It’s time to put the WEEEEEEE back in HalloWEEEEEEEEN, so I’ve constructed a special article where I get to gush about my favorite heroines, villains, and secondary characters from horror films (including animated ones).
Why? Because I felt like it. I wanted to do something special for the holiday and I relish any chance I get to gush about why I love these characters the way I do. Plus it gives me a chance to show off some of my other commissions I wouldn’t normally get the chance to include in this website.
Some of the characters I get really in-depth on while others I only briefly discuss.
For the month, I will include 31 entries in this list. Some are shared by two or three characters, though, so I’m gonna cheat a little.
These are all characters who left an impact on me in some form or another, and on my writing and views of fiction in general. Admittedly, a lot of them are mothers and motherly figures. I guess I have a type.
Alice Johnson – “A Nightmare on Elm Street 4-5”: You’d probably groan when I say this, but my favorite of the Freddy Krueger films are the ones that feature Lisa Wilcox as Alice Johnson, the Dream Master. Alice took over the protagonist and Final Girl role after Kristen Parker (Patricia Arquette/Tuesday Knight) gets killed off in Part 4, but what initially sets Alice apart from the other heroines is Alice survives both films she appears in.
Alice was a daydreamer who didn’t like herself very much. Unassertive and quiet, she fond solace in fantasies where she could tell the hottest guy in school what a babe he was, and she could scream at her alcoholic father about how much she hated him. Then one day Alice was dragged into a battle between her brother’s girlfriend and a horrifically burnt, child murdering psychopath with a custom made razor glove. Helpless to watch as Kristen was burned alive inside a boiler, Alice was suddenly gifted with Kristen’s psychic ability to pull people into her dreams at the moment of Kristen’s death… but not before it passed through Freddy Krueger’s body and set up a link between him and her dreams. As Alice’s loved ones are pulled into her dreams against her will and killed before her eyes, she does the only sensible thing she can think of: suit up and kick the motherfucker’s ass. [Wing: She is amazingly badass. I am swooning.]
(Alice and Freddy by Tim Seeley)
Alice didn’t have a connection to Freddy Krueger like Kristen and the Elm Street kids did, yet it was implied she did have some power of her own well before she acquired Kristen’s. She sees things from Kristen’s dreams in the real world, and there was a young girl who appeared in Kristen’s nightmares who also had the name “Alice.”
Alice isn’t my favorite just because she survived both movies, but also because of her growth as a person throughout the two films. In “Dream Master” we see Alice’s passiveness slowly disappears with every person who dies, at first credited towards inheriting pieces of her friends’ personalities. While Alice tries to use these in her first final battle against Freddy, those aren’t what beat him. No, the power Alice gains from her friends helps her to unleash the power that was always her’s, which allows her to awaken every person Freddy’s killed off and helps them rip him apart from the inside. Because it would’ve been easy to say Alice only became a hero because she became like her friends, but instead, her friends give her the strength to be who she’s always been inside, and thus use her OWN strength alongside theirs.
(Alice Johnson by Tim Smith 3)
“Why don’t you just SHUT UP?“
In “Dream Child,” Alice is officially recognized as Freddy Krueger’s archenemy, and his defeat by her hands was so bad he couldn’t just come back like he always did before. No, he could only come back because the conception of her child opened up a new door, but still Freddy couldn’t actually engage Alice. Freddy spends most of the movie taunting Alice and trying to get a rise out of her because that’s all he can do to her. And Alice doesn’t hesitate to enter the dreamworld, enter Freddy’s level, and take him on, mocking him and calling him a coward. Alice is able to do something only Nancy Thompson, the original Elm Street heroine, ever accomplished, and that’s make Freddy mad. Alice can piss Freddy off enough to stop acting like he’s playing a game, and that’s amazing. She even gets the jump on him twice, shoving a metal rod through his head and ramming him through the back on that demonic looking baby carriage from the fifth movie’s posters. It’s telling that Alice is included among the four people shown kicking Freddy’s ass in the opening to “Freddy Vs Jason,” alongside Nancy.
Amanda Shepard – “Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood”: That time Stormer was in a Jason Voorhees movie.
Friday Part 7 is arguably considered the last good sequel in the franchise, and is also nicknamed “Freddy Vs Carrie.” Tina Shepard is a troubled young woman gifted with psychic abilities she has little control over. When she was a child, she unintentionally used her powers to kill her abusive father, moments after saying she wished he was dead. Tina spent most of her adolescence in a psychiatric hospital before returning to her summer home on Crystal Lake with her mother Amanda and her doctor, Dr. Crews, to revisit her childhood trauma. However, Crews’ “therapy” leaves much to be desired, and he arguably makes Tina’s state of mental health even worse. In a moment of desperation, Tina returns to the site of her father’s death and tries to bring him back with her power. Instead, she revives Jason Voorhees.
Amanda, played by famed voice actress Susan Blu, is a woman understandably out of her depth but trying to protect her daughter as best she can. She believes right off Dr. Crews is not doing much to help Tina, and believes Tina really is getting worse when she’s supposedly seeing things that aren’t real, like a metal spike impaled in their front door and visions of people being murdered. Amanda soon learns that no, Tina is not going insane, and Crews does not want to help Tina but exploit her power. To that end, he’s begun gaslighting Tina by lying about the metal spike and hiding it. When Amanda finds Crews’ notes and what he’s really been doing, she’s fucking outraged and disgusted with herself for not believing her daughter. When Tina flees the house, Amanda and Crews try to find her, but Crews believes Tina’s dangerous and is really the one murdering people in the area. Amanda has officially stopped giving a shit what Crews thinks and blames him for this.
“You’re not just a bad doctor, you’re a fucking coward!”
Unfortunately, Amanda has no idea how much of a coward the doctor really is when Jason appears… and Crews uses Amanda as a human shield to save his own sorry ass. Bad news for Jason though, because Tina learning her mom died enables her to fully unleash her abilities for the first time and go to town on him.
Amanda’s awesome not just because she’s Susan Fucking Blu, but she’s like one of the only adults in the franchise who tries not to be a useless sack of shit and is just as much a victim of Crews’ manipulations as her daughter is.
Andrea Livingston – “Amityville 1992: It’s About Time”: My taste for the Amityville franchise has admittedly waned ever since I became a fan of “Umineko: When They Cry,” because it made me realize for as cheesy and ridiculous as this franchise is, it was still based on the real life murder of an entire family. Part of me felt disgusted upon realizing how those who still grieve the loss of that family must feel about these movies. I still wanted to talk a bit about Andrea. [Wing: That’s a good point about these horror movies (or any movie, really, and also sensational feature articles, etc.) based on true events where the immediate family and friends are still around, and there’s an interesting discussion to be had about the ethics of writing these stories.]
“Amityville 1992” was one of several sequels utilizing objects coming from the cursed Amityville house and infecting new homes with the demonic influence of the original dwelling. “1992” is considered the only one that did it right. Andrea, played by Shawn Weatherly, is a family friend of architect Jacob Sterling and has been watching his teenage children Rusty and Lisa while he was on a trip to the East Coast. Jacob returns with an antique clock he acquired from an “old house” in Amityville, New York. The moment Jacob places the clock on his fireplace mantel, the Sterlings’ neighbor Iris Wheeler suddenly has a vision where their house briefly transforms into the infamous Amityville home.
The clock begins to wreak havoc on the Sterlings and Andrea, who is forced to stay longer than planned when Jacob is viciously mauled by a neighbor’s dog. Rusty is having visions of the living room transforming into some kind of ancient torture chamber, Lisa is molested by her own reflection, and Jacob is slowly becoming deranged as his injuries fester and rot. When Jacob and Lisa succumb to the clock’s influence, Iris and Andrea’s boyfriend are murdered, leaving Rusty and Andrea to fight for their lives.
Andrea interests me because she’s much more complicated than your standard “Final Girl” in these types of movies. She’s older than the usual type and she’s had sexual relations with both Jacob and her new boyfriend. She really shines in the finale when she is forced to fight and kill Jacob in self defense, and barely gets a chance to breathe when she learns the clock has deaged Rusty into a young child to stop him from destroying it. The best part is when Andrea turns to the clock and doesn’t so much order, but states, that Rusty WILL be allowed to leave. THE CLOCK COMPLIES. She tries to the smash the clock with one of Jason’s measuring tools, but only succeeds in ripping out parts of the living room wall to discover GIGANTIC clock gears and mechanisms inside the house. As the clock attempts to turn Andrea into an old woman, she takes advantage of a leaking gas pipe and ignites an explosion to destroy the clock. However, the clock rewinds time back to the night Jacob returned home… but Andrea remembers everything that happened and the moment she has the clock in her arms she goes to town on it with unrestrained anger and fear. It’s a thing of beauty as she annihilates the clock into a pile of wood and gears. When asked why she did it?
“What the hell was that about?!”
“It’s about time, that’s what!”
The part I love about this is that in the opening, Andrea greeted Jacob at the front door with one of his measuring tools, which she said she had “For protection.” After the clock resets time, Andrea wakes up in the living room with the very same tool, saying she had it “For protection.” It makes me wonder just how many times has she gone through this? How many times did Jacob bring the clock back and unintentionally unleash a destructive force that corrupted his family only for Andrea to destroy it?
