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Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Trick or Treat: The Top 10 Best Secondary Characters in the ‘Halloween’ Franchise

Who doesn’t love a good side character?

Side characters – or secondary characters – are usually those funny guys and gals who hang around our leads and give us moments of levity and brevity as the movie unravels.

More often than not, as the credits roll on these films, we sometimes end up loving the secondary characters more than the primary characters, as they’re many times the most memorable things from not-so-memorable movies. Even still, in horror, particularly slasher films, side characters are crucially instrumental components of rounding out these movies where the kills and death sequences take more of an immediate focus than the story itself.

Admittedly, remarkable secondary characters for the Halloween franchise may not be as apparent as other big slasher series. More often than not, the most revered and cherished characters are our favorite final ladies, Laurie and Jamie Strode, the caring (and, sometimes psychotic) Doctor Sam Loomis, or the malevolent Shape itself, Michael Myers.

Nevertheless, in this iconic 13-film series, there are plenty of secondary characters to pick from – so let’s get into them.

#10 – Ismael – Rob Zombie’s Halloween

There are PLENTY of unlikeable characters in the Rob Zombie Halloween duology, but they’re not all created equal. Danny Trejo’s Ismael, for example, is the ONLY character not named Loomis who tries to talk to Michael on a personal level. He tries connecting with him and defends him from other brash workers at Smith’s Grove. In a film with plenty of cruel and brutal scenes to spare, it’s difficult to see how his ostensible care for Michael isn’t enough to sway Myers from killing him during his escape – as he pleads to the vicious killer, “I was good to you.” I think the trade-off to having characters like Michael’s stepfather or the other crass and disgusting bunch is the inclusion of sweet and caring people, which makes their demise all the more unfortunate. Unlike most of the entries in the Halloween saga that include characters we know are marked for death, Zombie tries to give all these side characters some dimension so that when their inevitable death comes, they don’t feel like just another tally for the kill count.

#9 – The Strodes – Rob Zombie’s Halloween

Piggybacking off the last entry, here is another group of good minor characters whose death carries weight with the sympathy that the movie builds for them. With the exception of the bagel scene, Laurie and her parents have a sweet dynamic that plays out for most of their time in the film. The small moment of them putting together Mr. Skellie in the front yard, or the casual conversation they have hanging out before Annie comes to pick up Laurie, show us glimpses of the normalcy before the hurricane that is Michael. Similar to Ismael, the Strodes’ being at the receiving end of such a violent and undeserving death reaffirms the cruelty in the tone of this reimagining of Halloween. It feels in line with the coarse nature of other horrors of the aughts.

#8 – Nurse Marion Chambers – Halloween (1978), Halloween II (1981), Halloween: H20, Halloween Kills (2021)

Nurse Marion is one of the recurring, iconic figures in the franchise. Though she appears only briefly in Carpenter’s original, her presence across four separate entries, particularly her role in the opening of Halloween: H20, makes her a popular mainstay of this series. She carries that “Crazy Ralph” position where their inclusion in the foundational moments of the franchise adds to the mythos it sets out to establish. At first glance you may not think she’s a major player in the saga, but she’s key to building out the character of Michael Myers from the very beginning.

#7 – Annie Brackett and Lynda Van Der Klok – John Carpenter’s Halloween

Speaking of characters from the John Carpenter classic that round out the film, Annie and Lynda complete the triage of friends with Laurie, which makes for that grounded feel of Carpenter’s original. The relationship all three share with one another and the believability of it – credited to Debra Hill behind the scenes – is what sells this film when the Shape isn’t lurking around. This honest feeling of friendship is one of the things that many of the sequels have been desperately missing since it encourages us to build connections with the world and characters around our protagonists. Nancy Loomis and P.J. Soles sell the characters’ dimensionality, making for a totally wonderful viewing experience.

#6 – Freddie – Halloween: Resurrection (2002)

I know, I know. What the hell is anyone from Halloween: Resurrection – let alone Busta Rhymes’ character – doing this high on a list for best secondary characters? I’ll tell you – this is one of the most enjoyable characters in the series. Is this movie objectively bad? Absolutely. However, is it hilarious once you just let go? Absolutely. Nothing in this installment makes sense – including the complete rewrite of the impactful finale that H20 gave us. It’s a ridiculous movie, made all the more ridiculous in its treatment of one of the most iconic characters in cinema. But Busta Rhymes is having an absolute blast berating Michael Myers and giving him a Bruce Lee-inspired ass-kicking. In the slog of many repetitive sequels and inconsequential nothing characters, you sometimes can’t help but appreciate the occasional flat-out, batshit insane people who come along. This film was a definitive nail in the coffin in the series for some time, but I would be lying if I said that I don’t enjoy laughing hysterically at all of Freddie’s interactions with Michael in this movie.

