Along with the entire horror community and fans of extreme cinema in general, it pains us to report the passing of award-winning actor Robert Charles Kerman, who died Thursday, December 27 at the age of 71.
Kerman’s resume spanned multiple decades and genres, from mainstream Hollywood releases (The Goodbye Girl, No Way Out) to series television (Hill Street Blues, Simon & Simon) to hardcore pornography. But he’s best remembered among genre fans and cineastes worldwide for his brief but unforgettable foray into Italian cannibal horror – most notably his lead role as anthropologist Dr. Harold Munroe, the rescue expedition leader in Ruggero Deodato’s 1980 Cannibal Holocaust, considered by many to be one of the landmarks of horror cinema and the progenitor of the “found footage” subgenre.
To those familiar with erotic cinema’s “Golden Age” (roughly the mid-‘70s to the early ‘80s, before cheaper video supplanted film as porn’s main medium), Kerman is also remembered for dozens of roles in pornographic films – frequently under the pseudonym “R. Bolla.” According to adult cinema history podcast The Rialto Report, Kerman’s filmography includes more than 100 porn roles during this period, most famously 1978’s Debbie Does Dallas – one of
According to his colleagues, Kerman never considered his work groundbreaking or history-making; he was a hard-working and ambitious performer with an eye on Hollywood success, building up a diverse resume in films that mostly flew under the mainstream radar (though porn’s peak era briefly lent the genre a bit more legitimacy among more permissive audiences), but horror fans never forgot his intense work in Holocaust, as well as his role in Umberto Lenzi’s Cannibal Ferox (a.k.a. Eaten Alive) the following year.
Some of those adoring fans went on to have successful careers of their own… and at least a couple of them acknowledged Kerman’s influence on the genre by putting him in their own films. Among these was Sam Raimi, who cast Kerman as the tugboat captain in 2002’s Spider-Man. Fred Dekker also cast him in a small role in the 1986 cult classic Night of the Creeps.
Please take a moment to raise a glass to a performer who may never have landed that elusive “big break” into the Hollywood mainstream he had long sought, but who nevertheless left an indelible impression upon countless grindhouse and Euro-horror fans for his work in Cannibal Holocaust, one of the most shocking and memorable works in cinema history.