David Hess, RIP: The actor who played one of the most notorious screen villians in horror history has died. His children have released a statement:
“It is with great sadness that we have said our last goodbyes to our beloved dad and friend to all. David passed away peacefully last night. The Mad Hessian lives on in his family, friends, and all of his devoted fans. Sing a song in celebration of his life.”
David Hess made his film debut as Krug Stillo in Wes Craven’s infamous horror flick The Last House on the Left (also Craven’s director debut). The film, based on the Ingmar Bergman classic The Virgin Spring, featured Hess as a repellent rapist/murderer who led his gang to torture and kill two young girls. Hess’ performance is so realistic (helped by Craven’s almost-documentary feel) that it would not soon be forgotten, and his role in Last House on the Left would follow him throughout his career.
Hess also starred in some other minor cult classics, including the 1980 film The House on the Edge of the Park, by Ruggero Deodato (Deodato also gave us Cannibal Holocaust). In that movie, Hess portrayed another a razor-wielding psychopath at a high society party. He also starred in the 1977 exploitation film Hitch-Hike, where he played a crazy hitchhiker (see a pattern here?) who is picked up by a couple (Franco Nero and Corinne Clery). Hess also had a role in Craven’s 1982 monster pic Swamp Thing, starred in the 2009 film Smash Cut (directed by Lee Demarbre of Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter fame), and even reprised his role as Alex (supposedly) in the upcoming House on the Edge of the Park Part II.
What lots of people didn’t know about David Hess was that he was a professional songwriter, using the pseudonym David Hill. Before Last House… he had composed songs for Sal Mineo, the Ames Brothers, Elvis Presley, and Pat Boone (the tune “Speedy Gonzales” became a hit single).
Asked once, “What do you believe happens to us when we die?” Hess replied: “I don’t want to think about that just yet. Ask me after I die, I’ll let you know.”
Hess passed away on October 8th, 2011, from a rumored heart attack, at the age of 69. He leaves behind a wife and three children. May he rest in peace.