Local film critic Ken Hanke passes away at 61
Mountain Xpress film critic Ken Hanke, namesake of the movie column "Cranky Hanke," died early June 29, at the age of 61.
Hanke had suffered from COPD for the last few years and, despite having an unusually rough week, the lifelong lover of film continued posting movie news and commentary until last night. Hanke's wife confirmed his death with friend and fellow movie critic Edwin Arnaudin, who notified the paper early Wednesday.
Reviewing movies for the local alternative weekly newspaper since 2000, Hanke amassed a large local following, creating opinionated lists of the week's openings and reviews. Hanke was a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association, and his critic profile on Rotten Tomatoes boasts 4,724 total reviews.
He authored four books on film: "Ken Russell's Films," published in 1984; "Charlie Chan at the Movies," published in 1989; "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," published in 1991; and "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker," in 1999. His chronology on the 44-film Charlie Chan detective franchise landed Hanke an interview with Fox for the commentary and special content on the Charlie Chan movies' DVD box set.
Hanke also co-hosted a horror film screening every Thursday at Asheville's newest theater, the Grail Moviehouse (formerly held at The Carolina Theater).
"He had a memory like an elephant when it comes to film," Arnaudin remembered. "When you're passionate about a topic, you can't help but catalog information about it. Everybody's got a passion, and his was film."
Born in North Carolina, Hanke lived most of his life in Florida, graduating from Lake Wales High School and moving to the Asheville area in the late 1990s. Prior to writing for the Mountain Xpress, Hanke wrote for film magazine Scarlet Street, which specialized in horror, mystery and film noir.
Hanke is survived by his wife Shonsa Hanke and his daughter, Elisabeth Hanke Hoffman.