most bizarre and disturbingly tragic to come out of Hollywood in quite some time. While the exact date of Vickers death has been difficult to ascertain, she apparently suffered from paranoia resulting in her living much of her life as a recluse having mostly withdrawn from family and friends. Her mummified remains were found on April 27th, 2011 by a concerned neighbor in a home that was in disarray with boxes of letters and junk forming a barricade of sorts. The saddest part is that her corpse went undiscovered for nearly a year. She was 82 years old and among her genre roles were ATTACK OF THE 50FT. WOMAN (1958), ATTACK OF THE GIANT LEECHES (1959) and the BABY JANE style suspense thriller WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH HELEN? (1971). When her body was finally identified, heart failure was the cause of death.

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PAT HINGLE (July 19th, 1924-January 3rd, 2009)

This familiar face from dozens of westerns and action shows was Commissioner Gordon in four BATMAN movies, probably his most identifiable role to modern audiences. Fans more familiar with his other works will remember him just as affectionately from Clint Eastwood's Euro styled US western HANG'EM HIGH (1968), the gritty Roger Corman actioner BLOODY MAMA (1970; with Shelley Winters and Robert DeNiro), THE GAUNTLET (1977), TARANTULAS: THE DEADLY CARGO (1977), John Carpenter's ELVIS (1979; he was Colonel Parker), the psychological Vietnam vet thriller WHEN YOU COMIN' BACK, RED RYDER? (1979), Dirty Harry's SUDDEN IMPACT (1983) and Stephen King's awful MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE (1986). He died of myelodysplasia (a form of blood cancer) at his home in Carolina Beach, NC at the age of 84.

EVELYNE KRAFT (April 11th, 1951-January 13th, 2009)

The blonde bombshell who handled the Great Ape in the Shaw Brothers cult classic THE MIGHTY PEKING MAN (1977) died at her home in Zurich, Switzerland surrounded by her family. The cause was heart failure. In recent years leading up to her death, Kraft had been involved in animal rights and environmental affairs while enjoying a bit of a renassaince with interest in her cult film career. Among these include the giallo THE FRENCH SEX MURDERS (1972), LADY DRACULA (1978) and two movies for Shaw Brothers studio--the aforementioned giant ape fantasy and the hugely successful CHARLIE'S ANGELS clone THE DEADLY ANGELS (1977). This noble and attractive former actress was 57 when she died.

James Whitmore (right) from THEM! (1954)

JAMES WHITMORE (October 1st, 1921-February 6th, 2009)

This award winning actor will be familiar to horror fans from the Giant Bug classic THEM! (1954) where he played one of the lead roles alongside towering James Arness (Whitmore also acted in a number of GUNSMOKE shows). While he acted mostly in television and more high profile affairs, his genre work includes a war themed third season episode of THE TWILIGHT ZONE, PLANET OF THE APES (1968) and the nifty monster movie THE RELIC (1997). He also appeared in the violent Michael Mann western CHATO'S LAND (1972) and the Italian crime sensation HIGH CRIME (1973). Whitmore had been diagnosed with lung cancer in November of 2008 and died a few months later at his Malibu home.

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DOM DELUISE (August 1st, 1933-May 4th, 2009)

This famous, rotund and much beloved funnyman had his hands in just about every aspect of tinsletown. Known predominantly for his comedy roles, love of food, cooking it and writing about it. DeLuise was 75 when he died in hospital from kidney failure resulting from problems that stemmed from diabetes. He was a great friend of both Burt Reynolds and Mel Brooks. Between the two, some of DeLuise's most popular pictures were BLAZING SADDLES (1974), SMOKEY & THE BANDIT (1977), THE CANNONBALL RUN (1981) and HISTORY OF THE WORLD PART 1 (1981). DeLuise was also featured in the awful unintentional bad flick, SEXTETTE (1978), THE MUPPET MOVIE (1979) and HAUNTED HONEYMOON (1986) with Gene Wilder and Gilda Radner.

