A Bloody Good Time 03.21.13: Top 40 Horror Movie Supporting Characters, Part 3 (#20-11)
Posted by Joseph Lee on 03.21.2013
From Captain Spaulding in House of 1000 Corpses and Sex Machine in From Dusk 'till Dawn to Sheriff Brackett in Halloween and more, 411's Joseph Lee continues his look at the top 40 horror movie supporting characters with #20 - 11!
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. We're halfway done and we've still got a lot of great characters to go.
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.
#20: Newt from Aliens (1986)
"They mostly come at night. Mostly." This little girl is one of the reasons Ripley was able to grow as a character in Aliens and that's one of the jobs of a good supporting character. She is found alone when the marines hit LV-426 and looks terrible. You can't really blame her, as everyone she ever knew or loved is dead and has been replaced with terrifying creatures that she has to run and hide from every night.
She helps Ripley grow because Ripley doesn't have anyone either, and that's how they bond. She becomes like a mother or a big sister to Newt and protects her at all costs. At some points in the film, you get the feeling that if it came down to Ripley and Newt, Ripley would sacrifice herself. Unfortunately, the character never came back to the franchise because in a really stupid move, it was decided she would be killed (along with Hicks) off-screen just to make it the Ripley show again in Alien 3.
#19: Sheriff Leigh Brackett in Halloween (1978)
I'm referring to the one in the original film, but I think that Brad Dourif's performance in Rob Zombie's Halloween 2 should also get some mention. I don't think anyone who saw that movie can say that Dourif didn't try, regardless of what you think about the film itself. Anyway, this is for the character that Charles Cyphers plays in the first film, who serves as not only the straight man to Dr. Loomis' rants, but someone of an exposition character to keep the story moving along.
Some characters were designed just for that purpose. He never actually encounters Michael, and that's probably a good thing. Cyphers' track record in Carpenter films isn't the best considering he ended up dying in The Fog and Assault on Precinct 13. Brackett got to survive in one film due to Loomis sending him away and in another he shows up for five minutes before he gets replaced.
#18: Captain Spaulding in House of 1000 Corpses (2003)
I'm referring specifically to House of 1000 Corpses Spaulding, as he eventually went on to be one of the three stars of The Devil's Rejects. In the first film of the Firefly family story, he was merely a supporting comedic character that we didn't even know was working with the family until the very end. Sure, you can suspect him, but it wasn't revealed until the final moments with Otis is in the back seat of his car.
Spaulding ended up stealing the show of what is an okay movie at best (Zombie did a much better job with Rejects). Sig Haig is one of the best character actors ever and it's always fun to see him in a movie. I love the opening scene of Corpses in which two people try to rob his store and all he can do is make fun of them and their grandmothers. Between his funny scenes and his look, it's no wonder he became the cult favorite he was.
#17: Fritz in Frankenstein (1931)
It's funny that the role we most associate with the hunchback assistant Igor really wasn't named Igor after all. The hunchback in Frankenstein is named Fritz, and is played by the awesome Dwight Frye. A character actually named Ygor would come later in a Frankenstein movie, but he wasn't a hunchback. No, the first "Igor" we got was Fritz, and the only thing he had in common with the prototypical character was his hunchback.
Frye was an awesome supporting actor during the Universal days and this was one of his many great roles. Fritz was a poor assistant for Dr. Frankenstein, as he's the reason the monster is a murderer (what with the criminal brain and all) and he's the reason the monster goes on a rampage (after he taunts him with fire and gets killed). Frankenstein may have actually had a chance to do something positive with the creature if not for this jerk.
#16: Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Buffalo Bill may have technically been the villain of Silence of the Lambs, but by no means was he a main character of any kind, and certainly not the star. Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter (rightfully) took all of the publicity and accolades but let's not forget that Buffalo Bill was a creepy guy in his own right. He was the one in the film that Hannibal was trying to help Clarice catch, although you would think that if the two ever crossed paths Hannibal could have taken him out easily.
He captures women (especially fat women) to build himself a skin suit. But before that he traps them in a pit and wants them to put lotion on their skin. Hey, if I were making a skin suit I'd want soft skin too! Ted Levine is great in the role, trying his hardest to steal the show from Hopkins and in some ways succeeding. People came for Hopkins' great performance but left out by the creepy guy wearing the skin.
