A Retro Slasher’s Salute to Percy Rodrigues

percyPercy Rodrigues was THE voice for slasher and horror movie trailers in the 70’s and 80’s. His work includes the trailers for Popcorn, Madman, The Dark, Deadly Blessing, Return of the Living Dead, the Jaws series, and many others. His deep, rich voice and dramatic pauses could make the dullest horror movie sound like the most horrifying film to ever hit theaters.

Rodrigues was born in Canada in 1918 and was of African, Portuguese descent. He acted in theater, film, and television for decades but it is his voice work that is best remembered by genre fans. Sadly, Mr. Rodrigues died in 2007 at the ripe old age of 89. Before he passed away, Rodrigues was interviewed for the Jaws documentary The Shark is Still Working, which is due to receive a theatrical release in May. As a fan of Percy Rodrigues, I’m looking forward to finally putting a face with the voice when I watch the documentary.

The following is a brief list of my favorite Percy Rodrigues lines. The . . . represent dramatic pauses.

1. “Now, just when you thought it was safe to back into the water . . .the legend continues.” (Jaws 2) This is probably his most famous line as it crossed over into mainstream use for years.

2. “Popcorn. Buy a bag . . .go home in a box.” (Popcorn) One of my all time favorite tag lines.

3. “It is as if God created the Devil and gave him . . .Jaws!” (Jaws)

4. “Madman. There is no escape.” (Madman) Rodrigues did the voice work for most of Madman’s tv commercials and those are very entertaining as well.

5. “None of man’s fantasies of evil can compare with the reality of . . . Jaws!” (Jaws and Jaws 2) This line was so good that it got used in the trailers for the first film and first sequel.

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14 Responses to A Retro Slasher’s Salute to Percy Rodrigues

  1. Nice article. I’m always fascinated by the folks involved in voice over work. It never gets its due.

  2. Not heard of The Shark is Still Working before but I’ll have to keep an eye out for that. There’s a really good Jaws documentary on the DVD as well

  3. Apparently the Shark is Still Working is supposed to be INCREDIBLE. I can’t wait! I guess at some point it was, like, 4 hours long and that version was supposed to be great!

  4. I’ll definitely have to see it then. Jaws is awesome and Spielberg is a pretty decent filmmaker. Watched Jaws 2 for the first time in years the other day. Nowhere near as good as the original but still pretty entertaining. And it co-starred Keith Gordon (whatever happend to him people?)

  5. Keith Gordon became a fairly prominent indie director. He did Mother Night and Waking the Dead, I believe (but could be wrong about those titles. I know he’s a director though)… He’s awesome.

    Jaws 2 has more re-watchability for me, even though I think the first is a masterpiece. I always refer to Jaws 2 as a slasher with the shark as the killer. Think about it, a group of fun loving kids out for a good time, end up in an isolated area (this time the sea and Cable Junction) and are pursued by an unstoppable killer! LOVE IT!

    But back on topic… I totally recognize this voice over guy. I never knew he was the face attached to that voice!

  6. Hambone says:

    Percy’s work on the Return of the Living Dead trailers is my favorite, it’s fun watching every version in a row. His delivery is perfection.

    Did he also voice the Return of the Living Dead Part II ads? Sure sounded like him. The trailers for this inferior sequel were more effective than the film itself.

  7. John Bishop says:

    I’m positive he did the sequel to Return of the Living Dead. There’s even a play on the Jaws tagline at the end: “Just when you thought it was safe to be dead…” His voice is very distinct if you’ve seen enough trailers with his voice over it.

    Here’s a list of a few I can remember, including some non-horror titles as well. He had a dry wit that made some of his comedy voiceovers legendary. The best example is “Monty Python’s Life of Brian.” Check that one out if you can. He does some of the TV spots on these films as well, such as on Larry Cohen’s “The Stuff” from 1985, wherein he gets more lines than what was used in the trailer (he only appears at the end to say “Coming soon…”).

    Cat’s Eye
    Children of the Corn
    Chopping Mall
    Creepshow 2
    The Dark
    Dead & Buried
    Dead Ringers
    Deadly Blessing
    A Fish Called Wanda
    Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood
    The Gate
    (Stephen King’s) Graveyard Shift
    Jaws 2
    Jaws 3-D
    Jaws: The Revenge
    Misery (the holiday version currently available on the special edition DVD)
    Monty Python’s Life of Brian
    Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life
    Neon Maniacs
    Night of the Creeps
    Phantasm II
    Psycho II (both trailers)
    Return of the Living Dead (short trailer)
    Return of the Living Dead Part II
    The Stuff
    Tales From The Darkside: The Movie
    They Came From Within

    Hopefully a comprehensive list, but if I am forgetting any, please leave a reply.

  8. John Bishop says:

    I neglected to mention Lifeforce from 1985.

  9. H Kingsley Thurber says:

    He also did the voice over for Tentacles – a Jaws rip off. “This summer, Ocean Beach has attracted…something else.”

  10. John Bishop says:

    John Hughes has died today. I just saw the trailer for “The Great Outdoors,” which he wrote, and it has Percy’s narration on it, too. R.I.P to both men.

  11. John Bishop says:

    “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” too.

  12. John says:

    Stumbled upon the trailer for Ruggero Deodato’s “Cut and Run,” with Percy’s voice: “This is one story you won’t find on the six o’clock news.”

  13. Warren Hogg says:

    As a friend of the family I had the privilege of hosting Percy at my cottage for a week each year for a few years. His son Gerry and I would basically hang out with him take him fishing and listen to hours and hours of stories. Sometimes the Hollywood scene, sometimes the Broadway days and often of his professional boxing, wrestling and bar bouncing years in Montreal in the 40’s.
    An incredible life and tremendous story teller.

  14. Kevin Hansen says:

    He also did the teaser for Alien 3 (The Bitch is Back)
    one of my favorites & yes, Percy was the best!

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