Ho Meng Hua shooting THE MIGHTY PEKING MAN (1977). Evelyne Kraft at left

HO MENG HUA (____, 1929-May 19th, 2009)

This distinguished and soft spoken Hong Kong director will most likely be best remembered by cult film fans for the historical horror/drama THE FLYING GUILLOTINE (1974), the trashy beyond words trifecta of BLACK MAGIC (1975), BLACK MAGIC 2 (1976) and OILY MANIAC and the rousing monkey business of THE MIGHTY PEKING MAN (1977). However, the earlier half of his career is spotlighted by a gentry of award winning and well made productions including the MONKEY GOES WEST quartet that began in 1966, SUSANNA (1967), VENGEANCE IS A GOLDEN BLADE (1969) and THE LADY HERMIT (1971) among several others. His rape revenge thriller THE KISS OF DEATH (1973) was a breakthrough in exploitation with a touch of class. Despite the mass exposure received the re-release of the Shaw Brothers catalog between 2003 and 2008, Ho's passing wasn't reported till nearly two weeks after his death! The cause is unknown.

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SHEK KIN (January 1st, 1913-June 4th, 2009)

This prolific performer had one of the longest running careers as an actor in Hong Kong cinema that began in the 1940s. Shek had one of the most identifiable of movie faces that was perfect for antagonist roles. This was likely showcased most famously in the international production, ENTER THE DRAGON in 1973. Shek Kin dabbled in duties behind the camera and also did television work amongst his long, illustrious career. He played one of the main bad guys in Cheng Tseng Chai's gory Shaw Brothers picture THE CASINO (1972), the very first HK gambling movie, a subgenre that would find prominence in the coming years. Shek was later recognized by both the HK Film Critics Association and the HK Film Awards for his long and varied career. He died from heart failure due to kidney complications. He was 96 years old.


ROBERTA COLLINS (November 17th, 1944-August 16th, 2008)

This fiery, long legged beauty retains a healthy cult following and a resume that would make any drive in and exploitation lover proud. Her breakout role was in Jack Hill's seminal THE BIG DOLL HOUSE (1971) with Pam Grier and Sid Haig. Both lovely ladies followed that up with another WIP flick, WOMEN IN CAGES (1971). Collins later had lead roles in Corman trash epics such as CAGED HEAT (1974) and the uber classic, DEATH RACE 2000 (1975). THE UNHOLLY ROLLERS (1972) saw her play opposite another grand drive in dame, Claudia Jennings. In between big roles, Collins put in small, but memorable roles as one of the crazed hippies in the TV movie TERROR ON THE BEACH (1973), Jim Brown's sexy secretary in THREE THE HARD WAY (1974), a prostitute in EATEN ALIVE (1976), an hilarious scene as a bumbling blonde attempting to get her license in SPEEDTRAP (1977) and one of the doomed guests in SATURDAY THE 14TH (1981). At first, it was thought her death was a suicide, but it's since been revealed she suffered a heart attack from an accidental overdose of drugs and alcohol. She was 63.

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CARLO PONTI (December 11th, 1912-January 10th, 2007)

While he was a big time producer of such notable productions as BOCCACCIO '70 (1962), DR. ZHIVAGO (1965), BLOW UP (1966) and THE CASSANDRA CROSSING (1976), genre fans will remember him for producing movies like the grim TORSO (1973), the crime caper THE VIOLENT PROFESSIONALS (1973), the nasty FLESH FOR FRANKENSTEIN (1974) and the sex comedy THE SENSUOUS NURSE (1975). Ponti also produced the kung fu western THE STRANGER & THE GUNFIGHTER (1974) with producers Gustave Berne and Run Run Shaw. The film starred Lee Van Cleef and Lo Lieh. Married to the love of his life, the stunning Sophia Loren, Ponti passed away in Geneva, Switzerland of Pulmonary complications. He was 94 years old.

