Nov 6, 2017

Gary Kasper: Forgotten Man-Mountain of the 1980s

Born in 1958 in Los Angeles, the 6'4", 245 lb Gary Kasper was a high school football player, junior All-American coach, wrestler, and fitness expert before he hit Hollywood.

It was the era of the man-mountains, when, after the various setbacks and failures of the 1970s (the fall of Saigon, the oil embargo, Three Mile Island, the Iranian Hostage Crisis), movies displayed Americans using their fists to save the world.  All you needed was a bodybuilder's physique and a gruff voice to get cast in a movie about barbarian swordsmen, boxers, cage fighters, martial artists, or soldiers of fortune who could single-handedly take out an entire enemy army.

Gary was a man-mountain, but he never could seem to find the right vehicle for his pecs.

His first movie role was as "Ben Gay" in The Feud (1977), which he also produced.  I don't know what it was about, but it sounds homophobic.

Vision Quest (1985) is not actually science fiction: it's about a high school wrestler (Matthew Modine) who has the "eye of the tiger."  Gary played Otto, an evil wrestler.

 J.O.E. and the Colonel, aka Humanoid Defender (1985), a tv pilot later released on video, is about an android created to be a "perfect soldier", but lacking a killer instinct.  So one of his creators takes him in and tries to transform him into a human being.

Gary spent the late 1980s and 1990s playing wrestlers, soldiers, gangsters, bodyguards, cops, and "The Muscle Guy," the standard heavy types, without any big roles. Perhaps he was most famous as the Pilot in Batman Forever (1995).

He also played Extreme Sports, wrestled, played martial arts, and worked as a personal trainer.

 Then the era of the man-mountain ended, and he was a bodybuilder without a country.  He produced and starred in his own man-mountain movie, The Seventh Man (2008), about DEA agents in the Central American jungle being stalked by an unknown evil.  But it wasn't enough.

By the 2000s, he was moving into stunt work.  On screen, he mostly played monsters -- Bigfoot (2012), serial killer Ed Gein (Death Factory, 2014), a vampire (The Hunted, 2015), the alien K'Hund (on Supergirl, 2016).

80 movie and tv roles over a period of 30 years is very impressive, as is Gary's work in other fields.

Still, one wishes that he could have become another Jean-Claude Van Damme.

1 comment:

  1. Vision Quest has got to be a weird name for a movie about wrestling. I don't see what wrestling has to do with a four-day fast. Especially when by definition high school takes place at the time vision quests...don't, (Typically, vision quests take place in the summer, excluding Sun Dance season. More recently, late August and September have been excluded as a practical matter.)


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