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.
Joseph “Joe” Dante, Jr. (born November 28, 1946) is an American film director and producer of films generally with humorous and science fiction content. His films are well known for their movie in-jokes and their special visual effects.
Dante began his movie career working for Roger Corman, similar to Francis Ford Coppola and James Cameron, however unlike those directors, Dante has always maintained hi love of the ‘B’ movie. He worked as an editor on films such as ‘Grand Theft Auto’ before codirecting ‘Hollywood Boulevard’ with Allan Arkush.
His films include ‘Piranha’ (1978) and ‘The Howling’ (1981), both from scripts by John Sayles. Though the film has been noted for its semi-humorous screenplay, it began life as a more straight forward 1977 novel by Gary Brandner. After drafts by Jack Conrad (the original director who left following difficulties with the studio) and Terence H. Winkless proved unsatisfactory, director Joe Dante hired John Sayles to completely rewrite the script. Sayles rewrote the script with the same self-aware, satirical tone that he gave Piranha, and his finished draft bears only a vague resemblance to Brandner’s book.
After the release of The Howling, he was noticed by Steven Spielberg for whom he directed the third segment of ‘Twilight Zone: The Movie’ (1983), wherein a woman is ‘adopted’ by an omnipotent child. His first really big hit, Gremlins, which was also produced by Steven Spielberg, was released in 1984. ‘Gremlins’ (1984), his first major hit. The first Gremlins film is about a young man who receives a strange creature—called a Mogwai—as a pet, which then spawns other creatures who transform into small, destructive, evil monsters. Gremlins was a huge commercial success and received positive reviews from critics. However, the film was also heavily criticized for some of its more violent sequences. In response to this, and to similar complaints about other films (Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom), Steven Spielberg suggested that the MPAA reform its rating system, which it did within two months of the film’s release.
He would work with Spielberg again on Innerspace and a Gremlins sequel, ‘Gremlins 2: The New Batch’, released in 1990. In contrast to the lighter sequel, the original Gremlins opts for more black comedy, which is balanced against a Christmas-time setting. Both films were the center of large merchandising campaigns.
Films of varying success followed, ‘Explorers’ (1985), ‘Innerspace’ (1987), ‘Amazon Women on the Moon’ (1987); ‘The ‘Burbs’ (1989), ‘Matinee’ (1993), ‘Runaway Daughters’ (1994), ‘The Second Civil War’ (1997), ‘Small Soldiers’ (1998), ‘Looney Tunes: Back in Action’ (2003), and ‘Homecoming’ (2005). In 1995–1996, Dante worked on ‘The Phantom’, and when he was removed from the film, he chose screen credit (as executive producer) rather than pay. He was creative consultant on ‘Eerie, Indiana’ (1991–1992) and directed five episodes. He played himself in the series finale.
In 2007, Dante launched the web series, Trailers From Hell, which provides commentary by directors, producers and screenwriters on trailers for classic and cult movies. His last major release was the excellent, ‘The Hole’ (2009) which did quite well in the UK but was otherwise generally overlooked.
Martin Charles Scorsese (born November 17, 1942) is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, actor, and film historian. In 1990 he founded The Film Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to film preservation, and in 2007 he founded the World Cinema Foundation. He is a recipient of the AFI Life Achievemant Award for his contributions to cinema, and has won awards from the Oscars, Emmys, Golden Globe, BAFTA and the Directors Guild of America. He won the Academy Award for Best Director for ‘The Departed’ , having been nominated a previous five times.
Scorsese’s body of work addresses such themes as Italian American identity, Roman Catholic concepts of guilt and redemption, machismo, modern crime and violence. Scorsese is hailed as one of the most significant and influential American filmmakers of all time, directing landmark films such as ‘Mean Streets’, ‘Taxi Driver’, ‘Raging Bull’ and ‘Goodfellas’ – all of which he collaborated on with actor and close friend Robert De Niro.
Martin Scorsese was born in New York City; where he was raised in a devoutly Catholic environment. As a boy, he had asthma and couldn’t play sports or do any activities with other kids and so his parents and his older brother would often take him to movie theaters; it was at this stage in his life that he developed passion for cinema. His initial desire to become a priest while attending Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx gave way to cinema, and, consequently, Scorsese enrolled in NYU’s University College of Arts and Science, (now known as the College of Arts and Science), where he earned a B.A. in English in 1964. He went on to earn his M.F.A. from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts in 1966, a year after the school was founded.
Scorsese attended New York University’s film school (B.A., English, 1964; M.F.A., film, 1966) making the short films ‘What’s a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This?’ (1963) and ‘It’s Not Just You, Murray!’ (1964). His most famous short of the period is the darkly comic ‘The Big Shave’ (1967), which features Peter Bernuth. The film is an indictment of America’s involvement in Vietnam, suggested by its alternative title Viet ’67.
