A Bloody Good Time 03.07.13: Top 40 Horror Movie Supporting Characters, Part 1 (#40-31)
Posted by Joseph Lee on 03.07.2013
From Bub the zombie in Day of the Dead and Sam from Trick r' Treat to Matt Hooper in Jaws and more, 411's Joseph Lee begins his look at the top 40 supporting characters in horror with #40 - 31!
Opening Logo courtesy of Benjamin J. Colón (Soul Exodus)
Welcome to A Bloody Good Time.
This week is the start of a month-long countdown devoted to the forty best characters in horror movie history. Trust me, before you scoff at the idea of a Top 40, I actually had to cut a good chunk of people out just to get it to that number. There's a lot of memorable characters that belong here.
Let's get some ground rules out of the way, because it's a very tricky situation as to what definies "supporting".
1) They have to be in more than one scene. This differentiates them from say, the minor character countdown where characters like The Grady Twins or Blades from Dawn of the Dead showed up.
2) They can't be the star of the movie. This is pretty obvious. Jamie Lee Curtis and Donald Pleasance are the stars of Halloween. Anthony Hopkins is the star of Silence of the Lambs The star is almost always the main character or the hero of the horror film, which means they're not supporting.
3) They can't be the hero even if they're not the star. Reggie in Phantasm isn't exactly the star of those movies, but he's definitely the hero of the franchise. I chalk this up to the fact that Mike is kind of a wuss and The Tall Man's the bad guy. The sequels are just as much Reggie's movies as anyone.
4) They can be a villain, but they can't be the main villain. For example, Pinhead can't be on this list, but don't be shocked to see another cenobite show up. King Ghidorah wouldn't make it, but the aliens controlling him could.
From there it's just my personal preference. I thought about one per franchise or movie but decided against it. So you'll see multiple characters from the same film show up. If you see one character chosen over another, don't worry, the other may show up at some point.
Let's get started.
#40: Sam from Trick 'r Treat (2009)
It's hard to call Sam a supporting character since he's all over the advertising and makes a few appearances in the movie before his very own story. He also became the fact of the film (and Fearnet) after the movie was a cult hit. At the end of the day, however, he's only in the one story as a main character and is just walking around before that. In anthology film, there are no real main characters except in their own self-contained story, so in a way, they're all supporting. They're called ensembles for a reason.
Sam is a great character because he was unique and different. That's why he is as popular is he is (and part of the reason why the movie was so successful). On the outside he's just a kid in footie pajamas with a sack over his head as a Halloween costume. However, once you take that sack off, you see something else entirely. In a way, I'd say Trick 'r Treat is partially responsible for the recent string of anthology films we have today like V/H/S, The Theater Bizarre and the upcoming ABC's of Death. Some of the credit has to go to Sam and his love of Halloween.
#39: Sheriff Hoyt from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
Say what you will about the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake (and plenty have), but I think we can all agree that R. Lee Ermey is awesome. He's more or less played the same character in every movie but I think Hoyt is perhaps the most insane out of all of them. That's not an insult towards Full Metal Jacket at all, it's just that he's more of a jerk there while he's completely out of his mind here.
I actually liked the remake but I think Hoyt steals the show. He's the villain until the movie remembers it has Leatherface and he's absolutely intimidating. I think that scene where he wants the suicide scenario recreated exactly is very suspenseful and it's partially due to Ermey's performance. Then later on he's shown with the rest of the family and appears almost child-like in his attitude. It's a good show from him. Someone give this man his own horror film so he can dispatch teens and creep everyone the hell out.
#38: Sheriff Garris from Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)
Let's face it. When it comes to Friday the 13th, everyone's a supporting character to Jason and whichever victim manages to stop him in that movie. Some of them stand out, others don't. One of my favorites is Sheriff Garris who puts up one of the best fights against Jason in franchise history. Sure, he also gets one of the nastiest deaths in franchise history, but he goes out like a man, fighting to protect his daughter.
It's rare that any of Jason's victims get any back-story. Usually that is reserved for the final girl only. Here's what we know about Garris: He's a widower and he is almost overprotective of his daughter. He's not a jerk, but he has to act like one for his job and keeping everyone safe. He's one of the most three-dimensional characters the Friday the 13th films have produced. When Jason arrives and the possibility comes up that his daughter could die, he doesn't hesitate. He uses all of his ammunition and then whatever weapons he can find just to protect her, probably knowing it's an impossible task. That's why he's great.
#37: Jake from Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn (1987)
He's not on here because I've met Danny Hicks, I swear. Jake's a funny character and it's nice to see someone besides Ash get a few moments to shine in the Evil Dead trilogy. Jake is dumb, obviously, but I think that's why he is as memorable as he is. At least he has a personality. The rest of the people who show up to that cabin in the woods don't have much in that department and that's probably why we immediately side with Ash when they show up, even if he's the one trespassing.
Jake doesn't know much about the dead coming to life or demons, but he knows he wants his girl (Bobbi Jo) and he wants to get back in his truck and go to wherever he came from. I think that he has every right to do the things he does in this movie, even if he's sort of portrayed as a bad guy (kind of) because he throws the Necronomicon pages down into the cellar. Imagine if your girlfriend ran off into the night and the people you thought could help you were talking about spells and incantations? Yeah, you'd do the same thing.
