Reviews, articles, rants & ramblings on the darker side of the media fringe

Biography

Kitty Winn

Kitty-Winn_BannerKitty Winn (born February 21, 1943) is an award-winning American Actress. Katherine Tupper (“Kitty”) Winn was born in Washington, D.C. As the daughter of an army officer she traveled widely during much of her childhood, including, time spent in United States, England, Germany, China, India and Japan.

panic_in_needle_park_PosterHer career has spanned a wide range of drama productions on stage, in motion pictures and on television. She studied acting at Centenary Junior College and Boston University, graduating from the latter in 1966. During her college years Winn acted in student productions at Centenary Junior College, Boston University, and Harvard College and summer stock for two summers at The Priscilla Beach Theatre south of Boston. Shortly after college she joined the company at American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco where she remained for four years.

Panic-in-Needle-Park_Kitty-Winn_Al-Pacino_BTSIn the fall of 1970 Kitty left American Conservatory Theater to play opposite Al Pacino in the film ‘Panic in Needle Park’ for which she won the Best Actress award at the 1971 Cannes Film Festival. The film portrays life among a group of heroin addicts who hang out in “Needle Park” (the nicknames of Verdi Square and Sherman Square on New York’s Upper West Side near 72nd Street and Broadway). The film is a love story between Bobby (Pacino), a young addict and small-time hustler, and Helen (Kitty Winn), a restless woman who finds Bobby charismatic. She becomes an addict, and life goes downhill for them both as their addictions worsen, eventually leading to a series of betrayals.

Kitty-Winn_The-ExorcistTo set the atmosphere, no music was used in the film, much of which features cinéma vérité-style footage. It is believed to be the first mainstream film to feature actual drug injection.

Although she went on to do several more films, such as ‘The Exorcist’, she always returned to her great love, the theatre. In The Exorcist, Kitty played Sharon Spencer, movie actress Chris McNeil’s friend and personal assistant who acts as Regan’s tutor.

The Exorcist_Kitty WinnKitty co-starred in Peeper (1975) with Michael Caine, before returning to the role of Sharon in the Exorcist sequel, Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977).

Kitty retired in 1978 but returned to play Cordelia in “The Tragedy of King Lear” for KCET in 1983. She did not return to the stage again until 2011 when she played the lead in “The Last Romance” at the San Jose Repertory Theatre. For this performance she was nominated for a best actress award by the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle.


John Barrymore

John-Barrymore_Banner_HeaderJohn Sidney Blyth (February 15, 1882 – May 29, 1942), better known as John Barrymore, was an American actor of stage and screen. He first gained fame as a handsome stage actor in light comedy, then high drama and culminating in groundbreaking portrayals in Shakespearean plays Hamlet and Richard III. His success continued with motion pictures in various genres in both the silent and sound eras. Barrymore’s personal life has been the subject of much writing before and since his death in 1942.

John-Barrymore_Dr. Jekyll and Mr. HydeA member of a multi-generation theatrical dynasty, he was the brother of Lionel Barrymore and Ethel Barrymore, and was the paternal grandfather of Drew Barrymore. Barrymore delivered some of the most critically acclaimed performances in theatre and film history and was widely regarded as the screen’s greatest performer during a movie career spanning 25 years as a leading man in more than 60 films.

Barrymore entered films around 1913 with the feature An American Citizen. He or someone using the name Jack Barrymore is given credit for four short films made in 1912 and 1913, but this has not been proven to be John Barrymore. Barrymore was most likely convinced into giving films a try out of economic necessity and the fact that he hated touring a play all over the United States. He could make a couple of movies in the off-season theater months or shoot a film in one part of a day while doing a play in another part. He also may have been goaded into films by his brother Lionel and his uncle Sidney, who had both been successfully making movies for a couple of years. Some of Barrymore’s silent film films included Dr, Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920), Sherlock Holmes (1922), Beau Brummel (1924), played Captain Ahab in The Sea Beast (1926), and Don Juan (1926).

Poster - Dr_ Jekyll and Mr_ HydeWhen talking pictures arrived, Barrymore’s stage-trained voice added a new dimension to his screen work. He made his talkie debut with a dramatic reading of the big Duke of Gloucester speech from Henry VI, part 3 in Warner Brothers’ musical revue The Show of Shows (“Would they were wasted: marrow, bones and all”), and reprised his Captain Ahab role in Moby Dick (1930). His other leads included Svengali (1931), The Mad Genius (1931), Grand Hotel (1932), Dinner at Eight (1933) and Twentieth Century (1934). He worked opposite many of the screen’s foremost leading ladies, including Greta Garbo, Katherine Hepburn, Jean Harlow, Joan Crawford and Carole Lombard.

Barrymore collapsed while appearing on Rudy Vallee’s radio show and died in his hospital room, May 29, 1942. His dying words were “Die? I should say not, dear fellow. No Barrymore would allow such a conventional thing to happen to him.”

John-Barrymore_W.C.FieldsAccording to Errol Flynn’s memoirs, film director Raoul Walsh “borrowed” Barrymore’s body before burial, and left his corpse propped in a chair for a drunken Flynn to discover when he returned home from The Cock and Bull Bar. This was re-created in the movie W.C. Fields and Me. Other accounts of this classic Hollywood tale substitute actor Peter Lorre in the place of Walsh, but Walsh himself tells the story in Richard Schickel’s 1973 documentary The Men Who Made the Movies. However, Barrymore’s great friend Gene Fowler denied the story, stating that he and his son held vigil over the body at the funeral home until the funeral and burial.

He was buried in East Los Angeles, at Calvary Cemetery, on June 2. Surviving family members in attendance were his brother Lionel and his daughter Diana. Ex wife Elaine also attended. Among his pallbearers were Hollywood Legends W.C. Fields, Louis B. Mayer and David O. Selznick. Years later, Barrymore’s son John had the body reinterred at Philadelphia’s Mount Vernon Cemetery.


Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee_BannerBruce Lee (born Lee Jun-fan; 27 November 1940 – 20 July 1973) was a Chinese American actor, martial arts instructor, philosopher, film director, film producer, screenwriter, and founder of the Jeet Kune Do martial arts movement. He is widely considered by many commentators, critics, media and other martial artists to be the most influential martial artist, and a cultural icon.

bruce-lee_enter the dragonLee was born in San Francisco to parents of Hong Kong heritage but was raised in Hong Kong until his late teens. It was in Hong Kong where the largest influence on Lee’s martial arts development was his study of Wing Chun. Lee began training in Wing Chun at the age of 13 under the Wing Chun teacher Yip Man in 1954, after losing a fight with rival gang members. Yip’s regular classes generally consisted of the forms practice, chi sao (sticking hands) drills, wooden dummy techniques, and free-sparring. There was no set pattern to the classes. Yip tried to keep his students from fighting in the street gangs of Hong Kong by encouraging them to fight in organized competitions.

enter_the_dragon_poster_005After a year into his Wing Chun training, most of Yip Man’s other students refused to train with Lee after they learnt of his ancestry (his mother was half Chinese and half Caucasian) as the Chinese generally were against teaching their martial arts techniques to non-Asians. Lee’s sparring partner, Hawkins Cheung states, “Probably fewer than six people in the whole Wing Chun clan were personally taught, or even partly taught, by Yip Man”. However, Lee showed a keen interest in Wing Chun, and continued to train privately with Yip Man and Wong Shun Leung in 1955.

Lee emigrated to the United States at the age of 18 to claim his U.S. citizenship and receive his higher education. It was during this time that he began teaching martial arts, which soon led to film and television roles.

Bruce Lee_Game of Death_posterHis Hong Kong and Hollywood-produced films elevated the traditional Hong Kong martial arts film to a new level of popularity and acclaim and influenced martial arts and martial arts films in Hong Kong and the rest of the world. He is noted for his roles in five feature-length films: Lo Wei’s The Big Boss (1971) and Fist of Fury (1972); Way of the Dragon (1972), directed and written by Lee; Warner Brothers’ Enter the Dragon (1973), directed by Robert Clouse; and Game of Death (1978), directed by Robert Clouse. Extended articles on each of these movies will appear here at a later date.

Lee became an iconic figure known throughout the world. Although he initially trained in Wing Chun, he later rejected well-defined martial art styles, favouring instead to use techniques from various sources in the spirit of his personal martial arts philosophy, which he dubbed Jeet Kune Do (The Way of the Intercepting Fist).

On 10 May 1973, Lee collapsed in Golden Harvest studios while doing dubbing work for the movie Enter the Dragon. Suffering from seizures and headaches, he was immediately rushed to Hong Kong Baptist Hospital where doctors diagnosed cerebral edema. They were able to reduce the swelling.

bruce-lee_game of deathOn 20 July 1973, Lee was in Hong Kong, to have dinner with George Lazenby, with whom he intended to make a film. According to Lee’s wife Linda, Lee met producer Raymond Chow at 2 pm at home to discuss the film Game of Death.  Lee later complained of a headache, and actress Betty Lee Ting gave him an analgesic (painkiller), he went for a nap and never woke up. He died later that day in Kowloon Tong, he was only 32.


Mercedes McCambridge

The Exorcist_Mercedes McCambridgeCarlotta Mercedes McCambridge (March 16, 1916 – March 2, 2004) was an Academy Award-winning and Golden Globe-winning American actress. Orson Welles called her “the world’s greatest living radio actress.”

McCambridge was born in Joliet, Illinois, the daughter of parents Marie and John Patrick McCambridge. She graduated from Mundelin College in Chicago. She began her career as a radio actor during the 1940′s while also performing on Broadway.

Her Hollywood break came when she was cast opposite Broderick Crawford in All the King’s Men (1949). McCambridge won the 1949 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role, while the film won Best Picture for that year. McCambridge also won the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress and New Star of the Year – Actress for her performance.

In 1954, the actress co-starred with Joan Crawford and Sterling Hayden in the offbeat western drama, Johnny Guitar, now regarded as a cult classic. McCambridge and Hayden publicly declared their dislike of Crawford, with McCambridge labeling the film’s star “a mean, tipsy, powerful, rotten-egg lady.”

McCambridge played the supporting role of ‘Luz’ in the George Stevens epic, Giant (1956), which starred Elizabeth Taylor, and James Dean in his last role. In 1959, McCambridge appeared opposite Katherine Hepburn, Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor in Joseph L. Mankiewicz’ film adaptation of Tennessee Williams’ Suddenly Last Summer. 

Of more interest to casual readers of this site, McCambridge provided the dubbed voice of the demonically possessed child Regan in The Exorcistacted by Linda Blair. McCambridge was promised a screen credit for the film’s initial release, but she discovered at the premiere that her name was absent. Her dispute with director William Friedkin and Warner Bros. over her exclusion ended when, with the help of the Screen Actors Guild, she was properly credited for her vocal work in the film.

In the 1970′s, she toured in a road company production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof as Big Mama, opposite John Carradine as Big Daddy. She appeared as a guest artist in college productions such as El Centro College’s 1979 The Mousetrap, in which she received top billing despite her character being murdered less than 15 minutes into the play.

