6 Horror Performances That Deserved An Oscar Nomination


Despite making some inroads as of late, horror films still never quite get the respect that they deserve when it comes Oscar time.  That’s especially true of the performers who regularly appear in horror films.  If it’s rare for a horror movie to receive a best picture nomination, it’s even rarer for someone to get nominated for appearing in one of them.

And yet, it takes as much skill to make a monster compelling as it does a historical figure or a literary character.  In fact, it may take even more skill.  After all, everyone knows that Queen Elizabeth I actually ruled over England and that Atticus Finch was an attorney in the South.  However, everyone also knows that there’s no such things as vampires and that the dead cannot be reanimated or raised as a zombie.  It takes a lot of skill to make a monster seem human.

With that in mind, here are 6 horror performances that deserved, at the very least, an Oscar nomination:

1. Boris Karloff as The Monster in Frankenstein (1931) and The Bride of Frankenstein(1935)

The great Boris Karloff is perhaps the most egregious example of a deserving actor who was consistently ignored by the Academy because of the type of films in which he appeared.  In the role of Monster, Karloff was never less than brilliant and he set the standard by which all future monsters are judged.

Dracula (1931, directed by Tod Browning)

2. Bela Lugosi in Dracula (1931)

When viewed today, it’s perhaps a little bit too easy to be dismissive of Lugosi’s grandly theatrical interpretation of Dracula.  But, if you can ignore all of the bad imitations that you’ve seen and heard over the years, you’ll discover that Lugosi’s performance is perfect for the film in which he’s appearing.  Indeed, Lugosi’s best moments are the silent ones, when he goes from being a courtly (if vaguely sinister) nobleman to a hungry animal.  In those moments, you see why Lugosi’s performance endures.

3. Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates in Psycho (1960)

Ah, poor Anthony Perkins.  Before he played Norman Bates, he was considered to be something an up-and-coming star and even something of a neurotic romantic lead.  As with Lugosi’s Dracula, we’ve seen so many bad imitations of Perkins’s performance that it’s easy to overlook just how good he is in the role.  He was so perfect as Norman that spent the rest of his career typecast.  And, sadly enough, he didn’t even get a much-deserved Oscar nomination out of it.

4. Christopher Lee as Lord Summerisle in The Wicker Man (1973)

Christopher Lee was one of the great actors and, though he may be best remembered for his horror work, he actually appeared in almost every genre of film imaginable.  Lee was often dismissive of the Dracula films that he made for Hammer so, as much as I’d love to argue that he deserved a nomination for The Horror of Dracula, I’m instead going to suggest that Lee deserved one for the role that he often cited as his favorite, the pagan Lord Summerisle in The Wicker Man.  Lee brings the perfect mix of wit and menace to the role and, in the process, shows that not all monsters have to be undead.

5. Donald Pleasence as Dr. Sam Loomis in Halloween (1978) and Halloween II (1981)

Much as with Lugosi and Anthony Perkins, it’s important (and perhaps a little bit difficult) to separate Pleasence’s performances in these two slasher films with all of the imitations that have followed.  In both films, Pleasence does a great job of playing a man who has been driven to the verge of madness as a result of having spent too much time in the presence of evil.  As potentially dangerous as Sam Loomis sometimes appears to be, there’s no way not to sympathize with him as he continually tries to get people to understand that he wasn’t the one who left Michael escape.  If nothing else, Pleasence deserved a nomination just for his delivery of the line, “As a matter of fact, it was.”

6. Betsy Palmer as Pamela Voorhees in Friday the 13th (1980)

“I’m an old friend of the Christys.”  AGCK!  RUN!

The TSL’s Daily Horror Grindhouse: Halloween II (dir by Rob Zombie)


halloween2009

The thing about praising Rob Zombie’s Halloween is that you’re then contractually obligated to talk about the 2009 sequel, Halloween II.  While I certainly don’t have any trouble defending the first film, Halloween II is about as big a mess as I’ve ever seen.

Much like the sequel to the original film, Halloween II opens with Laurie (Scout Taylor-Compton) being stalked in the hospital by her murderous older brother, Michael (Tyler Mane).  And the hospital scenes are actually pretty good.  Zombie makes good use of Nights in White Satin and the scenes of Michael chasing Laurie are genuinely suspenseful.

