A Bloody Good Time 07.11.13: The Ten Most Unlikely Horror Actors
Posted by Joseph Lee on 07.11.2013
From Snoop Dogg in Bones and Matthew McConaughey in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation to Paul Rudd in Halloween 6 and more, 411's Joseph Lee counts down the top 10 unlikely horror actors!
Opening Logo courtesy of Benjamin J. Colón (Soul Exodus)
Welcome to A Bloody Good Time.
This week I thought we'd take a break and have some fun by talking about the most unlikely actors to appear in a horror film. A lot of actors got their big break in horror. Some of them you can buy in the roles you see them in, and others just throw you out of the movie, especially considering what they do today. I don't mean all actors who played in horror before they got big. For example, I can buy Brad Pitt as the "heartthrob" lead hero in Cutting Class or Jack Black as the annoying comic relief in I Still Know What You Did Last Summer.
This is by no means a comprehensive list or anything, just ten names that always made me laugh when I saw them in a movie. So let's just put them in alphabetical order to prevent any confusion. Here are the ten unlikeliest horror movie actors!
#10: Jason Alexander in The Burning (1981)
This was my first thought when I came up with the idea of this week's topic. Jason Alexander is known to pretty much everyone as the balding short George Costanza in Seinfeld, so it's pretty jarring to see him in The Burning, a little-known but very good slasher. Not only does he look like he's the compete opposite of George (popular, cool, a full head of hair) but just seeing him so young is just bizarre for any fan of Seinfeld.
You may not even remember that Alexander was in this movie. His character of Dave does nothing memorable and doesn't even get a death scene. He just sort of disappears before the climax and doesn't really interact with Cropsey himself. The closest Alexander came to horror after this was Jacob's Ladder, and even it's a small role. Once Seinfeld took off it was mostly comedy and animated roles after that.
#9: Busta Rhymes in Halloween: Resurrection (2002)
The fact that Busta Rhymes was in a horror sequel isn't unlikely. Rappers trying to make it as actors will show up in a slasher from time to time for some experience. It's a good starting point. It just happened this year with Trey Songz in Texas Chainsaw 3D. What is surprising about Busta's role in Resurrection is that not only does he get to live until the end, but he kicks Michael Myers' ass and drops terrible one-liners while doing it. Of all the people who get to take down Michael Myers, it's the guy who did "Woo Hah".
Even more unlikely is that Busta Rhymes was so bad in the movie, that what could have been a forgettable sequel became almost infamous among horror fans because of how bad it was. It wasn't just poor casting to put him in the movie. No they had Tyra Banks for that. It was also a poor script and direction that decided that Busta Rhymes should do jumping crane kicks on The Shape. It kind of makes you look at Rob Zombie's movies in a new light, doesn't it?
#8: George Clooney in Return to Horror High (1987) and Return of the Killer Tomatoes (1988)
George Clooney would be in one of the best horror films ever after this, and I completely buy it because of how cool his role is. The reason these two are unlikely is because of how early in his career they are. It's the same thing when you see Clooney show up on Roseanne. He's an A-list celebrity with more money earned in a day than we'll see in a year. He shouldn't be here. He shouldn't be in a movie about killer tomatoes or in a bit police role that gets offed halfway throughout he movie. It just feels wrong.
There's nothing bad about Clooney being in the films, per se. He's indistinguishable from every other cast member. That's sort of why he makes the list. If you watch the movie now you can't help but see him as the star of the movie. He went on to be bigger than anyone involved with either movie ever could be. But there he is, clearly slumming it while trying to find a break. It's something that many actors go through, I just find Clooney's to be more hilarious.
#7: Macaulay Culkin in The Good Son (1993)
You know who is not scary? Macaulay Culkin. Okay, now he's a little scary because he looks like he's one of The Walking Dead, but back when he was a child he definitely wasn't. A good "killer kid" movie is hard to pull off. If you do it right, you get Gage Creed in Pet Semetary. If you do it wrong, you get this boring waste of time.
What makes it unlikely is that it makes no sense. At this point in his career, Culkin was a huge star. He just finished two Home Alone movies and My Girl. He was at the apex of his career and the sky was the limit. So why saddle him with a thankless role in a horror film? I really doubt 12-year-old Culkin was worried about getting typecast, especially considering he'd play the same smarmy kid three times in 1994. So who decided he would be perfect for this role? Maybe they just wanted him to say "fuck".
#6: Philip Seymour Hoffman in My Boyfriend's Back (1993)
For those who don't remember My Boyfriend's Back, it's a dumb little horror comedy from 1993 about a guy who comes back from the dead to go to prom with the love of his life. It's silly and actually kind of funny in the way it uses occasional dark humor. It's also funny to see respected actor Philip Seymour Hoffman play a high school bully with a really low IQ. Every time I watch this movie I look at Hoffman and think, "This man won an Academy Award."