#15: The Hitchhiker in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
"Well, I think we just picked up Dracula." Franklin actually gets a good line in the movie and it refers to this weirdo played by Edwin Neal. He does nothing for the next seven minutes but be entirely odd and scary. He talks about killing cows, burns a photo in aluminum foil and cuts himself just for giggles. Then we don't see him again until later in the film when its revealed he's also in league with Leatherface (which wasn't exactly a secret).
It's a shame his character was killed off, because I would have loved to see Neal return as the character in one of the sequels. Instead, he's run over by a truck and becomes one of the most memorable parts of a movie that included a guy wearing human skin and slicing people up with a chainsaw. That entire family made that movie as scary as it was.
#14: Kincaid in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987) and A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988)
Kincaid kicks ass. He's not only the best Dream Warrior (yeah, even better than Kristen) but one of my favorite characters in the entire Nightmare series. He doesn't take any grief from anyone and always speaks his mind regardless of how many times he's sent to the quiet room. I also like that in the dream world, his power is just that he's really strong. It's not useless like "I'm bad" and it's not silly like "Wizard Master". It just lets Kincaid do what he does best.
Kincaid manages to not only survive Freddy's onslaught in Part 3, he returns for Part 4. Of course, that doesn't work out as well, but at least fans got to see him again. In a series that featured some dumb cannon fodder for Mr. Krueger, Kincaid was never afraid of him even when it looked like he was about to die. "Where you hiding at, you burnt-faced pussy?" This guy is awesome.
#13: Chop Top in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 (1986)
Speaking of great character actors, it's hard for a Bill Moseley performance to be bad, even if he's in a bad movie. Texas Chainsaw 2 is a mixed bag for me (not a bad movie) but Chop Top is undeniably the best part about it, even with Dennis Hopper hamming it up. Bill Moseley just shows up as this hippie-looking guy who eventually is revealed to have a huge metal plate that he eats the skin around, after scratching at it with a hot coat hanger. He's just as bizarre as the first film's Hitchhiker but in a totally different way.
It's nice that Chop-Top just shows up to replace the Hitchhiker but never feels like a replacement. He fits in just as well with these over the top psychos and it's like he was always a member of the group. I know that in the storyline he was but we didn't know that. This would be one of Moseley's best career roles until he landed the role of Otis.
#12: Sex Machine in From Dusk 'till Dawn (1996)
I don't think Tom Savini lasts more than thirty minutes in From Dusk Till Dawn (it's hard to tell, the movie goes by so quickly), but he definitely makes the most of the time he is there. His character of Sex Machine is bad ass, then later funny, then still later a cool villain. He's there to be cannon fodder for the vampire hordes but he makes the most of the time he's on screen. Savini's acting isn't anything that's going to win awards, but he's good at playing the cool guy.
Sex Machine is awesome for several reasons. One: He uses a whip to grab his beer, then no one calls him on it. Two: He has a crotch gun. Three: His name is Sex Machine. Four: He kills lots of vampires. Five: He watches Peter Cushing movies. I'm sure there are more but we'd be here all day if I sat here and listed them all. Savini is great and his role in this movie brings some enjoyment to an already entertaining vampire movie.
#11: Ygor in Son of Frankenstein (1939) and Ghost of Frankenstein (1942)
This was Bela Lugosi's other big role in the Universal films, although he's made appearances in The Wolf Man and as the Frankenstein monster itself. In some ways, Ygor is better than Dracula because Lugosi was able to show more personality and wasn't limited to relying on his creepy eyes and menacing actions. Here he's able to mock his opponents, give long speeches with that Transylvania accent (made even harder to hear with his prosthetics) and use his eyes to convey more of than the script ever could.
He's a slimy character that manipulates the creature into killing judges that had him hanged (which he somehow survived, but is still legally dead...figure that out) and tries his best to turn the once gentle monster into a killing machine. Luckily the monster's apparent good nature wins out in the end, and Ygor is killed...until he somehow survives again for the sequel, where he betrays even the creature.
That's it for me. Leave some comments here on or my Twitter. Next week, the countdown continues.
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