Name your favourite supporting character in Horror.
Easily, Dr. Loomis. Even though people think of Donald Pleasance as the star of a lot of those films, he’s really more a secondary character to the teen leads. It’s a testament to the power of the character and of Donald Pleasance’s portrayal that he is so often thought of as the star of the Halloween franchise. If you want to talk about pure comic relief, I have to say that the “Party Man” (played by Giuseppe Andrews) in “Cabin Fever” has some of the best lines in horror history. He cracks me up every time.
Blade from the Tomb of Dracula comic. Loved the yellow seventies shades he wore and the Vietnam vet jacket. Great character.
Wilford Brimley as Blair in The Thing. “I don’t wanna stay out here anymore. I wanna come back inside.”
My favourite supporting character in a horror film would have to be “Evil” Ed Thompson from Fright Night. The character was portrayed by Stephen Geoffreys who gained notoriety for his post-Fright Night career as a porn star. Not only did he look a little weird, he showed a real flare for comedy in the role. Most fans will remember him for his performance of the line, “You’re so cool, Brewster!”
The innocent little girl that knows what’s going on, but doesn’t understand it. That always creeps the hell out of me. She knows everyone is going to die, and tells you as much, but everyone ignores it and keeps going and everyone dies. ALWAYS listen to the little girls that give you cryptic messages! It’s like the house that tells you “get out!!!!!”
Yeesh, talk about opening a veritable Pandora’s Box of possibilities.
It’s a daunting task to come up with just one supporting character in all the horror annals… but I’m going to throw caution to the wind and say that my favorite is Sandor, the deliciously evil manservant of Gloria Holden’s tragic Marya Zaleska in DRACULA’S DAUGHTER (1936). One of the great things about Sandor, who wears a Russian Tea Room tunic and parts his hair straight down the middle like Alfalfa, is that you never really know what he’s in it for. Although he shuns the cross, he doesn’t appear to be a vampire… and yet the guy is vampiric to a T. Is he a ghoul? A werewolf? A necrophiliac? A serial killer? Nothing in the film bears out any of these ideas… it just appears that Sandor is a deeply weird individual who has attached himself to the immortal Marya and wants to keep her undead… perhaps hoping she will bestow upon him the gift of everlasting life. The scene in which Sandor psychs Marya out of her life affirming piano reverie is the perfect illustration of their deeply codependent relationship, ending with Sandor bringing Marya a girl. I always try to imagine what Sandor is doing when Marya puts the bite on her “model”… is he listening through the wall or just standing at the back of the room, breathing heavily through his black lipsticked mouth? What does he do with the body before he dumps it in the river? Does he undress it, make love to it, press his teeth into the cooling flesh? I love the fact that the movie never tries to explain the character or provide him with the kind of backstory that so many movie monsters have foisted on them these days. He remains a mystery until and beyond the end credits and even when he’s dead he’s way scarier than the undead creature he serves.
If I can stretch the definition of “supporting character” this far, and I think I can, then my answer is a three-way tie. My favorite supporting characters in horror are the Crypt Keeper, the Vault Keeper and the Old Witch, EC’s legendary GhouLunatics. Leering at you from the pages of Tales From the Crypt, The Vault of Horror and The Haunt of Fear, their monologues dripped from the poison pen of Al Feldstein, they could always be counted on to bring you a delightfully gruesome horror story and wrap it up with a few equally sickening puns. As I’ve mentioned here before, Feldstein is my idol of horror writing, and the GhouLunatics are my inspirations as host of MicroHorror.
I want to be a GhouLunatic when I grow up.
Griffin Dunne as Jack in AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON. It was genius of John Landis to turn this character we barely knew into a wise-cracking, rotting Greek chorus instead of a shuffling, gasping zombie who offers one-word prophecies while pointing.
There are no small Roundtables. Only small Roundtable participants. Thanks to all the bit players who contributed to this week’s Q+A. Please take a peek behind the curtain and check out their respective blogs as linked above. But before you do, leave us your own response in the comments below.
One of the main reasons I began The Horror Roundtable was to introduce readers to new and undiscovered horror blogs. As The Horror Roundtable hurtles toward its conclusion, I’d like to extend an invitation to anyone not already involved who has a horror site they’d like to promote to join us for these End Days. If you’re interested, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!