If you’ve already read Part 1 of this list, you already know what this is all about. (I’d think that the title should be self explanatory to begin with.) In the event that you’re clueless, (And believe me when I tell you that I know a lot of people in my personal life who truly are clueless.) I’ve decided to compile a list of the top 50 actors to ever grace the horror genre. Now, as I mentioned in part 1, this isn’t something that can be done in a “matter of fact” manner. It’s very subjective. Please keep in mind that this is a list of the Top 50 Horror Genre Actors, according to me, and may not reflect your own opinion of others.
At the end of Part 1, we left off with number 26, George C. Scott. Now, let’s get a start on the top half of the countdown.
# 25 – Sir Anthony Hopkins (“Magic”, “Silence of the Lambs”, “Hannnibal”, “Red Dragon”) Since Sir Anthony is unquestionably one of the finest actors of our time, it should come as no surprise that he’s made my top 25. (Now, I know it may enrage some of his fans that he’s not higher up, but you can’t please everyone.)
# 24 – Max von Sydow (“The Exorcist”, “Dreamscape”, “Dune”) If Max von Sydow’s portrayal of Father Merrin in “The Exorcist” isn’t enough to convince you that he belongs at number 24, I’ll remind you that he was in “Strange Brew” alongside Bob and Doug McKenzie.
# 23 – Christopher Lee (the Hammer films, “Star Wars: Episode II & III”) Again, as I said about Peter Cushing, I’m not a huge fan of the Hammer films, so Lee’s spot on this list is based on his acting ability as a whole, as well as his part in the Star Wars timeline. Stupid reason, isn’t it? Oh well. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. ;)
# 22 – Bill Moseley (“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2”, “”House of 1000 Corpses”, “The Devil’s Rejects”, “2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams”) Bill is, without a doubt, one of the most approachable and likable actors you’ll ever meet. And he plays one hell of a great psychopath!
# 21 – Michael Rooker (“Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer”, “Slither” “The Walking Dead”) Rookers performance as Henry, a character inspired by real life serial killer Henry Lee Lucas, is one of the most chilling performances that you will ever see.
# 20 – Steve Railsback (“Helter Skelter”, “Ed Gein”, “The Devil’s Rejects”) Railsback has playing real life serial killers down pat. He’s played the definitive Charles Manson as well as the most accurate Ed Gein ever seen on film. Makes you wonder; is Steve just THAT great of an actor, or is HE a psycho? ;)
# 19 – Robert Englund (the original “A Nightmare On Elm Street” franchise, “Strangeland”, “2001 Maniacs”,”Behind The Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon”) I first became a fan of Robert’s during the first run of the television series “V” where he played Willie, one of the “good” aliens. His portrayal of child killer turned dream stalker Freddy Krueger in the original “A Nightmare on Elm Street” series, turned Robert from character actor to legendary icon!
# 18 – Malcolm McDowell (“A Clockwork Orange”, Rob Zombie’s “Halloween” and “Halloween 2”, “Suck”) His starring role as Alex in Stanley Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange” is enough to earn a guaranteed spot on my list, and that coupled with such legendary roles as “Caligula”, Dr. Loomis and H.G. Wells locked Malcolm into my top 20, coming in at 18.
# 17 – Donald Pleasence (“THX 1138”, “Halloween”, “Dracula” 1979) Pleasence had a special something that managed to always grab your attention and focus from the moment he came on screen and didn’t let go until his scene ended.
# 16 – R. Lee Ermey (“Se7en”, “Willard”, “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (2003), “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning”) Real life Marine Corps Sargent R. Lee Ermey commands your attention, regardless of his role. Whether he’s the nasty boss in Willard, the ball busting drill instructor in “Full Metal Jacket” or the twisted lawman in “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (2003), Ermey is impossible to resist.
# 15 – Bruce Campbell (the “Evil Dead” trilogy”, “The Man With The Screaming Brain”, “My Name Is Bruce”, “Bubba Ho Tep”) Bruce Campbell has lured his fans in with his sick sense of humor since we first came to love him, as he played Ash Williams in Sam Raimi’s classic “Evil Dead”. To most fans, BC can do no wrong.
