RIP: “Stepford” novelist Ira Levin

Novelist and playwright Ira Levin, 78, passed away from a heart attack on Monday, November 12, in New York City. Levin’s books ROSEMARY’S BABY and THE STEPFORD WIVES were adapted into films noted for their subtle, creepy horror. (The 2004 remake of STEPFORD was an ill-conceived black comedy.) LOOK WHAT’S HAPPENED TO ROSEMARY’S BABY was a lackluster 1976 made-for-TV sequel that was followed by Levin’s own novel, SON OF ROSEMARY, in 1997. The Nazi thriller THE BOYS FROM BRAZIL, dealing with a cloned Adolph Hitler, was turned into a 1978 film starring Sir Lawrence Olivier and Gregory Peck; a remake is planned for a 2009 release. His 1991 thriller SLIVER was the basis for the 1993 film starring Sharon Stone. His first novel, 1953’s A KISS BEFORE DYING, was made into films in 1956 and 1991. Levin was also author of the play DEATHTRAP, Broadway’s longest-running thriller, filmed with Michael Caine and Christopher Reeve in 1982. Levin wrote the play NO TIME FOR SERGEANTS, a comedy based on Mac Hyam’s novel, about a hillbilly drafted into the air force. Andy Griffith reprised the role for the 1958 film version, making him a star; the film is considered the inspiration for the hit TV series GOMER PYLE, USMC.

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Charles Griffith, Roger Corman's favorite screenwriter, dies

Roger Corman and Charles GriffithCharles Griffith, the prolific writer of dozens of scripts for low-budget movies, including the original version of LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, has died at the age of 77, from unknown causes.
Griffith is most well known for his long association with producer-director Roger Corman, who churned out numerous black-and-white sci-fi flicks back in the 1950s. Their credits together include IT CONQUERED THE WORLD, ATTACK OF THE CRAB MONSTERS, and NOT OF THIS EARTH. One of their best efforts was THE UNDEAD (1957), a Bridie Murphy-inspired tale of past-life regression to the witch-burning era, but they really hit their stride when Griffith planted his tongue firmly in his cheek. Read More

Lois Maxwell – Bond's Miss Moneypenny – dies

Lois Maxwell with Sean Connery in an early Bond filmLois Maxwell, known to millions of fans for playing Miss Moneypenny in the James Bond films, died in a hospital in Australia on Saturday. She was 80.
Maxwell was one of those busy British thespians who goes from role to role, earning a living without ever becoming a star. Her appearances as the secretary of M division, who has a not-so-secret crush on James Bond, brought her greater visibility, although she was usually on screen for only a minute or two, just long enough to trade a few witticisms.
Still, Maxwell deserves her place in film history: she played Moneypenny in 1961’s DR. NO, the first big-screen Bond adventure, and went on to reprise the role in all the subsequent films until 1085’s A VIEW TO A KILL – a total of 14 in all, making her the performer with the longest unbroken string of appearances in the series.
Maxwell also had roles LOLITA (1962) and THE HAUNTING (1963); the latter is one of the best haunted house horror movies ever made. After 1985, she more or less retired from the screen, starting a publishing company in Canada and eventually moving to Australia.
For a detaled obituary, click here.

Obituary: William Tuttle

William Tuttle, one of the pioneering greats in the history of movie monster makeup, has passed away. Tuttle spent most of his long career at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, a studio more known for glossy musicals than misshapen monsters, but when the opportunity arose he truly excelled at his work.

William Tuttle transformed Carol Borland and Bela Lugosi into vampires for MARK OF THE VAMPIRE (1935).

One of his earliest jobs was on the 1935 film MARK OF THE VAMPIRE, director Tod Browning’s unofficial follow-up to his earlier hits LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT (1927) and DRACULA (1931). In it, Bela Lugosi played not Dracula but Count Mora, with a bullet hole in his head to indicate that he had died from suicide. Read More

Ingmar Bergman & Michelangelo Antonioni, R.I.P.

Within days, two of the most famous names in the world of European art house filmmaking have passed away: Ingmar Bergman and Michelangelo Antonioni.
Both men were known for making unique, highly personal, ambitious, symbolic, even confusing films with a reputation for appealing to sophisticated audiences and critics (although both of them occasionally met with derision from the intelligensia for going too far).

The Seventh Seal (1957)
Death plays chess with a knight in Bergman’s THE SEVENTH SEAL

What I want to add to the conversation is to point out that, despite their reputation for rarified high-brow intellectualism, both Bergman and Antonioni made entertaining films that in various ways influenced the horror genre. Read More