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Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Thirteen Most Badass Heroes in Horror

RayRay is back again, true believers, and this time I am bringing you my exclusive list of the 13 greatest horror movie heroes. Why thirteen? Why not? And thirteen is a pretty scary number, so I am going with it. Or maybe I couldn’t come up with 15. Whatever.

This list was inspired by B-Sol’s post a short while ago regarding his top ten favorite horror movies characters, and I realized that there was only one protagonist. Since then I have thought deeply about the subject of the protagonist, and realized there were too many. So I decided to go for the heroes.

In any event, I want all to know I do not think this list is exhaustive, and would like stir some discussion on the topic. I surely missed some great horror heroes, and want to hear about it.

Also, I want to let everyone know this list is not about the final girl, or last survivor, or the best scream queen. This list is reserved for characters that saw the evil with their own eyes and went out to confront it, and then did so in as badass a manner as humanly (or superhumanly) possible, and often paid the ultimate price for their heroism.

So, without any further delay:

13) Dr. Sam Loomis (Halloween, 1978, Halloween II, 1981)
Dr. Loomis, played by the wonderful Donald Pleasance, did it more with his brains rather than brawn. But he was also the only person to realize the depth of the evil in Myers, and realized he had to try to keep him locked away. When he realized that was impossible, he knew he had to confront his patient, and knew he had to pack heat to do so. And when it came to it, he also knew he had to sacrifice himself to do the deed. [After the sequel, the series sorta dumbed down a lot].

12) Alice (Resident Evil, 2002, etc.)
Milla’s Alice, one of the few heroes on the list that could do a swimsuit calendar, is one lady you don’t want to mess with. She deals with the chemically undead caused by the T-virus handily, never backing down. She is a bad broad, and as the series went onward, only got badder.

11) John Constantine (Constantine, 2005)
Maybe you hate Keanu, and maybe you didn’t think this was the best movie. But to be real, the man is accursed and condemned to Hell, yet in thrall to God, and still wrestles demons like hillbillies rassle ‘gators, and is one of the few humans that can tell Satan to shove it. Plus, the crucifix-come-shotgun is a badass weapon.

10) Hellboy (Hellboy, 2004)
Hellboy, played by Hollywood’s man in makeup, Ron Perlman, is a super, duper badass. He has it all: no looks, one good hand, and a Good Samaritan. Plus, he can speak to the dead. Being the son of Satan, yet fighting for the good guys has to wear on a guy’s psyche, but that has not stopped ol’ Red yet. Few of our heroes can deliver a snappy line while fighting creatures of Lovecraftian terror, like Samiel, The Desolate One.

9) Michael (Dawn of the Dead, 2004)
Michael, played by Jake Weber, is the Superego awash in Id at the Crossroads Shopping Mall. He keeps his cool, puts the other hormonally challenged males in their place, and quietly becomes the leader of the small band of survivors. He faces the horror of the situation without fear, and when his chips are cashed, he walks away from the table with a nary a complaint.

8) Dutch (Predator, 1987)
I am sure I will hear it that this is not really a horror movie, but if not, then neither is Godzilla. In any event, Dutch, one of Ahnold’s best played roles, is a super badass. First, he and his team dispose of an entire company of bad guys, and then, like little Indians, his squad is picked off. But does Dutch panic? No, he tells the little Commie girl to get to the chopper, and then takes care of business. Which is not a problem, except business is 7 feet tall and packs a small nuke. Just for surviving, Dutch makes the list.

7) Wray (Planet Terror, 2007)
Not only does Freddie Rodriguez’s Wray never miss, he makes his girl Cherry Darling into a walking zombie destroyer. But before she rules the wasteland, he has to take care of business, which includes taking out most of the zombies in Texas. Though his origins aren’t clear, what is is that Wray was an undercover agent and/or commando, and if killing was his business……

6) Clarice Starling (Silence of the Lambs, 1991)
Jodie Foster’s Starling is at once a delicate, pale West Virginian girl running from demons, and at the same time a vicious hellcat with a big brain. She not only figured out who he was, she single-handedly went after Buffalo Bill into his lair. Not for the faint of heart. And while she did get a little lucky that Bill was cocky, as they say: fortune favors the bold. And most importantly, she was the music to tame the most savage of hearts, that of the good doctor’s.

5) Professor Abraham Van Helsing (Bram Stoker’s Dracula, 1992)
Sir Anthony’s Van Helsing was, in my humble opinion, the version of the character played with the most vim and vigor. While stodgy and old, he was nonetheless the most knowledgeable of the vampire hunters, as well as the one who stiffened the others’ backbones for the hunt and kill of “wampyres…….nosferatu……” Not to mention he seemed to get a kick out of it, and the slaying of the blood sucking undead never seemed to bother his appetite for rare beef or strong, dark ales. My kind of guy!