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STUART ROSENBERG (August 11th, 1927-March 15th, 2007)

The director of the critically acclaimed COOL HAND LUKE (1967) had a string of ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS and TWILIGHT ZONE episodes under his belt as well as the 1976 WW2 drama VOYAGE OF THE DAMNED and the Charles Bronson actioner LOVE & BULLETS (1979). That same year, Rosenberg would direct the blockbuster sensation THE AMITYVILLE HORROR for American International Pictures, a studio that was preparing to go major before a string of big budget failures closed that coffin. He died of a heart attack at his home in Beverly Hills.

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FREDDIE FRANCIS (December 22nd, 1917-March 17th, 2007)

This two time Oscar winning cinematographer was also a notable director famous for a string of British horror pictures. The best of these include PARANOIAC (1962), THE SKULL (1965), DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE (1968) and TALES FROM THE CRYPT (1972). He was most proud of his black comedy MUMSY, NANNY, SONNY & GIRLY (1969), a little seen and underappreciated pseudo horror picture. His work as a cameraman include NEVER TAKE SWEETS FROM A STRANGER (1960), THE ELEPHANT MAN (1980), DUNE (1984), GLORY (1989) and CAPE FEAR (1991). He passed away of undisclosed reasons at 89 years of age.

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BOB CLARK (August 5th, 1939-April 4th, 2007)

The director of the classics BLACK CHRISTMAS (1974), PORKY'S (1981) and A CHRISTMAS STORY (1983) was killed in a fiery head on collision around 2:30 am Wednesday, April 4th, 2007 by an illegal immigrant under the influence and with no license. The accident also claimed the life of his 22 year old son, Ariel. Clark was working on multiple movie projects at the time including a remake of his own CHILDREN SHOULDN'T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS (1972). He also helmed the excellent Vietnam War horror film DEATHDREAM (1972), the Jack the Ripper film MURDER BY DECREE (1979) and the comedic misfire RHINESTONE (1984) with Sylvester Stallone and Dolly Parton. Clark was 67 years old.

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BOBBY "BORIS" PICKETT (February 11th, 1938-April 25th, 2007)

The 'Monster Mash' singer, famous for his Boris Karloff impersonation, died of complications from Leukemia. The enduring one hit wonder almost never happened having been rejected by several labels before finding a home on an indy label then finally setting the airwaves on fire in 1962 going to #1 for two weeks. It hit the Billboard charts an additional two times in 1970 and 1973. The lovingly macabre tune has been a Halloween tradition ever since. Pickett also had small roles in movies such as CHROME & HOT LEATHER (1971) and THE DEATHMASTER (1972). Pickett passed away at the West Los Angeles Veterans Hospital surrounded by his daughter and sister.

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GORDON SCOTT (August 3rd, 1926-April 30th, 2007)

This fan favorite headlined two dozen movies predominantly of the Italian fantasy variety spanning muscleman spectacles, spy pictures and spaghetti westerns. He caught a producers eye while working as a life guard in Las Vegas and was hired to play Tarzan in TARZAN'S HIDDEN JUNGLE from 1954. He played the jungle hero in six films finishing his run in 1960. Almost immediately Scott was enticed to Italy by his friend, Steve Reeves to begin a prosperous career in Italian action movies where he put his indomitable physique to good use. Scott's Euro career ran the gamut of virtually every genre trend playing every conceivable type of heroic figure. Some of his notable movies include ROMULUS & REMUS, GOLIATH & THE VAMPIRES (both 1961), HERO OF BABYLON (1963) and HERO OF ROME (1964). Scott also took the lead in the pilot for an aborted Hercules television show, HERCULES & THE PRINCESS OF TROY (1965). Like Steve Reeves, Scott retired from the movie business in the late 1960s, but for reasons unknown. He died in Baltimore, Maryland at Johns Hopkins Hospital from complications following heart surgery. He was 80 years old.

Compton as a Romulan from season three's 'The Enterprise Incident'.

