A Bloody Good Time 03.14.13: Top 40 Horror Movie Supporting Characters, Part 2 (#30-21)
Posted by Joseph Lee on 03.14.2013
From Parker in Alien and the non-Pinhead Cenobites in the Hellraiser films to Dr. Hill in Re-Animator and more, 411's Joseph Lee continues his look at the top 40 horror movie supporting characters with #30 - 21!
Opening Logo courtesy of Benjamin J. Colón (Soul Exodus)
Welcome to A Bloody Good Time.
We continue our top 40 countdown of the best supporting characters in horror and we'll be half-way done after today. If you want some additional content, I've reviewed both The ABCs of Death and The Last Exorcism Part II for this very website.
Let me remind you of the rules:
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.
#30: J.F.K. from Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)
You wouldn't think that Bruce Campbell and Ossie Davis as Elvis Presley and JFK, respectively, would be a good team but it is works completely in this movie. I've always watched it convinced that Sebastian Haff really was Elvis, but that "Jack" was just delusional. Maybe it's just me. Either way, Davis is a blast to watch in the role as he gets the best lines in the entire film (as we pointed out in the comments last week). "I've got sand in here" and "they dyed me this color" are absolutely hilarious and part of the reason Bubba Ho-Tep is as well-liked as it is.
It's a shame that Ossie Davis is gone, because he was a great character actor and I would have loved to see him do more roles like this. As it is, this was one of his final film roles and definitely one of my favorites. Even though I didn't buy the fact he was really JFK with a bag of sand in his head, I believed that he believed it. That's what makes his performance so fun. Not to mention his ability to play off of Bruce Campbell's Elvis impersonation made for some great interaction between the two.
#29: Father Jon McGruder in Braindead (1992)
He kicks ass for the Lord. I actually didn't know this guy had a name until I looked it up for this list. I always just assumed he was the priest who kicked ass (for the Lord). This guy was actually suggested to me during our minor characters countdown, but I pointed out that he is more than a one-scene wonder. He shows up again in the movie as a zombie, does the nasty with the zombie Nurse McTavish and produces the most annoying baby in the history of babies. He has quite a lot to do in the film even after he's dead.
Of course, everyone remembers the classic scene below in which he unleashes a flurry of kicks to zombies and then removes all of the limbs from one of them (that has to be an homage to the Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail). That scene was memorable enough, but the line he delivers midway through seals it. I doubt the new Pope is able to fend off a group of zombies with kung fu. I'm just saying, maybe they made their decision today a little early.
#28: Burt Gummer from Tremors (1990)
If the apocalypse happens and everything goes to hell, I want to be friends with Burt. He's a survivalist and while others may find him crazy, he's the one that manages to get the most damage done to the Graboids in Tremors. Somehow he managed to end up with a wife that's just as nuts as he is and when they hear about monsters eating people, their plan is to load up on ammo and start shooting. In any other movie, they'd be the ones to die first. However, any other movie underestimates just how much ammunition Burt Gummer carries.
I'm not the only one who likes this guy, because he managed to return for Tremors 2 and then become the star of the franchise after that with two more films and a short-lived TV series. Michael Gross is known for a lot of different things, but this is obviously my favorite. Family Ties is nice and all, but Steven Keaton is not going to have a clue what to do if a Graboid comes tunneling through his home. He's just going to cry while Alex becomes worm food.
#27: Dr. Carl Hill from Re-Animator (1985)
When we first meet Dr. Hill, he just seems like the stereotypical jerk professor who is going to get in the way of Herbert West and end up getting killed as a result of it. Well, that happens. But then West decides that he has a perfect opportunity to test his reanimation formula and so he takes the severed head of Hill, places it down and we have a new, interesting character. Hill becomes the villain of the film later on, but he's mostly operating in the background and isn't as prominent as you would think.
Most people who have seen the film remember the doctor from the infamous "head giving head" scene in which he has a naked Barbara Crampton tied down and proceeds to..well, you get the idea. I'm still not entirely sure how Hill came back for the sequel considering his head was squished into pulp, but he does, and with bat wings. There's certain movies that defy criticism and Re-Animator is one of them.
#26: Mrs. Baylock from The Omen (1976)
Mrs. Baylock is someone that was meant to take care of Damien, the Antichrist, and raise him to become the evil person in power he was meant to be. She will do anything to accomplish that goal, even if it means killing his "mother" and sending dogs to kill his "father". These are just obstacles for the survival and rule of what she wants to be her leader, so she's more than willing toe commit murder.
