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[R.I.P.] Creature Performer Noble Craig Was an Unsung Horror Icon

If IMDb resumes dictate how much of a horror icon you are, Noble Craig was undeniably one of the coolest of them all. With roles in films like Poltergeist II: The Other Side, Big Trouble in Little China and A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child, Craig was a prominent creature performer in the late ’80s, but his contributions to the genre have mostly gone unsung over the years. And that’s primarily because, I can only speculate, most horror fans never realized that memorable monstrosities like “Vomit Creature,” “Puddle Soldier” and “Crypt Creature” were played by an actual human being.

Noble Craig’s story is a sad yet inspiring one, and the catalyst for his acting career was a tragic accident that nearly claimed his life. Shipped off to Vietnam in 1969, a young Craig stepped on a buried artillery shell on only his 12th day of duty, losing both of his legs, one of his arms, and most of the sight in his right eye. It was not long after he returned home that Craig carved out a whole new niche for himself, making his acting debut in 1973’s Sssssss, a film that centered on a doctor who developed a serum that could turn humans into snakes. Craig played Tim McGraw, aka ‘The Snake Man,’ a result of the doctor’s mad experiments that is seen on display at a carnival freak show. It was a role only Craig could play, which defines his career in the movie business.

Just as he was the most striking visual in his screen debut, Noble Craig similarly made a brief but incredibly memorable appearance nearly a decade later in Poltergeist II: The Other Side. Toward the end of the film, Steve Freeling swallows a possessed tequila worm and vomits out a legless monster, designed by the legendary H.R. Giger and played by Craig. He was appropriately credited as ‘Vomit Creature.’

But you’re not truly a movie icon until one of your characters has been turned into a toy, and Noble Craig got that treatment thanks to his role in 1986’s Big Trouble in Little China. Often referred to as ‘Chinese Wild Man,’ the beast Craig played was credited as ‘Sewer Monster’; by placing him inside of a massive suit with elongated limbs, the effects team was able to give the creature an otherworldly look.

Noble Craig’s unfortunate physical condition again came in handy in Chuck Russell’s exceptional remake of The Blob, released in 1988. Craig played ‘Puddle Soldier’ in the film, which is the only human character on his acting resume. Briefly seen during the action-packed climax, Craig is literally peeled off the pavement by Shawnee Smith’s character, his arms and legs dissolved into grotesque goo by the blob.

Perhaps the biggest claim to fame for Noble Craig was that in 1989 he became one of the few actors in history to portray Freddy Krueger, seen in a memorable effects sequence in Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child. Toward the end of the film, Freddy gruesomely bursts out of Alice’s body, and it was Craig who played Freddy in that scene. To pull off the effect, his torso was strapped to actress Lisa Wilcox, and his body held up by wires.

The last film you’ll find on Noble Craig’s IMDb page is the 1989 sequel Bride of Re-Animator. Movie finales don’t get much wackier than Bride‘s, the film ending with the characters breaking through to an underground crypt and coming face-to-face with some of Herbert West’s most twisted creations. Craig can be seen as ‘Crypt Creature,’ an abomination with a foot for an arm and a female breast on his back.

We bring up Noble Craig today because, unfortunately, Craig’s family just reached out to notify us of his passing last month. I had originally published the above article back in 2014 on the blog Halloween Love, and it was because of that article that Craig’s son and granddaughter just reached out to let me know that he passed on April 26.

Noble Craig was the type of man that deserves to be honored in as many ways as possible,” Kyle Craig, Noble’s son, told me. “With charisma and an enduring Positive Mental Attitude he overcame the largest of lifes obstacles, raised 5 children, beat cancer and continued to be an inspiration for anyone lucky enough to find themselves in his presence.”

Noble’s granddaughter, Andriete Karagezyan, echoed Kyle’s sentiments.

Grandpa was always so positive about life. He was the true definition of #noexcuses,” she told me. “If you ever thought you couldn’t do something, you would look at grandpa and feel ashamed for thinking that you couldn’t, when he could do it all! He jumped from planes, he scuba dived, he water skied, he swam in the ocean in Hawaii and Costa Rica, he was a car, boat and motorcycle mechanic, he was a hunter, he was a great dancer, and the list goes on, oh and he liked to argue that he was the best driver ever! lol. He’d yell “move over grandma/pa”, to anyone driving too slow in front of him. He was just absolutely incredible! There are not enough great things to say about him. He will be forever remembered and loved by all who knew him.”

Karagezyan also shared some photos of her grandfather with us, which she has graciously allowed us to share with the world. And we are proud to share those photos with you, along with Noble Craig’s story, as he was by all accounts not just a horror icon who was a one-of-a-kind creature performer, but also an incredible human being.

For anyone who may be interested, there will be a service for Noble Craig at 10 am on May 24th at the Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery.



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