When I was approached by Dylan of StarCostumes.com about doing an article for Dead End Drive-In, I was extremely excited. I haven't been able to do much work on the blog due to being extremely busy with other stuff, so I hopped on the opportunity to have someone else give their thoughts to the blog. So without wasting anymore time, here is what Dylan Duarte had to say about Keith David and his contributions to the horror genre.
Keith David Retrospective - 31 Years (And counting) of Being Awesome
Keith David - film, television, and occasional stage actor - turned 54-years-old this June. His first role, uncredited, was in 1979's Disco Godfather, meaning he's been entertaining audiences for 31 years and hopefully will continue to do so for 31 more. Let's take a look at some of his great horror work.
Based on Ray Nelson's shorty story "Eight O'Clock in the Morning," John Carpenter's They Live pitted Keith David and professional wrestler "Rowdy" Roddy Piper against an alien invasion. Our heroes were in the minority, however, as the aliens had most of humanity fooled with their human disguises, which could only be seen through with special pairs of sunglasses. It was awesome and allowed for our heroes to look like badasses wherever they went.
Despite the alien menace, one of the most memorable scenes in the movie is a comically-prolonged alleyway fight scene between Piper and David, which has been recently parodied in South Park.
The Puppet Masters
This sci-fi horror film based on a novel by legendary author Robert A. Heinlein is more well-known for its troubles than for the actual film itself. The story revolves around alien parasites that can control human minds and their efforts to take over the planet. Despite having a cast featuring Keith David, Donald Sutherland, and Will Patton, the film only holds a 29% on Rotten Tomatoes, although the reviews seemed to think it mediocre rather than flat out bad.
The problems seem to be with the screenwriters, of which there were nine. Ted Elliot, Terry Rossio, David S. Goyer, James Bonny, Richard Finney, Michael Engelberg, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and the film's director, Stuart Ome, all took a crack at the script. I wonder what went wrong?
Although only a decade old, this Vin Diesel breakthrough vehicle has already amassed a cult following, and I am a proud member of that cult. The film followed the crew of a transport ship that crash lands on a strange desert planet. They soon learn of the planet's vicious nocturnal inhabitants, who kill quickly and without mercy. Fortunately, the creatures only hunt in the dark and the planet has multiple suns. Unfortunately, an eclipse is coming. Keith David plays Imam, a Muslim who acts as the voice of faith and reason. Although it's a small roll, David has a knack for making his presence known.
David reprised his role in the 2004 sequel The Chronicles of Riddick.
Against the Dark
Only a year old and by all logic probably really terrible (though I'm still going to watch it), Against the Dark is noteworthy for being Steven Seagal's horror debut. Seagal plays Tao, who leads a group of ex-military vigilantes as they attempt to rescue a group of survivors trapped in a hospital during a zombie outbreak.
David plays Lt. Waters and seems to be the antagonist of the film, wanting to drop bombs and level the entire hospital. Keith David makes anything watchable, bad guy or not. Hell, Steven Seagal or not. Let's hope there's another extended fight scene where he puts Seagal in his place.
Although this was David's first horror movie and this list is in chronological order, I decided to save the best for last. The Thing is one of the greatest horror films of all time, and although Kurt Russell's R.J. MacReady is the star, Keith David's Childs gives him a serious run for the money. The Thing tells the story of a shape-shifting alien attacking an Antarctic research base that is manned by the most badass scientists of all time.
The film originally did poorly at the box office but has found a massive cult following since its release, and rightfully so. A prequel film is currently in the works which will almost definitely be terrible. Ron Moore, the creator of the excellent Battlestar Galactica, wrote the original screenplay, which would give one a glimmer of hope. However, Eric Heisserer, the screenwriter behind the not-so-excellent Nightmare on Elm Street remake, was then brought in to do a complete rewrite.
Happy Birthday, Keith.
Dylan Duarte is a television and film buff and writer who writes about Halloween costumes over at
StarCostumes.com. He can be reached at dylnduarte at gmail.com.
Thank you Dylan for putting in so much time and effort into showing us how Keith David has contributed to the horror genre. I know a lot of people love his work, including myself, and I know we all look forward to seeing whatever else he comes out with in the future. Please check out Dylan's site StarCostumes.com and tell him how awesome he did for Dead End Drive-In.