TNB Night Owl – The Laughing Dead

Screen capture from The Laughing Dead (1989).

Usually, when a prominent writer is seen in a movie, it’s because the writer is important to the script.  This is seen in the movie Back to School, where Rodney Dangerfield’s character is rebuffed on the essay he’s written… “Whoever did write this doesn’t know the first thing about Kurt Vonnegut”… only to have Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. himself later revealed as the author of the essay.  It’s also seen when Stephen King is included as a cameo in King films, or Stan Lee as a cameo in Marvel superhero films.

We don’t generally see much beyond cameos.  This is for a very simple reason: most people aren’t professional actors, and acting does take a measure of skill.

It’s for this reason that it’s somewhat surprising to realize that someone made a movie that featured, as a good portion of its cast, authors.

The movie is called The Laughing Dead, and if you’ve never heard of it you’re lucky.  It was released in 1989, and was both written and directed by Somtow Sucharitkil, also known as S.P. Somtow.  It’s a standard undead monster horror movie, featuring a group of tourists who get attacked on a trip to Mexico.  

Somtow had the option to use standard casting procedure for this type of film: get a professional or two for the main roles and flesh out the remainder of the spoken parts with people from local theater groups.

Instead he decided to hand the extra parts to friends of his.  I give them this much credit: their acting often manages to rise to the level of a local theater performer.

Ed Bryant is the bus driver.  Wendy Webb is a tourist.  Gregory Frost is also a tourist.  Arthur Byron Cover , Brynne Stephens (writer for Batman: The Animated Series, He-Man and Gargoyles) and Tim Powers (friend/student of Philip K. Dick, and who wrote the novel upon which one of the Johnny Depp Pirates of the Caribbean movies is based) and William F. Wu are monsters.  Forrest J. Ackerman, Bill Warren and Len Wein (co-creator of Wolverine, Swamp Thing, Storm, Nightcrawler and Colossus) all play victims.  And those are just some of the more prominent names.

It’s not a good movie.  But if you’ve ever wanted to see a bunch of authors – for horror, science fiction, fantasy and comics – get eaten alive, you’ll never have a better opportunity.

Question of the night – What are some of the most memorable cameos that you’ve seen in movies?

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About AlienMotives 1991 Articles
Ex-Navy Reactor Operator turned bookseller. Father of an amazing girl and husband to an amazing wife. Tired of willful political blindness, but never tired of politics. Hopeful for the future.