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Thursday, April 15, 2021

‘Honeydew’ and 10 of Horror’s Most Unexpected Cameos!

Deranged backwoods, arthouse horror movie Honeydew marks the feature debut by Devereux Milburn. It tells the story of a young couple forced to seek shelter in an aging farmer’s home (Barbara Kingsley) and her strange son. Tensions between the couple mount as weird food cravings and hallucinations kick in, along with realizing that their host may not be as kind as she appears.

Honeydew also marks the lead acting debut for Sawyer Spielberg, son of filmmaker Steven Spielberg. He plays Sam, one half of the central couple, alongside Malin Barr as Rylie. But Spielberg’s appearance isn’t the only casting surprise within this idiosyncratic mood piece. As the madness reaches a shocking fever pitch, an unexpected cameo sends the chaos into overdrive.

Cameos serve many purposes. Some are meant simply as a wry wink to the audience or to catch viewers off guard, and others, it’s merely an actor having fun. Then there’s the cameo that enriches the worldbuilding, narrative, or tone with just a brief appearance. It’s the latter for Honeydew, whose late-game cameo only bolsters the peculiar sense of humor at play.

Honeydew released this week on VOD, Digital HD and DVD. In celebration, we look back at ten of horror’s most unexpected cameos.

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein – Vincent Price

In the first of several horror-comedies that featured the comedic duo taking on Universal Classic Monsters, Abbott and Costello got caught up in a battle between Dracula and the Wolfman. The former of which saw to revive Frankenstein’s monster to then wield as a weapon. The match ends with all monsters perished and the plucky humans leaving the island in a boat. Except, the boat isn’t as empty as it appears. Abbott and Costello dive into the water and swim away as soon as the Invisible Man makes his presence known. The Invisible Man is heard, not seen, and is played by one of the most iconic horror actors of all time- an uncredited Vincent Price. Leave it to Price to leave a lasting impression based on audio alone.

Guardians of the Galaxy – Lloyd Kaufman

James Gunn’s Marvel film isn’t a horror movie by any stretch, but the filmmaker does harken back to his Troma horror roots with a surprise cameo. Gunn has often credited the Troma founder for launching his career, even co-writing Kaufman’s biography. Kaufman is no stranger to the cameo appearance and has even popped up in previous Gunn efforts like Slither. But no one expected him to pop up in a big budget MCU feature. Look for Kaufman in the chaotic prison sequence.

Darkman – Bruce Campbell

Much like Gunn and Kaufman, it’s now expected that any Sam Raimi-directed effort will likely come with a Bruce Campbell cameo. That wasn’t always a forgone conclusion, however. Especially not at the beginning of Raimi’s foray outside of the horror genre. While Raimi heavily paid homage to Universal horror, Darkman is essentially a dark superhero film starring Liam Neeson as a disfigured scientist with a talent for disguises. Initially, Campbell was set to play the character, but the studio balked at the idea. All of which to say that no one expected Campbell to appear. Raimi snuck him in anyway as the final disguise, as Darkman loses himself in the crowd.

Trick or Treat – Gene Simmons and Ozzy Osbourne

This satanic panic heavy metal horror film revolved around a teen outcast haunted by his fallen rock hero. The metal rocker made a deal with the devil and aimed to make his way back to the land of the living on Halloween night, courtesy of a possessed record. Kiss co-founder Gene Simmons makes a brief cameo as the radio DJ responsible for lending the teen the record in the first place. Ozzy Osbourne’s cameo offers the bigger surprise as his TV evangelist rages against heavy metal. Look for his character to pop up again in a post-credit scene.

Sleepwalkers – Clive Barker, Joe Dante, John Landis, Tobe Hooper

Horror directors often cameo in their films as a fun in-joke to fans. John Carpenter, Wes Craven, and M. Night Shyamalan among them. Mick Garris decided to up the ante with his adaptation of Stephen King’s Sleepwalkers, a wild shapeshifting vampire story. Instead of putting himself on screen, Garris enlisted four horror masters and featured them nearly all at once. Look for Tobe Hooper and Clive Barker in a crime scene that places focus on an overzealous character played by Stephen King. Then look for Joe Dante and John Landis to appear at the police station.

Jason X – David Cronenberg

Did any have “Horror master David Cronenberg gets slaughtered” on their Bingo Card for the tenth entry in this popular franchise? A sequel that sends its horror icon into space, no less. Thanks to the cameo-heavy Freddy’s Dead and the shocking opening kill in Scream, surprising audiences with a celebrity cameo became a lot trickier. Yet Cronenberg pulled it off, demonstrating a flair for camp in his opening sequence death at Jason Voorhees’ hands.

Curse of Chucky – Andy Barclay

Sometimes a cameo is a character callback, rather than stunt casting. Guided by Don Mancini, the Chucky series continues to evolve in surprising ways after leaving protagonist Andy Barclay behind after Child’s Play 3. By the sixth entry, the killer doll seemed to have forgotten his former nemesis thanks to his own family drama. He then moved past that for what appeared to be a soft reboot of sorts. In Curse of Chucky, the doll gets a makeover and mysteriously shows up at the house of paraplegic Nica Pierce (Fiona Dourif). It’s only in the third act that ties to the previous installments are revealed. Then, in a post-credit scene, Chucky surprises us all with a visit to his original enemy, Andy Barclay, played by original actor Alex Vincent. This unexpected reunion delivered a massive jolt of excitement.

Sleepy Hollow – Christopher Walken

Between the initial trailers and familiarity with the classic Washington Irving short story, no one expected Tim Burton would give his headless horseman a head. Or rather, no one expected that the head would be in the form of a recognizable and well-regarded actor. Throughout the film, the Headless Horseman is played by Ray Park. It’s only in the climax, where the villain reconnects with his long-lost head, that we finally see Walken, complete with sharp teeth and icy eyes. His portrayal is now widely known, but at the time, this uncredited cameo made for a more shocking finale.

Zombieland – Bill Murray

During the zombie apocalypse, the makeshift family of four makes their way to actor Bill Murray’s mansion. They split up in pairs to explore and run amok. One pair encounters the still alive Murray, who dons a zombie disguise to stay safe. Murray’s tasked with playing a prank, but it ends badly when a scared Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) shoots the actor, not realizing until far too late his error. Murray’s extended cameo takes a meta approach to enhance the comedy of his over-the-top death. It proved such a hit with viewers that Murray cameoed as himself again for the sequel.

Cabin in the Woods – Sigourney Weaver 

An underground lab orchestrates an elaborate sacrificial ritual that sees five unsuspecting victims select the monstrous means by which they’re to die. It eventually gets revealed that the sacrifice appeases Ancient Ones and wards off the apocalypse. However, the lab engineers lose control of their sacrificial lambs quickly, but they don’t realize it until they get a call from The Director. When all hell breaks loose at the facility, the Director appears to make one final attempt to course correct. That cameo is played by Ripley herself, Sigourney Weaver. How do you catch viewers off guard after throwing in an onslaught of monsters? With a commanding appearance by Weaver, of course.

Discover Honeydew‘s cameo now on VOD, Digital HD and DVD!


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