NICK “THE SHAPE” CASTLE
Next week I will be making my way to the local theatre to see one of my most anticipated films this year. With my favorite holiday less than a week away, it’s clear I’m not talking about the CARRIE remake. Yes folks, next week I continue a brand new tradition with my own son, we will be going to see John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN in theatres [you can check to see if it will be released in your neck of the woods here ]! Over the past month I’ve talked about why I want another sequel and how much I love one of the film’s stars, Nancy Keys. However, with October coming to an end, I thought it would be a good time to look at one of the gentlemen who made it all happen. After all, one of the most important factors in making Michael Myers scary was the man behind the mask, Mr. Nick Castle.
In the beginning it wasn’t Mr. Castle’s intention to be in HALLOWEEN. He was simply on the set as a friend to Carpenter. In fact, when Laurie Storde pulls off her attackers mask in the final moments of the film, it is not Castle’s face at all. That would be actor Tony Moran. Yet the walk, the stalk and the foreboding presence that made Myers such an iconic horror movie villain was Nick. The first time I ever witnessed the original film there was nothing more terrifying than “The Shape.” And thanks to Nick Castle – who portrayed the soon to be legend all those years ago for only $25 dollars a day according to IMDB – I had nightmares for weeks yet still went to repeated viewings and loved every minute of it.
Next up Nick had an uncredited appearance as a pianist in a film he and Carpenter co-wrote. It was a little old movie you may have heard of called ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK in 1981. Yet beyond working with the HALLOWEEN family, it was clear that Mr. Castle had other interests when it came to film. In 1982 he wrote and directed the cult flick TAG: THE ASSASSINATION GAME which featured Robert Carradine and Linda Hamilton. Personally I’m a fan of this cool little thriller, not only did I have a thing for Ms. Hamilton early on, but TAG introduced the world to Bruce Abbot of RE-ANIMATOR fame. Now I’m not too sure how popular this kind of thing is today - probably not thanks to video games where you can take it to a whole new level – but playing a real life game like this looks to be a blast. A fun side note about this flick, Frazer Smith’s character’s name is “Nick Carpenter,” and of course Tom Atkins plays the character “Nick Castle” in THE FOG… I love the way these fellas name their players.
Taking a break from chills and thrills, the director’s next project was a popular flick from 1984 called THE LAST STARFIGHTER. Lance Guest and Catherine Mary Stewart starred in this science fiction adventure about a young man doomed to a boring life in a trailer park until he is recruited to an alien defense force. This feature may not have won a ton of points for originality, yet it happened to be an energetic and exciting time at the movies that is just as entertaining today – if a little dated. Watch this flick to get an idea of just how video games have changed over the years. And if that isn’t enough of a curiosity factor, Guest is pretty great here and Ms. Stewart is terrific as well… plus she is absolutely gorgeous. Sigh!
As a director, Castle had the ability to give his movies a wholesome and hope filled energy. He did this with THE BOY WHO COULD FLY in 1986, a story about an autistic boy who makes a huge impression on those around him. What can I say? I kind of love this flick and Jay Underwood did a terrific job in the titular role. During the Nineties the director helmed a few comedic flicks such as DENNIS THE MENACE in 1993, MAJOR PAYNE in 1995 and MR. WRONG in 1996. His last directorial effort was in 2006 in a Direct to Video feature called CONNORS' WAR. Thankfully, he redeemed this by writing the beautiful musically influenced drama AUGUST RUSH in 2007 sharing screenwriting credit with James V. Hart and story credit with Paul Castro.
NOW: Unlike some horror vets Nick has continued to be a legend within the HALLOWEEN fan base thanks to his involvement in a number of documentaries including the recent “The Night She Came Home” which is available on the 35th Anniversary Blu-ray release of the classic. Castle is easy to find on the convention circuit as well doing Q & A’s and signing posters, DVD’s and more. There are a number of videos on YouTube featuring the filmmaker interacting with fans and you know what? He seems like a cool dude. Who knows, maybe one day Nick, Tommy Lee Wallace and John Carpenter will get their band The Coupe De Villes back together… you can check out their funky sound here . Thanks Nick Castle for helping create one of the coolest horror icons ever!