#36: Barbara from Night of the Living Dead (1968)
To anyone who hasn't actually seen Night of the Living Dead, they might think Barbara's the character. She's always shown in clips of the film and the most famous line from the movie is "They're coming to get you Barbara". But she's not. In fact, she and Johnny are the red herring main characters. You think the film will be about them, but Johnny is quickly quickly and Barbara becomes an emotional mess for the remainder of the film. I can't really blame her, but it's established quickly that Ben is the hero of this outfit.
She makes this list because while she's useless to the cause and gets herself killed, you can't fault Judith O'Dea's performance. She's really good at convincing everyone she's an emotional wreck, at least in the moments where she's not seemingly catatonic. Barbara actually becomes the main character in the remake, when Patricia Tallman turns her into a zombie-killing badass in a nice reversal on the character.
#35: Matt Hooper from Jaws (1975)
One of horror's best bromances happened out on the high seas while three men were hunting for a shark. Matt Hooper is one third of that team, and while he's the shark expert, he doesn't get to do much once the film is over. That's mostly because the shark has trapped him at the bottom of the ocean in a nearby seabed, then decides to eat Quint instead. If I had to choose between hiding or fighting a shark that could eat me in two bites, I'd probably hide too. It's not like he would get a chance to get to the boat without dying anyway.
Hooper is the very definition of the word "supporting". He's not really integral to the plot but he helps out where he can and his friendship with Brody is one of the memorable parts of the film. The film moves slower as it develops these three characters and sends them on an adventure to take out an extremely lethal predator. That ramps up the suspense at the end when shark begins wrecking their boat in the middle of the water.
#34: Childs from The Thing (1982)
Keith David has been playing supporting characters for most of his career and he's usually pretty good at it. He's a character actor, and character actors will always have work in Hollywood because someone has to back up or be against the star of the film. He's still appearing in horror too, as recently as last year's (awful) Smiley. Outside of They Live, this is probably my favorite film that he appears in as Childs.
Childs is mostly nothing but an antagonist to McReady. He questions all of his plans, questions whether or not he can even trust him and yet he somehow survives until the end (or does he?). He's a pessimist, and sometimes being distrustful can help you out when paranoia is running rampant and anyone could be a thing. Childs' best strategy is to trust no one and just try to find out how to get back to civilization without some bizarre alien presence in side of him. As long as he's not actively screwing up the plans of others, you can't really fault him for that.
#33: Dr. Channard from Hellbound: Hellraiser 2 (1988)
The doctor...is in! I like Kenneth Cranham's performance as the evil Dr. Channard okay in the first half of Hellraiser 2, but for me, he doesn't really get fun until Julia double-crosses him and he's turned into a cenobite. He's not just any cenobite though, he's the Leviathan's personal lackey. He's somehow more powerful than the others but is bound to the ruler of Hell by this device that is constantly slicing into his brain.
That's when he's really fun to watch, because his idea of being evil is cutting a bunch of people up while shouting out tons of medical-related one-liners. "I recommend...amputation!" "I'm taking over...this operation!" Sure, he makes Pinhead and company go out like wusses, but I tend to think that's because they had just remembered who they are and maybe lost the powers of hell as a result. It's the only way I can think of to justify it. It still doesn't take away from how memorable Channard, in his short time as a cenobite, was.
#32: Pvt. William Hudson from Aliens (1986)
Game over, man! Game over! That line's all I really need to say to justify Hudson's appearance on this list, but are there any other reasons? Well, Bill Paxton is great to watch as always, and he makes what should be a throwaway character memorable with his energy and ability to ad-lib. I'm sure most of you know by now that his most famous line was thought up on the spot (as several great lines in cinema history were) and James Cameron liked it so much he left it in.
If Hudson were played by any other nameless actor, that line probably wouldn't have been spoken and we may not remember his character today. It's a testament to how good Paxton is in the role. There are some who think he's grating but I disagree, as he's meant to play the "average joe" on the team. He's saying what anyone one of us would be saying in a situation like that. We'd all like to think we'd be ready to fight, but most of us would probably be losing control of our bowels instead.
#31: Bub the Zombie from Day of the Dead (1985)
Bub is a zombie. He doesn't talk, he doesn't do much except hold grudges and listen to music. He's a zombie that has been tamed and cured of his instincts to attack and eat every person he sees. While I can't say I like Bub as much as other people do, I do enjoy the idea that a doctor has been experimenting on the dead and finding ways that they can still be of service. It's an interesting way to explore how to solve the problem outside of "kill 'em all", which obviously isn't working since humanity is decimated by the start of this film.
I love the fact that out of all the people Captain Rhodes is a dick to, it's Bub who gets him killed. At the end of the day he's still killed by a zombie, but by a zombie who has remembered how to shoot a gun. The salute at the end might as well be a big middle finger to Rhodes for all the people he mistreated. It's a shame that Romero never really followed up on this in Land of the Dead. He tried to with Big Daddy, but it never worked as well.
That's it for me. Leave some comments here on or my Twitter. Next week, the countdown continues. Maybe your favorite will make it on in the remaining thirty spots!
Closing Logo courtesy of Kyle Morton (get your own custom artwork and commissions at his Etsy account)
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