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Halloween is always the best time of year at retroCRUSH!  In the past we've given you The 100 Coolest Monsters, The 100 Scariest Movie Scenes of All Time , and even the biggest collection of Weird Halloween Costumes on the internet!  So we're keeping the traditional alive with a special look at the 100 Greatest Horror Movie Performances.  Once again, we've teamed up with the resident horror geniuses at Trash Film Orgy to put our spooky heads together and come up with a list that really honors the greatest performances in horror movie history. 

By Robert Berry
rberry@retrocrush.com


CONTINUE TO ANY SECTION BY CLICKING THE PICTURES ABOVE


#100 Allan Trautman
as The Tar-Man
in Return of the Living Dead

The Tar-Man from the 1985 zombie comedy classic, Return of the Living Dead, is easily one of the most eerie undead creations to ever appear on screen.  As he bellows for brains, this tall skinny freakazoid looks like some crazy animatronic creation from Disneyland.  But it's the incredibly skilled physical acting of Allan Trautman that brings this head-chomping terrorto life.  Trautman has a pretty versatile career, appearing in many shows and film, as well as doing a lot of puppeteer work in films like Babe, Cats and Dogs, and even several Muppet productions.  You can visit Allan's website HERE and see some cool behind the scenes photos of Tar-Man, as well.  Be sure to pick up an autographed photo, while you're there.
 


#99 Kane Hodder
as Jason
in Friday the 13th VII, VIII, IX, and Jason X

Though several men have played the unstoppable machete wielding retard Jason Voorhees in the Friday The 13th series, it's the portrayal by Kane Hodder that fans of the series love the best.  The only man to actually repeat the role, Kane has appeared in 4 consecutive Jason films.  Kane's ability to perform physically demanding roles has resulted in acting jobs in over 30 films, and stuntman work in over 60.  Unfortunately, New Line chose someone else to play the part in FREDDY vs. JASON, a move which prompted Hodder to say, "I guess they wanted Jason to look like a skinny little bitch this time."  Hodder always brought a special charm to the character that was evident under the bloodiest of hockey masks.  Here's hoping he'll wear it yet again, someday.  CLICK HERE To see a QuickTime trailer for Jason X.


#98 Julian Beck
as Kane
in Poltergeist II: The Other Side

Poltergeist II: The Other Side is a sequel that isn't quite worthy of the original, but has some great touches in it that still make it worthwhile.  Not only do you get Wil Sampson and some great monster design by H.R. Giger, but Julian Beck is a scream as the evil preacher Kane.  As he walks down the street and sings, "God is in his Holeeeeee temple!" it's enough to make your skin crawl.  Unfortunately Beck died of stomach cancer almost immediately after filming was completed, so we never got to see his wonderful work again.


#97 Nastassja Kinski
as Irina
in Cat People

Nastassja has always been a retroCRUSH favorite and her work in Cat People ranks among her most fascinating.  The movie a mostly forgettable, stylish and slightly empty remake of the original 40's version, but Kinski's performance in the film makes it a guilty pleasure.  Her feline features and catlike movements make her a natural choice as Irina, a woman who transforms into a were-creature during sex. The original draft of the film had her turn into a large rainbow trout, but the scenes of her flopping around the bed gasping for air proved to be too disturbing to audiences.  Kinski hasn't done too much acting as of late, appearing only in a bizarre German porn film that cashed in on her former glory titled Scat People CLICK HERE to watch the trailer (of Cat People, you sick bastard!).


#96 George C. Scott
as John Russell
in The Changeling

We covered the wheelchair scene in our Scariest Movie Moments, but I'm happy to give George C. Scott recognition for his fine performance in this movie, too.  It's a very grounded, down to earth performance that helps balance out the freaky happenings in this haunted house.


#95 Sam Neill
as John Trent
in In the Mouth of Madness

What a treat to see Sam Neil do such a fine job in this movie.  Though it'x not an H.P. Lovecraft story, In The Mouth of Madness is one of the more Lovecraftian (you just have to use that word once before you die) films ever made.  Neil's character is institutionalized at the movie's beginning, and he does an amazing job letting the tale unfold from there.  A great scary and twisted performance in an equally great and underrated film. CLICK HERE to watch the trailer.


#94 Heather O'Rourke
as Carol Anne Freeling
in Poltergeist

Darin from Trash Film Orgy was very vocal about child stars NOT being included in this list, but I fought long and hard for the inclusion of Heather.  Her portrayal of an innocent little girl taken to some hellish "other side" while she screams for help through the TV showed a skill beyond her years.  And the physical stress and special effects hassles she had to endure are commendable on their own.  Sadly, Heather died after the sequel was made.  Her family keeps an interesting official memorial site in her memory that you can look at if you CLICK HERE.


#93 Tom Savini
as Sex Machine
in From Dusk 'Til Dawn

It's a great small part, but Savini steals the show as Sex Machine, a rough and tumble character hanging out in The Titty Twister bar, who has a special pistol that pops out of his cod-piece, making him the ultimate American male and inspiration to us all.  It's a shame that they never made a Sex Machine movie, because his character was the best thing going on in the film.  You can catch fun cameos of Tom in the Dawn of the Dead remake, and Romero's latest Land of the Dead.


