With Annabelle, the doll from The Conjuring’s opening sequence, recently spinning off into her own movie, we turned our thoughts to a few other horror movie characters we would have loved to see in their own story. The following ten are a kind of fantasy list, particularly given that many of the culprits are either no longer with us or too old to reprise the roles we’re talking about. It’s also almost certainly the case that less is usually more, and many of these characters are perfect in the short form in which they currently exist. Still, it’s fun to wonder. Let us know your own choices for further adventures in the comments.
Actor: Hugo Weaving
Film: The Wolfman (2010)
Joe Johnston’s Wolfman remake is a better film than you think it is, particularly in the Blu-ray’s extended cut. But in either version, the scene-stealing standout is Weaving’s wry Inspector Abberline, down from Scotland Yard to investigate the Blackmoor killings. We’re told he was involved in the Ripper case, making him the same Abberline played by Johnny Depp in From Hell. We’ll take Weaving’s portrayal over Depp’s though: clearly confident that he’s the smartest guy in the room (especially when that room is a bar full of red-faced locals), but perhaps not quite as on the ball as he thinks he is. Abberline was a real historical character working for the Met in the late 1800s. Following the rippings and the lycanthropy, we wonder what other cases he might have investigated...
Actor: Roberto Campanella
Film: Silent Hill (2006)
Who the hell is this guy? Seriously, WTF? A 7ft hulk with, yes, a giant pyramid on his head, viewer/player interpretations across the Silent Hill videogames and films make him either the personification of the protagonist’s guilty conscience or an executioner from the town’s history. Or both. In the second film, last year’s Silent Hill: Revelation, he’s also an occasional force for protection. And he runs a merry-go-round. Frankly, anyone wanting to sort that lot out for a dedicated spin off would have our deepest sympathy, but we’d be fascinated to see the result. Maybe he’s best suited to a sit-com. Dave the Executioner tries to fit into his new office job, but having a pyramid for a head makes life terribly difficult. With hilarious consequences!
Actor: Ernest Thesiger
Film: The Old Dark House (1932)
Thesiger was perhaps most famous as The Bride Of Frankenstein’s Dr Pretorius, but three years earlier there was this first film collaboration with his friend James Whale. Thesiger is a complete joy as the hangdog, gin-loving Horace Femm, inheritor of the Femm estate and its incumbent madness. Fey and droll with a sinister edge, he skulks around his ancestral pile annoying his highly-strung sister Rebecca (Eva Moore) by darkly mocking her religious faith. “The beef will seem less tough once my sister has invoked a blessing upon it,” he sneers at his guests for the night as he limply wields a sharp carving knife. “To thank her gods for the health and prosperity and happiness granted to this family. For its years of peace and plenty…”
We learn the background to some of that deeply sarcastic diatribe as the film progresses, but we’d love to have seen the story first-hand, gaining a lot more Horace into the bargain.
Actor: Brian Glover
Film: An American Werewolf In London (1981)
This unnamed character apparently spends his evenings in The Slaughtered Lamb playing chess with Rick Mayall and regaling the other patrons with groan-worthy jokes. Clearly some sort of de facto community leader, he can effortlessly stop all conversation in the bar to draw attention to his shaggy dog stories. But there’s something darker beneath that bonhomie, something that becomes outright hostility when London doctors start asking too many questions. What does he know? What has he experienced? Is there a tale there somewhere of a young boy and his community encountering their own horror on the Yorkshire moors decades previously? “That’s enough!” he yells, as David Schofield reveals a bit too much to John Woodvine. But it so isn’t.
Actor: Vincent D’Onofrio
Film: Sinister (2012)
This is pretty much a Basil Exposition role: a single conversation on Skype which didn't even earn D’Onofrio a place in the end credits. But we can never get enough D’Onofrio, and we like the idea of this professor specialising in extremely obscure pagan deities to such an extent that he can recognise symbols and reel off facts about big bad Bagul without even looking anything up.
