Jay Douglas passed away on Tuesday after suffering from a heart attack in Green Valley, Arizona, according to Deadline. While Douglas might not have been a household name, he became one of the driving forces behind the resurgence of cult films starting back in 1995.
That was the year he joined Anchor Bay Entertainment, where he spent the next 10 years defining the company's collection of obscure genre films, long-forgotten classics, and some of the most infamous horror movies ever made. Anchor Bay became renowned in genre circles for their meticulous treatment of such cinematic oddities, particularly in a pre-streaming era where movies like that weren't always easy to come by.
"Our goal is to elevate these old films and B movies — if that’s what you call them," Douglas told the New York Times back in 1998.
In many ways, it was because of Douglas' work that some of our favorites found a second life in home video — horror classics like Dawn of the Dead and The Hills Have Eyes, outsider oddities such as Repo Man, and vintage superhero epics like 1984's Supergirl. In some cases, his work helped resurrect entire careers.
"Jay and Anchor Bay were instrumental in rekindling interest in the Evil Dead movies,” Bruce Campbell told Deadline earlier today, as Anchor Bay's acquisition of the Evil Dead franchise gave the actor's career a second wind. "For that, my partners and I will always be grateful. He was fun and smart and really a special guy."
Similarly, Douglas helped cement Anchor Bay's reputation through the friendships he formed with John Landis, Dario Argento, and the late George Romero. But regardless of who made the film, Douglas was known for tirelessly tracking down the best possible prints and negatives before redistributing them.
After his tenure at Anchor Bay, Douglas started working with Blue Underground, and eventually headed up the film division of Ryko Distribution.
In a 2002 interview with City Beat, Douglas spoke candidly about the affection for the films he worked with.
"All of our movies, the movies that we license, I call 'ambitiously flawed.' It’s much more fun to watch movies that went wrong, not in terms of being bad art, but movies that were mishandled on the marketing end, or movies that were maybe ahead of their time."