#92 Nicole Kidman
as Grace Stewart
in
The Others
I'll admit, I could watch a movie of Nicole Kidman sleeping for 2 hours (and I have several different videos of this if you'd ever like to come over and see them), but she's particularly hypnotic in this haunting tale.  I'll say little about the performance, so that I don't spoil anything with this movie (that's unfairly compared to The Sixth Sense all too often), but I think she does a fantastic job as a mother of two children who live in a strange house where things aren't what they seem.


#91 Rory Calhoun
as Farmer Vincent
in Motel Hell

Rory Calhoun is as a sausage maker who uses mysterious ingredients in his products.  After all, his slogan isn't "It takes all kinds of critters to make Farmer Vincent's fritters!" for nothing.  It's a great role with a lot of comedy that the veteran actor Calhoun plays with relish.  And what other movie gives you the chance to have a climactic chainsaw fight while wearing a pig's head?  We're showing this film on October 30th at The Crest Theater, as a part of the Halloween Trash Film Orgy.  CLICK HERE for details.


#90 Gregory Peck
as Robert Thorn
in The Omen

Peck plays the adoptive father of The Anti-Christ with a masterful and controlled performance that gives an integrity to the film that makes it all the more believable.  Peck reportedly was eager for work and took the part when Roy Scheider, Charlton Heston, and William Holden turned the role down.  He took a reduced salary in exchange for 10% of the gross, which ended up giving him over $6 million in 1976 money (which is equal to $53 billion today). CLICK HERE to watch the trailer.


#89 Dee Wallace
as Patricia Bradley
in The Frighteners

Christy from Trash Film Orgy told me she felt Dee deserved inclusion here because, "I hate everything she's ever done, but I loved her in The Frighteners so that says a lot."  Indeed she does a great job as a demented woman who is incredibly freaked out by ghosts, yet may have more going on than we are lead to believe.  It's a nice change of pace from the disturbed yet resolute mother figures she had been typecast as playing in ET, Cujo, and the like.  CLICK HERE to watch the trailer.


#88 Sherman Howard
as Bub The Zombie
in Day of the Dead

Though most of the zombies in Romero's "Dead" films are just shambling, mindless flesh-eaters, Sherman Howard brings a soul to "Bub", the reanimated corpse of a soldier, who is being taught to use a gun.  The deep expressions with his eyes shine through the Savini makeup and result in a loveable zombie that has been given quite a cult following in the 20 years since the film was released.  Sherman's made quite a career outside of this role, as well, with may acting and voice-over parts in TV, Film, and even videogames.  CLICK HERE to watch the trailer.


#87 Gunnar Hanson
as Leatherface
in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Though a few people have played the chainsaw wielding retard, it's Gunnar Hanson's performance in the 1974 original (damn, is it already 30 years ago?) that is the best by far.  Long before Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, or Freddy Krueger, Leatherface became the prototype slasher with a gimmick.  And hats off to Gunnar for refusing to appear in the 2003 remake, feeling it insulted the integrity of the original.  You can watch a gorgeous 17MB QuickTime trailer for the original film if you CLICK HERE, and see Gunnar in all of his glory.


#86 Melinda Clarke
as Julie Harper
in The Return of the Living Dead III

The sexy pain-freak goth girl is taken to the extreme with interesting departure in the third Return of the Living Dead film.  Her character, Julie, is killed in a motorcycle accident, and reanimated by her boyfriend with the help of the famous zombie gas.  Unfortunately, she wants to eat brains, but finds that she can curb her appetite for brains by self inflicted pain.  Since there's no Linkin Park records to listen to yet, she ends up cutting and mutilating herself to the point where she looks like Clive Barker's custom Real Doll.  She makes what should have been a throwaway crap sequel into a very watchable, and tragic film.  You can get a 7 day free pass with Cinema Now and watch the entire film on your computer for free if you CLICK HERE.


#85 Lance Henriksen
as Ed Harley
in Pumpkinhead

Lance has certainly been a great player in genre work, with his roles in Aliens, and the wonderful Fox series Millennium, but his role as the father in Pumpkinhead who seeks revenge against teens responsible for his son's death by getting a witch to bring a horrible creature forth to let the killing commence.  It's a great conflicted performance which makes him both the villain and the hero in the same film.  You can watch the preview if you CLICK HERE.


#84 Angus Scrimm
as The Tall Man
in Phantasm

Angus is wonderful as The Tall Man in the Phantasm series.  Blending humorous charm with a creepy menacing quality, he makes the series of films a lot of fun to watch.  Angus has a lot of neat trivia about him, among the more quirky is that he's an accomplished writer of CD liner notes and has even won a Grammy for his work.  There's a bunch of great clips of Scrimm in action you can view at Phantasm.com if you CLICK HERE.