# 14 – Colin Clive (“Frankenstein”, “Bride of Frankenstein”) Colin Clive was one of the original mad doctors, whose performance has served as inspiration for all crazed doctors and scientists to follow.
# 13 – Rondo Hatton (“The Pearl Of Death”, “House of Horrors”, “The Brute Man”) Rondo Hatton’s face is one of the most recognizable in the history of the horror genre. He is the model for all big, brooding bad guys in cinema.
# 12 – John Carradine (“Revenge of the Zombies”, “Billy The Kid Versus Dracula”, “Munster, Go Home!”) Carradine, the patriarch of the famed Carradine family of actors, was one of the most prolific horror genre actors ever.
# 11 – Lionel Atwill (“The Vampire Bat”, “The Ghost of Frankenstein”, “Son of Frankenstein”, “House of Dracula”) Atwill was a regular in Universal Studio’s famed horror movies during the Golden Age of horror at Universal.
# 10 – Max Schreck (“Nosferatu”) Schreck played Count Orlok, the vampire, in F.W. Murnau’s “Nosferatu”, an early telling of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”. This makes Schreck one of the most important actors in the history of horror films.
# 9 – Peter Lorre (“M”, “Beat The Devil”) Peter Lorre’s performance in “M” was one of the first performances that I found myself mesmerized by as a young man. The subject matter, pedaphilia, was way ahead of it’s time, and Lorre accepting this role so early in his career could have derailed his career completely, yet he was not afraid to take such a chance. Few, if any, actors are willing to do this today.
# 8 – Anthony Perkins (“Psycho”, “Murder on the Orient Express”, “Daughter of Darkness”) As Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock’s legendary masterpiece, “Psycho”, Tony Perkins made his mark on the horror genre, playing a psychotic motel manager who kills at the beckoning of his dead mother.
# 7 – Lance Henriksen (“Aliens”, “Near Dark”, “Pumpkinhead”, “The Garden”) Lance is one of the most prolific horror genre actors of our generation and is one of my favorite actors of all time. Whether he’s playing a vampire, an android or the leader of a biker gang, Henriksen’s acting work is spot on.
# 6 – Vincent Price (“House of Wax”, “The Fly”, Tales of Terror”, “The Raven”) What can I say about Vincent Price that you don’t already know? He’s a legend.
# 5 – Lon Chaney Sr. (“The Hunchback of Notre Dame”, “The Phantom of the Opera”, “London After Midnight”) Lon Chaney Sr. played some of the most memorable horror characters of his day, including Quasimodo, and the Phantom. Chaney was nicknamed “The Master of Disguise”.
# 4 – Lon Chaney Jr. (“The Wolf Man”, “The Mummy’s Tomb”, House of Frankenstein”, “House of Dracula”) Lon Chaney Jr., like his father before him, was a real pro when it came to playing deformed monsters and misunderstood men. He is among the elite of horror royalty.
# 3 – Dwight Frye (“Dracula”, “Frankenstein”, “The Man Who Found Himself”) Whenever you enjoy watching your favorite actor portray an absolutely insane man on the big screen, you can thank Dwight Frye for breaking the ground of insane characters. Frye could play a nutcase better than anyone during his time, and cannot be outdone today either. He is, and will forever be, in a league of his own.
# 2 – Boris Karloff (“Frankenstein”, “The Mummy”, “The Invisible Ray”) Karloff was a true gentlemen off screen, but more often than not, when that camera rolled, he was a true monster. If not for the one man, who I’ve given the number one spot to on this list, Boris Karloff would, without question, occupy that top spot.
# 1 – Bela Lugosi (“Dracula”, “White Zombie”, “Bride of the Monster”) How could I chose anyone else other than Bela to be number one on my list? After all, he is the reason I became a horror fan well over 30 years ago. In my opinion, no one will ever be greater an actor than Bela Lugosi. He is the one true King of Horror!
Well, there you have it. My top 50 greatest horror genre actors of all time.
Do you agree? Disagree? Feel free to reply with your choices for the 50 greatest horror movie actors.
And check back soon, as I’ll be unveiling my picks for top 50 greatest actresses of the horror genre.
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