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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Kings Of Horror

Earlier this week I was asked by to write an article about the undisputed Scream Queens.  Once completed, it got me thinking about the men of horror.  True, horror movies mostly consists of "Some stupid killer stalking some big breasted girl who can't act, who's always running up the stairs when she should be going out the front door," but that's not the sole reason why we love to watch them.

I admit, I'm biased when it comes to horror movies.  I watch them for certain actors and actresses and, like everyone else, I have a favourite bad guy.  Rarely does a film which stars my favourites fail in my eyes.  OK, sometimes they can be cheesy and a little stupid, but overall, I love them.

So today, I'm taking you, dear readers, into a rather dark world.  Forget everything you know about Scream Queens and gore.  Today you will experience.....The Kings Of Horror.

Vincent Price for years was dubbed the ultimate King Of Horror.  And with a voice like his, you can certainly see why.  Price got his start in horror thanks to a little movie called House Of Wax in 1953 (which would later become a botched remake starring Paris Hilton).  His next dive into the horror pool would come just 5 years later with a small black and white movie called House On Haunted Hill.  (Fun fact: Geoffrey Rush's character in the remake of House On Haunted Hill was suppose to look like the director, however wound up resembling Vincent Price.  It would also be coincidental that Rush's character's name was Stephen Price).  That same year Price would also star in The Fly.

From that point on there was no stopping the Vincent Price horror train.  Anything macabre had his name etched somewhere in the credits.  Whether he was playing an inventor in Edward Scissorhands or voicing the 'rap' for Michael Jackson's Thriller, Price pulled out all the stops and wore his King Of Horror badge with pride.  Sadly, Price passed away of lung cancer in October of 1993 at the age of 82.  Though he is gone, his legacy lives on.  And for years, no one would be able to knock him from his King Of Horror throne.

There have been many challengers when it comes to the King Of Horror title.  Tony Todd springs to mind.  Standing at a towering 6'5 (It's towering to me because I'm only 5'6), Todd has made a mark on horror with his unique voice and his powerful performances.

It was his role as Ben in Night Of The Living Dead which stamped his appearance in the race for the title.  From there, Todd would then be given the title role in Clive Barker's Candyman (1992) which saw him portray a 'Bloody Mary' styled character.  You know the drill, say his name (Candyman - not Tony) into a mirror 5 times then he'll come and kill you.  Tony would reprise his role as Candyman twice more, giving the horror genre a rare glimpse of a trilogy.

Fast forward a couple of decades and Todd has made leaps and bounds in the horror world.  Often having cameo appearances in movies like The Crow, Hatchet and Wishmaster, his performances would then steal the show. 

In Final Destination, he played the mortician that knew everything about death's design.  He appeared in it's sequel before providing the voice (and what a voice) to the demon roller coaster and the train conductor in part 3.  Tony would miss part 4 of the series before returning as the infamous mortician in Final Destination 5.

Big, bad and believable, Tony Todd has chalked up not only an impressive body count, but an impressive fan base as well.  All in the quest to gain the title of King Of Horror. 

Doug Bradley is probably most famous for his role as Hellraiser's Pinhead - Dark Prince of Pain, Angel of Suffering, Leviathan's Lord of the Damned....You get my point.  In fact, Bradley has made a staggering 8 appearances as Pinhead.

It's not just Hellraiser that he's famous for.  Nightbreed (also created by Clive Barker), and two award-winning short horror films, On Edge and Red Lines.  Also, if you're like me and love audio books, then check out Doug Bradley's Spinechillers collection.  Literally, it is a spine chiller.

I guess it was written in the stars for Doug Bradley.  He befriended horror writer/novelist Clive Barker in secondary school.  They would go on to work together in theatre and the rest as they say is history.  So, Mr. Bradley, is knocking Vincent Price off his throne your pleasure?

Doug Bradley isn't the only Brit to make this list.  Sir Christopher Lee best known for his reoccurring role as Dracula also makes the cut.  Seven times Lee bared his fangs, but did you know one of his first roles was as the monster in The Curse Of Frankenstein in 1957?  It was that performance as Frankenstein's monster which lead Lee to become the most famed vampire of them all.

Although Lee may not have liked what Hammer Film Productions was doing with the character of Dracula especially in the later movies, worldwide audiences embraced the films, which are now considered classics of the genre.  (Fun Fact:Lee also portrayed Rasputin in Rasputin, The Mad Monk.  Apparently, Lee had met Rasputin's assassin when he was child.)

Since the 1970's Lee has been stranded in the horror genre but he doesn't seem to mind.  He knows there's a yearning for horror and he takes it all with a smile.  At the ripe old age of 89, Lee doesn't look like he'll be slowing down anytime soon.  After all, vampires are eternal.

Which brings me to my last man of horror:  The undeniably talented Robert Englund who is best known for his role as Dream Demon, Freddy Krueger.

Since 1984, Robert has portrayed Freddy 8 times over a span of twenty plus years.  While his last role of Freddy was in Freddy Vs. Jason in 2003, Rob came back to produce a TV show as our beloved dream demon in 2005.  In 2010 he was replaced by Jackie Earle Haley in the remake of Nightmare On Elm Street.

For more then a quarter of a century, Robert Englund has been pigeonholed in the horror genre, often playing wacky characters that are almost belittling to his talent.  But once in a while a character comes along that suits him perfectly and the result of that marriage is an amazing story and film.

Rob doesn't seem to mind that he is only associated with horror.  In fact, he embraces it, willing to sign memorabilia items as 'Freddy'.  I should know, I'm in possession of a lot of these items.  So much so I think I'm single-handedly funding his retirement.

Englund has starred in movies like Urban Legends, Python, Strangeland, Wishmaster, 2001 Maniacs, Behind The Mask: The Rise Of Leslie Vernon and  more recently, Inkubus which sees him return to a role of a villain.  And just like Price, Englund has even been immortalised on The Simpsons - appearing as Freddy Krueger.

Robert Englund, in my eyes, has done the unthinkable.  He has taken the crown from Vincent Price and is now the undisputed King Of Horror.  His performances can be chilling, his voice echoes in your mind and everyone knows who Freddy is.  His popularity still soars with new fans every year striving to meet him.  Despite being one of the horror genres most popular actors, Englund always makes time for his fans, going above and beyond to see them all over the world. 

It is this kind of dedication to his craft, which gives Englund this title.  Those that work with him say he is most gracious and that he is a true professional.  He knows what works and isn't afraid to voice his opinion.

So there you have it.  Five men. Five different talents.  Five exceptional reasons to go out and rent a horror movie.  There are others that can fit into this category, but if I were to name them all this entry would be a million pages long.  Please, voice your opinions by leaving a message and let me know who you think the King Of Horror should be.


  1. Kane Hodder, Brad Dourif and Donald Pleasance just to name a few more.

  2. I was going to say you left out Kane Hodder. But I suppose he's more of a stuntman though....

  3. Robert Englund is the KING no questions asked!

  4. Robert Englund for sure