A lot of people remember Damien from this movie, but most forget that he's just an innocent kid, more or less. He doesn't really become evil until the sequels. It can be argued he had flashes of it here (like putting his mother in the hospital, but that can still be waved off as an accident). However, no one can deny that Mrs. Baylock is pure evil and she's one of the scariest parts about the film. Just look at how devoted she is to her cause and how much she's willing to fight for it. The woman is insane.
#25: Parker from Alien (1979)
Ripley was the star of the Alien franchise (along with the aliens), but she had a lot of backup over the films from a strong supporting cast. I mentioned Hudson last week and (spoiler alert), I'll mention more later on. However, I can't forget about Yaphet Kotto as Parker, a guy that works in engineering with Brett and complains about how much pay he's set to earn for the entire trip. They certainly don't pay him enough for what he has to deal with later.
Parker, like any good supporting character, doesn't necessarily make the film about him. He has his moments to shine, but this is about the alien and he's there to build up the main characters. Of course no one knew Ripley would be the main character until the movie was finished, but it's still obvious that it's not Parker (and painfully obvious later on). Kotto's in the background, providing a good performance until his time is up and the story moves along.
#24: Dr. Pretorius from The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
You'd have to think that if Boris Karloff wasn't such a good actor, the stole would be effectively stolen from him by the supporting characters who are. If it's not Fritz in the original film (played by Dwight Frye) then it's Dr. Pretorius here, played by Ernest Thesiger. Is this guy kooky or what? He has an odd collection of shrunken people in jars and when he sees the monster, he just reacts to him like he was any other person. I almost want a movie made about him to find out how he got this way and what is up with his previous experiments. A good performance leaves you wanting more.
Thesiger just completely shows up everyone he's on screen with except for Karloff, and he almost upstages the Monster at points. He's clearly evil, but he's also a bit crazy. He's also important to the story, because he's the one who creates the titular Bride and gets the Monster to agree to the idea. Even the Monster realizes someone like this should be allowed in the real world, because he'll never learn his lesson and keep creating abominations. "You stay. We belong dead."
#23: Jud Crandall from Pet Sematary (1989)
You have no idea how much I wanted to include Clancy Brown's insane performance from Pet Sematary Two on here, but he's pretty much the main villain of that film (kind of like how Gage becomes the main villain of the first film, so he won't be here). However, one character from that world I can show some love to is that stupid old man himself, Jud Crandall. Jud is totally in this movie to serve as Mr. Exposition, and that's okay. Fred Gwynne has a certain charisma that he brings to the role to bring it above a standard expository character.
The best part about Jud, to me, is that he's human. He makes mistakes, he has errors in judgement and he feels bad about it. It's his fault that the events of the film take place because he "introduces Louis to the power". It's implied that Gage never would have died if the Micmac burial ground hadn't had something buried in it. It lured Louis back by killing his son. Jud eventually pays for what he does in a gruesome fashion, even if he never meant anyone harm. He's one of the reasons I love this movie.
#22: The cenobites (minus Pinhead) from Hellraiser (1987) and Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988)
While I probably could include Pinhead as he appears in the first two films, he's the star and face of the franchise so I'm going to consider him the main villain. The characters that don't get enough love are the other cenobites: The unnamed female, Butterball and Chatterer. I like Chatterer best because of his design, but it's all personal preference. These three don't say much (in fact, the female is the only one that talks between them) and mostly stand to help serve Hell much as the lead cenobite, Pinhead, does.
They eventually get killed off at the end of Hellraiser 2 and we don't see them again. I'm not sure how Pinhead was able to keep coming back but none of the rest do. Chatterer's design shows up (and I think one of the later monsters is actually called Chatterer II) but the other two are gone for good. It just goes to show that when a franchise gets rolling, the star is front and center and supporting characters are expendable. That must be why Dr. Channard never got to return either.
#21: Drayton Sawyer from The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 (1986)
"I just can't take no pleasure in killing. There's just some things you gotta do. Don't mean you have to like it." The best part about that quote (and scariest) is the fact that no, Drayton, you don't have to kill anyone. You're clearly crazy and you like the taste of human flesh. That's one thing I hated about the Platinum Dunes prequel, is that that they explain why this family kills and eats people. As Chris Rock says, whatever happened to crazy? Can't anybody be crazy anymore?
Jim Siedow gets all the credit in the world for standing out in a film that also includes Edwin Neal's psychopath and a guy who wears human skin on his face and carries a chainsaw. He even manages to stand out in the sequel, although he has to make his character appear even crazier to do so with Chop-Top hanging around. He's one of the great horror actors that really brought something to what could have been a forgettable role.
That's it for me. Leave some comments here on or my Twitter. Next week, the countdown continues.
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