Aunt Kate – “Haunted Honeymoon”: I don’t know what everyone else’s problem is but I think “Haunted Honeymoon” is a hilarious movie. It was supposedly the movie that killed Gene Wilder and Gilda Radner’s acting careers, I just don’t understand why. It’s a movie about two radio stars, Larry Abbott and Vickie Pearle, who are getting married, and are planning the wedding at Larry’s ancestral home, Abbott Manor. There’s just two problems with this.
A: Larry is showing signs of suffering a nervous breakdown and his psychiatrist uncle believe the only cure is to scare him… to death.
B: Someone has hired a killer in a werewolf costume to terrorize Larry’s relatives, and has already murdered Larry’s cousin Francis Jr.
But the person who really steals the movie is Larry’s great Aunt Kate, portrayed by Dom Deluise. Bombastic and dramatic, Kate makes her grand appearance declaring her family home is haunted by decades of debauchery and sin… before loudly sliding down the banister into Larry’s arms. Kate essentially raised Larry from childhood after his mother died on her second wedding day, and she dotes on him and Vickie, to the point she’s decided to leave her entire estate in Larry’s name after she dies. During dinner, she openly compliments Vickie and believes she’s a good match for Larry, and the two even get to perform a duet as the evening entertainment. Kate is also the one who offers exposition on the supposed Abbott Family Curse, and is the first one of the family to suspect there is a killer among them.
(Aunt Kate by Kaitlyn Van Dorn)
What makes Kate so awesome is that, for as hammy and dramatic as she is, she’s never the butt of a joke nor does she ever get humiliated. And while Kate could just as easily have only been there to shill a few jokes or hinder the other characters, she’s ultimately the one who saves the day twice over and manages to rescue her nephew and niece-in-law from the villain at the last second.
Barbara – “Night of the Living Dead”: I’m the first to admit my supreme distaste for horror movie remakes, especially the flood of remakes from the 2000s and early 2010s like the boring “Elm Street” remake and that God awful Rob Zombie “Halloween” that robbed my life of three hours I could’ve spent doing something constructive. That distaste does not extend to the 90s remake of “Night of the Living Dead.”
As played by Patricia Tallman, Barbara was an update of Barbra from the original film. The two women diverge in that, while Barbra is completely overcome by the horror of the situation and ultimately dies, Barbara manages to fight back and is the only member of the 90s cast who survives the beginning of the zombie infestation. I am not saying this as a condemnation of Barbra, nor is this going to be about why the 90s film is superior to the remake. Instead I’m talking about why I like Barbara the way I do.
(Barbara by Joe Prado)
[Wing: That is a gorgeous piece of art.]
When put in an unknown situation, Barbara is forced to fight for her life and keep her bearings even after seeing her brother Johnny get his skull cracked open on a tombstone, and after she gets assaulted by several seemingly undead men. At first rescued by the timely arrival of Ben (Tony Todd), Barbara’s survival instincts are first channeled through panicked defense before turning into justified anger at the scenario before her. Barbara’s fear quickly evaporates and is replaced by anger, loathing, disgust, and sadness as she’s surrounded by bickering idiots and flesh-eating monsters. I relate to Barbara because I too know the frustrations of being stuck in hostile situations I had no right or reason to be caught in while dealing with bickering idiots who refuse to listen to common sense and only seek to drag me down with them. Barbara’s best moment in the film is when she quickly shuts up the argument on what she, Ben, and the others are dealing with, shooting a zombie several times in the chest before putting a bullet in its skull to end it for good.
“Is he dead?! Is he dead?! You’re all seeing this IS HE DEAD?!“
I wish I could end an argument like she does.
Beth’s Sorority Sisters – “Sorority House Massacre”: This was a low budget flick but despite what the sequel would have you think, this was not a gratuitous cheese flick of sexy coeds in their underwear. Though you wouldn’t be totally off the mark if you felt this was too much like “Halloween.”
Beth (Angela O’Neill), has been staying at the Theta Omega Theta sorority on a trial basis to see if she’s interested in pledging, but on her first night she’s been having feelings of deja vu, and strange nightmares about the house. Her dreams involve little girls warning her not to go inside, where she discovers bloody dolls and dead bodies, and blood staining the beds. She starts to have visions of a terrifying looking man following her. Unbeknownst to her, the man is real, he’s in an insane asylum, and he knows who and where Beth is. [Wing: … of course there’s an insane asylum. Oh, horror.]
On a holiday weekend Beth is alone with her fellow pledges Sarah (Pamela Ross), Linda (Wendy Martel), and Tracy (Nicole Rio). While the girls have the house to themselves they treat themselves to a makeover session, trying on sorority sister Cindy’s clothes and playing cheesy 80s music. But Beth is still feeling weird because of her dreams and having a hard time relaxing. So what do the girls do? They talk to Beth about her dreams and make an effort to analyze what they might mean. Sarah’s got a book on dream symbolism and Linda’s taking a psychology course on dream imagery, so the girls attempt to break apart Beth’s nightmare to figure out what the problem is.
I thought this was really sweet because, even though the girls are way off the mark on Beth’s nightmares (they assume the guy with the knife is sex related because of course), [Wing: The knife is his penis.] they’re still making an effort to help her feel better. And they do exchange some jokes about the weirder parts about Beth’s nightmare, but none of it’s in a mean spirited, insulting way, and Beth laughs along with them. Gals Being Pals! [Wing: Their friendships do sound delightful. I’m adding this to my to watch list.]
Although they do lose points because they’re setting up a “Pow Wow” along with a wooden indian statue.
Camille Brewster – “Hold That Ghost”: I must’ve been the only 9 year old in the 1990s who had any clue who Abbott and Costello were. My dad is a fan of those movies, as well as the Universal Horror and Hammer Horror flicks, so I used to watch a lot of them when I was younger. He took most of the videos and DVDs with him when he moved out in 2010 after splitting from my mother.
“Hold That Ghost” was the first A&C movie I ever saw. In it, the titular duo unexpectedly find themselves the inheritors of a notorious mobster, whose will promised his wealth and belongings to anyone with him at the time of his death. Chuck (Abbott) and Ferdie (Costello) inherit an old tavern where gangster “Moose” Manson swore he’d kept his money “In his head.” Chuck and Ferdie are abandoned at the tavern alongside an old associate of Manson’s and three other people, including radio actress Camille Brewster.
Camille, played by Joan Davis, forms most of the comic relief in the film alongside A & C, especially Costello, and the two form a rather innocent romantic coupling through their antics. They get a rather unorthodox dance sequence that includes Camille landing in a bucket and Ferdie playing it like a drum while it’s stick on her ass. Although Camille’s not thrilled when she learns Ferdie’s never heard of her, of course she mainly does sound effects and bloodcurdling screams on horror programs.
Camille’s got a lot more personality than co-actress Evelyn Ankers, who’s mainly there for a romance subplot with Richard Carlson. One of the funniest parts in the movie is after the group has been ditched by their bus driver, with Camille despairing at the loss of her mules (her slippers). Camille says she always needs her mules to get out of bed and Ferdie, thinking she means a pair of animals, calls the bus driver a monster.
Cornelia Van Gorder and Lizzie Allen – “The Bat”: If there is one old fashioned horror movie I can suggest, it’s “The Bat” from 1959. One of several adaptions of a play by Mary Roberts Rinehart, it’s the story of a supposedly faceless serial killer/burglar armed with steel claws dubbed the Bat, and the disappearance of half a million dollars from the local bank. The movie’s in the public domain, so you can watch it anywhere for free. [Wing: … why is it in the public domain? I can’t find any information about the copyright holder designating it as public domain, and I’m curious. Is there an earlier copyright date than 1959 for the film itself (not the play)? I did some quick math under the copyright act that would have been in play at the time it was created, but need to push more into it, I guess. … and yes, I realise this is not the point.]
Cornelia Van Gorder (in this version) is a famous mystery author, and Lizzie Allen is her live-in maid. Cornelia has rented a spacious country estate, the Oaks, during the summer, but it’s not long before most of Cornelia’s staff quits because of strange occurrences happening in the mansion. The only one who doesn’t desert her is Lizzie. It turns out these events are connected to the reappearance of the Bat, who has started accumulating a body count of young women and has begun skulking around the Oaks looking for the missing bank money. Unknown to Cornelia and Lizzie, the stolen money has been stashed inside the mansion, and the Bat, as well as some other less than savory characters, are trying to find it for themselves. Stuck in a mystery like the ones she’s written about, Cornelia tries to use her expertise on the subject to figure out what’s going on with Lizzie right beside her.
