Here's a list of movie characters I find creepy--in no particular order. I would include an introduction but really, is that necessary?
I know I've forgotten something or someone so, please, remind me. And don't tell me it's Freddy or Jason because as much as I like them, they don't really scare/creep me out. Michael Meyers does scare me however. You can remind me of him.
Anthony Perkins (“Norman Bates”), Psycho Poor Norman Bates. If his mother isn’t tormenting him inside his head, his attempts to discuss taxidermy with traveling guests at The Bates Motel isn’t really working out the way he planned. And Janet Leigh was pretty nice to him about it (she didn’t once roll her eyes or say “what a freak!” or anything a rude person might utter). But, alas, mother didn’t like her. And if mother disapproves well, then, shower time just got a little more challenging. I’m guessing you know the rest of the story. Even if Norman Bates isn’t exactly a typical sympathetic character, Anthony Perkins’ jumpy, uncomfortable-in-his-skin performance nailed the quintessential secretly crazy, shy introvert to a schizophrenic tee. Perfectly playing the kind of person acquaintances always say “he seemed a little off but kept to himself” after the grisly murders occur, Perkins made it quite possible that Bates could be your next door neighbor.
Billy Zane (“Hughie Warriner”), Dead Calm While regarded by critics as a great thriller, Dead Calm has been overlooked by much of the public which is a shame given how flat out GREAT the picture is. Boasting terrific performances, high tension and some breathtaking cinematography, Dead Calm is one of those wonderful confined pictures that work almost as a play. A big standout is the performance of the incredibly underrated Billy Zane (why can't he get work like this anymore?) whose psychopathic character Hughie is highly unusual in the history of movie nutcases. For one, he’s not terribly bright. Rowing out to the boat of married couple Sam Neil and Nicole Kidman, he is adept in trapping young Nicole while her husband’s stuck on Hughie’s sinking, body strewn vessel but he underestimates how cool minded and professional the couple is. They know things like coordinates and Morse code and how to turn an engine off. And for two, in spite of how obnoxiously handsome Zane looks, his character is played like, for lack of a better term, a dork. He’s crazy, but he’s annoying and embarrassing and in no way smooth with the ladies. He’s someone you could meet in a bar. You probably have. Oh…scary.
Elijah Wood (“Kevin”), Sin City Elijah Wood is the perfect Frodo. He’s so Frodo that there’s really no one else I can picture playing the beloved Lord of the Rings Hobbit any more successfully than him. But there’s the rub. Would Frodo become Elijah’s Fonzy? Thankfully no. After doing a stalker turn in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind he ventured into far weirder territory in this year’s Sin City with his deceptively normal named character of “Kevin.” A cannibalistic sprite who’s blood lust results in the death of Marv’s (Mickey Rourke) beloved, Wood’s stark raving mad yet wordless (which is even scarier) performance of boundless depravity is so freaky, even Rutger Hauer’s priest can’t conform the kid. Instead, Kevin converts Rutger Hauer.
Anthony Hopkins (“Hannibal Lecter”), Silence of the Lambs Scary vs. Creepy? I go with creepy with when it comes to Dr. Lecter. Mostly because he plays his serial killing, genius grand gourmet with Shakespearian panache. He’s no run of the mill murderer like say, Henry Lee Lucas (though he's not really either--particularly when Henry and Otis Toole kill that guy with the TV)-- instead he's a forerunner in the ever-so-brilliant mastermind freak whose talents range from a mean plate of fava beans to pointing out the “white trash-iness” of Jodie Foster's shoes (and how many kids learned what "a rube" was after that picture?) to busting out of his high security cell. The film’s use of extreme close-ups held straight on Hopkins mug only increase the power of his speeches and his penetrating blue eyes are so effective, you’d swear he has x-ray vision. And that’s unsettling—not only can he dress you down but he can see into your soul.
The Kids in The Brood ("The Deformed Blonde Kids in Ski Jackets") The Brood Are these kids? Well, yes... sorta. After watching Samantha Eggar birth them (so great when she licks them clean) in David Cronenberg's classic cult thriller, they definitely come from her womb. But what are they exactly? That's what Eggar's husband (Art Hindle) wants to find out after mysterious, deformed blonde kids in ski jackets show up unannounced to kill people. Worse, they take away his daughter. And things become even more complicated when he realizes his wife's psychiatrist has something to do with it. So I'll e-phrase by saying they aren't really children but, when referring to the shrink's eccentric methods, "shapes of rage."
