Purely and Simply Evil
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Boxborough, MA
James Isaac, director of JASON X and THE HORROR SHOW, Passes Away at 51
RIP, good sir.
REMEMBERING JAMES ISAAC (1960-2012)
The horror community received some very sad news this morning: director and special FX artist James Isaac passed away over the weekend at age 51. Read on for remembrances from David Cronenberg and others.
Isaac’s career spanned many levels of horror; his FX prowess can be seen in films like GREMLINS, ENEMY MINE and Cronenberg’s THE FLY, NAKED LUNCH and EXISTENZ. But many fans know him best for directing THE HORROR SHOW, JASON X and SKINWALKERS, the latter of which saw him teaming up with the Stan Winston team to create werewolves. His most recent movie, PIG HUNT, was part of the FANGORIA FrightFest in 2010. Isaac had been diagnosed with a form of blood cancer, and after lengthy treatments finally lost the battle. Fango would like to offer our deepest condolences to all of Isaac’s friends and family; he was a true talent and a colleague that we’re proud to have worked with.
“To lose such a rowdy, interesting filmmaker and wonderful human being at such a young age is a tragedy,” says Fango editor Chris Alexander. “I speak for many of us who, after seeing the wonderful PIG HUNT, couldn’t wait to see what lunacy Jim had up his sleeve next. And even though we won’t see a follow-up picture from Jim, his stylish, varied body of work will endure.”
Cronenberg tells Fango, “Jim and I became very close friends collaborating on my movies, starting with THE FLY in 1985 and ending with his directing me in JASON X in 2000. He was funny, friendly, insightful, inventive and a great comrade-in-arms. It’s hard to believe we won’t get to play together again.”
And Fango’s Tony Timpone says, “It’s really heartbreaking to lose a member of the Fango Family like James Isaac. We’ve been covering his work in the pages of the magazine since he started out as an FX artist in the 1980s. I first met him on the Toronto set of Cronenberg’s THE FLY in 1985, and was blown away by the creature work he was doing as part of Chris Walas’ Oscar-winning makeup FX team. Fango later chronicled his jump into directing with THE HORROR SHOW, and in May 2000 I was back in Toronto dropping by the set of Jim’s underappreciated JASON X. Producer Sean Cunningham had been singing Jim’s praises to me for years, and it was thrilling to see the wiry director in action, boldly reinventing the FRIDAY THE 13TH franchise for a new generation.
“Shortly after he wrapped production on his final film, PIG HUNT, an excited Isaac sent me a copy of his movie to gauge my opinion. I loved his crazy horror/action hybrid and programmed the film as a world premiere at Montreal’s Fantasia film festival in 2008. Jim enthusiastically showed up at the screening with his entire cast and crew and family, and the audience really loved the movie. Jim had a vested interest in seeing PIG HUNT succeed, as unlike his previous screen efforts—especially the studio-altered SKINWALKERS—he largely had the kind of creative freedom he always yearned for to make the film he wanted to make. Jim also promoted his movies with gusto at our FANGORIA Weekend of Horrors conventions, always going the extra mile by bringing his actors with him along with exclusive footage.
“What I’m most proud of in my too-short association with Jim is that, through 2010’s inaugural FANGORIA FrightFest VOD/DVD initiative, we acquired PIG HUNT for release. Jim really felt his movie would benefit from Fango being on board, and it’s something that I wanted as well, as PIG HUNT was the best of our eight movies. And it sold really well too. Being a part of Jim’s cinematic legacy is a small consolation on this sad occasion of his premature passing.
“On a personal level, whereas most people in the film industry want to know what you can do for them, Jim was always the kind of guy who wanted to know what he could do for you. He was also loyal to his friends, and a dedicated husband and father. Simply put, he was a good guy.”