On June 20th, it was announced that the body of veteran character actor Richard Lynch had been found at his home. Richard Lynch was never a household name but, if you’re a fan of exploitation and grindhouse cinema, you’ve probably seen him at least a few times. He was the tall, blonde actor with the scarred face who was alway either killing people or having them killed. Richard Lynch was one of those actors who, as soon as he showed up on-screen, you knew he was the bad guy.
As an actor, Lynch always brought something special to even the simplest of his roles. He was always the villain who you knew would probably easily kill the hero if the two of them ever met in the real world. He was so good at being bad that you often couldn’t help but root for him.
I first became aware of Richard Lynch when I bought a movie called Premonition on DVD. This atmospheric 1976 film featured Richard Lynch in the role of a villainous yet oddly sympathetic carnival clown-turned-kidnapper. When Lynch was on-screen, I literally could not look away. Even better, the DVD included an interview with the now white-haired Richard Lynch in which he discussed his career. Imagine my surprise to discover that this rather creepy and scary-looking actor was actually a very articulate and witty man.
A few days after I saw Premonition, I watched another 1976 film on DVD. This one was Larry Cohen’s Gold Told Me To and, to my surprise, it also featured Richard Lynch. This time, he was cast as an alien messiah who inspired all sorts of mayhem in New York City. From that moment on, Richard Lynch was one of my favorite of the old exploitation actors.
After Richard Lynch’s body was found, there were several news stories that mentioned his passing. Almost all of those stories repeated the story that Lynch’s distinctive facial scars were the result of him setting himself on fire as the result of bad LSD trip in 1967. A few mentioned that he was a longtime friend of Al Pacino’s. Most of them took a rather dismissive attitude towards the majority of Lynch’s films.
Over at the A.V. Club, a respectful article was posted and it was quickly followed by a bunch of snarky comments from the usual gang of toadsuckers, the majority of whom didn’t seem to know who Richard Lynch was (presumably because he never guest starred on Arrested Development).
In fact, it seemed like the only place that Richard Lynch got the proper amount of respect was on twitter. And that’s a shame because an actor like Richard Lynch deserved a lot more.
The sad thing is that actors like Richard Lynch are rarely appreciated because elitist (and wannabe elitist) filmgoers and critics are rarely willing to admit that it does take a certain amount of talent to be an effective and memorable villain. As an actor, Richard Lynch appeared in some good films and he also appeared in a lot of very bad films but he always gave a good performance. Unlike so many other actors, he never used subpar material as an excuse to give a subpar performance. Regardless of the films he found himself in, he always gave it his best and that’s why this super-sized edition of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse and Exploitation Trailers is dedicated to Richard Lynch.
1) God Told Me To (1976)
Arguably, this film from director Larry Cohen was the best movie that Richard Lynch ever appeared in. Though he doesn’t get a lot of screen time in either the film or the trailer, he easily dominates both, if just for the fact that Lynch plays the God of the title.
2) Deathsport (1978)
Richard Lynch vs. David Carradine.
3) The Sword and The Sorcerer (1982)
Though I haven’t seen it, this film is a favorite of many of my fellow contributors here at the Shattered Lens.
4) Cut and Run (1985)
This film was directed by Ruggero Deodato and apparently, it gained a certain amount of fame after it was banned in several countries. I’ve seen it on DVD and all I can say is that this is one of the most misleading trailers ever made. However, this film also features one of Richard Lynch’s most intimidating performances.
5) Savage Dawn (1985)
For some reason, I doubt that the character being played by Richard Lynch is a real priest.
6) Invasion USA (1985)
Judging from the response to Richard Lynch’s death on twitter, this Chuck Norris movie might be the film that he’s best known for.
7) The Barbarians (1987)
This film, which appears to feature Richard Lynch in full villain mode, was also directed by Ruggero Deodato.
8) Bad Dreams (1988)
Richard Lynch is all sorts of creepy in this trailer. Knowing about his own true life story makes this trailer all the more odd to watch.
9) Trancers 2 (1992)
Helen Hunt’s in this?
10) Werewolf (1996)
This one looks like fun, to be honest.
11) Wedding Slashers (2006)
“Til death do us part…”
12) Mil Mascaras Vs. The Aztec Mummy (2006)
Finally, let’s finish things up with the trailer for this Mexican film in which Richard Lynch was cast as the President of the United States.
Richard Lynch, R.I.P.