Not quite as lovely to look at as the birds, the blokes in horror films
of the 50s, 60s, 70s, err.. 80s and 90s were a right rum bunch.
Just thinking of their bad hair, ugly faces and purple loon pants is
enought to bring you out in a cold sweat. I know, I've sat through a lot
of these films.
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Granite faced, parked-car-chasing Watson's instantly recognisable
fizzog makes him a welcome addition to the Brit horror pantheon. As
fisherman Hamp in Tower Of Evil he
furtively looked to the left every time he was asked "what's going
on?" and in Schizo he ended up quite literally
carpeted. However, that's about it, really. Surprising when you think
about it. He did appear briefly in The Gorgon
and Peeping Tom, but perhaps his star
moment was when he scared the crap out of everyone as the dimly-seen
Sir Michael Sinclair in From Beyond
The Grave. "Who?" you ask... well think about the segment with
the blue room behind the door - and shudder.
Those of us who remember the horror of The Basil Brush Show
(or who's elderly relatives forced them to watch the turgid Heartbeat
on a Sunday night) might think that Bernard from Yes Minster
deserves a place on this site by proxy, but he did make a couple of
notable appearances during the early 70s. He was one of the sex-crazed
wife-swapping archeologists in Tower Of
Evil, and one of the sex-crazed disability-mocking toffs who came
to a sticky end in Frankenstein Created
Bumbling oaf Walters crops up in a number of Hammers, usually getting
in the way of the always-cool-as-ice Peter Cushing. In Frankenstein
Created Woman, Frankenstein Must Be
Destroyed and Dracula - Prince
Of Darkness the best words to sum his character up are "annoying"
and "twat", but he redeems himself somewhat as the ill-fated
burgermeister in the rather good Vampire
No, not the bloke who played Steed in The Avengers, you fool.
Criminally underrated, Patrick Magee is the wire-haired mental case
with the strange voice who crops up as chillingly evil bloke #1 in
all manner of Brit Horrors (and is usually a doctor of some kind).
You can spot him in Masque Of The Red Death
playing Prince Prospero's best mate, he's the blind guy leading the
blind in Tales From The Crypt,
and the doctor with the nasty practices in Demons
Of The Mind. Not to mention the cannibalistic pub landlord in
The Monster Club. But the highlight
has to be his scene stealing turn as the psychotic priest in The
There was a time when all you needed to make a horror film was a gallon
of ketchup, some naked ladies and a dwarf. Step forward Skip Martin,
whose place in the Brit horror hall of fame is assured thanks to his
truly appalling acting in Horror Hospital
(sheesh kebab, anyone?). No wonder he gets chucked down the stairs.
He's also a horizontally-challenged bloke out for revenge in The
Masque Of The Red Death.
Oily gimp Gough is still going strong, despite being roughly 160 years
old. Now a member of Tim Burton's reperatory company, in the late
50s and 60s his appearance in any film meant only one thing - brrrr...
total scumbag. Except the original Hammer Dracula,
strangely (in that he plays Harker's useless brother-in-law). He's
a totally nasty piece of work in Horrors Of The Black Museum
and The Phantom Of The Opera. Then in
the 70s he became a camp icon, livening up Horror
Hospital and The Legend Of Hell House,
two name but two.
Perrenial cross-patch Troughton may be better known as a certain time
travelling scruffbag, but he's also a kind of second rate Michael
Ripper, appearing in a number of Hammers and Hammer-alikes as a variety
of coachmen, police inspectors and dirtbags - and usually quietly
stealing any scene he crops up in. Keep an eye out for his classic
WW1 pointy German hat wearing shenanigans in The
Gorgon, his mardy stable hand in The
Black Torment, his sadly short-lived rat catcher in Hammer's Phantom
Of The Opera, and of course, "Kinky Klove" in the mainly
dreadful Scars Of Dracula.
Known to millions of dirty mac-wearing granddads and kitsch obsessed
30-somethings as "the bloke with the ladder and the red y-fronts
who got in the way of a full eyeful of the Oxo woman's melons",
Askwith is forever assured his place in the sun thanks to his truly
unique performance in the wonderful Horror
Hospital. Perfectly cast as a dim-witted clod who can't help but
get into dodgy situations, pretty much the same character is apparent
in other early 70s classics The Flesh
And Blood Show and Tower Of Evil.
Long before his hellraising, total-embarassment TV appearances, young
Mr Reed was a Hammer starlet, lending his Robbie Williams-like good
looks to cheesey old shockers like Curse Of The Werewolf. During
the 60s he carved out a niche as a proto Gripper Stebson-like bully/
gang leader in dingey b&w shockers like These
Are The Damned and Paranoiac.
There are those that are born for greatness, and there are those who
will only ever serve (behind bars). Ripper is one of the latter. He
never starred in Hammer's films, but he's usually there - if there's
a pub full of miserable locals to be had, he'll be serving the beer.
Great landlord moments include The Plague
Of The Zombies, The Reptile, Scars
Of Dracula, etc etc. In fact, he's in so many Hammers that it
would be easier to list the ones he's not in. Perhaps his most
high profile role was the eventually-lobbed-out-of-a-window snivelling
toady Longbarrow in The Mummy's Shroud.
Known to a generation as hapless berk John in the sitcom Dear John,
Bates was actually something of a forgotten star in the late 60s and
early 70s. Seemingly groomed as a replacement for Peter Cushing by
Hammer (something the studio later denied) he appeared as Victor Frankenstein
in the awful Horror Of Frankenstein,
Dr Jekyll in the wonderful Dr Jekyll And
Sister Hyde, Dracula acolute Lord Courtney in Taste
The Blood Of Dracula, and an odd teacher in Fear
In The Night. But it wasn't just Hammer films he graced (and you
may notice a trend here), appearing in the awful Persecution,
and the awful I Don't Want To Be Born.
Brookes' chocolatey Mr Benn tones grace the wonderful House
Of Whipcord and the not-quite-so wonderful Flesh
And Blood Show, two films in which he plays almost the same character,
wearing the same shirt (a natty black one with white polkadots) and
the same puzzled expression. Seeing him spannering about in his mustard
coloured Skoda in Whipcord, you have to wonder why he never
got the call from the people who make James Bond: "Ray?
We're in a bit of a spot. Lewis Collins isn't going to fit the bill
when Roger leaves. Can you think of anyone?" Ba-dum-bish.
Snivelling loser Bannen has his finest hour in From
Beyond The Grave, the superlative Amicus anthology. In it he's
a put-upon ex soldier who attempts to get some respect from his nagging
wife (the awesome Diana Dors) by buying an old medal, hanging around
with tramps and sleeping with an obvious nutter. We could all have
told him that wouldn't work. He's another snivelling loser (ableit
a violent one) in the George/Waterman shockfest Fright.
Whether admiring Susan George's "Bristols" in Fright
or sniffing round chesty Jenny Hanley in Scars
Of Dracula, our Terry (as he would become) had a brief fling as
a horror leading man before his East End heavy-slapping activities
in Minder. Fright is worth seeking out just to see the
redoubtable East End hard man sporting a delightful Aarron sweater
(and getting the shit kicked out of him by Ian Bannen).