RICHARD COMPTON (March 2nd, 1938-August 11th, 2007)
This actor, writer and director was behind one of the biggest drive in hits ever made, MACON COUNTY LINE (1974). Prior to that, he had minor roles in two episodes from the original STAR TREK series as well as Jack Starrett's RUN, ANGEL, RUN (1969). He then turned to shooting unique drive in fare such as the Corman produced ANGELS DIE HARD (1970), the brutally overlooked WELCOME HOME, SOLDIER BOYS (1972) and the seminal MACON COUNTY movie and its lesser sequel from 1975. Compton also dipped his hand in many TV shows well into the new millennium. Married to actress Veronica Cartwright (ALIEN), Compton passed away at age 69. The cause of death was not released.

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BERNARD L. KOWALSKI (August 2nd, 1929-October 26th, 2007)

Probably best known for his television work (briefly partnered with Sam Peckinpah), Kowalski dabbled in movies including the big budget spectacle of KRAKATOA: EAST OF JAVA (1969), cheap Corman "crap" like ATTACK OF THE GIANT LEECHES (1959) and late night creature features such as SSSSSSS (1973). The cause of death was not made public. Kowalski was 78 years old when he died in Los Angeles.

Reg Park (left) and his acolyte Arnold Schwarzenegger; google images

REG PARK (June 7th, 1928-November 22nd, 2007)

This British bodybuilder was considered one of the top ten weightlifters of all time. He was also the mentor and trainer to Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose own bodybuilding career was built around Reg Park. The two even competed against each other in 1970 with Schwarzenegger beating his idol by a narrow margin. Genre fans will remember the massive man from his days in Italian Sword & Sandal epics starring in five films total--HERCULES IN THE HAUNTED WORLD, HERCULES & THE CAPTIVE WOMEN (both 1961), HERCULES, PRISONER OF EVIL, SAMSON IN KING SOLOMON'S MINES (both 1964) and HERCULES, THE AVENGER (1965). Park was suffering from Metastatic Melanoma (skin cancer) and passed away at age 79 at his home in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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CANDICE RIALSON (December 18th, 1951-March 31st, 2006)

This sensual spit fire lit up the screen during her brief, but highly memorable exploitation journey. Brimming with sexuality onscreen, Rialson unleashed her dominating aura in genre greats with cult trash like PETS, CANDY STRIPE NURSES, SUMMER SCHOOL TEACHERS, MAMA'S DIRTY GIRLS (all 1974), and Corman's autobiographical HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD (1976). She had minor roles on television and other movies both big and small such as Clint Eastwood's THE EIGER SANCTION (1975), Mel Brooks's SILENT MOVIE (1976) and MOONSHINE COUNTY EXPRESS (1977). She retired from the movies in 1980 and started a family, reportedly never regretting her days as an exploitation starlet. What's most depressing is that she was dead for four months before her passing was ever reported via fan sites and forums. She succumbed to the effects of liver disease March 31st, 2006 at just 54 years of age.

Alan Vint (middle) and Jesse Vint (right)

ALAN VINT (November 11th, 1944-August 16th, 2006)

This Oklahoma native had a subtle, if curious flirtation with stardom before abandoning the cinema and later took up working in the theater as one of the founders of the MET Theater in LA. He is the brother of actor, Jesse Vint, the two occasionally appearing in movies together. Vint had roles in the entertaining Claudia Jennings roller derby exploitation flick, UNHOLLY ROLLERS (1972), played a deputy seen towards the end of BADLANDS (1973) conversing with a maniacal Martin Sheen and made a big impact (along with his brother) in the trendsetting MACON COUNTY LINE (1974). Some of his other roles include the titanic disaster picture EARTHQUAKE (1974), the Charles Bronson action comedy thriller BREAKOUT (1975), the Joe Don Baker smash up CHECKERED FLAG OR CRASH (1977) and played Melvin Purvis in the Corman produced THE LADY IN RED (1979). He died of pneumonia in Sherman Oaks, California aged 61.