Robert Mitchum (“Harry Powell”), The Night of the Hunter Mitchum was so talented as an actor that he could run the spectrum of gorgeous leading man, light comedian, war hero, flawed noir anti hero and psychopath with nary a trace of effort. But nowhere did he prove his scary power more poetically than in Charles Laughton’s expressionistic masterpiece Night of the Hunter. Mitchum’s electrifying, dangerously handsome, hymn singing “Preacher” who seduces vulnerable women only to take their money (as well as their lives) is such an iconic vision of nightmare, that the entire picture is filmed like a children’s haunting dream. Hunting down the two kids of poor Shelley Winters, he’s all big talk, questioning threats (“where’d you hide the money Pearl?”) and finally just plain mean. You’ll never forget his speech about love and hate (famously tattooed on his knuckles) or the frightfully beautiful way he sings “Leaning on the everlasting arms” like a sham-preacher-turned-snake-charmer. Wonderfully demented.
Robert Blake (”Mystery Man”), Lost Highway tied with Dennis Hopper (“Frank Booth”), Blue Velvet David Lynch knows creepy better than Leatherface knows a good slab of beef so finding his creepiest character is no easy task. As a result, I’ve had to split nut duty for two of his characters—Robert Blake’s unwelcome party guest in Lost Highway and Dennis Hopper’s nitrous sniffing weirdo Frank Booth in Blue Velvet. Blake’s last role (and I’m wondering if he’ll do any more pictures in the future) stuck in my noggin days after viewing, notably for his white makeup and way with a phrase—specifically “We’ve met before…at your house…I’m there right now.” And Hopper’s Booth, well, Pabst Blue Ribbon has never been the same since.
Mercedes McCambridge (“Voice of Regan’s Demon”) The Exorcist It’s about time the longstanding character actress and strong, strong screen presences (watch Johnny Guitar) Mercedes McCambrige got her Exorcist due. For certain, Linda Blair’s possessed Regan spews up pea soup, pushes a priest out of a window and turns her head all the way around, but McCambrige provided the horrifying demon voice we had to hear while covering our eyes. And honestly, it was the voice that stuck in my mind longer than any of Blair’s flailing making The Exorcist one of the scariest films of all time. When you have to hide your eyes and your ears—a film is definitely freaking you the F out.
Sid Haig (“Captain Spaulding”), The Devils Rejects Haig has made a nice career out of being weird, most notably in one of my cult faves, Spider Baby. But as the sinister, yet family loving character of Captain Spaulding in Rob Zombie’s funny/scary/over-the-top gory and controversial The Devil’s Rejects he took demented clown to new heights. Gross, mean, laughing and more than depraved (is that possible?) he’ll erase any nice memories you had of the Circus coming to town.
Daveigh Chase (“Samara Morgan”), The Ring Yes, she's my namesake, but that's not why I relate to the Morgan family presented in The Ring pictures. I grew up on a PNW Island and my dad was really into audio visual equipment. I also had long dark brown hair and was, for lack of a more eloquent word, "weird." So there's I guess some...parrallels. Anyway, I do think little Daveigh Chase’s “Samara Morgan” is one of the freakiest chicks ever to emerge from a TV set. Because having an undead child with long stringy black hair crawling out of a well, into your plasma screen and plopping her self onto your living room floor only to slowly crawl towards you with the intent of, quite literally, scaring you to death is something I worry about when renting any film featuring creepy little children. Seriously.
Bette Davis (“Baby Jane Hudson”), What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? Bette Davis is the queen. As the aging child star Baby Jane Hudson caring for her ex movie star, wheelchair bound sister (played memorably—for both of the actresses— by Joan Crawford), she’s the picture of creepy—spackled white makeup, overdrawn mouth, baby doll ringlets and when she gets back into performance mode, baby doll clothes (Davis insisted on looking this way--even director Robert Aldrich was a bit concerned about how scary she appeared). I'm not sure why I have her on this list because, in truth, I find her pretty lovable. Even when she cackles and serves her sister a pet bird for lunch and then a rat. No, the pet bird was pretty mean. Grand dame Grand Guignol, Bette is Divine Madness.
The thing at the end of Don't Look Now ("That Thing"), Don't Look Now I'm not going to explain this because if you haven't seen the film, it'll ruin it. But this thing gives me wide awake panic nightmares. Rent it.
Edwin Neal ("The Other Brother") The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Leatherface is scary, for sure, but Edwin Neal's overly eager, smiling, goat cheese eating hitcher provides one of the film's creepiest sequences. Before you know anything about the rest of the meat eaters, you're introduced to this young guy whose probably kind of weird, maybe even a little Manson family like but when his van ride is over, far worse. There's just something about him taking the picture and setting it on fire and then cutting his hand that works as totally authentic. Like Tobe Hooper really did find this guy on the side of the road. And when the character's kick him out of the van, that silent shot of him with his arms flapping is like observing documentary footage of total madness.
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