HAIRCUT 100: Day 76, No. 76. Sid Haig: Cult American actor, musician, certified hypnotherapist, and scary clown. Sid Haig is an exploitation movie legend, and a very familiar face from the golden age of grindhouse cinema in the sixties and seventies, most notably as a regular in the films of Jack Hill and Roger Corman and their respective runs of Blaxploitation and Women’s Prison movies. He has a distinctive look, being bald, very tall and usually bearded, with a deep and distinctive voice. (I always imagined Freddy Thorne the dentist in John Updike’s Couples was just like him.) Haig has appeared in over fifty films, including low budget classics like Spider Baby, The Big Doll House, The Big Bird Cage, Coffy, Foxy Brown, Savage Sisters, and Galaxy of Terror; he can even be spotted in Diamonds Are Forever. He has similarly appeared in over 350 television shows, and his credits read like an Honour Roll of classic TV, including: The Untouchables, Batman, Star Trek, The Man from UNCLE, Gunsmoke, Get Smart, Mannix, Mission Impossible (playing eight different villains in as many episodes), Charlie’s Angels, Buck Rogers, The Dukes of Hazzard, MacGyver, and The A-Team. Bored with being typecast, Haig retired in 1992, although by then Quentin Tarantino was after him, and a career renaissance shortly beckoned. Haig turned down the role of Marsellus Wallace (eventually played by Ving Rhames) in Pulp Fiction, but accepted the part of the judge who sentences Pam Grier’s Jackie Brown in the film of the same name (1997) that Tarantino had written specifically for him, in a neat reversal of roles (Grier had done for Haig as a villain in both Coffy and Foxy Brown).
Thus began a new stage in Haig’s career, that of intertextual casting, reaching its zenith in Rob Zombie’s retro, postmodern homage to EC horror comics and trailblazing seventies slasher movies, House of a 1000 Corpses (2003). Haig played Captain Spaulding (a nod to Groucho Marx’s character in Animal Crackers), an unhinged sideshow barker in a clown costume running a tourist trap called ‘Captain Spaulding’s Museum of Monsters and Madmen,’ the character functioning as both an EC-style horror host and a member of the principle cast, the father or older brother figure of the murderous ‘Firefly’ family (like Jim Siedow in the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre). He reprised the role the following year in The Devil’s Rejects, also appearing in Zombie’s Halloween remake, The Lords of Salem, and once more as Captain Spaulding in the animated movie The Haunted World of El Superbeasto. He won a Fangoria Chainsaw Award for ‘Best Supporting Actor’ for his performance in House of 1000 Corpses, and was inducted into the Horror Hall of Fame; two years later winning ‘Best Actor’ for The Devil’s Rejects and sharing the award for ‘Most Vile Villain’ with the rest of the Firefly family. For more info about this remarkable actor, you can find his website here. ‘Howdy Folks! You like blood? Violence? Freaks of nature? Well then, come on down to Captain Spaulding’s Museum of Monsters and Mad-Men. See the Alligator Boy, ride my famous Murder Ride. Most of all, don’t forget to take home some of my tasty fried chicken! Ha ha! It just tastes so damn good!’
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