In the mid-1970′s, McCambridge briefly took a position as director of Livingrin, a Pennsylvania rehabilitation center for alcoholics. She was at the same time putting the finishing touches on her soon-to-be released autobiography, The Quality of Mercy: An Autobiography (Times Books, 1981).

McCambridge died on March 2, 2004 in La Jolla, California, of natural causes.


René Goscinny

Asterix_ReneGoscinny_BannerRené Goscinny (14 August 1926 – 5 November 1977) was an award-winning French comics editor and writer, who is best known for the comic-book Astérix, which he created with illustrator Albert Uderzo.

Goscinny was born in Paris in 1926, to a family of Jewish immigrants from Poland. The Gościnnys moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina, two years after René’s birth, as  Stanisław had obtained there. He spent a happy childhood in Buenos Aires, and studied in the French schools. He started drawing very early on, inspired by the illustrated stories which he enjoyed reading.

Goscinny_Match CoverIn December 1943, the year after he graduated from school, 17 year old Goscinny’s father died, forcing him to find a job. The next year, he got his first job, as an assistant accountant in a tire recovery factory, and when he was laid off the following year, he became a junior illustrator in an advertising agency.

Goscinny, along with his mother, left Argentina and went to New York in 1945, to join their uncle Boris. To avoid service in the US military, he travelled to France to join the French Army in 1946. He served at Aubagne, in the 141st Alpine Infantry Battalion. Promoted to senior corporal, he became the appointed illustrator of the regiment and drew illustrations and posters for the army.

The following year, he illustrated the book The Girl with The Eyes of Gold and returned to New York. By 1948, he started working in a small studio where he met and became friends with future Mad alumni Will Elder, Jack Davis and Harvey Kurtzman. Goscinny then became art director at Kunen Publishers where he wrote four books for children. Around this time he met Joseph Gillain, better known as Jijé, and Maurice de Bevere aka Morris, the cartoonist and author of the series Lucky Luke (which Goscinny would write from 1955 to his death in 1977).

Asterix_Goscinny and UderzoAlso, he met Georges Troisfontaines, chief of the World Press agency, who convinced Goscinny to return to Paris and work for his agency as the head of Paris office in 1951. Here, he met Albert Uderzo, with whom he started a longtime cooperation. They started out with some work for Bonnes Soirées, a female magazine for which Goscinny wrote Sylvie. Goscinny and Uderzo also launched the series Jehan Pistolet and Luc Junior in La Libre Junior.

In 1955, Goscinny, accompanied by Jean-Michel Charlier, Albert Uderzo and Jean Hébrad, founded the syndicate Edipress/Edifrance. The syndicate launched publications like Clairon for the factory union and Pistolin for a chocolate company. Goscinny and Uderzo cooperated on the series Bill Blanchartin Jeannot, Pistolet in Pistolin and Benjamin et Benjamine in the magazine of the same name. Under the pseudonym Agostini, Goscinny wrote Le Petit Nicolas for Jean-Jacques Sempé in Le Moustique and later Sud-Ouest and Pilote.

In 1956, Goscinny began a collaboration with the magazine Tintin. He worked on Signor Spaghetti, Monsieur TricPrudence Petitpas, Globul le Martien, AlphonseStrapontin and Modeste et Pompon. An early creation with Uderzo, Oumpah-pah, was also adapted for serial publication inTintin from 1958-1962. In addition, Goscinny appeared in the magazines Paris-Flirt (Lili Manequin with Will) and Vaillant (Boniface et Anatole with Jordom, Pipsi with Godard).

Asterix_GoscinnyIn 1959, the Édifrance/Édipresse syndicate started the comics magazine Pilote. Goscinny became one of the most productive writers for the magazine. In the magazine’s first issue, he launched his most famous creation Astérix, with Uderzo. This series was an instant hit and is now known worldwide. Goscinny also restarted the series Le Petit Nicolas and Jehan Pistolet, now called Jehan Soupolet. Goscinny also began Jacquot le Mousse and Tromblon et Bottaclou with Godard.

The magazine was bought out in 1960, and Goscinny became editor-in-chief. He also began new series like Les Divagations de Monsieur Sait-ToutLa Potachologie IllustréeLes Dingodossiers, and La Forêt de Chênebeau. He launched Calife Haroun El Poussah in Record, a series that was later continued in Pilote as Iznogoud.

Goscinny died at 51, in Paris of cardiac arrest on 5 November 1977, during a stress test at his doctor’s office. He was buried in the Jewish Cemetery of Nice. In accordance with his will, most of his money was transferred to the chief rabbinate of France.


Christian Bale – Part 2

Christian Bale_movie banner_2In 2004, after completing filming for The Machinist, Bale won the coveted role of Batman and his alter ego Bruce Wayne in Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins, a reboot of the Batman film series.

public_enemies_poster_02Still fresh off The Machinist, it became necessary for Bale to bulk up to match Batman’s muscular physique. He was given a deadline of six months to do this. Bale recalled it as far from a simple accomplishment: “…when it actually came to building muscle, I was useless. I couldn’t do one push up the first day. All of the muscles were gone, so I had a real tough time rebuilding all of that.” With the help of a personal trainer, Bale succeeded in meeting the deadline, gaining a total of 100 lb (45 kg) in six months. He went from about 130 lbs to 230 lbs. He then discovered that he had actually gained more weight than the director desired, and dropped his weight to 190 lbs by the time filming began.

Bale had initial concerns about playing Batman, as he felt more ridiculous than intimidating in the Batsuit, he dealt with this by depicting Batman as a savage beast. To attain a deeper understanding of the character, Bale read various Batman comic books. He explained his interpretation of the young boy: “Batman is his hidden, demonic rage-filled side. The creature Batman creates is an absolutely sincere creature and one that he has to control but does so in a very haphazard way. He’s capable of enacting violence — and to kill — so he’s constantly having to rein himself in.” For Bale, the most gruelling part about playing Batman was the suit. “You stick it on, you get hot, you sweat and you get a headache in the mask,” he said. “But I’m not going to bitch about it because I get to play Batman.” When promoting the film in interviews and public events, Bale retained an American accent to avoid confusion.

batman-the-dark-knight-trilogy-2012-wallpaper-for-1440x900-widescreen-8-66Batman Begins was released in the U.S. on 15 June 2005 and was a U.S. and international triumph for Warner Bros., costing approximately US$135 million to produce and taking in over US$370 million in returns worldwide. Bale earned the Best Hero award at the 2006 MTV Movie Awards for his performance.

Bale reprised his role as Batman in Nolan’s Batman Begins sequel The Dark Knight. He trained in the Kevsi Fighting Method, and performed many of his own stunts. The Dark Knight was released in the U.S. on 18 July 2008 and stormed through the box office, with a record-breaking $158.4 million in the U.S. in its first weekend. It broke the $300 million barrier in 10 days, the $400 million mark in 18 days and the $500 million mark in 43 days, three new U.S. box office records set by the film. The film went on to gross over $1 billion at the box office worldwide, making it the fourth-highest grossing movie worldwide of all time, before adjusting for inflation.

The Dark Knight Rises_Batman_posterBale reprised his Batman role in The Dark Knight Rises released on 20 July 2012, making Bale the actor who has played Batman the most times in feature film. Bale has given the same opinion as Nolan that, if the latter was forced to bring Robin into the films, he would never again play Batman; even though one of his favorite Batman stories, Batman: Dark Victory, focuses on Robin’s origin.

In 2006, Bale took on four projects: Rescue Dawn, by German film maker Werner Herzog, had him playing U.S. Fighter pilot Dieter Dengler, who has to fight for his life after being shot down while on a mission during the Vietnam War. Bale left a strong impression on Herzog, with the director complimenting his acting abilities: “I find him one of the greatest talents of his generation. We made up our own minds long before he did Batman.

batman_the_dark_knight_rises-wideIn The Prestige, an adaptation of the Christopher Priest novel about a rivalry between two Victorian stage magicians, Bale was reunited with Batman BeginsMichael Caine and director Christopher Nolan. The cast of The Prestige also included Hugh Jackman, Scarlett Johansson, and David Bowie. I’m Not There, a film in which Bale again worked alongside Todd Haynes and Heath Ledger (who would go on to play The Joker in The Dark Knight), is an artistic reflection of the life of Bob Dylan. He starred opposite Russell Crowe in a commercially and critically successful Western film, 3:10 to Yuma. Bale played John Connor in Terminator Salvation and FBI agent Melvin Purvis in Michael Mann’s Public Enemies. 

In 2010, Bale portrayed Dicky Eklund in the biopic The Fighter. He received critical acclaim for his role and won several awards, including the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor and the Screen Actor’s Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role.


Christian Bale – Part 1

Christian Bale_movie banner_1Christian Charles Philip Bale (born 30 January 1974) is an English actor. Best known for his roles in American films, Bale has starred in both big budget Hollywood films and the smaller projects from independent producers and art houses.

Christian_BaleBale first caught the public eye at the age of 13, when he was cast in the starring role of Steven Spielberg’s film version of the J. G. Ballard novel Empire of the Sun (1987). He played an English boy who is separated from his parents and subsequently finds himself lost in a Japanese internment camp during World War II.

The attention the press and his schoolmates lavished upon him after this took a toll on Bale, and he contemplated giving up acting until Kenneth Branagh approached him and persuaded him to appear in Henry V in 1989. In 1990, he played the role of Jim Hawkins opposite Charlton Heston (as Long John Silver) in Treasure Island, an adaptation of the classic book by Robert Louis Stephenson.

Bale was recommended by actress Winona Ryder to star in Gillian Armstrong’s 1994 film Little Women; he provided the voice for Thomas, a young compatriot of Captain John Smith, in Disney’s Pocahontas (1995) and in 1997 played Arthur Stuart in Velvet Goldmone, Todd Hayne’s tribute to 70′s glam rock.

Empire of the Sun_Christian Bale_Steven SpielbergIn 1999, Bale played serial killer Patrick Bateman in American Psycho, director Mary Harron’s adaptation of the controversial novel by Bret Easton Ellis. Bale was briefly dropped from the project in favour of Leonardo DiCaprio, but DiCaprio eventually dropped out to star in The Beach, and Bale was cast once again. He researched his character by studying the novel and prepared himself physically for the role by spending months tanning and exercising in order to achieve the “Olympian physique” of the character as described in the original novel. He went so far as to distance himself from the cast and crew to maintain the darker side of Bateman’s character. American Psycho premiered at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival to much controversy. Roger Ebert condemned the film at first, calling it pornography, and “the most loathed film at Sundance,” but gave it a favourable review, writing that Harron “transformed a novel about bloodlust into a movie about men’s vanity.” Of Bale’s performance, he wrote, “Christian Bale is heroic in the way he allows the character to leap joyfully into despicability; there is no instinct for self-preservation here, and that is one mark of a good actor.”

christian_bale_american_psychoOn 14 April 2000, Lions Gate Films released American Psycho in theatres. Bale was later approached to make a cameo appearance in another Bret Easton Ellis adaptation, The Rules of Attraction, a film loosely connected to American Psycho, but he declined out of loyalty to Harron’s vision of Bateman, which he felt could not be properly expressed by anyone else. In 2000, he again played a wealthy murderer, this time in John Singleton’s remake of Shaft. 

