'Snakes on a Plane' Director David Ellis Dies at 60

January 8, 2013


Longtime stuntman turned director David Ellis, whose vision of in-flight reptiles will be forever remembered in Snakes on a Plane, reportedly died yesterday morning at the age of 60.

The sad news comes from Deadline, who have not yet learned a cause of death but do know that Ellis died in South Africa, where he was re-teaming with his shouting muse Samuel L. Jackson on a live-action adaptation of the anime Kite.

Ellis got his start as an actor in the mid '70s, taking small parts in film and television while building his stunt résumé. That would be the role that would dominate his Hollywood career, with Ellis doing stunts or stunt coordination for over 70 productions, still working into his 50s with stunt work on 2009's Hotel for Dogs--a film that also further established a love of ridiculously descriptive titles he would show throughout his directing career.

He got his start directing in 1996, helming the Homeward Bound sequel that sees the animals lost in San Francisco, a film aptly named Homeward Bound 2: Lost in San Francisco. There was a seven year gap between that movie and his next, Final Destination 2, but then he was back on the path, next directing 2004's Cellular before in 2006 creating his most ironically-enduring work, Snakes on a Plane.

Shortly after, he would return to the cheap thrills of the Final Destination franchise for THE Final Destination, then moved on to Shark Night 3D--a film the incomparably-reductive director had hoped to give the Snakes on a Plane-topping title Untitled 3D Shark Thriller, explaining, "The title says everything you need to know: 'We've got sharks.' 'It's in 3D.' and, 'It's a thriller.'"

Beyond Kite, Ellis still reportedly had a full list of projects ahead of him in his cut-short future, including something titled Zombie Blondes. Thanks the director's signature, ever-winking title scheme, at least we can imagine what that one would have been about.

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