However, the film then jumps a year into the future and it’s all kind of annoying.  Halloween II follows three separate storylines, all of which converge at the rushed conclusion.

My favorite storyline dealt with Dr. Loomis (again played by the brilliant Malcolm McDowell).  Loomis has written a book about Michael and is now traveling the country, promoting himself as a true crime expert and dealing with people who think that he’s exploiting the whole tragedy for a quick buck.  McDowell is perfect in these scenes, playing Dr. Loomis as a pompous man who secretly knows that he’s a fraud.  “I was as much a victim as anyone,” he occasionally sputters.  Perhaps the highlight of the film comes when he’s interviewed by a rather sarcastic Chris Hardwick and finds himself being ridiculed by Weird Al Yankovic (playing himself).

The second storyline features Annie (Danielle Harris) and Laurie struggling to get on with their lives.  Laurie is now living with Annie and her father (Brad Dourif).  As opposed to the virginal Laurie of the first Halloween, this Laurie is pissed off and out of control.  On the one hand, I think Zombie deserves some credit for trying to deal with the PTSD that would obviously be the result of surviving being attacked by Michael Myers.  On the other hand, to say that Laurie is never not pissed off would be an understatement.  Scout Taylor-Compton does a good job playing her but, in Halloween II, a little Laurie Strode goes a long way.  You can only watch someone rage at the world for so long before it starts to get boring.

And the third storyline, not surprisingly, is Michael still trying to track down and kill his sister.  Michael continually sees visions of his dead mother (Sheri Moon Zombie), occasionally accompanied by a white horse, telling him, “It’s time.”  (Eventually, Laurie starts to see the same thing.)  Usually, if you come across someone online criticizing Halloween II, one of the first things that they’ll mention will be that white horse.  To be honest, the white horse didn’t both me.  I actually appreciated the surreal touch of Sheri Moon Zombie and a white horse appearing out of nowhere.  But still, as opposed to first film, Michael is just boring in this film.  The first film was memorable because it took the time to explore why Michael became who he became.  In Halloween II, Michael’s just another killer in a mask.  Leslie Vernon would have kicked his ass.

So, no, Halloween II does not really work.  The story is too messy and, with the exception of Dr. Loomis, none of the characters are particularly interesting.  I still stand by my claim that Rob Zombie is an underrated director but Halloween II is a definite misfire.

Reblog: Lisa’s Thoughts on Halloween II (directed by Rick Rosenthal)


And now that you’ve re-read Arleigh’s review of the original Halloween, why not check out my review of the original Halloween II? This was originally published in 2012! After reading this, be sure to check back in about 90 minutes for Case’s review of Halloween 4! And then come back on Thursday for Halloween 5! (Where’s Halloween 3? It will be dealt with as soon as we finish the saga of Michael Myers…)

Through the Shattered Lens

Last night, I watched Halloween II.  No, I’m not referring to the rather disturbing Rob Zombie movie that came out in 2009.  Instead, this Halloween II was the original sequel to the original Halloween.  This version was written by John Carpenter and Debra Hill.  It was released in 1981 and I saw it in 2012, via Cinemax.

Why Was I Watching It?

Because it’s October, of course!  It’s horror month and Halloween is one of the great horror movies.  Would Halloween II turn out to be another great horror movie?  Well, to be honest, I figured it probably wouldn’t but I decided to watch it anyway.

What Was It About?

Halloween II picks up exactly from where the first Halloween ended.  The sole surviving babysitter, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), is being rushed to the hospital by two paramedics, one nice (Lance Guest) and one kinda crude and pervy (Leo Rossi). …

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6 Trailers For Halloween, Part 1


With Halloween rapidly approaching, it’s time for another 3-part edition of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse and Exploitation Film Trailers!  Today, we start things off by revisiting 6 trailers from a very familiar franchise.

1) Halloween (1978)

2) Halloween 2 (1981)

3) Halloween 3: Season of the Witch (1982)

4) Halloween 4 (1988)

5) Halloween 5 (1989)

6) Halloween 6 (1995)

What do you think, Trailer Kitty?