Equilibrium was Bale’s third film of 2002, costing US$20 million to produce but earning just over US$5 million worldwide. In Equilibrium, Bale played John Preston, an elite law enforcer in a dystopian society. Equilibrium featured a fictional martial art called Gun Kata that combined gunfighting with hand-to-hand combat. According to moviebodycounts.com, the character of John Preston has the third most on-screen kills in a single movie ever with 118, exactly half of the movie’s total of 236.

Christian Bale_American PsychoAfter a year’s hiatus, Bale returned in 2004 to play Trevor Reznik, the title character in the psychological thriller The Machinist. Bale gained attention for his devotion to the role and for the lengths to which he went to achieve Reznik’s emaciated, skeletal appearance. He went without proper rest for prolonged periods, and placed himself on a crash diet of generally coffee and apples, which reduced his weight by 63 pounds (4 st 4 lb/27 kg) in a matter of months. By the end of filming Bale weighed only 121 pounds (8 st 9 lb/55 kg), a transformation he described as “very calming mentally” and which drew comparisons to Robert De Niro’s weight-gaining for his role as Jake LaMotta in the 1980 film Raging Bull. Bale claimed that he had not worked for a period of time before he was cast in the film. ” I just hadn’t found scripts that I’d really been interested in. So I was really dying for something to arrive. Then when this one did, I just didn’t want to put it down. I finished it and, upon the kind of revelation that you get at the end, I immediately wanted to go back and re-visit it, to take a look at what clues I could have gotten throughout”. The Machinist was a low-budget production, costing roughly US$5 million to produce, and was given only a limited US release.

Bale, an admirer of Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, was then cast as the voice of the title character, Howl, in the English language dud of the Japanese director’s fantasy anime adventure Howls’ Moving Castle, an adaptation of Diana Wynne Jones’ novel. Its gross in the US was US$4,711,096, a fraction of its worldwide gross (US$235,184,110).


Eileen Dietz

Eileen Dietz_Pazuzu_The ExorcistEileen Dietz (born January 11, 1945, Bayside, New York) is an American actress who is best known for her appearances in many horror films such as the face of the demon in The Exorcist and for her portrayal of characters on the soap operas Guiding Light and General Hospital. 

Exorcising My Demons_Eileen DietzAs a child, Dietz appeared in commercials with her twin sister Marianne, and beginning at the age of 12 she started studying acting at the Neighborhood Playhouse. She made her television debut in 1963 in a small guest role on The Doctors. Shortly thereafter she landed a recurring role on the soap opera Love of Life. She made her film debut starring in the 1966 movie Teenage Gang Debs as Ellie. The following year she portrayed Penny Wohl in the critically acclaimed independent film Holzman’s Diary. The film never got much in the way of theatrical distribution despite having Dietz’s nude scene featured in Life Magazine’s photo spread and in the book of the film. She didn’t recall if she auditioned for the role of Penny but she added, “it was a fun shoot.”

Eileen Dietz_The ExorcistDietz spent much of the late 1960′s and early 1970′s appearing in theatre productions. In 1972, she portrayed an androgynous runaway in the premiere of Joyce Carol Oates’ Ontological Proof of My Existence. Her portrayal in the play led to an invitation to do a screen test for William Friedkin film The Exorcist. She was cast in two memorable roles in the film: The Demon (better known as The Face of Death), for this role, Dietz actually only appeared on film for 8–10 seconds; and the ‘Possessed Regan’ (the Linda Blair character). In The Exorcist Pazuzu appears as a demon who possesses Regan McNeil; Pazuzu a fictional character and the main antagonist in The Exorcist novels and film series created by William Peter Blatty. Blatty derived the character from Assyrian and Babylonian mythology, where Pazuzu was considered the king of the demons and of the wind, and the son of the god Hanbi.

exorcist-original-posterAfter The Exorcist, Dietz had a highly active career on television during the 1970′s, appearing as a guest star on such shows as Planet of the Apes, Korg: 70,000 B.C. and Happy Days among others.

In 1980, Dietz joined the cast of General Hospital as Sarah Abbott, a role she played for several years. She also appeared as a guest star on Trapper John, M.D. (1982) and in the horror film Freeway Maniac (1989). More recent film credits include Naked in the Cold Sun (1997), Hurricane Festival (1997), Bad Guys (2000), Exorcism (2003), The Mojo Cafe (2004), Neighborhood Watch (2005), Constantine (2005), Karla (2006), Creepshow III (2006), Dog Lover’s Symphony (2006), and Tracing Cowboys (2008).

The Exorcist_Dick Smith_Eileen Dietz2009 was a very busy year for Dietz. She had several films coming out, including Stingy Jack, H2: Halloween 2, See How They RunThe Queen of Screams (2009), ButterflySecond Coming of Mary,Legend of the Mountain Witch, and Monsterpiece Theatre Volume 1.


John Boorman

John Boorman_movie bannerJohn Boorman (born 18 January 1933) is a British filmmaker who is a long time resident of Ireland and is best known for his feature films such as Point Blank, Deliverance, Zardoz, Excalibur, The Emerald Forest, Hope and Glory, The General and The Tailor of Panama.

John BoormanBoorman first began by working as a dry cleaner and journalist in the late 1950s. He ran the newsrooms at Southern Television in Southampton and Dover before moving into TV documentary filmmaking, eventually becoming the head of the BBC’s Bristol-based Documentary Unit in 1962.

His feature debut was Catch Us If You Can (1965), about competing pop group Dave Clark Five, a rip-off of Richard Lester’s ‘A Hard Days Night’. Boorman was drawn to Hollywood for the opportunity to make larger-scale cinema and in Point Blank (1967), a gritty, powerful and brutal film, he brought a stranger’s vision to the decaying fortress of Alcatraz and the proto-hippy world of San Francisco. Lee Marvin gave the then-unknown director his full support, telling MGM he deferred all his approvals on the project to Boorman.

Deliverance_poster_1After Point Blank, Boorman re-teamed with Lee Marvin and Toshiro Mifune for Hell in the Pacific (1968), which tells a fable story of two representative soldiers stranded together on an island. Returning to the UK, he made Leo the Last (US/UK, 1970). The film won him a Best Director award at Cannes.

Boorman achieved much greater resonance with Deliverance (1972), the odyssey of city people played by Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds, Ronny Cox and Ned Beatty as they trespass into the Appalachian backwoods and discover their inner savagery. This film became Boorman’s first true box office success, earning him several award nominations. He followed with the cult film Zardoz (1973), starring Sean Connery, a post-apocalyptic sci-fi piece, set in the 24th century.

Exorcist II The Heretic_posterBoorman was selected as director for Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977), but the resultant film was widely ridiculed and regarded by many as a failure. The film is set four years after The Exorcist, and centers on a now 16-year-old Regan McNeil who is still recovering from her previous demonic possession.

Exorcist writer/producer William Peter Blatty and director William Friedkin both had no desire to involve themselves in an Exorcist sequel. According to the film’s co-producer Richard Lederer, Exorcist II was conceived as a relatively low-budget affair: “What we essentially wanted to do with the sequel was to redo the first movie… Have the central figure, an investigative priest, interview everyone involved with the exorcism, then fade out to unused footage, unused angles from the first movie. A low-budget rehash – about $3 million – of The Exorcist, a rather cynical approach to movie-making, I’ll admit. But that was the start.”

Exorcist 2_Linda Blair_John BoormanPlaywright William Goodhart was commissioned to write the screenplay, titled The Heretic, and based it around the theories of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (the Jesuit paleontologist/archaeologist who inspired the character of Father Merrin when Blatty wrote The Exorcist). Boorman was unhappy with Goodhart’s script, and asked Goodhart to do a rewrite, incorporating ideas from Rospo Pallenberg. Goodhart refused, and so the script was rewritten by Pallenberg and Boorman. Goodhart’s script was being constantly rewritten as the film was shooting, with the filmmakers uncertain as to how the story should end. Actress Linda Blair recalls “It was a really good script at first. Then after everybody signed on they rewrote it five times and it ended up nothing like the same movie.”

British filmmaker Boorman signed on to direct, stating that “the idea of making a metaphysical thriller greatly appealed to my psyche.” Years before, Boorman had been considered by Warner Bros. as a possible director for the first Exorcist movie, but he turned the opportunity down as he found the story “rather repulsive.” Boorman, however, was intrigued with the idea of directing a sequel, explaining that “every film has to struggle to find a connection with its audience. Here I saw the chance to make an extremely ambitious film without having to spend the time developing this connection. I could make assumptions and then take the audience on a very adventurous cinematic journey.” He should have left it alone…

Deliverance_postersBoorman returned with Excalibur (1981), a retelling of the Arthurian legend. For the film he employed all of his children as actors and crew and several of Boorman’s later films have been ‘family business’ productions.

Deliverance_poster 2The Emerald Forest (1985) saw Boorman cast his actor son Charley Boorman as an eco-warrior, in a rainforest eco-adventure. Hope and Glory (1987, UK) is his most autobiographical movie to date, a retelling of his childhood in London during The Blitz. The film proved a Box Office hit in the US, receiving numerous Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations. However his 1990 US produced comedy about a dysfunctional family, Where the Heart Is, was a major flop.

Boorman won the Best Director Award at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival for The General, his black-and-white biopic of Martin Cahill. The film is about the somewhat glamorous, yet mysterious, criminal in Dublin who was killed, apparently by the IRA. Released in 2006, The Tiger’s Tail was a thriller set against the tableau of early 21st century capitalism in Ireland.

In 2004, Boorman was made a Fellow of BAFTA.


Nastassja Kinski

Nastassja Kinski_movie bannerNastassja Kinski (born 24 January 1961) is an actress who has appeared in more than 60 films, in both her native Europe and the United States. Kinksi’s starring roles include her Golden Globe Award-winning portrayal of the title character in Tess and multi-award winner Paris, Texas, one of a number of films made with German director Wim Wenders. She has also starred in a remake of erotic horror classic Cat People. 

Nastassja KinskiBorn in Berlin as Nastassja Aglaia Nakszynski, Kinski is the daughter of the German actor Klaus Kinski from his marriage to actress Ruth Brigitte Tocki. Her parents divorced in 1968. Kinski rarely saw her father after the age of 10, and she and her mother struggled financially. They eventually lived in a commune in Munich.

