Don Calfa may not be a household name in the world of cinema, but his contributions to the horror genre are certainly worth celebrating. While many fans may recognize him as Ernie Kaltenbrunner, the mortician in the classic zombie comedy “The Return of the Living Dead,” Calfa’s filmography spans an impressive range of lesser-known films that showcase his talent and versatility as an actor.
One notable film that showcases Calfa’s ability to delve into darker, more nuanced characters is “Chopper Chicks in Zombietown” (1989). In this cult horror-comedy, Calfa plays a sheriff who must defend his small desert town from a gang of motorcycle-riding zombie women. Despite its low-budget nature, the film stands out as a fun and campy experience, largely thanks to Calfa’s memorable performance as the determined sheriff.
Another film that allows Calfa to flex his acting chops is “Weekend at Bernie’s” (1989). While this black comedy is better known for its slapstick humor and zany premise, Calfa’s role as the eccentric mob boss, Vito, adds a layer of darkness to the film. His portrayal of the menacing Vito is both hilarious and chilling, demonstrating his ability to navigate between comedic and dramatic roles effortlessly.
Calfa’s ability to draw audiences in through his magnetic presence is further evident in the 1995 horror-thriller “Sublime.” In this psychological drama, Calfa plays a psychiatrist who oversees the protagonist’s psychiatric evaluation after a seemingly routine surgery. As the film unfolds, Calfa’s performance becomes increasingly unsettling, making us question the true nature of his character. “Sublime” showcases Calfa’s talent for creating complex and enigmatic characters that leave a lasting impact on audiences.
One of Calfa’s more underrated roles can be found in the 1999 film “The Hoodlum Priest.” Based on a true story, this drama follows a Catholic priest who becomes involved with a street gang and attempts to reform them. Calfa plays a hardened gang member who grows to respect the priest’s efforts. While it may not be a horror film, Calfa’s performance in “The Hoodlum Priest” adds depth and emotional weight to the story, reminding us of his versatility as an actor.
Don Calfa’s filmography is a testament to his dedication and passion for his craft. While “The Return of the Living Dead” may be his most recognizable role, his lesser-known films demonstrate his ability to inhabit a wide range of characters across different genres. Whether it be horror, comedy, or drama, Calfa’s memorable performances never fail to leave an impression. As fans, we owe it to ourselves to explore these hidden gems and celebrate the work of this talented and versatile actor.