Cornelia, as played by Agnes Moorehead, is such a fun character played opposite Lenita Lane’s Lizzie. Cornelia’s got a dry and snarky wit as befitting an author of her talents, playing opposite Lizzie’s worrisome frankness. Cornelia’s obviously the one in charge because Lizzie is prone to getting emotional several times in the movie, but thankfully without getting on anyone’s nerves. Cornelia takes a genuine interest in the mystery about the Bat and the stolen money, but the woman doesn’t fuck around when the Bat tries to break into the mansion. As Cornelia and Lizzie hold up in Cornelia’s room for the night, Cornelia calls the police reporting the break-in and mentions, loud enough knowing the Bat is still in the house, she’s got a gun and she’s not afraid to use it. And Agnes Moorehead’s delivery of the line makes it clear she means it. She’s smart, she’s savvy, she’s composed, and she does care about people, especially Lizzie.
Cornelia and Lizzie fascinate me because, for as much as we know Lizzie is Cornelia’s maid, the relationship and understanding between them is so much more intimate it’s impossible not to think the two are a couple. Keep in mind this was in the 1950s and the two are much older than your usual female leads, so the subtext is astounding. Lizzie is distraught the first time the Bat attempts to break in, out of fear for what he might’ve done to Cornelia, and later in the film when Cornelia gets trapped behind a hidden room in the house, Lizzie is somehow wracked with a sense of wrongness and tries to find Cornelia before it’s too late. Don’t worry, she rescues her in time.
Crystal, Ronnette and Chiffon – “Little Shop of Horrors”: I’m not much of a musical person, but I do love the Frank Oz version of “Little Shop,” mainly because of these three. [Wing: I had such a crush on them when I first saw it.]
Nebbish Seymour Krelbourn manages to save the floundering florist shop he works and lives in when he unveils the new “strange and interesting” plant he’s acquired, which he’s named “Audrey II” in honor the girl he loves. Sure enough the plant gains an incredibly amount of attention and Mushnik’s Flower Shop starts to flourish, but then Seymour finds out to keep Audrey II going, it needs human blood. As the plant gets bigger and bigger, Seymour is finding it hard to keep it well fed. And that’s when Audrey II starts talking, and advises Seymour that a lot of people deserve to die…
Throughout it all, these three young women, Crystal, Ronnette, and Chiffon (Tichina Arnold, Michelle Weeks, and Tisha Campbell) are on the scene, singing about how uncertain doom is coming to Skid Row and providing back up to every main character while spinning exposition. Named after three different singing groups, the girls are the film’s Greek chorus, and they get the best songs in the movie, including the opening “Little Shop of Horrors” theme song. The Greek chorus type characters have become some of my favorite types thanks to the Shadow Girls from “Revolutionary Girl Utena,” and the main reason I’m always rewatching “Little Shop” is for their catchy vocals.
Debbie Stevens – “A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master”
Or as you guys will remember her, “The One Who Turned Into A Roach.”
I’m not even going to pretend that wasn’t what originally got me interested in her. I watched “Dream Master” when I was 9, and that kind of… scarred me for about four years. I mean, FUCKING COCKROACHES AM I RIGHT? Still though.
(Debbie by Kaitlyn Van Dorn)
Debbie, played by Brooke Theiss, was one of Alice Johnson’s original circle of friends, the “Tough Girl” character. Yet in about five minutes we get a really good look at how she is besides the one with the leather jacket, and she’s a dork. She slacks off on her math homework, she’s a huge fan of “Dynasty,” HATES bugs (I mean, like that wasn’t obvious), and is super protective of her small nerdy friend Shelia. When some guy makes a lewd comment about Shelia using her inhaler, Debbie immediately asks if the guy’s suffering from penis envy. When Shelia has the unfortunate honor of being Freddy Krueger’s very first non-Elm Street related murder, Debbie is very distraught.
Sadly, “Dream Master” focused more on the plot and special effects than it did fleshing out any character that wasn’t Alice, so Debbie doesn’t have much of a role in the story the way Alice’s friends did in the next movie. She’s the very last person Freddy kills in this movie, in by far the most overdrawn and unnecessarily cruel murder sequence in the entire film.
Edgar the Swamp Witch – “Angry Beavers – Open Wide For Zombies”: Nothing beats 90s Nickelodeon shows, especially “The Angry Beavers.” For me in particular, I’ve always thought the horror episodes were the best and the funniest, especially this second season one.
In “Open Wide for Zombies,” a late night storm floods Norbert and Daggett’s dam, and their bunk beds are swept down the river while they sleep. Norb and Dag end up in a creepy swamp when their beds wash up near a spooky looking house on stilts. Inside said home is a man with an alligator head, several bald, blank eyed hulks shambling around and playing music, and the Swamp Witch (or as she likes to be called, Edgar). Dag is immediately suspicious of her and her “gentleman callers,” but Norb tries to join in on the fun and plays with the band. Of course Edgar is just as evil as she looks and plans to remove the beavers’ teeth for her “Ultimate Voodoo Potion.”
Edgar, voiced by Beverly Garland, is a favorite not as much for her character, but the episode she was in. I mean, sure she’s awesome. She’s unlike most of the antagonists who’ve appeared in this show in that she’s genuinely evil. When the beavers find out she plans to turn them into toothless zombies it climaxes into an epic high speed motorboat chase, unlike nearly every other episode in the series due to the tension and thrills. And it ends with Norb and Dag somehow managing to bring Edgar’s house down on top of her and Gator Man, and KILL her. The last we see of her is her hand slowly sinking beneath the swamp’s waters while a woman wails in the background.
The Evil Spirit – “Fever Lake”: I have a high tolerance for bad horror movies, but this has to be one of the worst horror flicks I’ve ever seen in my life. And it is a spectacular piece of shit, even if I still don’t remember which character is which despite several repeat viewings.
“Fever Lake” is, to me, not a horror movie, but a collection of different tropes trying to come together to make a horror movie and failing. The entire cast barely acts, simply going through the motions of reading a script, and the soundtrack is so generic you’d think this movie was originally intended as the horror movie episode of a 90s sitcom. Just about the only reason to watch this movie is Corey Haim’s rather magnificent breakdown at the end, not to mention his ridiculous 90s haircut.
(Evil Spirit by Brooke Snider)
The Evil Spirit is, well, the evil spirit haunting Fever Lake and responsible for the many deaths that have occurred. We don’t where it came from, but the obligatory magical Native American guy, who does absolutely nothing helpful throughout the film, seems to feel it’s always been here. The Evil Spirit possesses the writer of the group slowly, even though Haim’s character is the one who does the killing. There are only two memorable parts:
When the spirit types “Terror Weekend at Fever Lake” on the writer’s 90s labtop, and she acts like this is the greatest thing since Stephen King’s “It.” And the end, when the Spirit causes her body to rapidly age and rot as she tells Haim to “Come to mommy” in a somewhat creepy sequence.
Greta Gibson – “A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child”: One of the best things about the Elm Street movies is that their modus operandi involves making you care about the characters getting killed, and they especially succeeded with Greta Gibson.
Portrayed by Erika Andersen, Greta was a new addition to Alice Johnson’s friends after most of them got killed in the previous movie. The script referred to her as “Living proof of what God can create when he’s having a good day,” and it shows not just in her looks but her personality and demeanor. A rich white girl with modeling aspirations, Greta openly defied the stereotypes of characters with her background. She wasn’t a spoiled brat, she wasn’t bitchy, she wasn’t ignorant of the world, and she didn’t act out for the sake of making her parents miserable. Greta was for all intents and purposes a genuinely good friend to Alice, as well as Alice’s other friends Mark and Yvonne. Her mother Racine, on the other hand, was a domineering jackass trying to vicariously live through Greta’s potential modeling career by controlling everything she ate and drank. So it’s no surprise that when it’s her turn to die, Freddy Krueger utilizes the body image anxiety inflicted on Greta by her mother, by force feeding Greta her own organs until she choked to death while her mother and the party guests laugh at her. Said death sequence also got a lot of content edited out for being too horrible, and as of this article, there still hasn’t been an official uncut DVD release.
It’s amazing how much characterization the movie managed to put into Greta when she’s not even alive for the entire first half. While we’re supposed to believe Greta suffers from some kind of eating disorder because she wants to be a model, absolutely nothing about her actions implies she really is anorexic or bulimic and that’s refreshing because her character could’ve easily been a condensed “After School Special.” No, the anxiety she deals with comes only from her mother, and this was toned down from the script where Greta legitimately did have hang ups about what she ate yet smoked in a few scenes.
As for her loving side, Greta gets the opportunity to grieve the loss of her friends on her own without Alice, the main character, alongside her. The first to die in “Dream Child” is Dan Jordan, Alice’s boyfriend and the father of her child. The night Dan is killed, we briefly cut to Greta’s bedroom, where she is quietly looking over Dan’s yearbook photo and softly crying.
I think this scene was extremely well done, and Erika’s acting is subdued and very moving. It’s so alien to see something like this in a slasher movie, because you almost NEVER see a supporting character mourning someone else unless the main character is with them, or said character is about to be killed in the same scene.
The tears in her eyes are enough to convince you Greta’s sadness is real. That’s especially evident during the infamous dinner party scene moments before her death. Racine has invited people who seem to have connections to the modeling industry, but has for all intents and purposes brought Greta out to be judged and objectified. Considering this is not even a day after Dan’s death, Greta doesn’t hesitate to admonish Racine after Racine says Greta should “Show some gratitude” to a pervy douchebag leering at what a “Perfect body” Greta has.