Her career began in Germany as a model, during which the German New Wave actress Lisa Kreuzer helped get her the role of the dumb Mignon in Wim Wenders film The Wrong Move. In 1976, while still a teenager, she had her first two major roles: firstly in the Wolfgang Petersen directed feature-length episode Reifezeuanis of German TV crime series Tatort; then in British Hammer Film Productions horror film To the Devil… a Daughter (1976). Directed by Peter Sykes and produced by Terra-Filmkunst, it is based on the novel of the same name by Dennis Wheatley, and stars Richard Widmark, Christopher Lee, Honor Blackman and Denholm Elliott.

Kinski_To the Devil a DaughterShe has stated that, as a child, she felt exploited by the industry, telling a journalist from W Magazine, “If I had had somebody to protect me or if I had felt more secure about myself, I would not have accepted certain things. Nudity things. And inside it was just tearing me apart.”

In 1978 Kinski starred in Italian romance Stay As You Are (Cosi come sei), which New Line Cinema released in the United States in December 1979, helping Kinski to get more recognition there. Time magazine wrote that she was “simply ravishing, genuinely sexy and high-spirited without being painfully aggressive about it.” Director Roman Polanski urged Kinski to study acting with Lee Strasberg in the United States and cast her in his film, Tess (1979).

Richard Avedon - Nastassja Kinski and the Serpent (14 June 1981)In 1981 Richard Avedon photographed Kinski with a Burmese python coiled around her naked body. 

In 1982 she starred in romantic musical One from the Heart and erotic horror movie Cat People (1982),  a remake of the 1942 film of the same name which starred  Simone Simon. Directed by Paul Schrader, it starred Kinski and Malcolm McDowall.

Cat People_Lobby Card_Nastassja Kinski_Malcolm McDowallThe Dudley Moore comedy Unfaithfully Yours and an adaptation of John Irving’s The Hotel New Hampshire followed in 1984. Then, Paris, Texas, her most acclaimed film to date, won the top award at the Cannes. The film focuses on an amnesiac (Harry Dean Stanton) who, after mysteriously wandering out of the desert, attempts to revive his life with his brother (Dean Stockwell) and seven-year-old son, and to track down his former wife (Kinski). At the 1984 Cannes Film Festival, the film unanimously won the Palme d’Or. 

During this period Kinski split her time between Europe and the United States, making big-budget bomb Moon in the Gutter (1983), Harem (1985), Torrents of Spring (1989), Exposed (1983), Maria’s Lovers (1984) and Revolution (1985).

Paris, Texas_Nastassja KinskiIn One from the Heart, director Francis Ford Coppola brought Kinski to the U.S. to act as a “Felliniesque circus performer to represent the twinkling evanescence of Eros”, apparently… The film failed at the box office and was a major loss for Coppola’s new studio, Zoetrope Studios.

Other appearances include Terminal Velocity, One Night Stand, Somebody is Waiting Your Friends & Neighbors, John Landis’ Susan’s Plan, The Lost Son, and Inland Empire for David Lynch.


Rutger Hauer

Rutger Hauer_movies bannerRutger Oelsen Hauer (born 23 January 1944) is a Dutch actor, writer, and environmentalist. His career began in 1969 with the title role in the popular Dutch television series Floris. His film credits include Flesh+Blood, Blind Fury, Blade Runner, The Hitcher, Escape from Sobibor (for which he won a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor), Nighthawks, Sin City, Ladyhawke, Batman Begins, Hobo with a Shotgun, and The Rite. Hauer also founded an AIDS awareness organization, the Rutger Hauer Starfish Association.

Rutger-Hauer-as-Roy-in-Blade-RunnerHauer was born in Breukelen in the Netherlands, the son of drama teachers Arend and Teunke. At the age of 15, Hauer ran off to sea and spent a year scrubbing decks aboard a freighter. Returning home, he worked as an electrician and a joiner for three years while attending acting classes at night school.

Rutger Hauer_Roy Batty_Blade RunnerHauer joined an experimental troupe, with which he remained for five years before Paul Verhoeven cast him in the lead role of the successful 1969 television series Floris, a Dutch medieval action drama. The role made him famous in his native country, and Hauer reprised his role for the 1975 German remake Floris von Rosemund. Hauer’s career changed course when Verhoeven cast him in Turkish Delight (1973). The movie found box-office favour abroad as well as at home, and within two years, Hauer was invited to make his English-language debut in the British film The Wilby Conspiracy (1975), Hauer’s supporting role, however, was barely noticed in Hollywood, and he returned to Dutch films for several years.

Hauer made his American debut in the Sylvester Stallone thriller Nighthawks (1981) as a psychopathic and cold-blooded terrorist named Wulfgar. The following year, he appeared in arguably his most famous and acclaimed role as the eccentric and violent but sympathetic anti-hero Roy Batty in Ridley Scott’s 1982 science fiction thriller Blade Runner, in which role he improvised the famous tears in the rain soliloquy. Hauer went on to play the adventurer courting Theresa Russell in the Nicolas Roeg film Eureka (1983), the investigative reporter opposite John Hurt in Sam Peckinpah’s final film, The Osterman Weekend (1983), the hardened mercenary Martin in Flesh & Blood (1985), and the knight paired with Michelle Pfeiffer in Ladyhawke (1985).

Blade_Runner-Rutger_HauerHe continued to make an impression on audiences in The Hitcher (1986), in which he played a mysterious hitchhiker intent on murdering a lone motorist and anyone else in his way. At the height of Hauer’s fame, he was set to be cast as Robocop though the role went to Peter Weller. That same year, Hauer starred as Nick Randall in Wanted: Dead or Alive as the descendant of the character played by Steve McQueen in the television series of the same name. Phillip Noyce directed Hauer in the martial arts action adventure Blind Fury (1989). Hauer returned to science fiction with The Blood of Heroes (1990), in which he played a former champion in a post-apocalyptic world.

By the 1990s, Hauer was well known for his humorous Guinness commercials as well as his screen roles, which had increasingly involved low-budget films such as Split Second, Omega Doom, and New World Disorder. In the late 1980′s and well into 2000, Hauer acted in several British and American television productions, including Inside the Third Reich, Escape from Sobibor (for which he received a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor), Fatherland, Merlin, The 10th Kingdom, Smallville, Alias,  and Stephen King’s update of Salem’s Lot. In 1999, Hauer was awarded the Dutch “Best Actor of the Century Rembrandt Award”.

Rutger Hauer_Blade Runner_btsHauer played an assassin in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2003), a villainous cardinal with influential power in Sin City (2005) and a devious corporate executive running Wayne Enterprises in Batman Begins (2005). In 2009, his role in avant-garde filmmaker Cyrus Frisch’s Dazzle, received positive reviews. The film was praised in Dutch press as “the most relevant Dutch film of the year”. The same year, Hauer starred in the title role of Barbarossa, an Italian film directed by Renzo Martinelli. In April 2010, he was cast in the live action adaptation of the short and fictitious Grindhouse  trailer Hobo with a Shotgun (2011); The Rite (2011), which is loosely based on Matt Baglio’s book The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist, which itself is based on real events as witnessed and recounted by by then, exorcist-in-training, American Father Gary Thomas. Hauer also played vampire hunter Van Helsing in legendary horror director Dario Argento’s Dracula 3D. 

In April 2007, he published his autobiography All Those Moments: Stories of Heroes, Villains, Replicants, and Blade Runners (co-written with Patrick Quinlan), where he discusses many of his movie roles. Proceeds of the book go to Hauer’s Starfish Association.


Piper Laurie

Carrie_movie postersPiper Laurie (born Rosetta Jacobs; January 22, 1932) is an American actress of stage and screen known for her roles in the television series Twin Peaks and the films The Hustler, Carrie and Children of a Lesser God, all of which brought her Academy Award nominations. In 1991, she won a Golden Globe Award for her portrayal of Catherine Martell in Twin Peaks. 

Carrie_Margaret White_Piper LaurieRosetta Jacobs was born in Detroit, Michigan, the younger daughter of Charlotte Sadie and Alfred Jacobs, a furniture dealer. Alfred Jacobs moved the family to Los Angeles, California in 1938, where she attended Hebrew school, and to combat her shyness her parents provided her with weekly elocution lessons; this activity eventually led her to minor roles at nearby Universal Studios.

In 1949, Rosetta Jacobs signed a contract with Universal, changing her screen name to Piper Laurie, by which she has been known professionally since. Her breakout role was in Louisa, with Ronald Reagan; several other roles followed before, she moved to New York to study acting and to seek work on the stage and in television.

She was again lured to Hollywood by the offer to co-star with Paul Newman in The Hustler, which was released in 1961. She played Newman’s crippled girlfriend, Sarah Packard, and for her performance she received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. Substantial movie roles did not come her way after The Hustler, so she moved back to New York State.

Piper Laurie_Carrie_Margaret WhiteShe accepted the role of Margaret White in the film Carrie (1976), and received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in that role. In the original film adaptation by Brian De Palma, Margaret is considerably more attractive than as depicted in the novel.

Her past was not explored as it was in the novel, and her husband Ralph was only mentioned briefly. Margaret claims that Ralph was carried away by the devil, but Carrie (Sissy Spacek) corrects her that he actually left her for another woman. As in the novel, Margaret reveals that she had sex with Ralph twice: once prior to marriage (after which she wanted to kill herself), and once more after they were married, when he was drunk and forced himself on her (she resisted, but confesses she enjoyed the act regardless), leading to the conception of Carrie.

Carrie_Piper Laurie_ Margaret WhiteUpon learning of her daughter’s telekinetic abilities, Margaret becomes convinced that Carrie is a witch, and recalls Exodus 22:18 from the Bible (“Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live”), which interprets as charging her to purify Carrie by killing her. While Carrie is at the prom, Margaret snaps mentally; she is seen pacing in the kitchen, then beginning to chop a carrot with a butcher knife, and continuing to chop the cutting board even after the carrot rolls away. After Carrie returns home, Margaret tells her about the night she was conceived by marital rape, then stabs her in the back with the butcher knife while leading her in the Lord’s Prayer. As Carrie tries to crawl away, Margaret makes a cross motion with the knife and stalks her through the house with a delirious look in her eyes. She corners Carrie and raises the knife to strike again, but Carrie flings various kitchen elements from the drawers at her, impaling her. Margaret dies in the same pose as the frightening statue of Saint Sebastian in Carrie’s “prayer closet”.

Twin Peaks_Piper LaurieAfter her 1981 divorce, Laurie relocated to California. In 1986, she received a third Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Mrs. Norman in Children of a Lesser God. That same year she was awarded an Emmy for her performance in Promise, a television movie, co-starring James Garner and James Woods.

In 1990-91, she starred as the devious Catherine Martell in David Lynch’s television series Twin Peaks. She also appeared in Dario Argento’s first American film Trauma (1993). In 1998, she appeared in the sci-fi thriller The Faculty. She made guest appearances on television shows such as Frasier, State of Grace, Cold Case, and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. She returned to the big screen for independent films such as Eulogy and The Dead Girl, however, she’ll always be remembered as horror fan favourite, Margaret White, Julianne Moore has big shoes to fill in the 2013 remake.


