Friday, August 5, 2016

Love For The Brothers: Miguel Nunez Jr.


He's that guy you've seen in about a dozen films and television roles that you know has done more. Many horror fans know him from two very prominent roles, some know just the face from a few widely released Hollywood projects, while others know him to be a "Chitlin' Circuit" Black actor of sorts in heavy rotation.

Miguel Nunez Jr., or Demon or Juwanna Mann to whomever you ask has had a steady career in front and behind the camera that has trickled prosperously for over three decades. There's way too many titles to name as his resume is this diverse hodge podge of A, B, and C labeled flicks and television series along with a fistful of many upcoming projects. Unfortunately, none of them seem to be genre. Which is where I first fell hard for my desire to hang with him like Reggie the Reckless.

However, his past genre titles do at least make up a portion of his work. Black horror titles, Trapped: Haitian Nights (2010) and Dolls of Voodoo (2013) (Dolls Of being directed by Kenya Moore. Mrs. Bozack from Martin. I'm not making this up. There's a trailer and everything.), Leprechaun 4: In Space (1996), Carnosaur 2 (1995), and Shadowzone (1990). Additionally, Nunez has made appearances on some of sci-fi's well known television series' such as The Twilight Zone, Babylon 5, even Lois & Clark.

Two standouts in Miguel's genre appearances are a pair that have been cherished for years by fans like myself. In both Return Of The Living Dead (1985) as Spider and Friday the 13th Part 5: A New Beginning (1985) as Demon, Miguel brought to both characters a magnetic energy with edgy nicknames, curly mullets, and lots of leather. I would even argue there isn't too much distinction. Coasting on a similar image released in the same year, 100% mortality rate, tertiary supporting positions, and a fair amount of cussing.

Demon comes in a bit later in the film as Reggie's (Shavar Ross) revered, nomadic older brother. Most of his lines feel improvised as his "cool" demeanor and familial affection for Reggie reads as natural. Considering the reception of the film to this day, Nunez' performance is so charming that you almost forget about the other mediocre characters. We lost Demon to the mandatory body count that this film required. Unfortunately in a "shit box," but not before some light sexism and mutual musical serranading with his girlfriend Anita (Jere Fields). I guess this was a way of implying that Demon was a complicated young man.


Spider goes back to the token trope popularized in the 1980's, but manages to dodge the quick moving, ravenous undead long enough to succumb to a nuclear explosion along with the rest of the "survivors" in this film. When everything became utter chaos, he worked with Burt (Clu Gulager) to find a way to avoid the chaos. A part of a band of punk and new wavers, Spider reads simply as a fun addition to the visually ecclectic cemetary partiers. Regardless, Spider was a joy to witness as active in the fight against the clever, gruesome ghouls.

From bit roles to leading man, Miguel's hustle is impressive because his work is unapologetically diverse. The fact that he pops up at horror conventions every now and then shows that Miguel really appreciates how the fanbase continues to embrace his roles long past.

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