“You’re being offered the opportunity of a lifetime. I think you should show a little gratitude?”
“One of my friends died yesterday, mother. Do you mind if I take a few minutes off to remember him?”
Greta also gets to show her loving side as Alice attempts to warn her friends of the threat Freddy Krueger’s return poses. None of them exactly believe her though, and assume Dan’s death was merely an accident. However, Greta is the first to assure Alice that, if anything out there is trying to get to Alice, it has to go through her, Mark, and Yvonne first. Again, the easiest thing to do would’ve been to have Alice’s friends tell her she’s being crazy and dismiss her warnings as hysteria. Instead, Greta tries to offer comfort and say, yes she doesn’t believe Freddy Krueger exists, but she’s still in Alice’s corner if she needs her.
(Greta Gibson by Billy Tucci)
Oh, and as an extra tidbit, I’m not the only one who seems to love Greta, because singer Nicole Dollanganger released an album called “Greta Gibson Forever.”
I even like Greta’s prototype, Ginger Becker. Ginger came from one of the early drafts for the fifth Elm Street movie, a “bleach blonde punk Norma Jean” wannabe actress suffering from bulimia and being manipulated by a skeazy agent named Buddy. Ginger lived longer than Greta, but she got it much worse. Buddy essentially sets Ginger up to be raped under the guise of a movie audition, and then Freddy kills her. Ginger’s death dream starts with her own Club MTV before Freddy appears and turns her into a grotesque pig woman that begins to vomit blood. When Ginger seemingly wakes up, Freddy mutilates her in a way similar to Tina’s death in the first movie, and leaves her bloody corpse in Buddy’s arms alongside a razor from his glove to make it look like Buddy killed Ginger.
Beta shit like that intrigues me.
Jamie Lloyd – “Halloween Parts 4-6”: Say it with me now. JAMIE LLOYD DID NOT DESERVE THIS SHIT.
Jamie, first played by Danielle Harris and later J.C. Brandy, is said by some to be the only consistently enjoyable aspects of the middle parts of the franchise. Introduced in Part 4, Jamie is the daughter of Laurie Strode, the survivor of the first two movies who, sometime between 2 and 4, died in a car accident and left Jamie an orphan. By that point, everyone knew Laurie was the sister of Michael Myers, the mute serial killer who stabbed his older sister Judith to death when he was a child then murdered over a dozen people several years later when he was an adult. Jamie receives no end of harassment from her peers for being related to “The Boogeyman,” and it got worse when she began having nightmares about her uncle trying to kill her. These dreams turned prophetic when Michael awoke from a ten year coma and unleashed a wave of destruction through Haddonfield in his quest to find and murder Jamie. The nightmare didn’t end even after Michael was seemingly gunned down by the state police, because Jamie would later attack her stepmother in a manner similar to how Michael murdered Judith, as if some part of Michael had transferred to her.
A year later, the trauma of what she’d gone through and done left Jamie mute, and she was placed in a children’s hospital. The only person in her adopted family who stayed close to her was her older sister Rachel, and the only source of emotional support and stability she’d retained during that year were from Rachel’s ridiculous friend Tina, one of the nurses at the hospital, and a young boy who had a crush on her. But once Halloween came around, her uncle returned, and this time Jamie began to see and experience things through his eyes. Again Michael was unrelenting in his efforts to murder his niece until Dr. Samuel Loomis finally got the chance to unleash a decade of seething anger at Michael and beat the shit of him. It was finally over… but then an explosion in the police station covered Michael’s disappearance and Jamie’s abduction.
Jamie spent several years held prisoner by the Cult of Thorne, a pagan cult seeking to use Michael as the tool to extend their will. Jamie was more or less a breeding sow for them, in order to create more soldiers containing Michael’s bloodline. But after Jamie’s child was born, the midwife betrayed the cult and helped her and her baby son escape. It wasn’t enough though, and while Jamie was able to hide her child from her uncle, he finally succeeded in killing her… by impaling her on a thrasher and then TURNING IT ON.
I mean, Jesus Christ, Jamie has received possibly the rawest deal any child in horror fiction could get that wasn’t Andy Barclay. And all because her uncle was “The Boogeyman.” I don’t judge the sequels too harshly because I know John Carpenter didn’t want to do sequels to the Michael Myers story, so I figure the “Thorne” stuff ended the way it did because they had to scramble. But if it comes down to choosing between Laurie Strode and Jamie Lloyd, I end up choosing Jamie. Because she’s a child, and she’s been put through a nightmare for reasons far beyond her control. Not to mention the amount of death she’s been exposed to, including a rather “wonderful” scene in the fifth movie when she gets to discover her sister’s corpse in Michael’s attic. The way she screams Rachel’s name makes you feel like your heart’s being ripped out. And then after all that, she gets kidnapped and raped and then killed in the most horrible way possible. In fact, thinking about it, I kind of hate Laurie knowing she really faked her death to go into hiding, which meant she chose to abandon her child because she was too chicken shit to deal with Michael.
Jennifer Corvino – “Phenomena”: If I had to pick a leading lady from a Dario Argento flick, it would be Jennifer, played, naturally, by Jennifer Connelly.
“Phenomena” feels weird even by Argento’s standards, almost like a very warped and dark fairy tale. A young girl who, inexplicably, has a psychic rapport with insects, finds herself aiding a scientist in investigating a series of incredibly violent and bloody murders.
Jennifer Corvino is the daughter of a famous actor, and she’s been sent to live in a prestigious all girls school in Europe. Problem is, just about everyone at the school, including the headmistress, is a massive bitch. The only people Jennifer is able to connect with are John McGregor (Donald Pleasence), an entomologist, and his pet chimp Inga, when Jennifer wanders near his home after a bout of sleepwalking.
Jennifer does the best she can to aid McGregor in finding the person responsible for the brutal murders of several young women, by utilizing her psychic rapport with insects. McGregor’s been performing tests using maggots and other such insects to determine the time of death for each victim, judging on the growth of the insects. Of course once the other girls discover what Jennifer is doing in her free time, they’re quick to brand her a freak and absolutely none of the teachers do anything as they mock Jennifer. The joke’s on them, because in one truly disturbing and awesome scene, Jennifer is able to show just how powerful she really is when a GIGANTIC SWARM OF FLIES cover the entire front of the school in response to Jennifer’s distress.
What appeals to me about Jennifer is how unorthodox her ability is. A rapport with insects is not something one expects to be associated with the heroine of a horror film, and Jennifer completely avoids the creepy loner stereotype shtick in how she reacts to insects. She’s never considered what she has to be a power, she’s just never been bothered by bugs. It’s only when provoked that Jennifer shows off the creepier side of her ability, and even then, when you see how she’s treated by her classmates and the headmistress (who tried to have her committed to a mental hospital without even bothering to contact Jennifer’s father or his agent), you’d almost wish she’d do more than just scare them. I especially like how her power is not the driving focus of the movie. We never find out why Jennifer has this power or where she got it from, she just has it, and she’s still able to constructively use it to help a murder investigation.
I should mention what brought me to “Phenomena” was learning most of it served as the inspiration for the “Clock Tower” video game series, and that Jennifer was the basis for its main heroine, Jennifer Simpson.
Joey B. – “Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday”: You’d never expect to find depth in a movie as cheesy as “Jason Goes To Hell,” but here we are.
Joey B., portrayed by Rusty Schwimmer, is an acerbic and foulmouthed woman who runs a greasy spoon diner in Crystal Lake alongside her tiny husband Shelby and her not too bright son Ward. Not exactly the most generous or forgiving person, and also one with a bit too many firearms stashed in her eatery, she’s mainly there for comic relief and to briefly make things difficult for main characters Steven Freeman and Jessica Kimble.
While all that is indeed true, the amazing thing about Joey is the way in which her softer side manifests without losing her cranky, somewhat trigger happy attitude. It’s clear for as much as she curses she is indeed very much in love with Shelby, her “Pookie.” After Diana Kimble, one of the waitresses at the diner, is murdered, Joey is not exactly pleased when fellow waitress Vickie brings in Diana’s granddaughter Stephanie to watch her during the day. Joey adamantly refuses to turn her diner into “A fucking nursery,” but quickly changes her tune after a getting a call from the police. Why? Stephanie’s father, Steven, is the prime suspect in Diana’s death and just escaped custody with a loaded gun. Of course we the viewers know the killer is Jason Voorhees, but the rest of the cast doesn’t, so Joey changing her mind shows a more maternally protective side and possibly one attempting to do right by Diana’s memory. When Steven and Jessica show up after Jason slaughters most of the police force, Joey pulls a gun on them and refuses to let them near Stephanie out of misplaced fear for the child’s well being.
“Nobody’s gonna touch that fucking ray of sunshine!”
The norm for the Friday movies was to have casts of unlikable, one-dimensional assholes you looked forward to seeing stabbed, decapitated, drowned, torn apart, and all around destroyed, but it’s rare you get an asshole whose behavior is understandable. We know Joey’s wrong in keeping Stephanie from her parents, but she honestly believes she’s protecting the child from the person who may have killed her grandmother instead of simply making life difficult for the main characters just because the story calls for it.