Tippi Hedren

Tippi Hedren_movie bannerNathalie Kay “Tippi” Hedren (born January 19, 1930) is an American actress and former fashion model. She is widely known for her roles in the Alfred Hitchcock films The Birds and Marnie (in which she played the title role), and her efforts in animal rescue at Shambala Preserve, an 80-acre (320,000 m2) wildlife habitat which she founded in 1983.

Tippi Hedren_The BirdsFor over 40 years, Hedren’s year of birth was reported to be 1935, although in 2004, she acknowledged that she was actually born in 1930. Hedren was born in New Ulm, Minnesota, the daughter of Bernard Carl and Dorothea Henrietta Hedren. Her father ran a small general store in the small town of Lafayette, Minnesota, and gave her the nickname “Tippi”.

Hedren had a successful modeling career from 1950 to 1961, appearing on covers of national magazines, such as Life magazine. She was discovered by Alfred Hitchcock, who was watching The Today Show when he saw Hedren in a commercial for a diet drink. Hitchcock was looking for his latest blonde lead in the wake of Grace Kelly’s retirement.

The Birds_Hitchcock_Tippi Hedren_btsHitchcock put Hedren through a then-costly $25,000 screen test, doing scenes from his previous films, such as Rebecca, Notorious and To Catch a Thief. He signed her to a multi-year exclusive personal contract, something he had done in the 1950′s with Vera Miles. Hitchcock’s plan to mould Hedren’s public image went so far as to carefully control her style of dressing and grooming. Hitchcock insisted for publicity purposes that her name should be printed only in single quotes, ‘Tippi’. The press mostly ignored this directive from the director, who felt that the single quotes added distinction and mystery to Hedren’s name. In interviews, Hitchcock compared his newcomer not only to her predecessor Grace Kelly but also to what he referred to as such “ladylike”, intelligent, and stylish stars of more glamorous eras as Irene Dunne and Jean Arthur.

The Birds_Tippi HedrenHitchcock directed Hedren in her debut film, The Birds. For the final attack scene in a second-floor bedroom, filmed on a closed set at Universal-International Studios, Hedren had been assured by Hitchcock that mechanical birds would be used. Instead, Hedren endured five solid days of prop men, protected by thick leather gloves, flinging dozens of live gulls, ravens and crows at her (their beaks clamped shut with elastic bands). Cary Grant visited the set and told Hedren, “I think you’re the bravest lady I’ve ever met.” In a state of exhaustion, when one of the birds gouged her cheek and narrowly missed her eye, Hedren sat down on the set and began crying. A physician ordered a week’s rest, which Hedren said at the time was riddled with “nightmares filled with flapping wings”. In 1964, Hedren received a Golden Globe Award for ‘Most Promising Newcomer – Female’.

Tippi Hedren_Hitchcock_MarnieThat same year, she co-starred with Sean Connery in a second Hitchcock film, Marnie (1964), a romantic drama and psychological thriller from the novel by Winston Graham. She recalls it as her favourite of the two for the challenge of playing an emotionally battered young woman who travels from city to city assuming various guises in order to rob her employers. On release, the film was greeted by mixed reviews and indifferent box-office returns. Although Hitchcock continued to have Hedren in mind for several other films after Marnie, the actress declined any further work with him. Other directors who wanted to hire her had to go through Hitchcock, who would inform them she was unavailable. When Hedren tried to get out of her contract, she recalls Hitchcock telling her he’d ruin her career. “And he did: kept me under contract, kept paying me every week for almost two years to do nothing.”

Tippi Hedren_Alfred HitchcockBy the time Hitchcock sold her contract to Universal and she was fired for refusing work on one of its television shows, Hedren’s career had stalled after just two films.

On April 13, 2011, at the Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington, NY, Hedren stated in an interview with Turner Classic Movies’ Ben Mankiewitz that because she refused Hitchcock’s sexual advances, Hitchcock effectively stunted her career. These events are the basis for the BBC/HBO film The Girl, featuring Sienna Miller as Hedren and toby Jones as Hitchcock, and which premiered on HBO Saturday, October 20, 2012. It was shown in the UK on Boxing Day 2012 on BBC2.


Leigh Whannell

Leigh Whannell_movie bannerLeigh Whannell (born 17 January 1977) is an Australian screenwriter, producer, and actor, best known for his work on the Saw franchise.

Leigh Whannell_Dying BreedWhannell was born in Melbourne, Australia, and believes that he inherited his love of storytelling from his mother and his fondness of filmmaking from his father (Whannell’s father was a cameraman in the television industry). A writer since childhood, Whannell worked as a reporter and film critic for several Australian television shows, including ABC’s Recovery, a Saturday morning youth-oriented program. Whannell has described the show in a 2011 blog post:

The result was that instead of following the usual MTV ideal of what teenagers want in a TV show—“Hey kids, coming up next we’ve got some seriously WICKED windsurfing moves!!”—Recovery managed to tap into the so-called “alternative” movement that was in full swing at the time by giving teenagers what they actually want: genuine, unpolished anarchy.

Whannell had originally auditioned for the host role, but was later employed as a reporter; Whannell’s first interview was with Jackie Chan and he has stated that “Recovery is the best job I’ve ever had …”

James Wan_Leigh WhannellIn 2003, Whannell appeared in a minor role in The Matrix Reloaded. While in film school, Whannell met James Wan, who would eventually go on to direct the horror film Saw (co-written by Wan and Whannell) in 2004. After making a short film to showcase the intensity of the script, the feature film was made and became a low-budget sleeper hit in late 2004. Whannell played Adam Stanheight in the film, one of the main characters. The popularity of Saw led to a sequel, Saw II, which was directed and co-written by another young horror filmmaker, Darren Lynn Bousman, and on which Whannell co-wrote and revised Bousman’s original script, titled The Desperate. Whannell also served as an executive producer.

Insidious Leigh Whannell and Lin ShayeAround the same time, Whannell returned to collaborate with Wan and they wrote a film called Dead Silence, which Wan directed. It was slated for a 2006 release, but small problems with the title pushed the release date back to March 2007. In 2006, the duo composed the story for Saw III, with Whannell writing the screenplay for the third time. It was again directed by Bousman and was released on 27 October 2006. Whannell has a featured cameo, reprising his role as Adam. Saw III was a huge financial success and raked in $33,610,391 on its opening weekend, making around $129,927,001 worldwide (after 38 days in cinemas) and is currently the most successful Saw film to date.

Whannell’s writing partner, Wan, was chosen to direct the film Death Sentence, the first feature film with their participation that they did not write themselves. Whannell has a small role as Spink in Death Sentence.

Insidious_posterIn 2008, Whannell took off his “writing hat” to perform alongside Nathan Phillips in Dying Breed, a low-budget Australian horror film about a team of zoologists exploring the Tasmanian wilderness to locate a creature thought extinct, the thylacine, aka Tasmanian tiger. Instead, they wander into the domain of cannibals who retain their infamous ancestor Alexander Pearce’s taste for human flesh, and become prey.

Before and during the production of Saw, Whannell sought medical treatment. “I was going through a bit of a tough time healthwise and suffering anxiety,” says Whannell. “The anxiety manifested itself in physical ways. I was suffering headaches everyday for nearly a year. It was serious stuff and really started affecting my life.” Spending time in a hospital inspired him to endow the lead antagonist of the Saw series, Jigsaw/John Kramer, with cancer. “It was weird to be 25 and sitting in a neurological ward and I’m surrounded by people who actually had brain tumors. It was very scary and it was my first proper look at mortality. I really wanted to get my health back and it really hammered home how important good health is. If you’ve got that, you’ve got everything.”

Insidious_demon_wallpaperWhannell wrote the script for and acted in the 2011 paranormal thriller film, Insidiouswhich was directed by Wan and produced by Oren Peli of the Paranormal Activity franchise. A sequel, Insidious, Chapter 2 is due out in late 2013.

In relation to the Saw franchise, Whannell stated, also in 2011: It’s hard to say definitively, because we don’t own the copyright for it. The producers could make 10 more if they wanted to. But, if we’re to take them at face value, they told us that they were definitely done with it. They’re pretty exhausted. They’ve been making one a year every year for the past seven years, so I think they need some time off.


John Carpenter – Part 2

John Carpenter_Movie Banner 2Carpenter followed up the success of Halloween with The Fog (1980), a ghostly revenge tale (co-written by Hill) inspired by horror comics such as Tales from the Crypt. Completing The Fog was an unusually difficult process for Carpenter. After viewing a rough cut of the film, he was dissatisfied with the result. For the only time in his filmmaking career, he had to devise a way to salvage a nearly finished film that did not meet his standards. In order to make the movie more coherent and frightening, Carpenter shot additional footage that included a number of new scenes. Approximately one-third of the finished film is the newer footage.

Escape from New York_Kurt RussellCarpenter immediately followed The Fog with the science-fiction adventure Escape from New York (1981). An American cyberpunk action film, starring Kurt Russell, Lee Van Cleef, Donald Pleasance and Harry Dean Stanton, it is set in the near future in a crime-ridden United States that has converted Manhattan Island into a maximum security prison. Ex-soldier Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) is given 24 hours to find the President of the United States, who has been captured after the crash of Air Force One.

His next film, The Thing (1982), is notable for its high production values, including innovative special effects by Rob Bottin, special visual effects by matte artist Albert Whitlock, a score by Ennio Morricone and a cast including Carpenter regular Kurt Russell and respected character actors such as Wilford Brimley, Richard Dysart and Keith David. The Thing was made with a budget of $15,000,000, Carpenter’s largest up to that point, and grossed about $20,000,000.

Kurt Russell_John Carpenter_Escape from New YorkCarpenter’s film used the same source material as the 1951 Howard Hawks film, The Thing from Another World, Carpenter’s version is more faithful to the John W. Campbell, Jr. novella, Who Goes There?, upon which both films were based. As The Thing did not perform well on a commercial level, Carpenter has stated that E.T.’s release could have been largely responsible for the film’s disappointment. The movie has found new life in the home video and cable markets, and it is now widely regarded as one of the best horror films ever made.

Shortly after completing post-production on The Thing, Universal offered him the chance to direct Firestarter, based on the novel by Stephen King, but when The Thing was a box-office disappointment, Universal replaced Carpenter with Mark L Lester. Ironically, Carpenter’s next film, Christine, was the 1983 adaptation of the Stephen King novel of the same name. The story revolves around a high-school nerd named Arnie Cunningham (Keith Gordon) who buys a junked 1958 Plymouth Fury which turns out to have supernatural powers. As Cunningham restores and rebuilds the car, he becomes unnaturally obsessed with it, with deadly consequences. Christine did respectable business upon its release and was received well by critics; however, Carpenter has been quoted as saying he directed the film because it was the only thing offered to him at the time.

