Yesterday, we here at Diabolique Magazine were utterly saddened and disheartened by the news of Karen Black’s passing at the age of 74 following her battle with cancer. Black was, and will always be, a legend in her craft; a classically trained actress devoted to any role big or small, and despite her reluctance to embrace the status of a horror icon (as she often was dismayed by the label of the term “horror” to many of her most prolific projects), she was that and so much more.
Black excelled in her performances, upping the level of sexiness, reality and gravitas to every role she took, whether it be on film, television or stage. A natural beauty and gifted performer, Black was a dependable character actress before breaking big with her Academy Award nominated performance in Five Easy Pieces and her co-starring roles in the popular thriller Airport 1975 and the Robert Redford-starring adaptation of The Great Gatsby. In 1974, however, Black landed on the radar of every genre fan in her multiple roles within Trilogy of Terror, a project written by the recently dearly departed Richard Matheson. Black solidified herself as an excellent presence within the horror community in The Day of the Locust, Family Plot, Burnt Offerings, Killer Fish, Out of the Dark and more. Her career and profile was resuscitated in 2003 with her leading role in Rob Zombie’s debut cult hit, House of 1,000 Corpses. Despite her reluctance to appear in the sequel, The Devil’s Rejects, Zombie continued to maintain on good terms with Black, raising awareness for her campaign for donations towards her cancer treatment earlier this year. Black was most famously seen recently in the John Landis-produced horror comedy Some Guy Who Kills People, and has two projects still awaiting release.
Despite her prolific horror career, Black was as versatile as she was gorgeous, writing and singing on many of her projects, and her work will continue to be respected and enjoyed for many generations to come. Diabolique’s sincerest condolences go out to her family and loved ones. Rest in Peace, Karen.