The new year brought with it sad news of the death of legendary cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, who passed away on New Year’s Day, aged 85. While undoubtedly best known for his work on The Deer Hunter and Close Encounters of the Third Kind (for which he won an Oscar), as well as John Boorman’s gruelling classic Deliverance, Vilmos is also celebrated for his work in low budget horror and exploitation.
With a reputation for giving each film a different look to the next, Hungarian-born Vilmos worked prolifically throughout the ‘60s and ‘70s, regularly teaming up with cult trash director Al Adamson, on films including Psycho a Go-Go (1965), Five Bloody Graves (’69), Horror of The Blood Monsters (’70) and nutbags biker flick Satan’s Sadists (’69). Other notable exploitation films lurking in Vilmos’ resume include 1963’s The Sadist, weirdo sc-fi shocker The Time Travellers (1964) and Ray Dennis Steckler’s utterly demented cult favourite The Incredibly Strange Creatures who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-up Zombies, on which he served as camera operator.
Working up until his passing, Vilmos has left a legacy spreading any number of film genres and styles and to many horror and cult fans in particular, is truly one of the greats. His death follows a tough year for the horror community, who lost Christopher Lee, Gunnar Hansen, Betsy Palmer and of course Wes Craven in 2015. Here’s hoping Vilmos’ death does not mark the beginning of another bad year.