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LANA CLARKSON (April 5th, 1962-February 3rd, 2003)

Clarkson, a tall, beautiful blonde has likely been seen on television by just about every red blooded American male back in the 1980s in a flurry of spots on popular shows like THREE'S COMPANY, KNIGHT RIDER and THE A TEAM. She found her niche in the Roger Corman produced exploitation classic, DEATHSTALKER (1983). Her role made such an impression, she got her own series entitled BARBARIAN QUEEN (1985). Preparing her big comeback to the industry, Clarkson was dealt a cruel karmic card upon meeting notable, yet eccentric music producer, Phil Spector. On the early morning hours of February 3rd, 2003, both Clarkson and Spector left the House of Blues returning to Spector's mansion. About an hour later, Clarkson was dead after being shot in the mouth with a .38 caliber revolver. After a six year trial, Spector was convicted in April of 2009 of second degree murder. Clarkson has always had a devoted fan base that will likely continue to grow among cult film fans.

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WILLIAM MARSHALL (August 19th, 1924-June 11th, 2003)

This brilliant, physically and vocally imposing performer from Gary, Indiana made a massive imprint on stage, television and in the movies. His incredible voice benefited his stage career as an opera singer and his range was displayed on a classic, racially charged season 5 episode of BONANZA. Marshall menaced James West on season 4 of THE WILD, WILD WEST and put the Enterprise in danger with his 'Ultimate Computer'. Inarguably William Marshall branded his eternal place among the horror ranks with his lead role as BLACULA (1972), an unusual blaxploitation movie from AIP that resulted in a sequel, SCREAM, BLACULA, SCREAM the following year. He also played the priest in the EXORCIST clone, ABBY from 1974. Sadly, whether by choice or otherwise, Marshall never received the level of appreciation and respectability he truly deserved onscreen. He fell ill with Alzheimer's Disease in 1994. A heart attack took his life June 11th in Los Angeles.


GORDON MITCHELL (July 29th, 1923-September 20th, 2003)

The career of Gordon Mitchell was the most prolific of all the American born bodybuilders who traveled to Europe to star in assorted adventure movies. Of the some 200 movies he appeared in, most of them were an exploitation fans dream made up of some of the most incredibly trashy low budget entertainment. He had minor appearances in stuff like MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM (1955), THE TEN COMMANDMENTS (1956) and also the first season TWILIGHT ZONE episode 'The Purple Testament'. Mitchell was also part of the Mae West Revue along with other bodybuilders including Dan Vadis and Reg Lewis. In 1961, Mitchell landed in Italy and immediately began filming MACISTE IN THE LAND OF THE CYCLOPS. With facial features befitting a villain, Mitchell mostly played them the remainder of his career in various genres. He suffered a heart attack in Marina Del Rey, California at 80 years of age.

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STEVE REEVES (January 21st, 1926-May 1st, 2000)

Most probably the most famous bodybuilder of all time, Steve Reeves was an icon of the sport as well as in the movies. He wasn't much of an actor, but his presence made up for what he lacked in thespian skills. Debuting in an Ed Wood film of all things (1954's JAIL BAIT), Reeves would soon catch the eye of Italian producers importing him in 1957 to headline in the fusto classic HERCULES (1957) released the following year in America by Joseph E. Levine. Reeves sustained a severe shoulder injury while shooting THE LAST DAYS OF POMPEII in 1959 which somewhat hindered his movie career. He starred in 14 muscle epics and assorted Italian fantasy films including THE WHITE WARRIOR (1959), MORGAN, THE PIRATE (1960), THE THIEF OF BAGDAD (1961) and two SANDOKAN movies. After retiring from the cinema in 1968, Reeves became a rancher raising horses and promoting bodybuilding up to his death from lymphoma at age 74. He had been diagnosed with the disease just two months prior to passing away at the Palomar Medical Center in Escondido, California. Shortly before his death, he, along with fellow fusto actor, Gordon Mitchell, got to revisit the Italian stomping grounds where many muscleman movies were shot.