Also in 1967, Scorsese made his first feature-length film, the black and white ‘I Call first’, which was later retitled ‘Who’s That Knocking at My Door?’ with fellow student, actor Harvey Keitel, and editor Thelma Schoonmaker, both of whom were to become long-term collaborators. Even in embryonic form, the “Scorsese style” was already evident: a feel for New York Italian American street-life, rapid editing, an eclectic rock soundtrack, and a troubled male protagonist.
From there he became friends with the influential “movie brats” of the 1970s: Francis Ford Coppola, Brian De Palma, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. It was Brian De Palma who introduced Scorsese to Robert De Niro. During this period he worked as the assistant director and one of the editors on the documentary film ‘Woodstock’ and met actor-director John Cassavetes, who would also go on to become a close friend and mentor.
In 1972 Scorsese made the Depression-era exploition flick, ‘Boxcar Bertha’ for B-movie producer Roger Corman, who has also helped directors such as Francis Ford Coppola, James Cameron and John Sayles launch their careers. It was Corman who taught Scorsese that entertaining films could be shot with next to no money or time, preparing the young director well for the challenges to come with ‘Mean Streets’ (1973). following the film’s release, Cassavetes encouraged Scorsese to make the films that he wanted to make, rather than someone else’s projects.
Championed by influential movie critic Pauline Kael, Mean Streets was a breakthrough for Scorsese, De Niro, and Keitel. By now the signature Scorsese style was in place: macho posturing, bloody violence, Catholic guilt and redemption, gritty New York locale (though the majority of Mean Streets was actually shot in Los Angeles), rapid-fire editing, and a rock soundtrack. Although the film was innovative, its wired atmosphere, edgy documentary style, and gritty street-level direction owed a debt to directors Cassavetes, Samuel Fuller, and early Jean-Luc Godard. The film was completed with much encouragement from Cassavetes, who felt Boxcar Bertha was undeserving of the young director’s prodigious talent.
In 1974, after the success of ‘The Exorcist’, actress Ellen Burstyn was allowed to choose whoever she wanted to direct her next project; she chose Scorsese to direct her in ‘Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore’, for which she won an Academy Award for Best Actress. Although well regarded, the film remains an anomaly in the director’s early career, as it focuses on a central female character. It is a film that is used regularly as a rebuttal to those who maintain that Scorsese only makes macho movies.
Returning to Little Italy to explore his ethnic roots, Scorsese next came up with ‘Italianamerican’, a documentary featuring his parents, Charles and Catherine Scorsese. He would return with his greatest triumph…
Roger Corman veteran Louis Morneau (Joy Ride 2: Dead Ahead; The Hitcher II: I’ve Been Waiting; Bats), has started production on the film called, for now, Untitled Werewolf Thriller. Stephen Rea, Steven Bauer, Ed Quinn, Nia Peeples, Guy Wilson, Adam Croasdell and Rachel DiPillo are in the cast.
Universal Press Release: There’s no safe place to hide as the all-new supernatural Untitled Werewolf Thriller begins principal photography in and around Bucharest, Romania. Universal celebrates its storied history of creatures and horror with an exhilarating original adventure that embraces the popular cultural resurgence of the age-old werewolf myth. Breathtaking action and nail-biting suspense collide as an army of bounty hunters descend on a tiny hamlet in search of the most terrifying monster they have ever fought. The latest entry in the hugely successful DVD Originals line from Universal 1440 Entertainment, a production entity of Universal Studios Home Entertainment, Untitled Werewolf Thriller will be released on Blu-ray DVD, Digital Download and On Demand in time for Halloween 2012.
“Universal introduced the movie-going public to the ‘creature feature’ more than a half century ago,” said Glenn Ross, General Manager and Executive Vice President, Universal 1440 Entertainment. “Today,
audiences are once again enthralled by supernatural creatures in books, on television and in movies. Audiences young and old will enjoy this completely new take on a timeless story that is an essential part of Universal’s legacy.”
SYNOPSIS: A monstrous creature terrorizes a 19th Century European village by moonlight and a young man struggles to protect his loved ones from an unspeakable scourge in Untitled Werewolf Thriller, Universal Studios’ all-new addition to its time-honored legacy of supernatural thrillers.
During his studies with the local doctor (Stephen Rea), Daniel (Guy Wilson) witnesses the horrific consequences of werewolf attacks. Watching as the beast’s fearsome reputation draws bounty hunters, thrill seekers and charlatans to the tiny town, Daniel dreams of destroying the ruthless predator. So when a mysterious stranger (Ed Quinn) and his team of skilled werewolf hunters (Stephen Bauer, Adam Croasdell) arrive to pursue the monster, he offers to join them, despite his mother’s (Nia Peeples) protests. But it soon becomes clear that this creature is stronger, smarter and more dangerous than anything they have faced before. As casualties mount and villagers see their neighbors transformed into ravening monsters, the townsfolk take up arms against each other to find the true identity of the werewolf. Amid the hysteria, Daniel begins to suspect he’s closer to his target than he ever dreamed.