Trailer Kitty

What Horror Lisa Marie Watched Last Night #53: Halloween II (directed by Rick Rosenthal)


Last night, I watched Halloween II.  No, I’m not referring to the rather disturbing Rob Zombie movie that came out in 2009.  Instead, this Halloween II was the original sequel to the original Halloween.  This version was written by John Carpenter and Debra Hill.  It was released in 1981 and I saw it in 2012, via Cinemax.

Why Was I Watching It?

Because it’s October, of course!  It’s horror month and Halloween is one of the great horror movies.  Would Halloween II turn out to be another great horror movie?  Well, to be honest, I figured it probably wouldn’t but I decided to watch it anyway.

What Was It About?

Halloween II picks up exactly from where the first Halloween ended.  The sole surviving babysitter, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), is being rushed to the hospital by two paramedics, one nice (Lance Guest) and one kinda crude and pervy (Leo Rossi).  Two guesses which one of our two paramedics eventually ends up dead.  Meanwhile, Michael Myers has apparently survived being shot six times and falling out of a second story window and he’s still wandering around Haddonfield, Indiana.  Best of all, Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence) is still running around all over the place, telling anyone who will listen that it wasn’t his idea to allow Michael to be released.  (In one of the film’s best running jokes, everyone responds to Loomis’ protestations by saying stuff like, “Damn you for letting him out!”  “Uhmm, I didn’t…” Dr. Loomis mutters at one point.)  It quickly becomes apparent that Michael’s rampage wasn’t quite as random as it seemed in the first film.  He’s after Laurie and, once he breaks into the local hospital, it seems like he might very well get her.  Why?  Because, for the most part, it appears that every single citizen of Haddonfield is a total and complete moron.

What Worked?

Halloween II is actually one the better of the slasher sequels of the early 80s.  While it can’t compare to the first Halloween, it’s still a fairly suspenseful little film and Michael Myers is just as frightening as ever.  However, what truly makes this film memorable, is Donald Pleasence’s unhinged performance as Dr. Loomis.  Whereas in the first film, Pleasence played Loomis as just being somewhat testy and annoyed, his performance here suggests that, in the minute or so between shooting Michael and then looking out the window at the end of the first film, Loomis has managed to totally lose his mind.  Pleasence gives one of the most mannered, over the top performances in film history in Halloween II and it works perfectly.  Whenever the film starts to drag, Pleasence shows up and injects a nice bit of crazy into the proceedings.  My favorite moment comes when Loomis suddenly yells at a policeman, “What is it you guys you usually do?  FIRE A WARNING SHOT!?”

Lance Guest, who plays the nice paramedic, was really quite likable.  I know there’s some debate as to the ultimate fate of his character but I chose to believe that he survived.

The Halloween theme music is still probably one of the most effective horror soundtracks to have not been composed by Goblin or Riz Ortolani.  When it came on the TV last night, our cat Doc actually got scared and ran out of the room.

What Didn’t Work?

It’s not the first Halloween.

While the film nominally stars Jamie Lee Curtis, Laurie spends most of the film catatonic and she never really gets to do much other than run from Michael.  Say what you will about how Laurie kept dropping her weapons at the end of the first Halloween, she still at least fought back.  In Halloween II, Laurie is reduced to being a stereotypical victim.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

I have to admit that I kinda related to the three nurses who were on call at the hospital.  I related to Karen (Pamela Susan Shoop) because, like her, I have, in the past, shown a weakness for bad boys who insist on making out in a hot tub even while there’s a merciless serial killer wandering about.  I related to Jill (Tawny Moyer) because, like her, I tend to look at my nails whenever I get bored at work.  Most of all, I related to Janet (Ana Alicia), because she couldn’t figure out how to use a walkie talkie.  (And, seriously, what type of name is walkie-talkie anyway?  It sounds like a cutesy robot.)

So, as opposed to most other slasher films, I was able to find instant empathy with not one but three characters!  Unfortunately, all three of those nurses were dead by the end of the film so, seriously … agck!

Lessons Learned:

I would not survive a slasher film.