An individual exhibiting such uniqueness or individuality that he or she will cause a roomful of bar cronies to exclaim, "That's one interesting motherfucker!" Actual sexual relations with one's mother are not required.
Everybody always talks about the category of working actor known as "the guy you see in every movie ever, like that one film where he was the neighbor of the guy who was the werewolf, you know, what was it called?" But few people every talk about the class of the working actor known only as, "Hey, it's that guy!" and then your friend says "What guy?" and you say, "Him, right there next to Don Johnson," and your friend says "Who? I've never seen him before," and you say "Sure you have, he was in that one film, you know, what was it called?" and your friend says "Nope, never seen him," and you say, "I fucked your wife."
Unfortunately, for most of his career, Sid Haig has been that that actor. (On the up side, I have it from trustworthy sources that Sid Haig did fuck your wife.) He gets steady work, has appeared in dozens of movies, but never really stood out enough to be recognizable. It's not to say he's not a striking, standout-looking dude. He tops off at well above six feet, wears a handsome kind of ugly and has become notorious for the bald pate he first showcased in 1964's seminal horror flick "Spider Baby." In fact, if you were to compare the modern day Sid Haig with a famous historical figure you would have to say Sid looks a lot like Satan. At least the popular interpretation of Satan: bald head, beard and a quietly threatening presence. But Sid is more of a white trash Satan. His beard's a little too scraggy and his vocal mannerisms a little to exuberant to be the real thing.
But even though Sid/Satan has appeared in innumerable films and television shows since the mid sixties (including some classics like "THX 1138," "Foxy Brown" and "Death Car on the Freeway" (Yes, the original "Death Car on the Freeway"!)) I have to confess he didn't really register on my pop culture Geiger counter until I saw him in this summer's "The Devil's Rejects." Herein, Sid played crazed killer clown Captain Spaulding, a role he reprised from the 2003 film, "House of 1000's Corpses." Some debate ran on the Acid Logic guestbook as to whether "Devil's Rejects" was a great horror film. It wasn't, I authoritatively commanded, but it was a great western in the style of Sam Peckinpah. A gang of criminal anti-heroes face off against a police force led by a lawman willing to abolish his moral code in order to exact vengeance. Sid, actor and occasional Buckethead collaborator William Moseley and director Rob Zombie's wife Sheri Moon Zombie were all great as a family of misfits so devoid of an ethical compass they have no compunction about killing, raping and torturing anyone who crosses their path.
"The Devil's Rejects" was actually a significant departure from its predecessor, "House of 1000 Corpses" which is a more straight-ahead horror flick in the style of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" or Sid's own "Spider Baby." In "...Corpses" the family of sickos live in a ramshackle house and torment and kill any of the wayward teenagers who Captain Spaulding manages to lure to their door. It's a clichéd plot, but Zombie managed to up the notch of horror a bit, making the movie more demented and gruesome than what audiences come to expect*. (Director Eli Roth has been uping the notch even further recently with "Cabin Fever" and "Hostel.") It was a disturbing, not particularly pleasant romp through a landscape of violence that made you simultaneously gasp in awe of Zombie's gruesome taboo bending while wondering how fundamentally healthy a society that watched such films could be.
* One could argue that Zombie was really returning to the darkest period of American horror - the mid seventies and films like "Last House on the Left" and "I Spit On Your Grave."
But while the Captain Spaulding character may be the persona that catapulted Sid to international fame and glory, we would be remiss not to note that he's been in the acting game for decades and has inserted himself into a wide array of characters and creations (as well as your wife.) You know how you often read about the history of some weirdo bit actor that's played a variety of monsters and heavies only to discover they are acclaimed thespians who studied with the finest theatrical gurus of the western world? Well, Sid's no different. After a brief stint right out of high school as a professional drummer, gawky, uber-tall Sid enrolled in the Pasedena Playhouse, from wherein such luminaries as Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman and Robert Young had graduated. A few years later Sid emerged fresh-faced from the acting school and got his first job acting in Director Jack Hill's student film, "The Host." The Jack Hill connection would prove vital to Sid's career, as Hill was a prominent exploitation director during the sixties and seventies. Indeed, in 1964, Hill and Haig worked together again on the aforementioned "Spider Baby." While seeming tame by today's standards, "Spider Baby" was quite an eyebrow raiser in its day, telling the story of a strange family (featuring a pair of totally cute sisters) who live in a dilapidated house. The kinfolk share a rare disease that causes them to mentally regress as they physically age, to the point that they revert to the "pre-natal state" of cannibalistic flesh eaters. Acting alongside veteran horror actor Lon Cheney Sid played Ralph, a speechless, retarded gimp with a penchant for hunting cats and raping nubile MILFs like co-star Carol Ohmart.
From there Sid starred, often as a bad guy, in a steady stream of films throughout the 60's and 70's, including a Che Guevara autobiography, 1969's "Che," The James Bond flick, "Diamonds Are Forever," and several Pam Grier blaxploitation flicks like the stellar "Coffy," the almost equally impressive "Foxy Brown," and the rather crappy, "Black Mama, White Mama." (Sid is the main bright light in the film (after Pam Grier's nude scenes) as an over-the-top cowboy bounty hunter.)
As the 80's came about the exploitation movement started to die down a bit and Sid worked less. He did appear in a film I remember being terrified of when I saw it as a kid, "Galaxy of Terror" (co-starring with "Happy Day's" Erin Moran), a movie that would probably reveal itself to be an "Alien" rip-off were I to watch it today. A quick listing of the names of the characters Sid played in this era (as provided by IMDB) will give you a flavor for the quality of movies his was acting in. Cutter, Iggy, Turkish General, Quuhod, The Warlord... you get the picture.
When the 90's came around Sid's employment opportunities were becoming even less promising. Matters weren't helped in 1992 when Sid announced, "I'll never play another stupid "heavy" again, and I don't care if that means that I never work, ever." Lo and behold it was a mere five years later when Sid was reunited with Pam Grier in her Quentin Tarantino helmed comeback epic, "Jackie Brown." True to his word, Sid was not a baddie but a sober judge.
By 2002, Sid apparently reversed his vow never to play heavies and signed up for the aforementioned Captain Spaulding role in "House of 1000 Corpses." That and "Devil's Rejects" revitalized his career enough that he's got several interesting looking projects coming up including a 3D remake of "Night of the Living Dead" and what promises to be his definitive role as clown Seymour Smiles in "Little Big Top."
On a personal note, Haig just married his longtime girlfriend, Susan L. Oberg. She's got to be at least twenty years younger than him and is pretty hot.
And don't forget he fucked your wife.
What do you mean you aren't married?
What do you think America? Leave your comments on the Guestbook!
Wil Forbis is the pen named shared by such noted authors as James Ellroy, Katie Roiphe, and Jim Thompson. E-mail him, I mean, them, at email@example.com
View Wil's Acid Logic web log, a stirring endorsement of sex with pandas!
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