John Carpenter_The ThingStarman (1984) was critically praised but was only a moderate commercial success. The film received Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for Jeff Bridges’ portrayal of Starman. Following the box office failure of his big-budget action–comedy Big Trouble in Little China (1986), Carpenter struggled to get films financed. He returned to making lower budget films such as Prince of Darkness (1987), a film influenced by the BBC series Quatermass. Although some of the films from this time, such as They Live (1988) did pick up a cult audience, he never again realized his mass-market potential.

John Carpenter_portraitCarpenter was also offered The Exorcist III in 1989, and met with writer William Peter Blatty (who also authored the novel on which it was based, Legion) over the course of a week. However, the two clashed on the film’s climax and Carpenter passed on the project.

His 1990′s career is characterized by a number of notable misfires: Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992), Village of the Damned (1995) and Escape from L.A. (1996) are examples of films that were critical and box office failures. Also notable from this decade are In the Mouth of Madness (1994), yet another Lovecraftian homage, which did not do well either at the box-office or with critics and Vampires (1998), which  starred James Woods as the leader of a band of vampire hunters in league with the Catholic Church.

2001 saw the release of Ghosts of Mars. 2005 saw remakes of Assault on Precinct 13 and The Fog, the latter being produced by Carpenter himself, though in an interview he defined his involvement as, “I come in and say hello to everybody. Go home.” In 2007 Rob Zombie produced and directed Halloween, re-imagining of Carpenter’s 1978 film that spawned a sequel two years later.

Carpenter returned to the director’s chair in 2005 for an episode of Showtime’s Masters of Horror series as one of the thirteen filmmakers involved in the first season. His episode, Cigarette Burns, aired to generally positive reviews, and positive reactions from Carpenter fans. He has since contributed another original episode for the show’s second season entitled Pro-Life, about a young girl who is raped and impregnated by a demon and wants to have an abortion, but whose efforts are halted by her religious fanatic, gun-toting father and her three brothers.

John Carpenter_Movie Banner 3The Ward (2009), starring Amber Heard, was his first movie since 2001′s Ghosts of Mars. Carpenter narrated the video game F.E.A.R.3. On 10 October 2010 Carpenter received the Lifetime Award from the Freak Show Horror Film Festival.

In 2011 at the Fright Night Film Festival Carpenter revealed that he is currently working on what he described as a “gothic western” movie and hopes to get it off the ground soon. He went on to say that he is unsure of the film’s fate as it is harder to sell westerns these days… although the success of Tarantino’s Django Unchained may help…


John Carpenter – Part 1

John Carpenter_Movie Banner 1John Howard Carpenter (born January 16, 1948) is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, editor and composer. Although Carpenter has worked in numerous film genres, he is most commonly associated with horror and science fiction films from the 1970′s and 1980′s.

JOHN_CARPENTERAlmost all the films in Carpenter’s career have garnered cult followings, particularly: Dark Star (1974), Assault on Precinct 13 (1976), Halloween (1978), Escape from New York (1981), The Thing (1982), Starman (1984), Big Trouble in Little China (1986) and They Live! (1988), while Carpenter has been acknowledged as an influential filmmaker.

Carpenter was born in Carthage, New York, the son of Milton Jean and Howard Ralph Carpenter, a music professor. He was captivated by movies from an early age, particularly the westerns of Howard Hawks and John Ford, as well as 1950′s low budget horror films, such as The Thing from Another World and high budget science fiction like Forbidden Planet and began filming horror shorts on 8mm film even before entering high school. He attended Western Kentucky University where his father chaired the music department, then transferred to the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts in 1968, but later dropped out to make his first feature.

Halloween_Jamie Lee CurtisHe collaborated with producer John Longenecker as co-writer, film editor and music composer for The Resurrection of Broncho Billy (1970), which won an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film. The short film was blown-up to 35mm, and the film was theatrically released by Universal Studios for two years in the United States and Canada.

His first major film as director, Dark Star (1974), was a science fiction black comedy that he co-wrote with Dan O’Bannon (who later went on to write Alien, borrowing freely from much of Dark Star). The film reportedly cost only $60,000 and was difficult to make as both Carpenter and O’Bannon completed the film by multitasking, with Carpenter doing the musical score as well as the writing, producing and directing, while O’Bannon acted in the film and did the special effects (which caught the attention of George Lucas who hired him to do work on the special effects for Star Wars). 

Halloween_Michael MyersCarpenter’s next film was Assault on Precinct 13 (1976), a low-budget thriller influenced by the films of Howard Hawks, particularly Rio Bravo. As with Dark Star, Carpenter was responsible for many aspects of the film’s creation. He not only wrote, directed and scored it, but also edited the film under the pseudonym “John T. Chance” (the name of John Wayne’s character in Rio Bravo). Carpenter has said that he considers Assault on Precinct 13 to have been his first real film because it was the first movie that he shot on a schedule. The film also marked the first time Carpenter worked with Debra Hill, who played prominently in the making of some of Carpenter’s most important films.

Working within the limitations of a $100,000 budget, Carpenter assembled a main cast that consisted of experienced but relatively obscure actors. The film was originally released in the United States to mixed critical reviews and lacklustre box-office earnings, but after it was screened at the 1977 London Film Festival, it became a critical and commercial success in Europe and is often credited with launching Carpenter’s career. The film subsequently received a critical reassessment in the United States, where it is now generally regarded as one of the best exploitation films of the 1970′s.

Carpenter both wrote and directed the Lauren Hutton thriller Someone’s Watching Me!. This TV movie is the tale of a single, working woman who, shortly after arriving in L.A., discovers that she is being stalked. However, it was his next film which changed the horror landscape, and for which he will be mostly remembered.

Halloween_postersHalloween (1978) was a commercial hit and helped give birth to the slasher film genre. Originally an idea suggested by producer Irwin Yablans (titled The Babysitter Murders), who envisioned a film about babysitters being menaced by a stalker, Carpenter took the idea and another suggestion from Yablans that it take place during Halloween and developed a story. Carpenter said of the basic concept: “Halloween night. It has never been the theme in a film. My idea was to do an old haunted house movie.” The film was written by Carpenter and Debra Hill with Carpenter admitting that the music was inspired by both Dario Argento’s Suspiria (which also influenced the films surreal colour scheme) and William Friedkin’s The Exorcist. 

Debra Hall_John Carpenter_HALLOWEENCarpenter again worked with a relatively small budget, $320,000, and a young cast of unknowns, headed by Jamie Lee Curtis. The film grossed over $65 million initially, making it one of the most successful independent films of all time. In addition to the film’s critical and commercial success, Carpenter’s self-composed “Halloween Theme” became recognizable apart from the movie.

Carpenter has described Halloween as: “True crass exploitation. I decided to make a film I would love to have seen as a kid, full of cheap tricks like a haunted house at a fair where you walk down the corridor and things jump out at you.” The film has often been cited as an allegory on the virtue of sexual purity and the danger of casual sex, although Carpenter has explained that this was not his intent: “It has been suggested that I was making some kind of moral statement. Believe me, I’m not. In Halloween, I viewed the characters as simply normal teenagers.”

In 1979, John Carpenter began what was to be the first of several collaborations with actor Kurt Russell when he directed the TV movie Elvis. The made-for-TV movie was a hit with viewers and critics, and was also released as a feature film in cinemas outside the U. S. and revived the career of Russell, who was a child actor in the 1960′s.


Jay McInerney Jr.

Jay McInerney_book bannerJohn Barrett McInerney Jr. (born January 13, 1955) is an American author. His novels include Bright Lights Big City; Ransom; Story of My Life; Brightness Falls; and The Last of the Savages. He edited The Penguin Book of New American Voices, wrote the screenplay for the 1988 film adaptation of Bright Lights, Big City, and co-wrote the screenplay for the television film Gia, which starred Angelina Jolie. He was the wine columnist for House & Garden magazine, and his essays on wine have been collected in Bacchus & Me (2000) and A Hedonist in the Cellar (2006).

Jay McInerneyMcInerney was born in Hartford, Connecticut, studied writing with Raymond Carver, and once worked as a fact-checker at The New Yorker. He achieved fame with his first published novel Bright Lights, Big City. Published in 1984, the novel was unique at the time for its depiction of cocaine culture in second-person narrative. The title is taken from a 1961 blues song by Jimmy Reed. The novel established McInerney’s reputation as part of a new generation of writers. Labelled the ‘literary brat pack’ in a 1987 article in the Village Voice, McInerney, Bret Easton Ellis and Tama Janowitz were presented as the new face of literature: young, iconoclastic and fresh. Five novels followed in rapid succession: Ransom, Story of My Life, Brightness Falls, The Last of the Savages and Model Behavior.

Tama Janowitz_Jay McInerney_Bret Easton EllisAfter the success of Bright Lights, Big City, publishers started looking for similar works about young people in urban settings. Ellis’s Less Than Zero, published in 1985, was promoted as following McInerney’s example. McInerney, Ellis and Janowitz were based in New York City and their lives there were regular literary themes, chronicled by New York media.

Bright Lights, Big City_posterEllis used McInerney’s character, Alison Poole (Story of My Life), in his novels American Psycho and Glamorama. McInerney revealed that the character of Alison Poole is based upon his former girlfriend, Rielle Hunter, then known as Lisa Druck. He described the character as “cocaine addled,” and “sexually voracious” but also treated her with some sympathy.

Bright Lights Big City_promo stillMcInerney also has a cameo role in Ellis’s Lunar Park, attending the Halloween party Bret hosts at his house. It was later revealed that McInerney was not pleased with his representation in the novel. Throughout his career McInerney has struggled against the strong, almost indelible, image of himself as both the author and protagonist of Bright Lights, Big City.

His most recent novel is titled The Good Life, published in 2006, and since April 2010 he is a wine columnist for The Wall Street Journal. In 2009 he published a book of short stories which spanned his entire career entitled How It Ended which was named one of the 10 best books of the year by Janet Maslin of The New York Times. 


Gemma Arterton

Gemma Arterton_movie bannerGemma Arterton (born 12 January 1986) is an English actress. She played the eponymous protagonist in the BBC adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles, and starred in the feature films St Trinian’s, the James Bond film Quantum of Solace, Clash of the Titans, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and Tamara Drewe. She was nominated for a BAFTA, in the Rising Star category.

The-Disappearance-of-Alice-Creed-gemma-arterton-posterGemma Arterton_Bond GirlHer best, and most controversial role was in the film The Disappearance of Alice Creed (2009) about the kidnapping of a young woman by two ex-convicts. The film was written and directed by J Blakeson and stars Arterton as the captured Alice Creed, with Martin Compston and Eddie Marsan as Danny and Vic, the kidnappers

Arterton will next appear as Gretel in the feature film Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, a modern spin on the children’s tale “Hansel and Gretel”. The character will be an older version of the classic character who works alongside her brother Hansel (Jeremy Renner) as they track down witches for money.


