He may not be a household name nor will he likely be remembered as “one of the greats”, but Hollywood has lost a veteran b-movie maestro this week as stuntman-turned-director David R. Ellis has reportedly passed away at the age of 60. The cause of death is currently unknown, although he was in Johannesburg, South Africa where he was preparing to shoot his latest film KITE, a live action adaptation of the 1992 anime. Ellis is perhaps best known for directing the high concept thriller Snakes on a Plane, but his career started as a stuntman in the mid to late ’70s with Smokey and the Bandit being one of his first credits.
Ellis eventually moved on to become a stunt co-ordinator before getting a break as second unit director on the TV movie Condor followed by Fatal Attraction and eventually such films as Waterworld, The Matrix Reloaded and Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. The first movie he directed was the classic Homeward Bound 2: Lost in San Francisco in 1996, but he also went on to direct two installments in the Final Destination series and, most recently, Shark Night 3D. His movies weren’t high art, but he seemed like a very unpretentious dude and I think we can all agree that Hollywood could use a few more people like him. What is your favourite David R. Ellis film?