DAN VADIS (January 3rd, 1938-June 11th, 1987)

Like many of his colleagues, Vadis served in the military prior to garnering fame in European adventure movies. He was friends with Gordon Mitchell and was among the musclemen of the Mae West Revue. Vadis was unique among the brawny actors that were appearing in these films. He was incredibly athletic for his size and an intimidating presence offscreen. His first peplum was as one of the main villains in the obscure COLOSSUS OF THE ARENA (1962) starring Mark Forest. From there he moved onto playing Ursus in THE REBEL GLADIATOR (1962) and half a dozen more strongman roles followed including a trilogy of popular gladiator pictures that began with THE TEN GLADIATORS (1963). Vadis also did a string of Italian westerns and quickly found himself in a healthy working relationship in a long series of Clint Eastwood vehicles. Vadis returned to the Torch & Toga genre with the hopelessly stupid THE SEVEN MAGNIFICENT GLADIATORS (1983) lacking much of the muscle he had in his earlier career. Apparently into drugs, Vadis was found dead in a car out in the California desert from a drug overdose that was later deemed accidental.


CLAUDIA JENNINGS (December 20th, 1949-October 3rd, 1979)

The short, yet spunky and tough California gal had an irrepressible sexiness about her that resonated in all her movies. A former Playboy Playmate of the Year, Jennings made a smooth transition into drive in movies that ultimately led to a rocky road in her personal life. She tore up the screen in the roller derby flick, THE UNHOLY ROLLERS (1972), the sex comedy GROUP MARRIAGE (1973), the brothel road movie TRUCK STOP WOMEN (1974) and the bayou revenge flick GATOR BAIT (1974). She played the hot, free spirited bank robber before THELMA & LOUISE in THE GREAT TEXAS DYNAMITE CHASE (1976), fought alongside and made "union" with David Carradine in DEATHSPORT (1976) and played a shotgun blastin' backwoods avenger in MOONSHINE COUNTY EXPRESS (1977). Reportedly, Jennings got heavily into drugs amidst other personal problems. Losing out for Kate Jackson's replacement on CHARLIE'S ANGELS, she was about to turn her life around when she was struck and killed in a head on collision after having fell asleep at the wheel. She was 29 years old. Jennings was the subject of an E! TRUE HOLLYWOOD STORY episode back in 2000.



Franco Macabro said...

I remember Dom Deluise the most from his participation in Haunted Honeymoon, which is an old favorite of mine. I love Gene Wilder and Gilda Radner, the combo is a good one. They were great together. That movie is spooky old fashion fun. Dom Deluise makes it funnier!

Freddie Francis was one of my favorite Hammer directors because he put his knowledge of cinematography and color into his films, if you look at his Dracula films closely, they are some of the most beautiful looking of the Hammer Draculas, a lot has to do with the colors he used.

Great post man!

venoms5 said...

Dom definitely made whatever movie he was in better, whether he had a big role or a small one!

And Freddie Francis was simply amazing. As a kid seeing DUNE in the theater when his name came up I got all goofy-fied remembering him from the old Hammer movies.

Franco Macabro said...

My favorite looking of his films is the one you mentioned on your article Dracula Has Risen from the Grave, that film has some of the most beautiful visuals in the whole series because of the colors that Francis used on the film, they added to the beauty and eerieness of the picture.

He was also responsible for directing two of the creepiest Hammer black and white films that were trying to copy Hitchcock's style and succeeded: Nightmare and Paranoiac, highly recommend those two! The black and whites are beautiful on that one, same as Bava, Francis new how to make visuals beautiful no matter if he was working in color or black and white.

venoms5 said...

PARANOIAC is a good one. Oliver Reed being in it certainly doesn't hurt! I think I have NIGHTMARE as well. Not seen it, though.

Shaun Anderson [The Celluloid Highway] said...

Another great Freddie Francis film is MUMSY, NANNY, SONNY and GIRLY. This is probably his best film, one in which the off kilter and bizarre narrative is the equal to his usual visual flourishes. In second place I'd nominate THE SKULL. It's a shame he made so many horror films with Amicus, a company that were never able to provide a culture for inspiration.

venoms5 said...

Oh, I did give mention to both of those as well as highlighting the link to the GIRLY review here. Good film that one, but not for all tastes, I'd say. Since it hit DVD it still doesn't seem to have found an audience.

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