(Joey B. by Reilly Brown)
It helps that Joey’s last moments are trying to save her husband from Jason, which earns her an elbow to the jaw which literally sends her mouth into her head. That, for me, was also the most memorable death in the movie.
Kitty Carroll – “The Invisible Woman”: Decades before Sue Storm, there was Kitty Carroll.
This is one of several movies Universal produced under their horror banner with “Invisible” in the title, but most of them had little to no connection to the original “Invisible Man” starring Claude Rains.
“TIW” was a comedy movie about model Kitty Carroll, played by Virginia Gray, getting fired from her job and signing up to test a scientist’s invisibility device. The moment the device works, Kitty takes the opportunity to fulfill the Great American Dream of getting even with her jackass boss. There’s also some plot about gangsters and Kitty falling in love with the lawyer who funded the invisibility experiment, but what I really want to talk about is Kitty’s vengeance on her boss. Not just for herself, but her coworkers who get treated just as horribly as she is. Kitty pretends to be her boss’s “conscience” and torments pretty decently, culminating in her getting reacquainted with her “Old friend, the time clock,” and destroying it.
For anyone who’s had dreams of payback on their bosses that doesn’t involve creepy sexual abuse subplots or opening fire at the postal office, watch “The Invisible Woman.”
Lena Dupree and Simone Lenoir – “Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island”: Pretty much everyone knows the Scooby-Doo franchise was revitalized in the late 1990s with a direct-to-video movie whose selling point was that this time, the monsters were real. And it did not disappoint. I still own the copy my parents bought for me all those years ago when it first came out. The one scene that’s always scared the shit out of me is when Fred enhances the video tape and discovers that fucking pirate ghost hidden on the film. [Wing: I love the hell out of this movie, and Lena Dupree.]
The film took place several years after Mystery Incorporated went their separate ways. However, Fred decides to get the gang back together for an investigative TV special he’s co-creating with Daphne covering hauntings in America. Unfortunately, Daphne is disappointed that once again all the gang is finding are crooks in rubber masks… until they meet Lena Dupree (Voiced by Tara Strong). Lena works on a pepper plantation run by Simone Lenoir (Adrienne Barbeau) on Moonscar Island, an island supposedly haunted by the spirit of a bloodthirsty pirate named Morgan Moonscar. Lena offers to bring Mystery Inc. to the island with her so they can investigate for Daphne’s show, but Fred and Velma expect more criminals in costumes are behind the haunting. They’re not. Moonscar Island is not only haunted by ghosts, but when night falls Scooby and the gang are chased by a horde of zombies crawling from the depths of the swamp. But it’s not until the finale that we learn the ones really responsible for the monsters are Lena and Simone, who are centuries old cat creatures who’ve fed off the lifeforce of countless victims to keep themselves immortal. When Simone is exposed:
“You won’t get away with this!”
“I’ve been getting away with it for two hundred years!”
Lena and Simone are perhaps two of the greatest villains in the entire Scooby franchise, because barring the Nibiru Entity from “Mystery Incorporated,” they’re the only ones with an actual body count, and it’s spanning literal centuries. What’s more, they even have a somewhat sympathetic backstory. They started out as the original settlers back before the island had a name, and their group worshiped a pagan cat god. Then on the night of the harvest moon, Morgan Moonscar’s pirate crew ransacked the island and murdered the settlers in cold blood. Lena and Simone were the only survivors, and could do nothing but watch as Moonscar fed their friends and loved ones to the alligators. The two women prayed to their god for revenge, and their god “blessed” them by turning them into feral cat monsters capable of slaughtering Moonscar and his crew. Unfortunately for them, they have to feed on the energy of human beings EVERY harvest moon or they’ll die.
[Wing: Seriously, I’m pretty sure this movie was Made For Me.]
For centuries Lena and Simone have found ways to bring people to their island every harvest moon, through guile, manipulation, and sheer luck. Simone’s mansion was originally built by spice traders who started the plantation, which the two stole after murdering the owners. All their victims have become shambling zombies trying desperately to save any other potential victims who come to the island. And while the two women started out sympathetically, by the time they meet Scooby and the gang they’ve developed a sense of pride in what they do, especially Lena, who gets to boast on the “years of practice” she’s had in finding fresh meat. Amazingly, the movie leaves subtle distinctions between Lena and Simone instead of making them carbon copies of each other. Simone is by far the more bloodthirsty of the two while Lena can be genuinely sweet, enough so to worry when one of their cohorts gets attacked. The two play people like a fiddle, Simone the cold and somewhat domineering mistress of Moonscar Island telling stories of horrible ghosts and monsters lurking in the night, and Lena the sweet and unsuspecting maid and cook eager to invite people to her home and offer them a good meal.
Melody Allen – “The Time of Their Lives”: Bet you weren’t expecting an Abbott and Costello movie in this article, didja?
“TTofTL” is not exactly a horror movie, but it IS a ghost story, and a historical one at that. And despite the fact that Abbott and Costello are on the posters, the real stars are Costello and Marjorie Reynolds as Horatio “Tinker” Pim and Melody Allen.
During the Revolutionary War, Melody Allen had the bad luck of being engaged to Tom Danbury, who was aiding notorious traitor Benedict Arnold. Melody decided to warn the colonial army and Gen. George Washington of what her fiancee was complicit in, with help from Horatio, who’d just received a letter of commendation from Washington himself. Unfortunately, while on horseback the two are shot and killed by American troops who mistakenly believe them to be allies of Danbury and Arnold. Not only that, but their bodies are dumped in a well on Danbury’s estate, and as they are, their souls are cursed to spend eternity on the grounds until someone can prove their innocence. OUCH.
So Melody and Horatio become ghosts, their first shock is finding their bodies at the bottom of the well. The second is when their only hope of proving they aren’t traitors seemingly goes up in flames when an angry mob ransacks Danbury’s mansion and burns it down. The two spend nearly 200 years unable to leave the area the mansion once stood until the mansion is restored to a modern facsimile of what it once was. Melody and Horatio get to test out their skills as ghosts by screwing around with the people living in the mansion while hoping to find Horatio’s commendation from George Washington.
This is my favorite of Abbott and Costello’s films, next to “Hold That Ghost,” and I wanted to talk about Melody a bit because of how rare it is to have a movie, from the 1940s no less, featuring a male and female lead who aren’t in love. Melody and Horatio do bond over the next 166 years, but the idea of a romance never really blossoms because Horatio is far too dedicated to his beloved Nora O’Leary, who he is hoping is waiting for him in heaven. Also, it turns out Melody’s ex gets to redeem himself when Tom Danbury appears during a seance to help steer Melody and Horatio in the right direction to look for Washington’s letter. And I have to give them both credit for how they managed to spend nearly two centuries trapped in a finite area without losing their minds. Not to mention Melody looks fucking gorgeous throughout the entire thing in her blouse and pants.
But what makes Melody really awesome is that the moment she found out her future husband was complicit in a plot to overthrow the American colonies and possibly endanger hundreds if not thousands of innocent lives, she doesn’t hesitate to try and stop him. That is incredibly brave and a little awe inspiring.
Molly Dolly and Aunt Beulah – “Sabrina the Teenage Witch: Good Will Haunting”:
Because “Sabrina” was a show about a witch, naturally the series did a bunch of Halloween episodes. My favorite of them involved Sabrina’s aunts Hilda and Zelda begrudgingly attending a party held by their aunt Beulah, while Sabrina receives a doll from Beulah as a gift. Things immediately go off the rails for all three of the Spellman women, because:
A. The Molly Dolly is alive and trying to kill Sabrina and her friends
B. Beulah and her “guests” are the inmates of an insane asylum, and Hilda and Zelda have been tricked into eating candy corn that’s nullified their powers
Aunt Beulah is another bombastic character like Aunt Kate. Beulah, played by Jo Ann Worley, has been inviting Hilda and Zelda to her parties for the past five centuries, and they eventually relent because they ran out of excuses. Beulah seems like a lot of fun, but Hilda and Zelda are miserable between the blowhard guests and and the stale candy. When they finally decide to leave, Beulah happily informs them they can’t because their powers are on lockdown.
The Molly Dolly, despite showing no overt abilities, manages to completely terrify Sabrina and her friends, and somehow invites a horde of Halloween monsters into the Spellman house. That she’s voiced by Tara Strong and channeling June Foray’s “Talky Tina” is a bonus.
“I’m a Molly Dolly, and I’m gonna get you.”
The episode cuts back and forth between Sabrina and Molly, and her aunts and Beulah, while “Monster Mash” plays between the two Benny Hill esque chase sequences (including Beulah and one of her inmate friends, with one of them pushing the other around in an honest to God bath tub). On Sabrina’s end, the chase leads to a rather “epic” catfight between Sabrina and Molly while dramatic music plays in the background. Oh, and Molly fires laser beams from her eyes. Meanwhile, Hilda and Zelda are strapped into a machine that’s gonna transfer their brains into two chickens. As Beulah puts it regarding her scientist friend:
“You’re lucky usually his experiments are kinda crackpot!”
