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Actress Susan Tyrrell, who nabbed a Best Supporting Actress
Academy Award nomination in 1972 for John Huston’s FAT CITY but also made her
mark in the genre with films including NIGHT WARNING (a.k.a. BUTCHER, BAKER,
NIGHTMARE MAKER, pictured), has died at age 67.
Various sources have reported that Tyrrell passed away on
Sunday; she had had a troubled life, which included contracting the blood
disease essential thrombocytosis in 2000, which led to both her legs being
amputated. The daughter of a William Morris agent, Tyrrell made several TV and
feature appearances before the role of Oma in FAT CITY got her an Oscar nod.
Her eclectic career since included turns for John Waters (in 1990’s CRY-BABY),
Paul Verhoven (1985’s FLESH + BLOOD), Jeff Burr (1987’s THE OFFSPRING, a.k.a.
FROM A WHISPER TO A SCREAM), the Andy Warhol factory (director Jed Johnson’s
1977 BAD) and Richard Elfman (the cult classic FORBIDDEN ZONE), and in the
teen-hooker classic ANGEL and its sequel AVENGING ANGEL.
But her most memorable genre turn was in director William
Asher’s underappreciated 1983 release NIGHT WARNING. The film cast her as Aunt
Cheryl, who’s a little too attached to her handsome teenage nephew Billy (Jimmy
McNichol); the two become involved in a series of murders investigated by a
homophobic detective played by Bo Svenson. Future genre star Bill Paxton (as
William Paxton) and future NEWHART star Julia Duffy also
appear in WARNING, whose twisty plot (courtesy of scripters Stephen Breimer,
Alan Jay Glueckman and Boon Collins) and multiple levels of psychosexual
weirdness make it a true should-be classic of early-’80s stalker cinema—along
with Tyrrell’s performance as one of horror’s great madwomen.
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