SEND IN THE CLOWNS: Remembering Sid Haig
80 years young, and we’ve lost one of our lesser known icons. He may not have been Christopher Lee or Vincent Price, but Sid Haig was a character. A ‘character actor’ that had featured in films from 1962 until the day he died, there are still several to be released starring the great man, including his last time as Captain Spaulding (3 From Hell, on DVD October 14th). The homicidal clown, in Rob Zombie’s films about a gang of maniacs, is how most people know of Haig, yet he has appeared in many things you may not be aware of.
Think of a TV show from your childhood, go on: TJ Hooker, A-Team, Charlie’s Angels, Mission Impossible, Buck Rogers, Dukes of Hazzard, Six million dollar man, Man from U.N.C.L.E., even Star Trek and Batman. He was in them all, and that was only the tip of the iceberg. The man did Blaxploitation films with Pam Grier, he was in films directed by the king of exploitation: Jack Hill, played drums for the Righteous brothers, was on The Lucy show with Lucille Ball. Plus, starring in a bunch of horror films over the years, like Blood Bath, Galaxy of Terror, and the recent western that outdid many a gore film, Bone Tomahawk. Tarantino directed him a few times, George Lucas’ first film featured that infamous chrome dome.
He always appeared bald and often with a beard, but in the Jack Hill comedy horror freakout named ‘Spider Baby’ he was clean shaven, and as referred to in the film ‘’a big kid’; resembling an overgrown baby. His, once-seen-never-forgotten entrance is more like that of a pet dog, and as the running time ticks along Haig’s Ralph becomes more and more animalistic. He’s not in that many scenes and says not one word, rather he grunts a lot, and steals the film. The word cult could have been invented for Spider Baby, it acts as a prototype for the ‘Devil’s Rejects’, but plays out like a really messed up Addams Family. Made on the budget of a postage stamp, but with surprisingly good production value in the set dressing, it has certified itself amongst those Midnight Movies that people talk about, yet when you hear the plot you question whether it’s in their imagination if it exists or not. An experience, rather than a film.
So, next time someone suggests watching a Sid Haig film ('cause that happens every day of the week) sure, go ahead and stick on a Rob Zombie film, crack open a beer, get out the snacks, invite your friends over for a weekend horror-athon, and follow it with Spider Baby.