It’s when Sabrina shows up to find her aunts that Beulah informs the Spellman sisters they’re not actually in an asylum, the entire thing was a theme party and payback for always blowing her off. But the brain transfer was for real.
“You mean this whole thing is a joke?!”
“If you’d come to my last 500 parties you’d have known!”
Not only that, but when Beulah returns with the Spellmans to deal with Molly, Beulah reveals she KNOWINGLY sent this particular doll thinking she’d be fun for Halloween. Beulah gets the doll to back off by belting out a loud and obnoxious song, so Molly tells the monsters the party’s over.
Only she didn’t invite the werewolf… [Wing: Hearts in my eyes.]
Nicole Voss and Tina DeCapprio – “The Killing Secret”: This next one isn’t so much a horror movie as it is a thriller, one of the many made-for-TV flicks likely to be shown on the Lifetime channel. During the mid 2000s I developed a habit for watching some of the thriller and mystery movies made in the 90s they used to air on the Lifetime movie network. I’m still trying to find “Killers in the House” on video and/or DVD, but it’s been increasingly difficult.
“The Killing Secret” was about a poor rich white boy cheating on his rich white girlfriend with a working class girl, got the working class girl pregnant, and then murdered her. Boy, white people sure do have a lot of problems, don’t they? Anyway, Nicole Voss (Ari Spelling) is the aforementioned rich girl and Tina DeCapprio (Tess Harper) is the mother of the working girl. Nicole and Tina strike up an unlikely friendship when Tina’s daughter Emily goes missing. While Nicole joins in the search for Emily (who at this point we know is dead), Nicole and Tina quickly discover Greg, Nicole’s boyfriend, was dating Emily at the same time. Oh, and he got Emily pregnant (which he knew when he killed her). Both women are disgusted at Greg’s behavior and immediately suspect he’s the killer. And this unleashes a world of shit on both of them, as Nicole’s friends turn their backs on her for not being “supportive” of Greg. Even Nicole’s own mother starts treating her like garbage for dumping Greg, while Greg’s parents try to pressure Nicole into making Tina stop suggesting Greg is the murderer.
Nicole and Tina stand out for me because of how horribly Nicole is treated when she has the gall to be angered for her boyfriend cheating on her. I’ve remembered this movie for so long thinking of how awful most of the cast is to Nicole when she’s got very justified reasons for dumping Greg. And then you have Tina, who lost her only daughter and even learned she was going to be a grandmother, and figured out it was most likely her boyfriend who did it just so he wouldn’t be caught with his pants down. I do like the age gap between the two, most of my friends are a lot older than I am so I can relate. I think the best part of the film is when Tina dashes off to rescue Nicole when she fears Greg is going to kill her, although Nicole manages to talk Greg down. The film ends at Greg’s sentencing, followed by Nicole introducing Tina to her mother and possibly signalling the start of a better relationship between her and her mom thanks to Tina, though I would’ve preferred to focus on Tina becoming Nicole’s surrogate mother and forgetting her asshole biological one.
Nurse Diesel – “High Anxiety”: Cloris Leachman is by far my favorite comedy actress, so if any villains deserve to be in this post, it’s the delightfully fucked up head nurse from Mel Brooks’ parody of Alfred Hitchcock.
Charlotte Diesel is the head nurse of The Psycho-Neurotic Institute For The Very, Very Nervous, and she’s a no-nonsense battleaxe with a stick up her ass, her mouth stuck in a permanent scowling frown, and angled boobs you could poke an eye out with. She forms the Big Bad Duo with the simpering and resentful Dr. Charles Montague (Harvey Korman), orchestrating the death of the Institute’s former head and keeping people permanently institutionalized to suck money from their rich families. Diesel’s the real brains of the operation, keeping a (sometimes literal) leash on Montague when she’s not engaging in perverse BDSM sessions with him. Following the arrival of Dr. Richard Harpo Thorndyke (Brooks), Diesel fears her empire may start to crumble and seeks to eliminate any loose ends that will expose her corruption before deciding she must have Thorndyke terminated when he learns too much.
Diesel’s entertainment value comes in her pettiness and depravity without going completely overboard (at least until the finale). Her first words are a warning to Thorndyke that those who are late for dinner do not get their fruit cup. True to word, when Montague is late for dinner by literal seconds, Diesel has his fruit cup removed and proceeds to slowly, and LOUDLY, savor her’s right in front of the man’s face. When she’s not doing that, she dresses up in a Gestapo uniform (minus an actual Swastika) and spanks Montague inside her closet of torture devices, even enticing him for further sex games by allowing him to wear her underwear. Her depraved nature goes further when she has a man murdered by rigging his car radio to play a song so loud and obnoxious the strain created from the music inflicts a brain aneurysm. That takes style.
Officer Tyler – “Return to Horror High”: “RtHH” has the distinction of being “Scream before Scream.” But it doesn’t do a very good job at deconstructing horror tropes like “Scream” did. Nevertheless, it gifted us with Officer Tyler.
“RtHH” is the story of a movie being produced at Crippen High, several years after the school was closed due to a string of grisly murders. The movie is a dramatization of the murders, and the production team brought on former students and even the principal to help make the film authentic. Only it seems someone’s trying to make the film TOO authentic when people start to disappear and bloodstains appear in the halls…
The film is told in three ways: When the police arrive after the killing is over and try to piece together (literally and figuratively among the dead bodies) what happened, when the film crew is working on the movie, and segments of the actual film.
Officer Tyler is one of the officers on scene after all the bodies are found, and she’s got to be the most unprofessional policewoman EVER. Not only is she seen snacking while in the middle of handling human body parts, she shows up in front of her commanding officer completely covered in blood and VERY happy about it. She claims she slipped in the school hallway on a puddle of blood, and somehow managed to slide all the down the hall to the other side of the building. The eager look on her face and the way she grasps her chest while describing the experience implies it was a very… stimulating one.
If there’s one reason to watch “RtHH” it’s for her, and what makes her especially hilarious is knowing her actress, Maureen McCormick, is the original Marcia Brady.
Pam Carver – “Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh”: Another minor character whose scenes left an impact on me in a good way.
“Farewell to the Flesh” is the second Candyman film and was more a straightforward ghost story than the original was. The film explores the eponymous character’s backstory and descendants.
Annie Tarrant is a schoolteacher whose world is gutted from the inside out after her brother Ethan is arrested for murder, a year after their father Coleman was killed. Coleman was obsessed with the legend of Candyman and died investigating the urban legend’s history. Ethan is arrested for murdering Phillip Purcell, a college professor whose written about Candyman and supposedly instigated Coleman’s obsession. Annie, like many characters before her, makes the mistake of saying Candyman’s name five times, and he proceeds to stalk Annie and kills her boyfriend and her mother in front of her. Annie eventually discovers the horrible truth: Candyman is her great-great grandfather on her mother’s side, all descendants from the white woman Candyman loved and was lynched for loving.
So who is Pam Carver? Pam, played by Fay Hauser, is one of two police detectives investigating Purcell’s death. She does believe Ethan’s the killer because he’s made a full confession, but Pam is far more agreeable and rational than her asshole partner, Ray Levesque. Levesque doesn’t give a shit about whether or not Ethan’s guilty and is more giddy at the thought of sending a rich guy to jail. Naturally, he turns his sights on Annie and is just as eager to have her thrown in jail when it looks like she might be the killer, even blaming her for a man who was STUNG TO DEATH by bees. Levesque makes the mistake of goading Ethan during an interrogation and taunts him by summoning Candyman as a joke… and almost immediately gets ripped apart by Candyman. Ethan is shot fleeing the interrogation room. Pam’s big moment comes when she reviews the security tapes of the interrogation room, and is clearly disturbed when she sees Levesque being gutted and held in the air by something invisible, something that is clearly NOT Ethan huddling in the corner. When the police show up at the apartment complex of Annie’s mother Octavia to arrest Annie, Pam quickly makes her way down there too. As Annie tries to flee after Octavia is murdered, Pam meets Annie on the backstairs to tell her Ethan’s dead. Pam, knowing there’s no way Ethan or Annie were responsible for any of these murders, allows her to get away while she holds off the rest of the police after all.
It’s a small moment, but it’s moments like this that make me a love a character. Pam basically saves the day by allowing Annie to escape, which in turn allows Annie to stop Candyman from killing anyone else… in this movie.
Rachel Cooper – “The Night of the Hunter”: If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s a fucking useless adult. And this movie had them in spades. But if there’s one thing I love, it’s badass old ladies, and that’s where Rachel Cooper comes in.
