Filmmaker and special effects artist John Carl Buechler has died at the age of 66. A much-beloved figure in the horror community, Buechler directed films including 1986’s Troll, 1988’s Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood, and 1991’s Ghoulies III: Ghoulies Go to College. He contributed special effects to a long list of genre projects, including 1988’s Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, the same year’s A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, and 2006’s Hatchet, which featured the swamp-dwelling killer Victor Crowley.
Last month, it was revealed that Buechler had stage IV prostate cancer when his wife, Lynn Buechler, set up a GoFundMe campaign to help pay for his treatment. On Monday, the director’s death was announced in a statement on the GoFundMe page.
“John passed away Monday March 18th at 1:00am,” the statement said. “His family is absolutely devastated as are many of his fans and friends. His wife who works for the school system has been left with thousands of dollars worth of bills and the position to care for three children. Please donate to this newly captioned memorial fund [to] help them get through this terrible tough time.”
Hatchet director Adam Green has paid tribute to Buechler on his AriesCope Pictures website.
“John took Hatchet (and all of us) seriously at a point when we really had no way of proving that we actually knew what we were doing or how to make a feature film,” Green wrote. “When producer Sarah Elbert and I approached John and his shop foreman Robert Pendergraft to help us create images of ‘Young Victor Crowley’ for our mock trailer, he immediately signed on. He believed in us and in ‘Victor Crowley’ at a time when only we did. His involvement in Hatchet gave the project legitimacy within the horror genre and his mere presence on our team helped make veteran icons like Kane Hodder, Tony Todd, and Robert Englund take the film seriously enough to sign on before we had all of our funding in place.”
Buechler has also been praised by director Ted Geoghegan (We Are Still Here, Mohawk), Emmy-winning special makeup effects artist Mark Shostrom (Men in Black), and actress Barbara Crampton, whose film From Beyond featured some of Buechler’s most memorable effects creations.
“John Carl Buechler created the most terrifying, brutal interpretation of Jason Voorhees and countless horrific ghouls, but I’d always love his spooky little ghoulies the most,” Geoghegan wrote on Twitter. “Every creature he sculpted was filled with such life. He was a gift to all of us. Rest In Peace, man.”
“God bless you, John,” wrote Shostrom. “You did more than any person in the FX and monster business to give so many people their first jobs. You gave me mine, and I will never forget it. I will always be thankful for your friendship over the years. RIP my brother.”
“Absolutely gutted to hear the news of John Carl Buechler’s passing,” wrote Crampton. “A kind, humble genius who made two films I was in soar with his mastery. Gone way too soon. We will all miss you, love you for what you gave us.”