Film producer Bill Panzer, whose credits include the Highlander film and TV series, passed away on March 17 from complications associated with a fall. He served as a co-exec producer on 1994’s Highlander: The Animated Series, and one of his final projects as producer was Starz Home Entertainment’s direct-to-video animated feature film, Highlander: The Search for Vengeance. He was 64 years old.
Panzer’s first film was the 1976 mafia pic The Death Collector (a.k.a. Family Enforcer), starring Joe Pesci. Other notable credits include the 1983 Sam Peckinpah thriller The Osterman Weekend, but it was 1986’s Highlander that would define his career for the next two decades. The moderately successful movie about head-hunting immortals became a cult favorite and spawned four sequels and three TV series, including the Saturday morning animated show and the live-action Highlander: The Raven. A fifth sequel, Highlander: The Source, starring Adrian Paul, was recently completed and is in need of a distributor.
Highlander: Search for Vengeance is directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri, the respected anime master behind the hits Ninja Scroll and Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, as well as the ‘Program’ segment of The Animatrix. Animation was handled by Japan’s Madhouse, whose credits include Satoshi Kon’s Millennium Actress and Tokyo Godfathers. Production was overseen by Hong Kong’s Imagi Animation Studios Ltd., which provided primary animation for reigning box-office champ TMNT. Starz Home Entertainment will release the anime take on the Highlander mythology this June.