He's not bad in the movie. He plays dumb rather well. It's just like Clooney, a zany zombie comedy is the last place you'd think to find him. He'd be back in the horror genre with roles Red Dragon, but it feels like he belongs in that movie. In this one it's just funny, especially when the zombie kills him with an axe and starts eating him. This man won an Academy Award.
#5: Bill Maher in House II: The Second Story (1987)
Bill Maher of course is a political speaker and...sorry, I was distracted by the size of his mullet. Bill Maher has a sort of "blink and you'll miss him" role, as he's not in the movie long and it's only to provide some sort of tension for the hero. In a movie this weird, seeing him show up and blend in with the scenery is one of the stranger moments of the movie.
Maher is a comedian and putting him in a horror comedy just seems to make sense. The first film had George Wendt and this one has John Ratzenberger (who is inexplicably both an electrician and an adventurer...it's that kind of movie). But Maher doesn't do anything funny. He just stands around being useless until the shenanigans begin and then he disappears to let the most interesting characters do their thing. At least that mullet got screen time.
#4: Matthew McConaughey in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1994)
Matthew McConaughey has had a long and varied career. He's had a resurgence lately for his acting in movies like Mud and before that he was the popular go-to guy for romantic comedies. In a movie that was one of the first for both McConaughey and Renee Zellweger, he's the one who steals the show by chewing every bit of scenery he can get his teeth on.
I never had a clue what kind of drugs McConaughey was on while he starred in this. If the movie wasn't so bad, I'd recommend it just so you can see just how off-the-wall he is. He's screaming, repeating terrible script lines and generally dominating the film, turning it into his own personal one-man show. It's actually kind of amazing he got any work after this, but I guess we all have to slum it in a really bad movie once in a while. I also wouldn't have pegged Rooney Mara as a good actress after the Nightmare on Elm Street remake.
#3: Leslie Nielsen in Creepshow (1982) and Prom Night (1980)
Leslie Nielsen is a weird case in that he's had a long career before he showed up in these horror films as a serious actor. He'd been acting since the 1950s, so he's had roles in genres of all kinds. What makes his serious horror roles (or semi-serious, in Creepshow's case) so bizarre is what he did after. Once Nielsen starred in Airplane, Police Squad and The Naked Gun, he became primarily a comedic and spoof actor. He was so good in that role that it's hard to picture him in anything else.
In Prom Night, he plays the father of Jamie Lee Curtis' character and there's not a joke to be had. While Creepshow is campy, he's still playing his role seriously. On top of that, he's a pretty evil guy in the movie. It only gets silly at the end when we're reminded this is Creepshow and we're not supposed to take these things seriously. Before that, he's murdering Ted Danson as slowly as possible.
#2: Paul Rudd in Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)
I've said this many times, but I'm convinced that Paul Rudd thought Halloween 6 was a comedy. It's the only way I can explain his performance. Rudd has been known through the majority of his career as a comedic actor. When he plays the adult version of Tommy Doyle here, he plays him as kind of a kook and it's hilarious. Whether he's staring awkwardly at kids or laughing at an inappropriate time (when Michael Myers is coming after him), he makes a terrible movie better by being weird.
This was his very first movie, and he'd go on to do bigger things later. Like Nielsen, however, he's so good as a comedic actor it's hard to imagine him as the protagonist in a slasher. It's weird seeing Brian Fantana talking with Dr. Loomis like he knows him. It's even weirder to see him beat down Michael Myers with a lead pipe. Weird, but still more believable than Busta Rhymes' crane kicks.
#1: Snoop Dogg in Bones (2001)
2001 was in that weird period of horror where Hollywood was getting over it's huge teen slasher craze but hadn't made the plunge into torture horror yet. So there was a lot of experimenting with what to try to make popular. Jeepers Creepers tried to bring back monster movies, Ghosts of Mars was...whatever Ghosts of Mars was, and then there was someone's bright idea to turn Snoop Dogg into the next Freddy Krueger.
Someone thought that not only should Snoop Dogg star in a horror film, but he should be the wisecracking villain of a tribute to blaxploitation movies and a sorta-kinda remake of J.D.'s Revenge. It's just a weird movie all around. It fails right from the beginning, because who could ever take Snoop Dogg seriously as a threat? I don't care if he's a ghost with ill-defined powers, he's Snoop Dogg. Your movie is screwed the second you made that casting choice.
That's it for me. Leave some comments here on or my Twitter. Next week, with the release of The Conjuring, I will look at the films of James Wan.
Closing Logo courtesy of Kyle Morton (get your own custom artwork and commissions at his Etsy account)
A Bloody Good Time: The Store is now officially open! Like this design? You can now find it on most of my merchandise! Click here to find shirts, posters and more!
For those interested in more of my movie reviews, I've created a new blog! Check out the brand new Not-So-Bloody Good Time!
And of course, if you want to know if I've ever covered anything or want to read a past edition, there's the Bloody Good Time Archives! Yes, you can finally read every edition of ABGT going back to the beginning! Just ignore my early writing style...I was new.