Darren Lynn Bousman

Darren Lynn Bousman_Movie BannerDarren Lynn Bousman (born January 11, 1979) is an American film director and screenwriter. Bousman was born in Overland Park, Kansas, the son of Nancy and Lynn Bousman. He attended high school at Shawnee Mission North High School in Overland Park, and studied film at in Winter Park, Florida.

Darren Lynn Bousman_Spike TV's 2008 Scream AwardsDuring 2004, he was pitching an idea for a movie called The Desperate to various American studios, who complained that the screenplay was too violent, and the plot was too close to Saw. David A. Armstrong who worked on Saw asked Bousman if he could show the script to Saw producer Gregg Hoffman, who read the script and called Bousman interested in producing “The Desperate”, but after showing the script to his partners Mark Burg and Oren Koules, the two decided it would be the perfect opportunity to turn “The Desperate” into Saw II. Two months later, Bousman was flown to Toronto to direct Saw II.

During the production of Saw II, Bousman directed the music video for Mudvayne’s single “Forget to Remember”, which appeared as the lead song on the Saw II soundtrack album. Saw II was a huge hit and Bousman was signed on to direct Saw III, which was released on October 27, 2006.

Saw_Darren Lyn Bousman_Shawnee SmithAfter Saw III, Bousman announced that he would never direct another Saw film so that he would be free to prepare for his project Repo! the Genetic Opera, the stage version of which he had directed in 2002. Despite this, on February 19, 2007, Leigh Whannell announced that Bousman had signed on to direct Saw IV, as before shooting could begin on Repo!, there was a gap of time during which the songs were being pre-recorded, and he would be able to direct Saw IV during that period. He also directed an episode of the horror anthology show Fear Itself, entitled “New Year’s Day”, in 2008.

Bousman taught Film director newcomers in the Horror Film Boot Camp, May 7, to May 9, 2010 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Bousman directed Mother’s Day (2010) starring Rebecca De Mornay, Shawn Ashmore and Jaime King; a remake of the old 1980 Troma slasher.

In 2011, Bousman directed the awful film 11-11-11, about an author who, after the death of his wife and child, travels to Barcelona to see his estranged brother and dying father, where he learns that his life is plagued by events that occur on 11/11/11.

The Devil's CarnivalIn 2012, Bousman reunited with Repo! writer Terrance Zdunich along with several cast members to direct The Devil’s Carnival, an interesting short film that is planned to be the first installment of a longer series. In 2012, he also directed The Barrens, a horror film about a man who takes his family on a camping trip and becomes convinced they are being stalked by the legendary monster of the New Jersey Pine Barrens: the Jersey Devil. Notable only for starring Stephen Moyer of True Blood fame.

He is currently directing the psychological thriller Ninety which follows the wrongfully accused Vernie James, who having escaped prison is thirsty for revenge. The only thing that can balance the scales for this psychopath: a rampant, cross country killing spree, all while ebbing chased by Detective Bill Denton, the cop that put Vernie James away. Bousman is better than his last few movies, he needs something fresh to show what he’s capable of; various websites have him attached to direct remakes of David Cronenberg’s The Brood and Scanners. 


Lee Van Cleef

Lee Van Cleef_Westerns BannerClarence Leroy “Lee” Van Cleef, Jr. (January 9, 1925 – December 16, 1989) was an American film actor who appeared mostly in Westerns and action pictures. His sharp features and piercing eyes led to his being cast as a villain in scores of films, such as High Noon, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, For a Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. After appearing in the last of these films he was propelled to stardom, becoming the hero in many of his later movies.

Lee Van Cleef_1Van Cleef was born in Somerville, New Jersey, the son of Marion Levinia and Clarence LeRoy Van Cleef, Sr. Both of his parents were of partial Dutch ancestry. Coming of age just in time for World War II, he served in the United States Navy aboard a submarine chaser in the Caribbean, then in the Black and China Seas on a mine sweeper. After the war, he had a brief career as an accountant. In 1952, he began his acting career after friends and family encouraged him to try it because of his unique looks.

Lee Van Cleef_2Although his first acting experiences were in minor productions on stage; his first film was the classic Western High Noon, in which he played a villain. He also had a bit part as the sharpshooter in the climax of The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms around the same time. In 1956, he co-starred in the B-grade science fiction movie It Conquered the World.  .

In addition to westerns and the science fiction films, Van Cleef appeared on the children’s syndicated western series, The Adventures of Kit Carson. Van Cleef starred as minor villains and henchmen in the westerns, The Tin Star and Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

Lee Van Cleef_3In 1959, a severe alcohol-related car crash nearly cost Van Cleef his career as a resulting knee injury had doctors telling him he would never ride a horse again. This injury was to plague him for the rest of his life, causing him great pain. His recovery was long and arduous and did take him away from acting for a time. During his time away from acting, Lee began a business in interior decoration with wife Joan, as well as pursuing his talent for painting, primarily of sea and landscapes. It took his career some time to recover from this blow and in contrast to his earlier major roles, he for some years had only occasional small parts. He played one of Lee Marvin’s villainous henchmen in the 1962 John Ford classic The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, with James Stewart and John Wayne. He also had a small, uncredited role as one of the river pirates in 1962′s How the West Was Won.

For a Few Dollars More_Italian PosterHowever, in 1965, there was an opportunity waiting for him that was to change his life. His career revival began when the young Italian director Sergio Leone boldly cast Van Cleef, whose career was still in the doldrums, as one of the two protagonists, alongside Clint Eastwood, in Leone’s second western, For a Few Dollars More. Leone then chose Van Cleef to appear with Eastwood again, this time as the primary villain in the classic The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. With his roles in Leone’s films, Van Cleef became a major star of Spaghetti Westerns, playing central roles in films such as Death Rides a Horse, Day of Anger, The Big Gundown and The Sabata Trilogy. Van Cleef also had a supporting role in the cult film Escape from New York, a 1981 cyberpunk action film co-written, co-scored and directed by John Carpenter. The film is set in the near future in a crime-ridden United States that has converted Manhattan Island in New York City into a maximum security prison. Ex-soldier Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) is given 24 hours to find the President of the United States, who has been captured after the crash of Air Force One in the middle of the island.

Clint+Eastwood+Eli+Wallach+Lee+Van+Cleef_The Good The Bad and the UglyIn 1984, Van Cleef was cast as a ninja master in the NBC adventure series The Master, but it was canceled after 13 episodes. All in all, he is credited with 90 movie roles and 109 other television appearances over a 38-year span.

Lee Van Cleef worked up until his failing health took his life on December 16, 1989 at the age of 64. He collapsed in his home from a heart attack. His wife Barbara called paramedics but they were unable to revive him. He was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills), Los Angeles, California. His gravestone reads: “Lee Van Cleef January 9, 1925 – December 16, 1989 ‘Best of the Bad’ Love and Light.”


Charles Addams

Charles Addams_BannerCharles Samuel “Chas” Addams (January 7, 1912 – September 29, 1988) was an American cartoonist known for his darkly humorous and macabre characters. Some of the recurring characters, who became known as The Addams Family, became the basis for two live-action television series, two animated TV series, three motion pictures and a Broadway musical.

Charles 'Chas' AddamsCharles Samuel Addams was born in Westfield, New Jersey, the son of Grace and Charles Huy Addams. His father encouraged him to draw, and Addams did cartoons for the Westfield High School student literary magazine, Weathervane. He attended Colgate University in 1929 and 1930, and the University of Pennsylvania, where a fine-arts building on campus is named for him, in 1930 and 1931. In front of the building is a sculpture of the silhouettes of Addams Family characters. He then studied at the Grand Central School of Art in New York City in 1931 and 1932.

In 1933 he joined the layout department of True Detective magazine, where he had to retouch photos of corpses that appeared in the magazine’s stories to remove the blood from them. Addams complained that “A lot of those corpses were more interesting the way they were.”

Chas Addams_ArtworkHis first drawing in The New Yorker ran on February 6, 1932 (a sketch of a window washer), and his cartoons ran regularly in the magazine from 1938, when he drew the first instance of what came to be called the Addams Family, until his death. He also created a syndicated comic strip, Out of This World, which ran in 1956. There are many collections of his work, including Drawn and Quartered (1942) and Monster Rally (1950),

During World War II, Addams served at the Signal Corps Photographic Centre in New York, where he made animated training films for the U.S. Army. In late 1942, he met his first wife, Barbara Jean Day, who purportedly resembled the cartoon Morticia Addams. The marriage ended eight years later.

He married his second wife, Barbara Barb (Estelle B. Barb), in 1954. A practicing lawyer, she “combined Morticia-like looks with diabolical legal scheming,” by which she wound up controlling the “Addams Family” television and movie franchises and persuaded her husband to give away other legal rights. They divorced in 1956.

Chas Addams_MorticiaThe Addams Family television series began after David Levy, a television producer, approached Addams with an offer to create it with a little help from the humorist. All Addams had to do was give his characters names and more characteristics for the actors to use in portrayals. The series ran on ABC for two seasons, from 1964 to 1966.

Addams was “sociable and debonair,” and described by a biographer as “A well-dressed, courtly man with silvery back-combed hair and a gentle manner, he bore no resemblance to a fiend.” Figuratively a ladykiller, Addams squired celebrities such as Greta Garbo and Jacqueline Kennedy on social occasions.

Later, he married his third and last wife, Marilyn Matthews Miller, best known as “Tee” (1926–2002), in a pet cemetery. In 1985, the Addamses moved to Sagaponack, New York, where they named their estate “The Swamp.”

Chas Addams_The Addams FamilyAddams drew more than 1,300 cartoons over the course of his life. Those that did not appear in The New Yorker were often in Collier’s and TV Guide. In 1961, Addams received, from the Mystery Writers of America, a Special Edgar Award for his body of work. His cartoons appeared in books, calendars and other merchandising. Dear Dead Days (1959) is not a collection of his cartoons (although it reprints a few from previous collections); it is a scrapbook-like compendium of vintage images (and occasional pieces of text) that appealed to Addams’s sense of the grotesque, including Victorian woodcuts, vintage medicine-show advertisements and a boyhood photograph of Francesco Lentini, who had three legs.

In 1946, Addams met science-fiction writer Ray Bradbury after having drawn an illustration for Mademoiselle magazine’s publication of Bradbury’s short story “Homecoming”, the first in a series of tales chronicling a family of Illinois vampires named the Elliotts. The pair became friends and planned to collaborate on a book of the Elliott Family’s complete history with Bradbury writing and Addams providing the illustrations, but it never materialized. Bradbury’s stories about the “Elliott Family” were anthologized in From the Dust Returned in October 2001, with a connecting narrative and an explanation of his work with Addams, and Addams’ 1946 Mademoiselle illustration used for the book’s cover jacket. Although Addams’ own characters were well-established by the time of their initial encounter, in a 2001 interview Bradbury states that “(Addams) went his way and created the Addams Family and I went my own way and created my family in this book.”

