RIP Bob Clark

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Scott
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RIP Bob Clark

Post by Scott » Wed Apr 04, 2007 8:36 pm

:( L.A. Times reports that Black Christmas and Porky's director Bob Clark along with his 22 year old sun were killed yesterday in a drunk driving accident. Bob Clark and Eddie Robinson in less than 24 hours. How depressing.


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Remo D
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Post by Remo D » Fri Apr 06, 2007 5:14 pm

From my Myspace blog...

The news came over the radio just as I was driving home from work today... director Bob Clark and his son were killed in an auto accident (drunken SUV driver apparently to blame).

Clark will always be best remembered for A CHRISTMAS STORY, and his biggest box-office winner may well have been PORKY'S, but those of you who read this blog are hopefully aware that he was responsible for some excellent 1970s horror. And if not--check it out!

I never did see Clark's first film--the transvestite epic SHE MALE--but his first film (as "Benjamin" Clark, for some reason) to achieve theatrical success and recognition was the admitted NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD variant CHILDREN SHOULDN'T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS (co-written by and starring Alan Ormsby). As the film has become a public-domain horror-host staple, I doubt I need to fill in the details--but the weird tale of a theatrical troupe messing around with evil rituals on an island cemetery took me by surprise late one Halloween night as part of a triple bill on WTBS. The characters were out-and-out WEIRD, the dialogue was gloriously ripe ("A boneyard? A BONEYARD? Give me a moment, Jeffrey--the magnitude of your simplitude overwhelms me!"), and the zombies themselves were genuinely SCARY--particularly Orville, the "payoff" corpse...

CHILDREN was creepy, goofy fun, but it was DEATHDREAM (aka DEAD OF NIGHT and several other titles) that took no prisoners. Give the assist to a young Tom Savini taking on his first cinematic horror makeup tasks, but the film is owned by Richard Backus as the soldier literally wished back from the dead by his heartbroken (and dysfunctional) family--to their ever-increasing regret, shock, horror... and even denial. In a recent interview with Greg Goodsell of SCREEM Magazine, screenwriter Ormsby wonders aloud if such a pointed anti-war film (the movie names no battlefield, but one easily presumes Vietnam) could be made and released today (well, ask Joe Dante about THAT one!), but even the politics take a back seat to the growing, suffocating feeling of dread that the film creates with the horror elements alone.

DEATHDREAM, unlike CHILDREN, had to bide its time for rediscovery, but it happened, all right--witness the special edition DVD.

The third time, however, truly was the charm for Clark--he created yet another favorite with the original BLACK CHRISTMAS (aka SILENT NIGHT, EVIL NIGHT and STRANGER IN THE HOUSE) in 1974. In this pre-HALLOWEEN outing, sorority sisters find themselves at the mercy of a psychopath who starts with disturbing obscene phone calls before playing for keeps. Margot Kidder's foul-mouthed coed quickly became a fan favorite, while Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea and the one and only John Saxon provide solid support throughout. Tom Savini was not on hand, as the killings were achieved with a minimum of gore and a maximum of giallo-flavored style (watch out for that crystal...). The tension never slacks--and the maddening finale provides no opportunity to let out a sigh of relief.

Three for three in my book. The genre credentials of Bob Clark remain sterling--although he chose not to return to the field.

Now, you can't help but notice the CHILDREN tribute in the graveyard sequence in PORKY'S 2: THE NEXT DAY. And the overwhelming popularity of A CHRISTMAS STORY (despite the lack of theatrical success) can be credited to the perverse humor as well as the obvious charm--who could forget Jeff Gillen (the late CHILDREN actor was also the co-director of DERANGED) as the abrasive Santa Claus? Ho... ho... ho...

Not all of Clark's works were classics, of course. I found LOOSE CANNONS very hard to sit through, and you'd have to seriously pay me to sit through the BABY GENIUSES films. On the other hand, I'm apparently the only one who liked his belated CHRISTMAS STORY followup MY SUMMER STORY (aka IT RUNS IN THE FAMILY). Sure, you don't get Darren McGavin as The Old Man anymore, but you DO get Charles Grodin, and he has his own amusing spin on the role "...son of a BITCH!" The tone is right, the Jean Shepherd stories are just as authentic--what's not to like? Somebody please explain?

But I'm bound to remember Bob Clark as the director who always succeeded when he wanted to scare me. Remakes of both CHILDREN and DEATHDREAM have been announced--with his supposed involvement. And while those seem increasingly unlikely as the years pass by, we DID get a Clark-sanctioned remake of BLACK CHRISTMAS last year. It's no match for the original (emphasis on gore courtesy of the FINAL DESTINATION guys), but you may recall that I actually thought it was one of the better recent remakes--keeping the premise but changing the story enough to make it a "new" movie... while keeping fans of the original in mind with nods to the plastic bags, the rocking chair... and the crystal. If this is to be Bob Clark's final screen credit, it's nothing to be ashamed of.

I only regret that I have to write this observance today at all.

Rest in peace, Bob Clark--and son. My sincere condolences to the Clarks and all of their friends and loved ones.

Shane "Remo D." Dallmann
My dog's breath smells like peanut butter...

...and I don't even have a dog!

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