Halloween is all about the big bad. It’s especially true in Hollywood horror movies. Big name classic monsters like Dracula, Frankenstein, Wolf Man and Phantom of the Opera share space with modern monsters like Jason from “Friday The 13th”, Michael Meyers, Freddy Kruegar and Pinhead. Movies like “Hellraiser”, “Halloween” and “Nightmare On Elm Street” gave us scene chewing villains to delight over and provided film producers with nearly an inexhaustible supply of sequels and re-imaginings to last for box office busting decades. Too often, we only focus on the baddies, not the goodies. In flicks like John Carpenter’s classic “Halloween”, high school student Laurie Strode becomes unlikely heroine by resisting the slash antics of Michael Meyers, and in director Ridley Scott’s 1979 sci-fi thriller, “Alien”, Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) proves that being an extraterrestrial monster killer is great for your career, since she reprises her popular role in three sequels. Clearly, it pays to be very good around so much bad.
Sam Loomis – ‘Psycho’ – John Gavin
As boyfriend to the ill fated Marion Crane (Janet Leigh), Sam Loomis must team up with Crane’s sister – Lila Crane (Vera Miles) – to solve her mysterious disappearance. He gets help in the form of Det. Milton Arbogast (Martin Balsam), but it is John Gavin as Sam Loomis who ultimately saves the day in the final shocking reveal. Gavin plays Loomis with a quiet intensity which builds up slowly to the electric scene between he and Tony Perkins as Norman Bates. John Gavin was an attractive and respected leading man film actor, but never attained superstar status, however his role in Alfred Hitchcock’s most disturbing thriller immortalizes him.
Dr. Sam Loomis – ‘Halloween’ – Donald Pleasance
Named by script writers and producers Debra Hill and John Carpenter to honor one of their favorite horror movies, Dr. Sam Loomis is such an intense character in both word and deed, he comes off as the perfect compliment and inverse to the icy cold nothingness of the monstrous Michael Meyers. Dr. Loomis valiantly tried to heal Meyers for years in a mental institution, but came to realize his charge’s redemption was hopeless. Michael lay vacant of any moral anchor. Carpenter’s “Halloween” may be truly unique in that it features two monster fighters – the two tough as nails monster bashers in Loomis and Strode – who go on to fight the good fight against the big bad in other sequels.
Laurie Strode – ”Halloween’ – Jamie Lee Curtis
Laurie Strode appears as an ordinary high school student, if a bit nerdier than most. It’s OK though, because she hangs around with the fun, cool kids like Annie (Nancy Loomis) and Lynda (PJ Soles). When the murderous mayhem starts, we slowly realize that Strode isn’t so ordinary, in fact, she’s tougher than most UFC fighters. Laurie goes toe to toe with the Shape like some MMA maestro and not only lives to tell the tale, but go on to have nightmares in two other flicks. For actress Jamie Lee Curtis, the role is still her signature one, despite her having a more than respectable career playing dozens of other memorable characters.
Lt. Ellen Ripley – ‘Alien’ – Sigourney Weaver
Ridley Scott directed the sci-fi movie alien and a horror film franchise was born. Despite the space opera trappings and the future time period setting, “Alien” is essentially a gothic horror movie. It’s complete with a ‘haunted house’ vibe and a group of desperate people seaching for answers and a solution to their survival. Weaver became a household name from the flick and went on to big moves like “Ghostbusters” and “Working Girl”, opposite Harrison Ford, but like Jamie Lee Curtis, it’s arguable that her most beloved and famous role will forever be Ripley, the alien busting space gal.
Kirsty Cotton – ‘Hellraiser’ – Ashely Laurence
“So eager to play! So reluctant to admit it!”- this was the admonishment of head Cenobite demon, Pinhead (Doug Bradley) to Kirsty in the “Hellraiser” sequel, “Hellraiser II”. Laurence played Kirsty with a believable and refreshing mix of innocence and grit. When she’s trying to solve the mystery of why are dad is acting so odd, or defending her use of the puzzle box to the devilsh cenobites, Laurence simply enthralls viewers.
Van Helsing – Bram Stoker’s Dracula – Anthony Hopkins
Irish writer Bram Stoker crafted his legendary characters to such a fine degree, film makers are still making movies based around them. Italian thriller maker, Dario Argento, has now turned his hand at the legend and cast his daughter Asia Argento in the 3D film. In Francis Ford Coppola’s big hit, “Bram Stoker’s Dracula”, British actor Anthony Hopkins – more known as Hannibal Lecter in Hollywood – takes on the role of vampire hunter. His Van Helsing is both an erudite and mysterious warrior – a charming mix of the supernatural and the action hero. When he wickedly shouts, “She is the devil’s concubine!” we know this Van Helsing, while still a good guy, never treads lightly.