A Tribute To Karen Black

PREPARING to meet a typically nasty end in his umpteenth forgettable horror film of the year, the late Peter Cushing once memorably summed up his craft with the pithy observation: “You can’t fall into a tank of spiders and be Brando.”

How right he was. No matter how great the actor he (or she) is entirely reliant on the material and my, it is so easy to slip from Mutiny On The Bounty to Mutiny On The Buses.

Take Karen Black, who died on Thursday. She enjoyed considerable success in the Seventies on the back of appearances in such seminal movies as Easy Rider and Five Easy Pieces but, despite working with the likes of Robert Altman and Alfred Hitchcock, spent the past few decades lending her familiar features to increasingly meretricious straight-to-DVD movies.

It was all so unfair. Her decline had more to do with lack of luck than lack of talent. As has been observed, few could better Black’s histrionics at recoiling from the unwelcome advances of an African fetish doll but alas it’s a skill unlikely to secure you another Oscar nomination.

Such films as The Wacky Adventures Of Dr Boris And Nurse Shirley and Plan 10 From Outer Space may have kept her face in front of the public but they did little to enhance her reputation.