“NotH” is an incredibly dark thriller about two children whose father robs a bank. Ben Harper steal a large sum of money and tells his son John, or rather, orders him, to hide the cash and make sure no one ever finds it, no matter what. John and his sister Pearl can only watch as their father is dragged off to jail. With the money hidden in Pearl’s rag doll, the children and their mother Willa are surrounded by the judgmental hypocrisy of their friends and neighbors while Ben is sentenced to execution. Unfortunately, Ben talks in his sleep, and his cellmate is none other than “Reverend” Harry Powell. Powell is a misogynistic, sex-repulsed psychopath responsible for murdering several women, but is only in jail for driving a stolen car. When Powell is released he sets his sights on Willa Harper and the children in order to get the money. Pearl and the Harpers’ neighbors fall in love with Powell’s superficial charm while he manipulates and emotionally abuses Willa into marriage. John is the only person wary of Powell, and refuses to reveal where the money is even after Powell lies that his father tossed it in the river.
After Powell murders Willa, John and Pearl are forced to flee their town when they realize absolutely no one can or will protect them from Powell’s greedy wrath. Powell follows the children as they drift down the river through several towns, until finally the Harper children wash up on a bank near a farm owned by Rachel Cooper. Rachel, played by Lillian Gish, takes the Harpers in alongside three other girls, and quickly shows she’s the only adult figure in their lives capable of caring for and protecting them from Powell. When Powell eventually finds the kids by manipulating one of the girls living with Rachel, Rachel sees plain through Powell’s lies and only needs John’s confirmation that he’s full of shit in order to pull a shotgun on the bastard and tell him to leave. Powell stalks the Cooper farm that night, and Rachel responds by camping on her front porch with her gun. The two engage in a symbolic duel of hymns, Rachel drowning out Powell’s incessant “Leaning…” with “Lean on Jesus.” When Powell finally makes a move, Rachel doesn’t hesitate to shoot him and he drags himself into her barn, screaming like a banshee from a superficial wound. Rachel is still there when the police arrest Powell, and John has a breakdown screaming at his dead father to take the money back, with Rachel trying to comfort him and tell him it’s okay.
Rachel is an amazing woman because she is the only person in this movie aware of her strength and her sins. It seems something happened between her biological son a long time ago, and it was a failure on her part. She’s trying to atone for that by looking after other children, yet openly admits to her failure, something which I respect. It’s one thing for a character to be called on their behavior by others, but this woman owns up to her mistakes without the need to be judged beforehand. While she does show some use of corporal punishment with John, she’s not an abusive woman. Ruby, the young woman living with Rachel whom Powell manipulates, is at first afraid she’ll get whipped when she reveals to Rachel the truth of her actions. It seems Ruby’s been lying about taking sewing classes when she’s been going out with lots and lots of boys, and breaks down in tears as she tells Rachel about Powell and her sleeping around. Rachel does nothing but comfort Ruby, nor does she judge her.
Rennie Wickham – “Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan”
The last of the standard Friday sequels before Jason became a body hopping demon and then a cyborg. Jason, revived once more, follows a senior class on their trip to Manhattan by hiding on their ship. Rennie (Jensen Daggett), the Final Girl of this installment, was one of the few who had a traumatic backstory before Jason started killing her friends. Rennie’s been raised by her abusive uncle, Charles McCulloch, and is attending the senior trip despite her uncle (the principal’s) orders, to deal with her fear of water.
Rennie gets a raw deal similar to that of Tina throughout this movie. Besides Charles being a complete, unmitigated douchebag, she’s pushed off the boat by Alpha Bitch Tamara after accidentally walking in on Tamara and her friend Eva doing drugs (and even Eva is disgusted by Tamara’s actions) and almost drowns. Not only that, but throughout the film she’s experiencing visions of a young Jason Voorhees for reasons never made clear. It’s during one of those visions that the real Jason attacks and tries to strangle her, before Rennie is able to jam a pen in Jason’s eye socket. Things only get worse when Rennie and the few survivors make it to New York, because Jason is still after them, and Rennie’s drugged and almost raped by two gangbangers.
I feel for Rennie because she doesn’t deserve the shit she’s forced to ensure, similar to my preference for Jamie Lloyd. However, Rennie gets her moment to shine when she finally remembers why she’s so scared of water. Because her uncle, in a poorly thought out attempt to teach her how to swim, threw her into Crystal Lake and almost let her drown. That’s when she had her first version of Jason, trying to pull her down. She quickly calls her uncle out on what he did to her.
The fact that she wants to be a writer also gives me something to relate to.
(Ruby and Max Art by Jill Thompson)
Ruby – “Scary Godmother”: Jill Thompson is the greatest comic book artist and writer and I will fight you on this with a blowtorch if I must.
In the mid 2000s, there were two CGI adaptions of her “Scary Godmother” comics they used to air on Cartoon Network every Halloween. I fought like Hell to make sure they stayed on my DVR back when I still had one. It’s the story of a little girl named Hannah Marie, and how her jackass older cousin Jimmy and his friends trick her into going inside the local “spook house” and both scare and ditch the poor girl so they can get more candy without her slowing them down. When Hannah is unable to do nothing but cry her eyes out from sheer terror, that’s when Scary Godmother makes her grand appearance… but Hannah is too busy crying to notice. So SG sits down besides Hannah and starts crying too, because she likes the “Boo” in “Boo-hoo.” SG gets Hannah to stop crying and asks what scared her so much. When Hannah says “Monsters,” SG’s thrilled, because “Some of my best friends are monsters!” SG invites Hannah to her house on the Fright Side to show her there’s nothing to be scared of, and introduces Hannah to her friends: flamboyant skeleton in the closet Skully, hammy werewolf Harry, monster under the bed Bugaboo, and Count Max and Ruby, the King and Queen of the Night, and their son Orson.
(Max and Ruby by Toril Orlesky)
Ruby, and her husband Max, are two of my favorite characters from the specials and the comics, alongside Skully. Ruby, voiced by Tabitha St. Germain, is very much in love with Max, voiced by Scott McNeil, even though they have different tastes. Ruby’s a modern gal, Max is old fashioned, yet he still describes Ruby as beautiful and ravishing even while complaining about how you can see her ankles. Ruby, however, is able to have a calm and open discussion with Max about his dislike for modern things. Max explains he’s self conscious about how out of touch he is and it makes him nervous and uncomfortable when he’s at parties. Ruby tells Max he doesn’t have to feel that way around their friends, but offers him advice on how he can break the ice and feel a little less tense. The two then start to neck, if you know what I mean.
Their relationship is explored more in the comics, and they get a Valentine’s Day issue dedicated to their relationship. They have an argument when Ruby wishes to put an “entertombment system” in their castle, and Max storms off. Ruby’s taken for a night on the town with SG and Skully, while Max hangs out Harry. Husband and wife end up at the same club but don’t know it. Max is swamped with fangirls who want to obey his every command, but he’s turned off by how braindead they are. Ruby’s treated like crap by several modern-style vampires who condescend to her and act lewd. In an effort to get Harry to back off, Max is forced to pick out an attractive modern vampire woman at the club. He points to a woman he feels radiates energy and spirit from across the room, and the moment he realizes it’s Ruby, it’s like Max has fallen in love all over again. Ruby is reminded that Max shows his love by treating her like an equal, wooing her with intelligent conversation and giving her the utmost respect. The two make up from their argument like it never happened.
Ruby’s maternal side manifests in “Ghouls Out For Summer” when she learns Orson lied about his bad grades and tried to hide them from his parents. When Orson says he didn’t want to disappoint her, Ruby sadly explains she would never think less of him just because he’s having trouble in school, and is more upset he didn’t ask for her help and chose to lie to her. It’s heartbreaking how genuinely despondent Ruby is at Orson’s actions, and worries it’s her “modern ways” that have made Orson act like this. Her more protective side arises when Orson is able to send word to his parents that their Master, the one training fledgling vampires, has been using them for slaves and even murdered one of his students. When Ruby and Max arrive, Ruby has to be restrained from destroying the first vampire she sees in the mistaken belief he’s the Master. Max even refers to her as “My Tyson-esque Treasure.”
Seriously, just watch and read “Scary Godmother.” It’s fucking amazing.
The Sanderson Sisters – “Hocus Pocus”: LIKE THERE WAS NO WAY THESE BITCHES WOULDN’T BE ON THIS LIST.
Winifred (Bette Midler), Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Mary (Kathy Najimay), have been permanent guests in my home since my sibling and I were children. “Hocus Pocus” is a staple in our house for I don’t know how long, and it’s something we simply can’t live without when Halloween comes around.
(The Sanderson Sisters by Chris Giarrusso)
The Sanderson Sisters are a trio of vain witches who sold their souls to Satan to acquire an ungodly spellbook capable of revealing the secrets of eternal life and youth. Led by the manipulative and grandiose Winnie, ditzy and seductive Sarah and the eager-to-please Mary kidnapped children to feed off their youth in order to keep themselves young and beautiful. The sisters were eventually caught and executed by the people of Salem, but not before Winnie cast a spell ensuring events would unfold leading to her eventual resurrection in the future. Some 300 years later and an unwitting VIRGIN named Max Dennison accidentally brings the sisters back to life on Halloween night.
One of the greatest joys of “Hocus Pocus” is always finding something new in the background you obviously didn’t notice any of the several hundred times you watched it before, and it all comes from the Sanderson Sisters. They may be the villains, but they’re by far the most entertaining factor in the movie. From Winnie’s self-absorbed megalomania, Sarah’s lack of attention span channeling through her blithely twirling around like a moron, and Mary’s various groans and whimpers in her quest to please her older sister, evil has never been so funny.
