Titans of terror ranked

By Sean Ray | a&e editor

Any Halloween aficionado is sure to have a favorite horror movie, whether it’s the gothic “Dracula,” the suspenseful “Halloween franchise” or the jump-scare laden “Paranormal Activity.”

But what about your favorite horror movie actor? This question seems to get asked much less. In a way, it makes sense. Horror movies, more than any other type of film, are a collaborative effort relying on skillful cinematography, great sound design and captivating special effects rather than just good performances. Still, these titans of terror deserve their just reward. So The Duke now presents the top three horrifying horror movie actors.

3: Kane Hodder
Coming in at number three is the only actor ever to play famed hockey-masked horror icon Jason Voorhees more than once, Kane Hodder.

Hodder is the definitive slasher movie villain, having played not just Jason, but also Leatherface in “Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3” and Victor Crowley from the “Hatchet” trilogy. While most slasher movie actors seem content to simply chase their victims around, Hodder brings real personality and character to his roles, using body language to portray a range of emotions.

A far cry from the static slashers that came before him, Hodder’s killers emote, clenching their fists with rage, shaking in anticipation as they close in on a victim and even acting annoyed when targets get away. It can be quite hard to act without speaking beneath a mask, but Hodder has managed to perfect this art and rightfully earns his spot on this list.

2: Lon Chaney
Called the “Man of a Thousand Faces,” Lon Chaney became one of the leading stars of the silent movie era. Similar to Hodder, Chaney managed to perfect acting under difficult circumstances, often performing under heavy make-up and prosthetics.

Years before a musical would be made of it, Chaney starred as the original “Phantom of the Opera” delivering a spell binding and frightening performance as he pursued Christine Daae. Decades before Disney would sanitize the story for younger audiences, Chaney terrified audiences as Quasimodo in “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” And before jump scares and graphic on-screen gore, before anyone could even speak in a creepy voice, Lon Chaney gave audiences nightmares to last a lifetime.

Plus, being the father of the original “Wolfman,” Lon Chaney Jr. a horror movie stair in his own right, does not hurt either.

1: Christopher Lee/ Peter Cushing
The number one spot actually goes to two actors who seemed utterly inseparable in their horror movie roles.

Years before he would chase the Fellowship of the Ring as Saruman, Christopher Lee played Count Dracula in the Hammer Film’s “Dracula” movies. Arguably the best Dracula to date, with his only true competition being Bela Lugosi, Lee played a hauntingly suave Dracula that could be just as violent as he was alluring.

Likewise, before he blew up Alderaan in Star Wars or providing a spooky narration in Thriller, Peter Cushing would play Lee’s opposite as Victor Van Hellsing, the skilled vampire hunter who battled with Dracula time and time again.

Together these two actors defined horror for a decade in the Hammer Horror films, acting together in a multitude of movies, occasionally as allies, but mostly as enemies. Whether it was as Dracula and Van Hellsing or Doctor Frankenstein and his monster, Lee and Cushing are a powerhouse duo that cannot be missed.

So, when choosing a movie to watch this Halloween, consider checking out a film starring one of these startling stars. Perhaps view Hodder’s first time as Jason Vorhees in “Friday the 13th part VII.” Maybe check out “Phantom of the Opera” and see if Chaney’s performance is as sexy as Gerard Butler’s. Or see the first clash between Lee and Cushing in “The Curse of Frankenstein.”

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