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Thursday, November 12, 2020

Scene-Stealers: 10 Horror Performances That Stole the Show!

Cinema is filled with memorable performances, iconic characters, and actors let loose to chew-scenery like there’s no tomorrow. Just recently, Anna Hathaway went full-throttle on the camp to make the Grand High Witch her own in The Witches, and Vince Vaughn’s performance as a teen girl trapped in a man’s body offers comedic gold in Freaky.

Horror’s history is filled with mesmerizing characters and supporting roles that upstage the leads at every turn. Here are ten of them.

Father McGruder (Stuart Devensie) – Dead Alive (Braindead)

Lionel Cosgrove’s road to overcoming his overbearing mother and find love is paved with zombies, guts, and a slew of endearing characters. None are as memorable as Father McGruder, a martial arts savvy priest who doesn’t take kindly to hoodlums invading his churchyard. That fighting spirit is immediately winsome, along with McGruder’s battle cry, “I kick ass for the Lord!” McGruder’s divine intervention ends as quickly as it begins, with the priest becoming yet another zombie for Lionel to keep in his cellar. That’s okay; Father McGruder stills kicks ass in our hearts.

Tina (Angela Trimbur) – The Final Girls

There’s not a weak link among the entire cast in this infectious horror-comedy, but Trimbur’s take on the promiscuous slasher character goes the extra mile in terms of comedy. Never is that more apparent than in Tina’s Adderall infused striptease to Warrant’s “Cherry Pie,” as bait to lure the killer. Nothing screams sexy like an energetic and sped up striptease with an added life jacket and potholder layers to contain an unbridled spirit. The plan didn’t quite go off as planned, but it was worth it just for Tina’s scene-stealing moment.

Delbert McClintock (John Goodman) – Arachnophobia

When things were getting too dire and the spider invasion was building to a fever pitch, enter the plucky exterminator to bring reinforcements and levity. Goodman’s filmography is full of scene-stealing characters, but Delbert McClintock ranks high among them. His knowledge and take-charge attitude make him a valuable asset, but it’s Delbert’s quirky personality that makes him a standout. Delbert has multiple moments to shine, including saving the film’s protagonist from burning along with the monstrous spider that started it all.

Gus Gilbert (Clancy Brown) – Pet Sematary Two

Pet Sematary Two

Whether you love or hate this sequel, one thing is sure; Clancy Brown owns this movie. Brown plays Gus, the ruthless and vindictive town sheriff that takes pleasure in making those around him suffer. When Gus dies by undead dog mauling, he’s buried in the Indian burial ground. That’s terrible news for the film’s protagonists but fantastic news for viewers. What’s better than an evil character played by Brown? An undead evil character played by Brown. Once returned from the grave, Brown goes full-throttle on the scene-chewing, delivering an iconic, deranged performance. You’ll never look at mashed potatoes the same way again.

Lucifer (Peter Stormare) – Constantine

Stormare is the type of character actor who renders any role instantly unforgettable; pick any part of his, and it’d likely apply. Still, it’s tough to beat his take on Lucifer Morningstar in Constantine. Lucifer only shows up in the climax and isn’t even the central antagonist, but he easily steals the movie with his intimidating, venomous rendition of Hell’s ruler. There’s a malevolent glee to Stormare’s line delivery and a level of unhinged befitting of the character. It’s magnetic.

Richie Tozier (Bill Hader) – It Chapter Two

The follow-up to 2017’s It boasts a stacked cast for the Loser’s Club’s adult version. Even though it was an ensemble, this sequel had a clear standout- Hader’s charming portrayal of the grown-up Richie “Trashmouth” Tozier. Hader’s lengthy history in comedy meant an easy transition into the role of the group’s comedic relief, but it was his emotional depth that set him apart. His feelings for and bond with Eddie (James Ransone) stole the entire film.

The Nun/Valak (Bonnie Aarons) – The Conjuring 2

After Annabelle and Bathsheba, it was hard to imagine anything else could induce that same fear level. Enter The Nun, who quickly emerged as the strongest and most terrifying demon of all in the Conjuring universe. Not even Javier Botet’s turn as the Crooked Man could usurp the Nun. While James Wan’s ability to craft scares like no other deserves some credit, much of the Nun’s success as a breakout character belongs to Bonnie Aarons, an actress with an uncanny ability to frighten (look to Mulholland Drive for further proof). Thanks to Aarons, it’s easy to see why The Nun would appear again in Annabelle: Creation and spinoff feature The Nun.

Tangina (Zelda Rubinstein) – Poltergeist franchise

The small, unassuming appearance of Tangina late in Poltergeist belies the medium’s formidable power. When all seems lost for the Freeling family and with their poltergeist activity spinning out of control, Tangina offers a soothing balm in the form of quiet authority and guidance. Rubinstein is so memorable in the role that Tangina became the only character to appear in all three films and the TV series, Poltergeist: The Legacy.

Private Hudson (Bill Paxton) – Aliens

If there’s such a thing as an absolute, reigning champ of scene-stealers, it’s Bill Paxton. No matter how small the part, Paxton transforms it into an influential role. In this case, Paxton turned the minor, supporting character of Private Marine Hudson into an iconic character and fan favorite. Before encountering the aliens on LV-426, Hudson’s bravado made him a standout among his team. After, his shattered confidence and stark panic made him notably relatable. Of course, Hudson also offers the most quotable character of the movie, with lines like, “Game over, man! Game over!” Writer/director James Cameron wrote the part with Paxton in mind, and we can’t imagine anyone else could’ve come close to touching what Paxton brought to the character.

Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) – The Silence of the Lambs

The Silence of the Lambs runs just two hours and eighteen minutes long. Hannibal Lecter appears on screen for only sixteen of them. Hopkins made every minute count, and his mesmerizing and chilling portrayal of the incarcerated cannibal that aids Clarice Starling on her quest to catch a killer earned him an Academy Award win for Best Actor. Hopkins stole the film, and considering Ted Levine’s take on Buffalo Bill (the film’s real antagonist) is just as memorable, that’s a significant feat.


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