Dick Miller, a character actor known for playing Murray Futterman in Gremlins, died on Wednesday at the age of 90. One of Miller’s earliest roles was that of Sergeant Neil in Roger Corman’s It Conquered the World—a Z-grade science fiction film about aliens from Venus who, like the Borg Collective in Star Trek, attempt to assimilate the human race by turning people into mindless drones. Miller again collaborated with Corman on The Undead, Not of This Earth, War of the Satellites, and Little Shop of Horrors (original version).
Throughout the following decades, Miller gained recognition for appearing in cult classics such as Piranha, The Howling, and Twilight Zone: The Movie—all directed by Joe Dante. Miller also guest starred in a variety of science fiction and horror-themed television shows—of which I’ve reviewed at least several—including Tales from the Darkside, Amazing Stories, Freddy’s Nightmares, V: The Final Battle, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
On a personal note, I consider Miller’s most memorable and disturbing role to be that of an unfortunate gun store clerk in James Cameron’s The Terminator. After requesting a 12 Gauge Autoloader, a .45 Longslide, an Uzi 9 millimeter, and “a phased plasma rifle in the 40-watt range,” the T-800 loads a live shell into the chamber of his shotgun and summarily executes the unwitting shop owner. In addition to hinting at the futuristic nature of the Terminator himself, the shocking death scene of Miller’s character establishes the T-800 as a raw, merciless killing machine devoid of both conscience and hesitation.
Rest in peace, Dick Miller.
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