Michael Reeves is one of the great, tragically lost figures in the history of cinema -- a prodigious talent undone by personal demons and also, perhaps, the times in which he lived. Variously described by the people who knew and worked with him as a potential rival to Steven Spielberg, an Orson Welles in the making, Reeves only completed three full-length movies in his career.
Born in 1943 to the poor side of a wealthy British name, Reeves was raised by his mother. He grew up spellbound by cinema, and was especially drawn to American movies of all genres: westerns, thrillers, horror, and science fiction. As early as age eight, he declared his dream to become a film director. Reeves made his first fully plotted movie -- a 20-minute thriller called Carrie, about a disabled girl being stalked -- when he was 15. He learned to mimick the movements of the camera as he'd seen in Hollywood movies using his mother's tea-trolley; from watching movies closely, he also knew where to place his camera in order to get the kinds of shots he wanted. Reeves wrote, produced, directed, and starred in Carrie, playing the hero. While planning the production for this film, he was introduced to another teenager, aspiring actor (and future film star) Ian Ogilvy, who portrayed the villain and became Reeves' his lifelong friend. The movie wasn't a significant piece, except as a first credit to Ogilvy's name and as a sample of Reeves' potential. The same year he made Carrie, Reeves' personal situation changed radically when his mother suddenly came into the family's money, and he found himself free to pursue any goal he chose. He ran off to Hollywood in 1961 at age 17, in search of his favorite filmmaker, Don Siegel. So the story goes -- he got Siegel's address, rang his bell one morning, and introduced himself to the bewildered director as having come all the way from England to meet him. Siegel then hired Reeves as a gopher and junior production assistant, at first, and it was while working for the veteran director that he began honing his own skills and instincts as a filmmaker.