Dick Miller, prolific screen actor and B-Movie legend, best known for his role as Murray Futterman in the 1984 classic horror film Gremlins, has died. He was 90.
With a career spanning more than 60 years, Miller has made hundreds of on screen appearances, beginning in the 1950’s with legendary director and producer Roger Corman. It was then that he starred as Walter Paisley – a character the actor would reprise throughout his career – in the cult classic “A Bucket of Blood,” before going on to land roles on projects such as The ‘Burbs, Fame and The Terminator.
Miller also boasts a long history of high-profile director partnerships, working with the likes of James Cameron, Ernest Dickerson, Martin Scorsese, John Sayles and, perhaps most notably, Joe Dante, who used Miller in almost every project he helmed.
In one of Dante’s earlier films, Piranha, Miller played Buck Gardner, a small-time real estate agent opening up a new resort on Lost River Lake. The only catch? A large school of genetically altered piranha have accidentally been released into the resort’s nearby rivers. Next up was a police chief role in the 1979 film Rock ‘n’ Roll High School before reprising the Walter Paisley mantle as an occult bookshop owner in Dante’s 1981 horror film The Howling.
Other notable appearances include the 1986 cult favorite Night of the Creeps, where he shared the screen with Tom Atkins as a police ammunition’s officer named Walt – he supplies Atkins with some necessary firepower in the face of an alien worm-zombie invasion – and a pawnshop owner in James Cameron’s 1984 hit The Terminator; the same year he appeared in yet another of Dante’s films, Gremlins.
Most recently, Miller reprised the role of Walter Paisley for a final time as a rabbi in Eben McGarr’s horror film Hanukkah.
Miller is survived by his wife Lainie, daughter Barbara and granddaughter Autumn.
Dante called him “one of his most treasured collaborators,” writing, “I ‘grew up’ (kinda) watching Dick Miller in movies from the 50’s on and was thrilled to have him in my first movie for Roger Corman.”
Check out this trailer for Big Ass Spider, With a special introduction from Director Mike Mendez. This looks better than Transformers…
Harking back to the classic 50’s creature features, Big Ass Spider tells the tale of an exterminator (Greg Grunberg) and his sidekick (Lombardo Boyar) who are caught in an epic battle when a military assault fails to contain a giant alien spider rampaging through the city of Los Angeles…
Check out this mechanical Piranha puppet video from Piranha 3D, up for sale right now on the Prop Store website HERE
John Thomas Sayles (born September 28, 1950) is an American independent film director, screenwriter and author. Sayles was born in Schenectady, New York, the son of Mary, a teacher, and Donald John Sayles, a school administrator.
Like Martin Scorsese and James Cameron, among others, Sayles began his film career working with Roger Corman, scripting Piranha. In 1979, Sayles funded his first film, Return of the Secaucus 7, with money he had in the bank from writing scripts for Roger Corman. He set the film in a large house so that he did not have to travel to or get permits for different locations, set it over a three-day weekend to limit costume changes, and wrote about people his age so that he could have his friends act in it. The film received near-unanimous critical acclaim, and in November 1997, the National Film Preservation Board announced that Return of the Secaucus 7 would be one of the 25 films selected that year for preservation in the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress.
Sayles wrote, Alligator and Battle Beyond the Stars (both 1980), before writing The Howling (1981) for Joe Dante. In 1983, after writing/directing the films Lianna and Baby It’s You, Sayles received a MacArthur Fellowship. He used the money to partially fund the fantasy The Brother from Another Planet, a film about a black, three-toed slave who escapes from another planet and finds himself at home among the people of Harlem.
Sayles wrote the scripts for The Clan of the Cave Bear (1986) and Wild Thing (1987), before directing the excellent Matewan (1987) and Eight Men Out (1988). In 1989, he created and wrote the pilot episode for the short-lived television show Shannon’s Deal. Sayles received a 1990 Edgar Award for his teleplay for the pilot. The show ran for only 16 episodes before being cancelled in 1991.
Sayles has funded most of his films by writing genre scripts such as Piranha, Alligator, The Howling and The Challenge, having collaborated with Joe Dante on Piranha and The Howling, Sayles acted in Dante’s underrated 1993 movie Matinee. In deciding whether to take a job, Sayles reports that he mostly is interested in whether there is the germ of an idea for a movie which he would want to watch. Sayles gets the rest of his funding by working as a script doctor; he apparently did rewrites for Apollo 13, and Mimic.
One such genre script, called Night Skies, inspired what would eventually become the highly successful film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. That film’s director, Steven Spielberg, commissioned Sayles to write a script for Jurassic Park IV.
He has directed the dramas, City of Hope (1991), Passion Fish (1992), The Secret of the Roan Inish (1994), Lone Star (1996), Men with Guns (1997), Limbo (1999), Sunshine State (2002), Casa de los Babys (2003), political comedy Silver City (2004) and musical Honeydripper (2007). Sayles 17th and latest feature film, was the historical war drama Amigo.
In February 2009, Sayles was reported to be writing an upcoming HBO series based on the early life of Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The drama, tentatively titled Scar Tissue, centers on Kiedis’s early years living in West Hollywood with his father. At that time, Kiedis’s father, known as Spider, sold drugs (according to legend, his clients included The Who and Led Zeppelin) and mingled with rock stars on the Sunset Strip, all while aspiring to get into showbiz.
His novel A Moment in the Sun, set during the same period as Amigo, in the Philippines, Cuba, and the US, was released in 2011 by McSweeney’s. He should belt out a few more cheesy-pulp-scripts, we could do with them about now.