Dick Miller. A Man For All Seasons?

A bulky muscular man drifts into a gun shop. Cold, unmoved, his accent rips, “The 12 Gauge auto-loader.” A man behind the counter hands it to him. “That’s Italian. You can go pump or auto.” The stranger answers, “The 45 longslide with laser sighting.” The seller replies, “These are brand new, we just got them in. That’s a good gun”, as he points at it. Mr. Olympia picks it up and racks it aiming the laser. The owner adds, “Just touch the trigger, the beam comes on and you put the red dot where you want the bullet to go. You can’t miss. Anything else?” “Phased plasma rifle in a 40-watt range.” “Hey, just what you see, pal.” “The Uzi 9 millimeter.” “You know your weapons buddy. Any one of these is ideal for home defense.” “So uh… which will it be?” “All.” “I may close early today.”

That was Dick Miller. A face in so many movies. Talking with a Terminator. When I think of him, I think of this. Lingering, wondering, hoping for a sale. Not realizing he’s about to die. He’s this regular guy. You see him everywhere. New York, New York (1977), Piranha (1978), 1941 (1979), Used Cars (1980), The Howling (1981), Gremlins (1984), After Hours (1985). Plain, gruff, attitude, you could imagine Dick anywhere. The man next door, an office clerk, a biker, a soldier, the owner of a shop. Barking orders, selling silver bullets, he’s always got an angle and we’re buying. Sculptures, teenagers, his soul, he steals the scene. One look and he’s golden.

Uncle Willy, Vic the Garbageman, the many forms of Walter Paisley, like Buck Flower Miller is a moment unto himself. Instant recognition, a lifetime of cameos, over a hundred appearances, he’s a good luck charm. Corman, Dante, Cameron, Scorsese, even Tarantino cast him in Pulp Fiction (1994). Serving in the Navy and earning a PhD in Psychology, he became a writer before turning to acting. First Broadway, then pictures, Dick began working for Roger Corman. Apache Woman (1955), The Oklahoma Woman (1956), It Conquered the World (1956), Naked Paradise (1957), Not of This Earth (1957), The Undead (1957), Rock All Night (1957), Sorority Girl (1957), Carnival Rock (1957), the lead in War of the Satellites (1958) and A Bucket of Blood (1959). And the roles kept rolling.

The Little Shop of Horrors (1960), The Premature Burial (1962), The Terror (1963), X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes (1963), The Wild Angels (1966), The Dirty Dozen (1967), The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre (1967), Big Bad Mama (1974), Death Race 2000 (1975), White Line Fever (1975), Crazy Mama (1975), I Wanna Hold Your Hand (1978), Corvette Summer (1978), The Lady in Red (1979), Rock ‘n’ Roll High School (1979), White Dog (1982), Police Squad!, Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983), All the Right Moves (1983), Explorers (1985), Chopping Mall (1986), Night of the Creeps (1986), Project X (1987), Innerspace (1987), The 'Burbs (1989), Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990), Unlawful Entry (1992), Matinee (1993), Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993), Demon Knight (1995), Small Soldiers (1998). He lasted forever. Even making it to MST. That Guy or “An American Tradition”?


It’s always a joy seeing Dick Miller in something. He’s one of the best “Hey, it’s that guy!” actors out there. Everyone should watch The Terror and A Bucket of Blood to see him play different sorts of characters from what he normally did. And who can forget his flower-eater in Little Shop of Horrors?

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Note: 3 Miller flicks were MST episodes. It Conquered the World (1956), Gunslinger (1956), and The Undead (1956). Links to talks on these are listed below.


311. It Conquered The World (1956)

511. Gunslinger (1956)

806. The Undead (1957)

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Dick Miller Retrospective Part I.

Dick Miller Retrospective Part II.

Dick Miller: Thespian.

Trailer of A Bucket of Blood (1959).

I always enjoyed seeing a Dick Miller performance, especially in A Bucket of Blood and the two Gremlins films. Corman sure did too.

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Allan Arkush on A Bucket of Blood (1959).

Is this from something I don’t know, did you confuse the shops from The Howling and Ghostbusters II, or did you purposefully want to send me on a fruitless quest to try to find it myself?


Sorry Chris. It was a subtle nod to Ghostbusters II (1989) since The Howling (1981) Shop and Ray’s Occult are essentially the same thing. It’s a playful acknowledgement. This is a forum dedicated to a show that references. Was I out of line for making one myself?

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Any others stand out?

Dick Miller Q & A. Monsterama. October 1, 2017.

P.S. I removed it and wrote “the owner of a shop” instead. It fits better. Sometimes you get too attached to an idea.

In Fred Olen Ray’s Evil Toons, he has a small role as…“old guy who owns house college bimbos are cleaning out”?..and they call him at some point to express their dissatisfaction with the level of animation you can get for a $140K film.

He’s in his easy chair watching Bucket of Blood and saying, “How did this guy never win an Oscar?”


Naw, it’s all good. Really, what’s so bad about sending someone into Dick Miller’s filmography?

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Exactly. NOTHING!

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Oooh I saw that for the first time last year! Not… not good. But it did have our boy Dick Miller in it, as you say. Can’t be all bad.


Dick Miller, David Carradine, Arte Johnson (?!)

And also (my personal favorite) Michelle Bauer as Mrs. Dick Miller.

Adult film actresses Barbara Dare and Madison.

Fred Olen Ray’s girlfriend Suzanne Ager.

And perennial fan favorite, Monique Gabrielle, as the girl who discovers that she has breasts.

(And with all this going for it, it still kinda drags. $140K doesn’t buy a lot of animation.)

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Dick Miller Interview.