Chas Addams_Halloween MugmatesIn the Alfred Hitchcock classic North by Northwest, Cary Grant references Charles Addams in the auction scene. Discovering Eve with Mr. Vandamm and Leonard, he says, “The three of you together. Now that’s a picture only Charles Addams could draw.” Hitchcock was a friend of Addams’, not surprising considering their shared macabre sense of humor, and owned two pieces of original Addams art.

Addams died September 29, 1988, at St. Clare’s Hospital and Health Centre in New York City, having suffered a heart attack while still in his car after parking it. An ambulance took him from his apartment to the hospital, where he died in the emergency room. As he had requested, a wake was held rather than a funeral; he had wished to be remembered as a “good cartoonist.” He was cremated, and his ashes were buried in the pet cemetery of his estate “The Swamp.”

For more extensive coverage visit the Charles Addams Foundation at www.charlesaddams.com


Shane Meadows

Shane Meadows_movie bannerShane Meadows (born 26 December 1972) is an English film director, screenwriter, occasional actor and BAFTA winner.

Shane MeadowsMeadows grew up in the Westlands Road area of Uttoxeter, Staffordshire. His father was a long distance lorry driver and his mother worked in a fish and chip shop. He attended Picknalls First School, Oldfields Hall Middle School and Thomas Alleyne’s High School. At weekends, he sold fruit and veg on a market stall in Uttoxeter market. His love of cinema was fostered by regular trips to the Elite Cinema.

This is England_French Film PosterMeadows left school shortly before reaching his GCSEs, and soon turned to petty crime. He moved to Nottingham when he was 20; while living there, he made roughly 30 short films with the friends he met there. He could not show these films to anyone because there were no film festivals in his area. His friends started one in the local cinema which became popular within the city.

Meadows enrolled on a Performing Arts course at Burton College, where he first met friend and future collaborator Paddy Considine. Amongst other things, they formed the band She Talks To Angels (inspired by a Black Crowes song of the same name), with Meadows as vocalist and Considine as drummer.

dead_mans_shoes_2004The vast majority of Meadows’ films have been set in the Midlands area. They recall the kitchen sink realism of filmmakers such as Ken Loach and Mike Leigh. Much of the content of his films is semi-autobiographical and based on his experiences in Uttoxeter: Twenty Four Seven was inspired by his youth, both at a boxing club, and also playing in a local football club. A Room for Romeo Brass was also inspired by his youth after his best friend, neighbour and future writing partner — had a bad accident and was bound to his bed for two years, Meadows instead hung around with some of the town’s more undesirable characters. Dead Man’s Shoes is based on the more unpleasant side of his youth in Uttoxeter. It was inspired by a close friend who had been bullied, developed a drug problem and then committed suicide. He said “I couldn’t believe that, going back ten years later, he had been totally forgotten in the town — it was as if he had never existed. I was filled with anger against the people who had bullied and pushed the drugs on him, and with despair at what drugs had done to that small community”.

This is England '86

His second feature-length film, Twenty Four Seven, won several awards at film festivals, including the Douglas Hickox award at the British Independent Film Awards and Best Screenplay at the Thessaloniki Film Festival. Dead Man’s Shoes, his sixth film, and third starring Paddy Considine, was nominated for a BAFTA for Best British Film. His seventh film This is England, won the British Independent Film Awards 2006 for best British independent film, and also won a BAFTA for Best British Film. Five of Meadows’ films were shown at the 2007 Flourish Festival, held annually in Uttoxeter, to mark the release of This is England (a film set in 1983).

The film has since had a series of sequels adapted into television serials, the first being This is England 86 (set in 1986 aired on Channel 4 in September 2010). A second series, This is England 88 (set in 1988) was aired in December 2011. A third and final series, This Is England ’90 (set in 1990), was originally due to be broadcast in December 2012, but in July 2012, Shane Meadows announced that the production had been put on hold in order for him to complete his documentary about Stone Roses, and the actors were still waiting for confirmation as to when filming would start.

Paddy Considine_Shane MeadowsHis shortest film, The Stairwell, was shot on a mobile phone and is just 40 seconds long. It consists solely of a man and woman, played by Meadows regulars Andrew Shim and Vicky McClure, violently bumping into each other on a stairwell.

He is widely regarded as a big fan of Notts County F.C., with several references included in his films by way of imagery and background shots… always interesting, he’s the face, and future of British Independent Film.


Sissy Spacek

Sissy Spacek_movie bannerSissy Spacek (born Mary Elizabeth Spacek; December 25, 1949) is an Academy Award winning American actress and singer. She came to international prominence for her roles as Holly Sargis in Terrence Malick’s 1973 film Badlandsand as Carrie White in Brian De Palma’s 1976 horror film Carrie (based on the first novel by Stephen King) for which she earned her first Academy Award nomination. She won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role as country star Loretta Lynn in the 1980 film Coal Miner’s Daughter; she also received Oscar nominations for her roles in Missing, The River, Crimes of the Heart and In the Bedroom. 

Sissy Spacek_Carrie_People MagazineSpacek was born on Christmas Day (December 25), 1949, in Quitman, Texas. She is the daughter of Virginia Frances and Edwin Arnold Spacek, Sr., a county agricultural agent. After she graduated from high school she moved to New York City, hoping to become a singer. There, she lived with her first cousin, actor Rip Torn, and his wife, actress Geraldine Page.

Badlands_Sissy Spacek_Martin SheenFor a while, Spacek sang and played guitar in many of the Greenwich Village coffee houses, eventually landing some paying work singing commercial jingles. While singing, Spacek also worked for a time as photographic model, and worked as an extra at Andy Warhol’s Factory, appearing in a non-credited role in his 1970 film Trash. With the help of Rip Torn, she was enrolled in Lee Strasberg’s Actors Studio and then the Lee Strasberg Institute in New York. Her first credited role was in the 1972 cult classic Prime Cut, in which she played a girl sold into sexual slavery. Spacek received international attention after starring in Terrence Malick’s classic Badlands, in which she played Holly, the narrator of the film and 15-year old girlfriend of mass-murderer Kit (Martin Sheen). Spacek has described Badlands as the “most incredible” experience of her career. On the set of Badlands, Spacek met art director Jack Fisk, whom she married.

Sissy Spacek_CarrieSpacek was the set dresser for Brian De Palma’s film Phantom of the Paradise before taking on the iconic and career-defining role in 1976 with De Palma’s Carrie, in which she played Carietta “Carrie” White, a shy, troubled high school senior with telekinetic powers. Spacek had to work hard to persuade director de Palma to engage her for the role.  Rubbing Vaseline into her hair, and donning an old sailor dress her mother made for her as a child, Spacek turned up at the audition with the odds against her, but won the part. She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for her work in the film (Veteran actress Piper Laurie, who played Carrie’s religious, maniacal mother Margaret White, was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress).

Carrie_1976_Sissy Spacek_mirrorAfter Carrie, Spacek played the small role in the ensemble piece Welcome to L.A. (1976), and cemented her reputation in independent cinema with her performance as Pinky Rose in Robert Altman’s 1977 classic 3 Women. Spacek also helped finance then-brother-in-law David Lynch’s directorial debut, Eraserhead (1976) and is thanked in the credits of the film.

In the 1979 film Heart Beat, Spacek played Carolyn Cassady, before starring in Coal Miner’s Daughter, (1980) in which she played country music star Loretta Lynn, who selected her for the role. Performing her own singing, Spacek was also nominated for a Grammy Award for the film’s soundtrack album. She followed this with her own country album, Hangin’ Up My Heart, in 1983; the album spawned one hit single, “Lonely But Only For You”, which reached No. 15 on the Billboard Country chart.

Carrie_Sissy Spacek_btsAlso in the 1980s, Spacek starred alongside Jack Lemmon in the 1982 political thriller Missing (which was based on the book The Execution of Charles Horman); appeared with Mel Gibson in the rural drama The River (1984), and with Diane Keaton and Jessica Lange in 1986′s Crimes of the Heart. She was nominated for the Best Actress Oscar for all of these roles. Other performances of the decade included star turns in husband Jack Fisk’s directorial debut Raggedy Man (1981) and in the suicide-themed drama Night Mother (1986). Spacek also showed her lighter side by voicing the brain in the Steve Martin comedy The Man with Two Brains (1983).

The 1990′s saw Spacek slowly come back to Hollywood after her self-imposed hiatus. She had a supporting role in Oliver Stone’s JFK (1991), and as the evil Verena Talbo in the 1995 ensemble piece The Grass Harp, which reunited her with both Laurie and Lemmon, as well as a supporting performance in Paul Schrader’s father-son psychodrama Affliction (1997). She also played Rose Straight in David Lynch’s The Straight Story (1999).

Sissy Spacek_Carrie_1976_Prom_BloodIn 2001, she was again Academy nominated for her work in Todd Field’s In the Bedroom. Her performance as Ruth Fowler, a grieving mother consumed by revenge, won extraordinary praise and garnered the New York and Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress.

Other performances of this decade include unfaithful wife Ruth in Nine Lives (2005) and on the HBO drama Big Love, for a multi-episode arc, as a powerful Washington, D.C. lobbyist.

In 2006, she narrated the audiobook of the classic 1960 Harper Lee novel To Kill a Mockingbird. In 2011, she received a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. In 2012, Spacek published a memoir, “My Extraordinary Ordinary Life”, written along with Maryanne Voller.


Lynne Thigpen

Lynne Thigpen_The Warriors_bannerCherlynne Theresa “Lynne” Thigpen (December 22, 1948 – March 12, 2003) was an American stage and television actress. Thigpen was born in Joliet, Ilinois, and obtained a degree in teaching. She taught English in high school briefly while studying theatre and dance at the University of Illinois before moving to New York City in 1971 to begin her work as a stage actress.

Lynne Thigpen_The WarriorsThigpen had a long and prolific theatre career, and appeared in numerous musicals including Godspell, and An American Daughter (for which she won a Tony Award for her portrayal of Dr. Judith Kaufman in 1997) .

Her first feature film role was Godspell (1973), however, to me her most famous role is that of the omniscient Radio DJ in the classic Walter Hill movie, The Warriors. She played an unnamed African American female disc jockey on a New York City radio station, which conveniently, every gang seems to listen too. She reports on gang activity in the city and keeps gang members informed on which gangs have alliances and rivalries, and most importantly, she reports on the progress made by The Warriors. Although Lynne Thigpen played the physical character, the DJ was voiced by Pat Floyd.

The Warriors_movie PosterThigpen played Leonna Barrett, the mother of an expelled student in Lean on Me, a story of famous American principal Joe Louis Clark. She had a role in the Shaft remake alongside Samuel L. Jackson, as the murder victim’s mother. She also played the Second President of the world council in Bicentennial Man (1999). Her last film was Anger Management (2003) which was released only a month following her death and paid tribute to her in the end credits.

Thigpen died of cerebral hemorrhage on March 12, 2003 in her Marina del Rey, California home. Thigpen was interred at Elmhurst Cemetery in her hometown of Joliet, Illinois.


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