#83 Roberts Blossom
as Ezra Cobb
in Deranged

While Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Psycho both use the real-life crimes of Ed Gein as their influence, it's the story of Ezra Cobb in 1974's Deranged that tells the tale more accurately.  Blossom gives a great over the top performance in the necrophilia themed film who's poster slogan read, "Pretty Sally Mae died an unnatural death, but the worst hasn't happened to her yet!"  There's a great double DVD that features Deranged and Motel Hell on the same disc that's worth a look.  Blossom also had some great work in Christine, Escape from Alcatraz, and Home Alone.


#82 James Karen
as Frank
in
The Return of the Living Dead
James Karen does a fantastic jobs as the manager of a medical supply warehouse that is soon filled with corpses, butterflies, and even bisected puppies that are reanimated because of a top secret zombie-gas that leaks from a barrel in the basement.  His reactions to the madness are hilarious as he and his younger employee try to first cover up the mistake, then succumb to it.  His lectures about Night of The Living Dead being a true story, and how all skeletons come from India (and wondering how they all have such perfect teeth) are priceless.  CLICK HERE to watch the trailer.


#81 Werner Krauss
as Dr. Caligari
in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

The German film from 1920 is not only one the earliest horror films, but it's still one of the most visually striking movies ever made.  Werner Krauss as the title character is amazing, in this completely silent film, yet conveying more emotion than many speaking actors ever could.  Unfortunately, this film is in the public domain which means there's a wide variety of shitty versions of it on DVD to choose from, so I recommend the beautifully restored and authoritative version from KINO that you can buy if you CLICK HERE.


#80 Jeffrey Allen
as Mayor Buckman
in Two Thousand Maniacs!

This is one of my all time favorite bit parts in a film!  Jeffrey Allen only appeared in a handful of Herschell Gordon Lewis films, and wasn't in another movie after 1972, but his performance as the super friendly but evil Mayor Buckman in Two Thousand Maniacs is one of the great guilty pleasures of horror film.  He's part Mr. Haney from Green Acres, part Boss Hogg from The Dukes of Hazzard, and his own unique ingredients inbetween.  I can't help but smile when he joyously exclaims, "We're havin' us a BARBECUE!"  CLICK HERE to read our article about 2000 Maniacs Director Herschell Gordon Lewis.  And while you're at it CLICK HERE to listen to the 2000 Maniacs theme song.


#79 Kevin Van Hentenryck
as Duane Bradley
in Basket Case

This was the role Kevin Van Hentenryck was born to play.  Well, it's about the only role he's ever played, so it'd better be.  Duane is a character that is burdened with carrying around a sentient lump of flesh that just happens to be his Siamese brother that was surgically removed and dumped into the trash at a young age.  He brings a goofy and disturbed innocence to the role that really works well, as a fish out of water from a small town plopped into the seediest part of New York City.  CLICK HERE to see the trailer for Basket Case.


#78 Randy Quaid
as Nick Lamele
in Parents

Sure, he's known for big goofy oaf characters, but his great range in films like Midnight Express and Parents aren't as appreciated by the masses as they should be.  Trash Film Orgy princess Christy Savage says Parents is one of her favorite movies, and Quaid's a big reason why.  His performance as a typical 50s everyday dad that might just be a cannibal is a kick, and is one of the best things he's ever done.  CLICK HERE to see the trailer.


#77 John Carradine
as Erle Kenton
in The Howling

A veteran of nearly 250 films from 1930-1988, John Carradine has no shortage of wonderful roles, but it's one of this later parts, as an aging Werewolf in The Howling that's one of my favorites.  Carradine gets to chew up the screen in a fun role with a who's who of cheezy horror vets like Forrest Ackerman, Roger Corman, and other impressive legends like Slim Pickens in this great flick.  CLICK HERE To see the trailer.


#76 Ellen Burstyn
as Chris MacNeil
in The Exorcist

In a film that's chock full of the freakiest, scariest stuff ever to put on screen, Ellen Burstyn's role as the Mom dealing with the unthinkable gives The Exorcist the grounding it needs to be more believable.  She represents how you or I would act when confronted with such demonic madness.  She certainly put up with a lot of abuse during the filming, as she suffered a severe back injury when "thrown" off the bed via a cable that pulled her sent her crashing into a wall.  Her cries of agony in the scene are genuine.  CLICK HERE to see the trailer.


#75 Jonathan Pryce
as Mr. Dark
in Something Wicked This Way Comes

20 years before Ray Bradbury was attacking Michael Moore for ripping off the title of Fahrenheit 451 for his anti-Bush documentary, he was busy ripping off Shakespeare for this wonderful film.  Jonathan Pryce is wickedly demonic and fun to watch as the villain, Mr. Dark, who torments a small town with an evil circus that he drags in with him in a quest for souls.  He manages to be larger than life, scary, and charming all at once.  It's an amazingly dark film to bear the Disney name for the time, and a movie I highly recommend seeking out if you haven't seen it yet.   rberry@retrocrush.com and let me know what you think!


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