Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Charles E. Sellier, Jr. - R.I.P.



CHARLES E. SELLIER, JR.
(11/19/1943 – 1/31/2011)

One of the most interesting and contradictory figures in the exploitation cinema history books, Sellier perfected the "four-walling" technique of film distribution while working for American National Enterprises and CVD Studio Center and later made millions for Sunn Classic Pictures as their senior v.p. and top producer. Even the Sunn films that were made without his involvement, like BROTHER OF THE WIND and CHARIOTS OF THE GODS?, continued to have theatrical life years after their initial releases thanks to his marketing ingenuity. It's been at least a quarter of a century since the T.O.S. crew tried to sit through a Sunn production, but we fondly recall the saturation TV advertising for their nature-oriented kiddie matinees and bullshit quasi-documentaries and still have the paperback tie-ins for every one of them (Sellier was a writer as well, and even penned the novelization of THE BOOGENS). To some, he's best known for THE LIFE AND TIMES OF GRIZZLY ADAMS (1974) and the television series that followed (1977-1978), while to others he'll be remembered as the man who made the notorious Santa Claus slasher flick SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT (1984). Sellier passed away January 31st at age 67.














































10 comments:

Robert said...

Their advertising was damned persuasive when I was a kid, and they did force me to part with my allowance on a few occasions. Always loved the Sunn Classics logo, too.

W.B. Kelso said...

Aw, man. Truly odious news. One of those quieter patron saints of schlock and psuedo-science-schlock that probably deserved more recognition. As a child of the '70s I bought into this hook, line and bowl of Quisp cereal.

I've found the ads for "Noah's Ark" "Beyond and Back" and posted the ones for "Mysterious Monsters" awhile back.

This is a sign that I really, really, really need to dust off and finish that review of "The Bermuda Triangle."

Nick Cato said...

The only coverage I'v seen of this---great job.

Temple of Schlock said...

Thanks Nick!

Two others:

SCENES FROM THE MORGUE: RETRO-PULP MOVIE ADS
http://scenesfromthemorgue.blogspot.com/2011/02/beyond-and-back-in-memoriam-robert.html

THE DEAD NEXT DOOR
http://regionalhorrorfilms.blogspot.com/2011/02/rip-charles-e-sellier-jr.html

Hairy Ragamuffin said...

It would be great if you could post a few posters or ads or maybe a few articles about Sellier. Thanks in advance.

Temple of Schlock said...

Hahahaha. You got jokes, Ragamuffin.

mikemacnaptown said...

Too bad to hear about Sellier's death; he does indeed seem to have been a very contradictory man. (Or maybe Henning Schellerup- another man with some "interesting and contradictory" movies to his credit- simply derailed Sellier off of the family movie track for a while in the eighties...)

Two questions: Did anyone else go with Sellier from American National/CVD to Sun? Sellier doesn't get any blame by name as the guilty party who took the Bigfoot footage from American National/CVD and gave it to Sunn in those two articles about Bigfoot-related lawsuits- but I thought it was interesting that the second article noted that the plaintiffs "had failed to include an unnamed 'indispensible party' in the suit", and wondered if that unnamed party was Sellier himself, or someone else who left American National/CVD for Sunn.

Also, I was only vaguely aware that Legend of the Wild existed, so I looked it up on the IMDb, and found a user review claiming that the vast majority of the film consisted of clips from the Grizzly Adams TV show, clips from the Grizzly Adams Christmas special (or TV movie?) from the late seventies, Once Upon a Starry Night, and clips from the movie The Adventures of Frontier Fremont. Does anyone know if this is true, or is it just more IMDb BS?


The only two Sun(n) movies I've seen are Chariots of the Gods and The Outer Space Connection- and I think I saw them both at the Greenbriar (now known as the Cinemagrill), which was about a mile or so away from where I lived at the time. I had also read the Chariots of the Gods book, and five or six others like it (plus one or two books that ridiculed and debunked the others), so those two movies were exactly the sort of thing I was fascinated with, back then. (But I guess I didn't care any more by the time their other movies along somewhat similar lines came out, since I remember hearing about the movies, and not having any interest in seeing them.)

I wish I'd seen a few more of their movies, though- especially The Lincoln Conspiracy, which has a cast of interesting veteran character actors.

That article on the Bigfoot movie was especially interesting; I wonder how many of those "Bigfoot-related [scientific] studies" the Sunn folks "funded"- not to mention what those "studies" were, and how much Sunn paid for them...

It's also fascinating to read all of the talk about scientifc research to back up the claims made in their films (in the Bigfoot article and the ones on Noah's Ark and The Lincoln Conspiracy)- and then there's that article about "Making Movies the Computer Way", where the screenwriter of the proposed film about the Kennedy assassination admits that they were basing their ideas for who killed JFK on "the premise that was closest to what the majority [in their public opinion polling] believed". Which makes it all sound a bit bass-ackward- first, we find out what most people think is the truth about (Bigfoot, UFOs, Lincoln, whatever), and then we do our "rigorous scientific research" to back up that truth... (Hmm- in a way, maybe that isn't such an unusual way of doing things after all, come to think of it...)

KL from NYC said...

GutMunchers.com has a podcast-interview with him (#8) from 2009.

Pelaphus said...

THE BOOGENS was actually novelized by the by-lined co-author Robert Weverka. Sellier's co-byline is contractual, in the way that Glen Larson was by-lined on the BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (classic) and KNIGHT RIDER books, even though only the listed co-author wrote the actual prose. (The difference being that Larson took co-credit whether it was an original or an adaptation and no matter who may have written the source script; and Sellier was actually the BOOGENS screenwriter.) On occasion a contractual co-credit like this one allows the screenwriter to have his due, without a "based on the screenplay by" attribution, which allows the book to be marketed as if it's *not* a novelization; whereby it becomes what's know in the trade as an inferred novelization. (Or implied, depending on your POV.) Among the "tells" that the prose is Weverka's is that he gets top billing, even though Sellier wrote the screenplay. That said, it's a good bet that Sellier was hands on, gave the odd note, and signed off on the final draft.

Pelaphus said...

THE BOOGENS was actually novelized by the by-lined co-author Robert Weverka. Sellier's co-byline is contractual, in the way that Glen Larson was by-lined on the BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (classic) and KNIGHT RIDER books, even though only the listed co-author wrote the actual prose. (The difference being that Larson took co-credit whether it was an original or an adaptation and no matter who may have written the source script; and Sellier was actually the BOOGENS screenwriter.) On occasion a contractual co-credit like this one allows the screenwriter to have his due, without a "based on the screenplay by" attribution, which allows the book to be marketed as if it's *not* a novelization; whereby it becomes what's know in the trade as an inferred novelization. (Or implied, depending on your POV.) Among the "tells" that the prose is Weverka's is that he gets top billing, even though Sellier wrote the screenplay. That said, it's a good bet that Sellier was hands on, gave the odd note, and signed off on the final draft.