Wednesday, October 12, 2011

No More Houses on the Left

I'll be honest in saying I'm a little sad to know that David A. Hess, star of Wes Craven's Last House on the Left, Ruggero Deodato's House on the Edge of the Park, and Pasquale Festa Campanile's Hitch-Hike is no longer with us. His family broke the news a few days ago via his Facebook account, and our sympathies go out to the wife and son he left behind.

Word is he was in talks to be in a sequel to House on the Edge of the Park, which Giovanni Lamberto Radice is still attached to (as far as I know, at least). Horror fans will probably remember his last role as the murderous director in Lee Demabre's 2009 horror-comedy Smash Cut, a film in which Hess essentially plays "The Godfather of Gore" himself, Herschell Gordon Lewis. I've put that film off for some time now - sorry guys, but releasing it on DVD and not Blu-ray when I know it was shot in HD is simply not the way to earn my money - but, under the circumstances I think I'm going to give it a watch sooner rather than later. 

Word is he was just a bit of an egotistical maniac, and there's little in various interviews - either from Hess himself or his contemporaries - to counter this. But really, how can we hold that against anyone who's iconic screen presence was playing an overbearing manipulative rapist? Some actors achieve greatness by turning their own personality off and disappearing into a role until not an ounce of themselves remain. Others simply tune into natural aspects of their personality and then crank them up past 11, removing their filters and letting whatever greatness and darkness exist in their personalities bubble up to the surface. With all due respect, I'm pretty sure Hess was the latter - not that there's anything wrong with it.

The legacy that Hess left us with are truly in Krug, Alex, and Adam, characters that represent the worst and most selfish in humanity. If getting that performance meant that Hess wasn't made of rainbows and sunshine, hell, that's fine by me. His "unsubtle" personality helped  horror films evolve and grow into something even greater and more (in)human, and I'm glad to have seen that evolution, if only retrospectively.

I've long felt that Hess composed a lovely requiem, and I suppose there's no better time to give it a listen.

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