Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

10 (11?) Favorite Horror Performances

Okay, this is a list of performances and not necessarily movies.

10. Sid Haig in The Devil's Rejects - Okay, this is probably a bit of a stretch to say it is one of the best horror performances ever. But it's one of my favorites. Hence the title of this blog. I just think that Haig makes a great homicidal clown. This movie is ridiculously suspenseful and grotesque and remains Zombie's and Haig's best effort to date. And yes, I'll go ahead and plug Zombie's latest film The Lords of Salem. I believe Sid Haig makes a cameo. I can't wait to see it.
09. Max Von Sydow in The Exorcist - For the longest time I thought that Sydow had really been as old as he was portrayed in this movie and I racked my brain trying to wonder just how old the guy was. Make-up did wonders, but his performance sealed the deal for me.
08.  Bruce Campbell in Evil Dead II - Comedy/horror is probably the toughest genre to pull off, but Campbell seems to be able to do it in his sleep. The first movie was more straight-up horror and the third movie was goofy comedy, but this one contains the perfect mixture and Campbell shines.
07. Donald Pleasance in Halloween - It's a legendary role and Pleasance's performance always sends chills up my spine even though the movie as a whole doesn't quite do it for me as time goes on. He even makes the sequels worth watching at least once. Despite the terrible performances around him, Pleasance brings his A-game. Of course, the first movie is where it all started so this is the one that gets the nod.
06. Marcia Gay Harden in The Mist - Seems like every King novel features a crazy religious/political zealot, right? Not all of them have made it to film, but I'm sure they will eventually. Some folks might choose Piper Laurie for her portrayal of Carrie's mom, but I honestly hated Harden's character even more than I hated the written version from The Mist or Carrie's mom. And if I can hate a character that much then you know that someone did her job right.
05. Anthony Hopkins in The Silence of the Lambs - You'll have a tough time trying to convince me that this is a horror movie, but there is no doubt that Hannibal Lecter is a horror villain. Hopkins did more in 16 minutes than most actors do in a lifetime.
04. Boris Karloff in Frankenstein - Okay, I want you to go through hours of make-up and grunt and groan for an hour. Scary, right? Well, maybe not. It only works if you are Boris Karloff, I guess. Karloff played the legendary creature three times (Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, and Son of Frankenstein) and each time the role varied slightly. You could argue which movie or performance was better, but there's no denying that when people think of Frankenstein... they think of Karloff. They don't remember Colin Clive who actually played Henry Frankenstein in the first two films or the author of the book Mary Shelley. It's all Karloff.
03. Anthony Perkins in Psycho - Subtlety is the key. Think about it. Even though you know how the movie ends and you know that Norman Bates is really his mom... it never really enters your mind that the guy you are watching perform so brilliantly probably had to take a dump between takes, does it? The sequels aren't that great and remake is by far worse, but everyone remembers this movie even if they have never seen it. And everybody remembers poor Norman and his mother. That last scene at the end of the movie where Norman *ahem* Perkins is staring right at us through the screen... Classic.
02. Kathy Bates in Misery - It's not number one? Really? Yep. Kathy Bates gives an amazing performance as the insane Anne Wilkes, but I'm not making her number one. I'm not trying to earn her as a "number one" fan and for damn good reason.
01. Jack Nicholson in The Shining - Here's Johnny! I could watch Nicholson in just about anything with the exception of maybe gay fetish porn, but Nicholson playing an SK-inspired character? Man, I love this movie and his performance especially. If you like the mini-series version more Kubrick's than good for you. Personally, I think Mick Garris is about as entertaining as watching paint dry and for the life of me I can't tell you who played Torrance in that mini-series. But everyone knows Nicholson's Torrance and his incredible descent into insanity.

Oh, shit. There's no Vincent Price on this list. Okay, well, just this once I'll add a number...

00. Vincent Price in The Masque of Red Death - It's the first one to pop into my head, but Price in anything is pretty darn good. He makes bad movies watchable.

Damn it. There's no Christopher Lee or Peter Cushing on this list. No Lon Chaney Jr. or Sr. There's no Robert Englund. No Linda Blair. No Al Pacino (remember that he played Satan in Devil's Advocate) and you know what a huge fan of Pacino's I am. Hell, I watched Gigli because he had a cameo. No Sissy Spacek or Jamie Lee Curtis. No Piper Laurie (well, I more or less stated my reasoning why above, but still...).

Well, I'll just deal with it and so will you. The list is final.

As of now...

Just wait a few minutes...

Okay, it's definitely final.


  1. When I was on my Bond marathon, I noticed Sid Haig had a small role in Diamonds Are Forever.

    I made up a category for this post. Best performance by a couple. Ruth Gordon and Sidney Blackmer in Rosemary's Baby. They did a great job of putting the "creepy" in this movie.

  2. I've got a great horror list for you to do called "fucked to death". How many people have been offed in horror flicks right before, during or right after sex? A top 10 sex related death list would be awesome. The one in "The Raft" (Creepshow 2) is pretty memorable. Nothing like being stuck on a raft and being stalked by a killer blob in the water that makes you want to have sex. Who can blame the guy for having morning wood? One thing I learned though is that if you are stuck on a raft and are being stalked by a water blob and want to have sex, be sure you're the one on top.

    1. Pretty sure half the Friday the 13th movies would make the list. ;)

  3. I think John Carpenter may have made the FTD (figured it deserved an acronym) genre popular with the first couple of Halloween movies. Another memorable one I can think of is in Halloween II. After a hot tub encounter , Michael turns up the heat in the hot tub and then ends up scalding the girls face off.

    Speaking of Halloween II, it came out on blu-ray and is a pretty nice edition. It includes a 90 minute Donald Pleasence narrated documentary called "Terror In The Aisles" from the early 80s. Halloween II doesn't get mentioned much but it's a pretty good sequel. The one thing that cracks me up about it though is that Jamie Lee seems to be the only patient in the entire hospital.

    1. I think I've got that Blu-Ray on my Amazon wish list. I figure I'll do a little spending and start watching some movies I haven't seen in a while. Might as well get that one before Halloween actually gets here. That documentary sounds pretty cool. I always thought that Pleasence would make a good narrator.

      And the movie wouldn't be the same if a bunch of scared patients completely unrelated to the story saw Michael stalking the halls and called the police.