[R.I.P.] ‘Two-Lane Blacktop’ Filmmaker Monte Hellman Has Passed Away

The director of 1971 road movie Two-Lane Blacktop, we’ve learned the sad news today that influential filmmaker Monte Hellman has passed away this week at the age of 91.

Like many notable filmmakers, Monte Hellman got his start working with Roger Corman, making his feature directorial debut with 1959 horror movie Beast from Haunted Cave. The creature feature centered on a spider-like monster, and Hellman subsequently worked on the Corman-produced The Terror from 1963, starring Boris Karloff and Jack Nicholson.

Hellman and Nicholson subsequently worked together on several films, including Flight to Fury (1964), Back Door to Hell (1964), The Shooting (1966), and Ride in the Whirlwind (1966).

It was in 1971 that Monte Hellman directed James Taylor, Warren Oates and Dennis Wilson in his most notable film, Two-Lane Blacktop, and he followed that film with Cockfighter (1974), China 9, Liberty 37 (1978), and Iguana (1988). Hellman then directed Bill Moseley in 1989’s Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out, which Moseley fondly recalls on Twitter today.

Moseley tweets, “RIP Monte Hellman! Thank you for hiring me to play Ricky, the Santa Claus Killer, in Silent Night, Deadly Night 3– the first time I ever cried onscreen!”

A huge influence on Quentin Tarantino, who once called Hellman “a great cinematic artist and a minimalist poet,” Hellman ended up executive producing Reservoir Dogs in 1992. His final feature film as director was Road to Nowhere, released in 2010.

Two-Lane Blacktop was added to the Library of Congress’s National Film Registry in 2012, and it’s also part of the Criterion Collection. The label paid tribute to Hellman on Twitter this week, writing: “Good night to our friend Monte Hellman, the brilliant independent film pioneer who gave us all the era-defining masterpiece Two-Lane Blacktop (1971) and so much more.

“He will be missed.”

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