(Mary by Jerry Gaylord, Sarah by Penelope Gaylord, Winnie by Bryan Turner)
But don’t assume just because the sisters are funny they aren’t dangerous. The opening act of the movie has them coldly murdering a young girl just to make themselves young, beginning with Sarah using her siren song to lure the child into the Sandersons’ cottage. All three sisters show differing signs of depravity:
Winnie is extremely petty and enjoys doling out disproportionate punishments on anyone who has the gall to call her “Ugly,” transforming a young man into an immortal cat to spend eternity living in guilt, and poisoning her ex-boyfriend for snogging Sarah. When the young man’s parents demand to know where their son is, Winnie says “Cat’s got my tongue” and bursts into self-satisfied laughter. Winnie’s by far the most evil of the sisters when it becomes clear, for as much as Sarah and Mary are devoted to helping her and each other, Winnie would gladly leave them to rot if she had no further use of them. As best put when Max tries to sacrifice himself to save his younger sister Dani, Winnie is not impressed.
“What a fool to give up thy life, for thy sister’s.”
Sarah looks like the least dangerous of the group, spending her time giggling at the thought of how many boys will love her when she’s not “Frolicking idiotically” as Winnie puts it. She might not be as evil as Winnie, but she’s the most terrifying. She’s the one who lures children into the clutches of her sisters with an enchanted voice, and she does it with unapologetic glee. Her idea of “playing” leaves much to be desired, and we get the idea that many of the guys she’s “loved” don’t survive the experience. When the sisters are about be hanged, Sarah’s clearly enjoying the moment on a few more levels than her sisters mainly because it’s “Terribly uncomfortable.” At one point she’s gleefully jabbing a small pitchfork into the bottom of a cage containing one of the two douchebags the witches captured. When the sisters corner Thackery Binx:
“Put him on a hook and let me play with him!”
Mary is honestly my favorite of the three if I had to pick one. I love Kathy Najimary’s voice and I have to wonder how painful it was to keep her bottom lip positioned like that throughout the whole movie. I’m always quoting the infamous “I AM CALM” sequence with my sibling Qhris. Mary’s for all intents and purposes the muscle of the group, but is also the yes-man. She sucks up to Winnie and is either flattering her sister or asking what she should be doing. Mary’s got the traits of a dog not just in her attitude, but in her power to smell children out. It’s implied the reason she’s noticeably chubbier than her sisters is that she tends to actually EAT children not just for their youth. She also barks from time to time. But she’s so damn eager to get Winnie’s approval in anything she does I can’t help but love her. Part of the fun for me in watching this movie is keeping my eyes and ears open for the many noises and groans Mary lets out in the background.
“Winnie do you wanna hit me again would that make you feel better?”
Sister Gloria – “Night of the Demons 2”: Kicking ass in the name of the Lord.
“NotD 2” is one of the better horror movie sequels out there, and since this was in the 90s that says a lot. The good sister is a teacher and headmistress of St. Rita’s Academy, a private school located near the infamous Hull House where the first film took place. At first you’d think Sister Gloria, as played by Jennifer Rhodes, is a stereotypical straightlaced nun who only tends to piss people off with her supposed piety. You would be wrong, because she is a dork, she is attentive, she does not take shit from anyone, and when demons show up, she takes them DOWN. WITH A YARDSTICK.
Sister Gloria knows what’s going on in her school and when she sees bullying she does not tolerate it. Alpha Bitch Shirley is always trying to get a rise out of Sister G., but she always fails. For example, when Shirley asks what kind of sin fellatio falls under, Sister Gloria calmly asks Shirley to explain to the class what “Fellatio” is, deflating the girl rather quickly. And yes, Sister Gloria knew exactly what she was doing.
She’s extremely protective of Melissa, the main character, because she knows Melissa’s an orphan whose parents killed themselves and that her sister is none other than Angela, the Big Bad of the franchise. When Sister Gloria overhears Shirly and some other girls talking shit about Melissa, she’s quick to order them to back the fuck off.
Despite being strict, she’s not without her humor, and at one point when she’s alone she likes to practice fencing moves with her beloved yardstick, moves which end up coming in handy when Sister Gloria mounts a rescue mission to save Melissa after she is abducted by Angela and several demon-possessed students, including Shirley. Only Sister Gloria can battle demons with a yardstick, super soakers full of holy water, and rosary beads wielded like a nunchuck, and WIN. But the biggest win comes when she offers herself as a human sacrifice to Angela, claiming her faith in God and in Melissa is strong and she’s willing to put her life on the line to prove it. Angela tries to get her sister to kill Sister Gloria in order to gain demonic power, but Melissa doesn’t give in and thus proves Gloria’s faith to be true.
The Summoner – “Redaction of the Golden Witch”: I have to be careful not to spoil anything for those not familiar with “Umineko: When They Cry.”
Redaction is an EXTREMELY well done fan sound novel created by KingOfPrussia on youtube, using the same sprites, art, and music of the original Umineko series. The story takes place inbetween parts 5 and 6 of the series.
The story of “Umineko” is that, in October 1986, the Ushiromiya family and their servants were all killed in a mysterious explosion on the island estate of their patriarch, Kinzo. There was only one survivor of the event. But then people began finding message bottles containing details of what may or may not have happened on Rokkenjima, confessions of occult murders orchestrated by the Endless Witch, Beatrice. The mystery of that October weekend blossomed into a cultural phenomenon as more message bottles appeared, and a community of “Witch Hunters” was born in their effort to figure out who really killed the Ushiromiyas.
“Redaction” is the story of one message bottle story the Witch Hunter community largely decided was a fraud because it clashed so much with the normal type of message bottles. For one thing, Beatrice was completely absent from the story. And the Ushiromiyas act nothing like the Witch Hunters have decided was their normal behavior, ignoring they were in fact real people. However, one person believes this message bottle is actually a confession to a completely different set of murders that happened on Rokkenjima a decade after the explosion, when three Witch Hunters mysteriously died. And whoever it was has been harassing the Witch Hunters as “The Witch of Adjuration.”
The Summoner is one of two new characters in this message bottle. She’s an assassin, or rather, a middle party for Kinzo Ushiromiya’s supposed true heir, Lion, who wants their rightful inheritance as Kinzo’s successor and has hired the Summoner to punish Kinzo’s other children for taking what belongs to Lion. Despite her appearance (for those who don’t know, the art used for some of Beatrice’s spirtes was used for her), the Summoner explicitly confirms she is NOT Beatrice. She summons the demon Andromalius to help carry out her plan, but things don’t go as planned and it turns into all out war between her, Andromalius, and Kinzo’s family.
The Summoner is my favorite part of “Redaction” and while I can’t go into total detail about why I love her, the part I can expand on is her personality. She’s not like the other characters from “Umineko” because she’s frank and she talks more like a normal person instead of going on and on in multilayered speeches filled with analogies and formal expressions. She’s got a kind of “Average Joe” feel to her and tends to talk shit to just about everyone. My favorite part is when she engages in a duel with one of the witch characters, Virgilia. Virgilia gives a speech about how their battle is like a game of chess, until the Summoner reveals HER strategy has been fighting Virgilia like it was a poker game… and Virgilia’s revealed her entire hand. Virgilia’s not happy to learn she’s been fooled because she hates poker. But as the Summoner puts it:
“This is my strategy for winning chess: don’t play chess.”
Tilda – “The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad”: The Disney Princess we both need and deserve.
Tilda is a calm breeze in a fuckstorm of moral ambiguity and assholeitude in “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” In short, she’s the only character you could genuinely consider to be “Good” in this short.
Like many of the characters in this Disney film, Tilda doesn’t actually have any real lines, expressing her wants and desires all through her actions. She mainly exists as one of Ichabod Crane’s many female admirers whom he’ll swoon and entice just to get at their food, which Tilda provides in spades. But from what we do see of her, we know Tilda’s fun to be with and only wishes to have a good time. So it’s incredibly heartbreaking when, during the Halloween party at the Van Tassel estate, Tilda is seen sitting by herself and looking very dejected because no one wants to dance with her. And when it looks like Brom Bones might be interested, his response to the look of hope on her face is to cringe in disgust, like a dick. It gets even worse when Brom decides he can use Tilda in order to foist her onto Ichabod so Brom can have Katrina Van Tassel all to himself.
Thankfully, this MAJORLY backfires when Tilda REFUSES to let go and she has the time of her life while Brom struggles just to get away from her. And the best part is Tilda doesn’t even embarrass or make a fool of herself. All the slapstick ends up on Brom, and once again he looks like an idiot compared to Ichabod.
(Tilda by Amy Mebberson)
I just, I just love her guys. She’s about the funniest part of the Disney adaption of “Sleepy Hollow” and best of all she gets characterization instead of being written off as another mark on Ichabod’s list of conquests. And the movie makes it somewhat clear Brom is NOT in the right for trying to use her.