Death, it would seem, always seem to happen in threes. Recently 2 figures in the horror/exploitation community: Jess Franco and Richard Brooker (the first actor to ever wear the quintessential Jason Hockey Mask), and a great critic who would, at times, wage war against the genre, but always knew art when he saw it: Roger Ebert.
After the break, you’ll find obituaries celebrating the lives of these men who entertained and, at times, enraged us, but all the same, had our respect.
Jess Franco, the prolific Spanish filmmaker who became renowned for his low-budget cult films, died in Malaga, Spain, of heart complications. He was 82.
Franco’s feature pic debut came in 1959 with “We Are 18 Years Old,” but the helmer found more mainstream success with 1962?s “The Awful Dr. Orlof,” which received wide distribution Stateside and in Blighty. He is best known for his contributions to the cinema fantastique genre, which veered away from the mainstream and employed supernatural phenomena in otherwise realistic narratives. Notable credits include “Necronomicon,” (1967), “Count Dracula” (1969), “Vampyros Lesbos” (1970), “Dracula vs. Frankenstein” (1971), and “Oasis of the Zombies” (1983).
The auteur steered the 1960s Spanish horror boom, and even in the face of fascist censorship, placed sex, blood and gore at the front and center of his motion pics.
Born Jesus Franco on May 12, 1930, in Madrid, Spain, the would-be cineaste got his start composing music at age six and followed that passion to the Real Conservatorio de Madrid, where he studied piano and harmony. Franco penned work as an easy-read novelist before entering the Instituto de Investigaciones y Experiencias Cinematograicas and enrolling at the I.D.H.E.C. (U. of Sorbonne), where he studied helming techniques.
Back in Spain, Franco began composing and worked at Agata Films S.A. as a production manager and scribe. And when the censorship curtain on the home front was raised in the ’70s, Franco’s foray into bizarre filmmaking blossomed. Additional credits include “Succubus” (1968), which was nommed for the Festival of Berlin, and the Christopher Lee-starrer “Count Dracula” (1969). Franco also worked frequently with thesp Soledad Miranda and wife Lina Romay.
The auteur’s career spanned nearly six decades, and Franco snagged an honorary Goya award in 2009. Franco’s final work, “Al Pereira vs The Alligator Women,” opened last month in Spain.
Source: Bloody Disgusting
Some sad news today as Richard Brooker, the very first Jason to ever wear a Hockey Mask, has passed away at the age of 58. Having portrayed Mr. Voorhees in Steve Miner’s Friday The 13th: Part 3, Brooker went onto another acting role in 1983?s Deathstalker before moving on to a career as a horse trainer.
As a child, Brooker was definitely in my nightmares. That shot of him as Jason, looking through the window and smiling at our heroine in the canoe in the middle of the lake… for whatever reason it was one of the more indelibly frightening moments of my childhood.
Source: Shock Till You Drop
Tragic news for the world of film and film criticism today as it’s being reported that veteran Chicago film critic Roger Ebert has passed away at the age of 70 from complications due to cancer.
This news comes just one day after Ebert announced a “Leave of Presence” due to the fact that the cancer he’d been fighting since 2002 had resurfaced following a fractured hip operation in 2012.
This announcement came 46 years to the date that the beloved critic began writing film reviews for the Chicago Sun-Times in 1967, winning the first and only Pulitzer Prize for film criticism eight years later. He had already started to undergo radiation treatment to fight the cancer.
Whether you agreed with his opinions on movies or not, there’s no denying that Ebert was one of the most ground-breaking film critics of the past few decades, breaking ground as long-time print critic for the Sun-Times, on television with his shows “Sneak Previews” and “At the Movies,” as well as with his foray onto the internet with his blog at RogerEbert.com.
Most people across the world came to know Ebert through the television program “At the Movies with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert” which later became “Siskel and Ebert at the Movies,” where they made popular the “two thumbs up” approach to reviewing films. When Siskel passed away in 1999, Ebert was joined by Richard Roeper and they continued together until 2006 when he was no longer able to speak without using a voice machine.
Ebert continued to herald independent films and filmmakers on his blog and with his annual “Ebertfest” that championed overlooked films from the past. Ebert left us with these ominous words in what would be the last post of his life: “At this point in my life, in addition to writing about movies, I may write about what it’s like to cope with health challenges and the limitations they can force upon you. It really stinks that the cancer has returned and that I have spent too many days in the hospital. So on bad days I may write about the vulnerability that accompanies illness. On good days, I may wax ecstatic about a movie so good it transports me beyond illness.” “I’ll be able at last to do what I’ve always fantasized about doing: reviewing only the movies I want to review.”
He is survived by his wife of 11 years, Chaz Ebert née Hammelsmith, who had been producing the most recent incarnation of “At the Movies” with plans for a Kickstarter program to try to revive the show.