Thursday, April 9, 2015

RIP, Tom Towles

Veteran character actor Tom Towles passed away earlier this week due to complications from a stroke he suffered while in Florida.  He was 65.
Not known to casual movie fans, Towles should be instantly recognizable to fans of the horror genre.  His IMDb bio describes him as often playing "scumbags or obnoxious men," which maybe seems harsh, but that is an accurate description.  Towles was real good at playing sons-of-bitches.

His first big role was in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (filmed in 1985, not released until 1990), opposite Michael Rooker.  The pair would prove to be electric.  Towles' character of Otis was based on real life serial killer Ottis Toole.  He's an absolute degenerate and sociopath and Towles is fantastic, displaying those qualities with a scary realism.
The thing I am most familiar with and am a fan of is Towles' turn as Harry Cooper in Tom Savini's under-appreciated remake of Night of the Living Dead (1990).  Good god, is he so hatable in that movie!  He shouts and he's stubborn and he's one of the supreme jerks of all time.  He's so damn good!
"Bunch of yo-yos!"
Towles would go on to star in smaller movies (like Adam Wingard's directorial debut Home Sick [2007]) and be featured in bigger movies (The Rock [1996]), usually in the horror or action genres.  Like any character actor, he also had a string of television appearances in everything from comedies to dramas to science fiction.  His gruff and rough demeanor served him well throughout the years.

It's a shame he's gone.  He was a good actor.  RIP, Tom Towles.

Tom Towles would reteam with Henry director John McNaughton on The Borrower (1991).  This trailer name drops Hellraiser, Reanimator, and, uh, Warlock, so maybe it's worth checking out:

Towles would co-star in Stuart Gordon's The Pit and the Pendulum (1991), reminding me once again that I need to see that movie.  The very next year he would co-star with Christopher Lambert in Gordon's science fiction action movie, Fortress (1992), reminding me that I once saw that movie.

In a first season episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993) he played a Klingon who dies on the transporter pad.  It's a brief appearance but he's a catalyst for the events of the episode.

In 1997 he would double dip into the Star Trek universe, playing a different bumpy headed alien on a season three episode of Voyager.

Seinfeld ("The Glasses," 1993).  Towles is credited as "Tough Guy."

Inspector Anthony Lastarza on NYPD Blue (1993-94).

Gridlock'd (1997)

Firefly (2002)

House of 1000 Corpses (2003), as George Wydell.  
He would reprise the role in The Devils's Rejects (2005).  I think his performance in Corpses might be better, but Rejects is the superior movie.

Miami Vice (2006)

Werewolf Women of the S.S. (fake trailer from Grindhouse [2007]).

Tom Towles

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