4) Father’s Merrin & Karras (The Exorcist, 1973)
For this one there is a double bill. I could not decided which of Pazuzu’s nemeses to choose, so I went with both. Max von Sydow’s Merrin brought gravity and professorial steadiness, while Jason Miller’s Karras was devotional anger at the defilement of innocence. Both priests fought for the soul of young Regan, no matter what temporal torments, or whose voice, the demon threw at them. And in their single combats each paid the ultimate price for that little girl, but they succeeded.

3) Ash (Evil Dead I-II, Army of Darkness, 1992)
I know this is going to get me grief. Ash is only number 3?!! Sorry, kiddies, but at least he cracked this rarified air. Hey, if asswhippery were a religion, Ash would be the patron saint. He also gets points for introducing the phrase “pillow talk” to medieval Europe. But the man can’t remember 7 lousy syllables. However, he did lop off his own hand, and he can handle a rifle like few others. And he saved the world in both the 13th and 20th centuries, so he gets to be in the high pantheon. Plus, being the King of the One Liners makes him that much more awesome.

2) Ellen Ripley (Alien 1979, Aliens 1986, etc.)
Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley is the very first female action hero. She goes from junior officer on a doomed interstellar freighter to leading a bunch of badass space marines, to the savior of mankind. Not only does she tangle with one of the most fearsome creatures man ever encountered in the stars, she wins. And she only got angrier and more badass as the series went along, though the quality of the movies declined as an inverse proportion to her badassery. Notwithstanding, she took the Queen on, woman to woman, and it was no small feat to have defeated such an implacable, indefatigable foe. Especially one so pissed off.

1) R.J. McReady (The Thing, 1982)
Kurt Russell’s McReady, the surly, Scotch swilling, chess playing chopper pilot at
Outpost 31, is number 1 on this list. This may be controversial, but that’s why people do silly lists like this. McReady is number 1 because a) he faces what I consider to be the scariest monster of all time, b) he does it in the worst conditions I can think of, c) he rapidly realizes the gravity of the situation and does not lose his mind (unlike Blair, who does, or Fuchs, who commit suicide), and computes that this is a battle for the planet. He also gets that if they lose, humanity is gone. He takes control in a situation more suited to madness, never loses his cool, and is willing to pay the ultimate price from the word go. That, and he is handy with a flamethrower.

So there it is, true believers. I look forward to hearing from all the Vault Dwellers on how awesome I am for making this list. I hope you enjoy chewing it over as much as I enjoyed making it. Until next time……..


Anonymous said...

Aw man, Ash is number 1 !


Anonymous said...

Great List! Donald Plesance was so Good Made Halloween Films Great!

gord said...

Great list.

I especially love the shout-out to more recent 'heroes' Michael and Wray.

Though I would hands down put Cushing's Van Helsing over Hopkins. Sure it was an understated and snooty performance/character, but I just found him to be much more 'badass'. Instead of being a wildman, he was a calm and collected man, whom you could tell had been through so much and wouldn't hesitate to take the actions needed in his profession.

B-Sol said...

Nice work, Ray. Yes, I think Michael and Wray are particular inspired choices, as well.

Jonathan said...

Awesome list! If he had survived, I would've suggested Father McGruder from Dead Alive.

Also, and I know it's nitpicking, Ash used a shotgun, not a rifle. (A 12-gauge double-barreled Remington, S-Mart's top of the line.)

RayRay said...

Thanks for the feedback. Regarding Cushing's Van Helsing, it was a close call, but it was the dirty old man exuberance that put Hopkins over the top for me.

In response to Jonathan, yes, Ash primarily used a side by side 12 gauge, and I should have been more specific. But in the final scene of AoD he is using a lever action rifle, and his skills at filling unholy demons with hot lead cannot be denied. Remember, shop smart; shop S-Mart.

B-Sol said...

Ray, I just knew you'd be weighing on the gun issue...

BJ Colangelo said...

Awesome Awesome Awesome. I especially love that you compared Keanu to wrastling gators.

Rabid Fox said...

R.J. McReady is a good choice for #1. The Thing is my all-time favorite horror flick. Having Ash is the #3 spot is nice too, and it's a struggle to want to say he deserves a runner-up spot ahead of Ripley ... she's just too bad-ass for words. Nice list overall, though seeing Ah-nold make the cut seemed odd to me.

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