There is also, appropriately given the film’s title, something sinister about the way the scene ends. Ethan Hawke has called Jonas for information, but Jonas’ final line is, “Tell me everything you know”. It’s easy to miss and possibly we're reading too much into it, but it seems to us like Jonas manipulated the conversation to his own ends there. How does he know what he knows? Is he like an occult Indiana Jones? And what does he do with what Hawke tells him? Does he go off on his own Bagul-centric investigations, coffee in hand? Who, for that matter, is the off-screen Jessica? So many questions.
Actor: Mark Fredrichs
Film: Paranormal Activity (2007)
This guy claims to be a supernatural expert to the paranormally beleaguered Micah and Katie, but he’s fascinating in his utter uselessness. Early on he spends a long sequence in the house asking questions and spouting vague nonsense, and then reveals that he’s uncomfortable with demons and will only tolerate ghosts. Later on he comes back to the house and immediately leaves again because he’s so scared. So we’re intrigued by this guy who’s terrified of his own cases, like a sort of anti-Warren, or a horror Frank Drebin, or Shaggy from Scooby-Doo. We want to see other hapless adventures derailed by his cowardice, leaving his clients to figure shit out for themselves. “Zoinks, not this again!” Get another job, dude.
Actor: Christopher Lee
Film: The Devil Rides Out (1968)
Part of the ensemble cast of Terence Fisher’s Hammer classic, the darkly aristocratic Duc’s paranormal investigations rather irresponsibly bring hell down on his unsuspecting friends, the Eatons. The film is based on a novel by Dennis Wheatley, and Hammer would return to the author’s work a couple of years later for To The Devil A Daughter. But they never returned to Richleau, which was missing a trick since his further cases could have run and run. He’s in eleven of Wheatley’s books, ranging from other eerie mysteries to straight thrillers with nothing supernatural in them at all. In fact, Wheatley's work remains largely unfilmed. Maybe, with Hammer mounting a recent return, now’s the time for a revisit.
Actor: Sophia Myles
Film: Underworld (2003)
We saw plenty more of Bill Nighy’s Viktor as the series progressed, despite his head falling in half in the first film. But one of the other most interesting characters in Underworld was Sophia Myle’s Erika. A Machiavellian vampire social climber, she starts as a maid but is soon insinuating herself into bloodsucking high society, trying to play all sides against one another. The last we saw of her (barring a blink-and-you’ll-miss-her appearance in Underworld: Evolution) she was being thrown out of a car, her plans in tatters. While the series has lurched from prequels to rebooting sequels, it’s disappointing that the excellent Myles was never given another shot. Her continuing adventures might have been a lot better than the follow-ups that actually happened.
Actor: Lance Henriksen
Film: Near Dark (1987)
A vampire romance from a time before that phrase became horrifying, Kathryn Bigelow’s Near Dark centres on Adrian Pasdar and Jenny Wright. But as ever, it’s Lance Henriksen that draws the eye as Jesse, the craggy vampire patriarch who seems to have sauntered straight out of the Old West. We don’t learn much of his history, bar the line “I fought for the South; we lost,��� but Henriksen reveals in the DVD documentary that he developed his own detailed back-story. Jesse fought in the American Civil War in the Confederate Navy. His ship, pounded by cannonballs during battle on the Delaware, drifts into the marshes, where “harpies, shadow creatures” feed on the dying men. One harpy takes pity on Jesse, and that’s how he’s “turned”. We’d like to see that, as well as what came after. With a Tangerine Dream soundtrack, of course.
Actor: Christopher Walken
Film: The Addiction (1995)
Christopher Walken did some of his greatest work with director Abel Ferrara (King Of New York, The Funeral) but his mysterious role in The Addiction is little more than a walk-on. In a single ten-minute scene in the middle of the film, he introduces himself to nascent vampire Lili Taylor, and we get some glimpses of his history. He’s been a vampire himself for at least 40 years, but has learned to control the thirst like a recovering addict. He even drinks tea these days! But he remains a deeply malevolent presence: aloof and amused in that classic Walken way, offering his help to Taylor while at the same time posing a considerable threat. Who is he? What’s his story? There’s a lot more to learn about Peina.