#5 – Allyson Nelson – David Gordon Green’s Halloween Trilogy

Getting back on track now, Allyson is such an interesting character to see develop through David Gordon Green’s series. Like Tara Carpenter in the neighboring Scream series, she doesn’t want the tragedy that comes before to be what defines her, and like any other young adult, she wants to build an individual identity that is her own. Not constructed by the fears of parental figures or the insecurities of others projected onto them. She has her breakout moment when she decides to pick up the kitchen knife during the finale of Halloween 2018 and slices away at The Shape. And, as the series continues, she grows into a more confident, complicated character. Andi Matichak does a great job in this role — expressing all the complicated emotions and anger Allyson has racked up. In a string of movies featuring the return of the iconic Jamie Lee Curtis to play the role of Laurie once again, she manages to carve her place in the franchise.

#4 – Annie Brackett – Rob Zombie’s Halloween and Halloween 2 (2009)

An already legendary figure in the genre, Danielle Harris returned to Halloween in Rob Zombie’s remake and gave us yet another memorable performance for the series with her version of Annie Brackett. Annie and Laurie’s relationship seems a lot more complicated than the one shown in Carpenter’s classic, as the loving and trusting friends become embittered opposites in the follow-up. Seeing the deterioration of their relationship and how much it impacts the two becomes one of the best parts of Zombie’s sequel, as it creates a more compelling dynamic. As opposed to things being just back to normal or opting to keep things light between them, Annie remains a living reminder of Myers’ rampage – adding to Laurie’s ongoing spiral. Most surviving characters in sequels never get to explore that emotional aftermath, but the journey this version of Annie takes and her unfortunate end is one of the highlights of the divisive remakes.

#3 – Karen Strode – David Gordon Green’s Halloween Trilogy

Another one of Laurie’s children included on this list, Judy Greer does a great job as Karen in Gordon Green’s Halloween series. Although she does echo the same contempt and issues that Josh Harnett’s John does in H20, she adds more to that foundation and delivers an amazing payoff that John never quite gets in his film. All the tension and the fighting between her and Laurie, stemming from Laurie’s intense preparation and paranoia from an inevitable showdown, is vindicated when the three generations of Strodes find themselves at the hands of The Shape. Karen plays this up so much, channeling all the emotions in Halloween 2018 to lure Michael out – only to catch Myers and the audience off guard with a perfect “gotcha” moment. Pulling off fear and total vulnerability and switching it up to strength and poise on a dime isn’t particularly easy. Karen then becomes this sympathetic person in Kills, trying to help a troubled man evade a mob’s blind rage. She’s the only voice of reason in a Haddonfield sorely lacking in humanity.

#2 – Sheriff Brackett – Rob Zombie’s Halloween and Halloween 2

There’s no shortage of incredible performances from Brad Dourif in the horror genre. Whether he’s a 3-foot tall Good Guy doll or the Gemini killer, Dourif continuously delivers, and his role as Sheriff Brackett in Zombie’s Halloween movies proves just that. Much like Danielle Harris and her Annie, Sheriff Brackett builds from a character in Carpenter’s original and adds so much more life and bite to the Haddonfield Sheriff. He and Malcolm McDowell’s Dr. Loomis share great on-screen chemistry. However, it’s his caring relationship with Annie that cements him as a remarkable character. Like the trio of friends in the ‘78 film, there’s an authenticity in how he and Annie interact, and it becomes the unnoticed heart of the second film. The moment he discovers Annie’s body and lets out that guttural, anguished howl is heart-wrenching. The humanity and grounded feel of this iteration of Brackett is complementary to both the story and our central cast since it adds so much to the tormented tone this movie embellishes.

#1 – Rachel Carruthers – Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988), Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)

Rachel and her sisterhood-like relationship with Jamie is the core of Halloween 4. She becomes her own version of a final girl in a way — with her resilience and the ferocity she and Jamie display being chased by a returning Michael Myers. Though you could claim that perhaps she, in fact, is a co-final girl – I think the perspective of the first two movies in the Cult of Thorn trilogy is centered more around Jamie, Loomis, and Michael. Regardless, she has garnered adoration and acclaim like any other final girl would. Played wonderfully by Ellen Cornell, Rachel revives the wholesome, small-town teen feel that Laurie, Annie, and Lynda were reflective of in the first installment, which compliments the chaos that the murderous rampage of The Shape would bring to this small little town of Haddonfield. Her premature death in Revenge sets the film off on a course it never truly recovers from, and it’s because of that wonderful chemistry at the fore with Jamie. Considering all the other side characters in the series, good and bad, I’m not sure if anyone leaves a mark quite like Rachel does in her two Halloween movies.

Which side characters in the Halloween franchise are YOUR favorite? Sound off below!

The post Trick or Treat: The Top 10 Best Secondary Characters in the ‘Halloween’ Franchise appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.


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