At age 51, director and renowned special effects technician James Isaac has passed away, finally succumbing to corporeal cancer.
(Pictured, Isaac, left in red, with Pig Hunt producer Robert Mailer Anderson)
Only 20 when hired by the Return of the Jedi production team as creature technician (he was integral to the scenes aboard Jabba the Hutt’s barge), Isaac quickly established a reputation as one of the most talented visual effects men in the business, especially in the pre-CGI realm of creature design. Under the mentorship of the great Chris Walas, Isaac’s talent would be utilised on such films as Gremlins, Enemy Mine, Deepstar Six, House II and Virtuosity.
Isaac would work closely with the man he credits as his inspiration, David Cronenberg, on The Fly, Naked Lunch and eXistenZ. Overnight, Cronenberg told genre bible Fangoria magazine, “Jim and I became very close friends collaborating on my movies, starting with THE FLY in 1985 and ending with his directing me in JASON X in 2000. He was funny, friendly, insightful, inventive and a great comrade-in-arms. It’s hard to believe we won’t get to play together again.”
Isaac was thrust into directing when he replaced David Blyth on the troubled production The Horror Show (aka House III), but it would be 12 more years before he would take full duties on his best known work, Jason X. Staying within the horror genre, he would helm only two more films - the cult werewolf tale Skinwalkers and what would be his final film, the wild-boar thriller Pig Hunt (“Fans tired of rote remakes and ripoffs will appreciate the pic's idiosyncrasy,” said Variety).
Isaac is survived by a wife and young family. Due to ongoing treatment for his disease, no projects were listed as in-development.