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Aquarius Releasing founder Terence “Terry” Levene, who released dozens of B-movies in grindhouse theaters in the 1970s and ’80s and beyond, died Jan. 13 in Englewood, NJ. He was 90.

After working at Commonwealth United, Levene started Aquarius Releasing, which released genre films ranging from kung fu to sci-fi and far beyond and serve as a sub-distributor for Roger Corman and others. Aquarius had offices above the Selwyn Theatre on 42nd St. in New York, and released films including “Silent Night, Deadly Night,” “Isaac Hayes: Black Moses of Soul” and Lucio Fulci’s “The Beyond” (retitled as “Seven Doors of Death.”)

Among the other films he distributed or booked were the New York release of the wildly successful sex film “Deep Throat,” the Northeastern release of “Halloween” and John Sayles’ “Alligator.”

In the tradition of other exploitation film mavens like William Castle, Levene passed barf bags to patrons of “Doctor Butcher M.D.” (a re-edited version of “Zombi Holocaust”) and promoting 1983 film “Make Them Die Slowly (a re-titling of Italian film “Cannibal Ferox”) as “The Most Violent Film Ever! Banned in 31 Countries!”

The Aquarius release of “Doctor Butcher M.D.” also featured the Butchermobile, a flatbed truck that drove around New York and New Jersey with an operating table and medical implements and a human subject on the table, according to the Cool Ass Cinema blog

Aquarius jumped on the martial arts craze after Bruce Lee’s 1973 death, distributing titles such as “Goodbye Bruce Lee,” “Bruce Lee Fights Back From the Grave” and producing the controversial “Fist of Fear, Touch of Death” with Fred Williamson. Levene is featured in the 2023 documentary “Enter the Clones of Bruce.”

Born in London, Levene started out as a sales executive for 20th Century Fox in Philadelphia and then became assistant branch manager of Columbia Pictures in New York City. He joined Commonwealth United in 1968 as eastern division sales manager, and left the company after it was folded into AIP.

He is survived by his wife Sarai, his daughter Dr. Rachel Levene, son-in-law Gregory Kubie, grandchildren Charlotte and Clifford, sister and brother-in-law Mollie and John Summers and multiple nieces and nephews.



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