Earlier this month we lost David Hess. He was 69 years old.
In Wes Craven's Last House On The Left and Ruggero Deodato's The House On The Edge Of The Park, Hess gave us two of horror's most unforgettably unpleasant villains in Krug Stillo and Alex.
The sleazy, deadly charisma with which Hess imbued these two iconic sociopaths made them perfect cinematic reflections of Charles Manson - albeit a more muscular, macho interpretation of the man - complete with devoted followers in tow, ready to do anything to please their murderous leader (most memorably Giovanni Lombardo Radice in Park).
Of course Hess was also a gifted musician, and his oddly inappropriate score for Last House really helps to accentuate the film's nasty vibe of bad acid and the Summer of Love gone very wrong. Sweet, folksy numbers like "Wait For The Rain" and the opening credits track (reprised in "Blow Your Brains Out") are just dripping with a kind of haunting, saccharine melancholy that gives the depravity and carnage on screen an extra dose of hallucinatory menace. Whatever the relative merits of the Last House soundtrack, it certainly still rates a mention just for being one of the strangest horror scores around.
However, removed from the disturbing context of pants-pissing and chest-carving, these sad songs are appropriate for spending a few minutes contemplating the life and achievements of one of horror's most undersung participants.
R.I.P. David Hess. Here.