Horror's most terrifying icons: Then and now

This month marks the 30th anniversary of horror classic ‘Hellraiser’, and with it, the 30th birthday of its iconic baddie, Pinhead. But who should we invite to Pinhead’s party? It’s time to catch up with some other old-school horror icons to see what they’re up to these days (and to see if they want to go all in on a birthday cake).

Doug Bradley – Pinhead in ‘Hellraiser’ (1987)

Pinhead as played by Doug Bradley.

Poor old Doug: ‘Hellraiser’ has moved on and its left him behind. To his credit, Bradley opted out of the last ‘Hellraiser’ sequel, ‘Revelations’, and he decided against appearing in the forthcoming tenth movie in the series, ‘Hellraiser: Judgement Day’, citing the fact he had to sign an NDA to read the script.

“It’s depressing that, as with ‘Revelations’, this again seems to be happening to save Dimension from losing the franchise rights,” Bradley said of the series’ diminishing returns. Most recently, Bradley voiced the character Nyarlathotep in the animated ‘Howard Lovecraft’ movies. He’s still hopeful he can play his favourite pin-cushion on screen again in a ‘Hellraiser’ reboot.

Robert Englund – Freddy Krueger in ‘A Nightmare On Elm Street’ (1984)

Freddy Krueger as played by Robert Englund.

Along with Doug Bradley, Robert Englund is the only man to play a horror movie villain eight times: part of the reason the remake of ‘A Nightmare On Elm Street’ flopped was because the role of Freddy Krueger is inextricably linked with Englund’s devilish grin.

Classically trained, Englund still acts and provides extensive voice work in animation (‘Regular Show’) and videogames (he played Scarecrow in beat ’em up ‘Injustice 2’). You can follow him on Twitter @RobertBEnglund where he enjoys pointing to ‘Elm Street’ road signs from around the world.

Nick Castle – Michael Myers in ‘Halloween’ (1978)

Michael Myers as played by Nick Castle.

Nick Castle never had to worry about being typecast as relentless killer Michael Myers – his entire performance as ‘The Shape’ in ‘Halloween’ was done from inside a painted William Shatner mask and a boiler suit. Castle was paid $25 per day to play Myers in ‘Halloween’ and didn’t return for any of the sequels – he only got the job because he was John Carpenter’s friend and was the right size and shape.

A director and screenwriter when he wasn’t busy murdering, Castle wrote the screenplays for ‘Escape From New York’ and ‘Hook’ among others. You can still see the man who played Michael Myers at numerous horror conventions around America, and every time you close your bathroom mirror.

Kane Hodder – Jason Voorhees in the ‘Friday The 13th’ movies (1988-2001)

Jason Vorhees as played by Kane Hodder.

Jason is a unique horror villain, in that he’s almost had as many different actors wear his mask as he’s had teenagers on the end of his machete. Jason was played by six different actors in the first six ‘Friday The 13th’ movies, but it was only when Kane Hodder strapped on the mask in ‘Part VII: The New Blood’ when the slasher icon found some stability – Hodder returned for ‘Jason Takes Manhattan’, ‘Jason Goes To Hell’ and ‘Jason X’.

Recently he’s appeared in movies with quite fantastic titles – our favourites are ‘Witchula’, ‘Chainsaw Maidens’ and ‘An Accidental Zombie Named Ted’ – but later this year’s he’ll reprise his second most famous horror icon: ‘Hatchet’ villain Victor Crowley in the self-titled 10th anniversary comeback.

Tony Todd – ‘Candyman’ (1992)

Candyman as played by Tony Todd.

Say Tony Todd’s name five times in the mirror and he’ll appear in your movie – that’s the only explanation for his jam-packed schedule, which boasts more upcoming projects than the rest of the killers on this list combined. Todd, who sprung to fame as Candyman aka the villain who shot bees out of his mouth, has worked solidly and consistently both in and outside of the horror genre.

Of late, he’s voiced Zoom in ‘The Flash’ TV series, starred in horror comedy ‘Sky Sharks’ (the sharks are also Nazis) and he appeared in a modern-day Frankenstein remake called (*winces*) ‘Frank3n5t31n’.

Gunnar Hansen – Leatherface in ‘The Texas Chain Saw Massacre’ (1974)

Leatherface as played by Gunnar Hansen.

Gentle giant Gunnar Hansen fit the bill to play hulking maniac Leatherface in Tobe Hooper’s original massacre, and although he didn’t return for any of the sequels, he still leaned into typecast (see ‘Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers’ for an example).

The Iceland-born actor’s final movie credit saw him come full circle, playing Boss Sawyer in the ill-fated ‘Texas Chainsaw 3D’ remake. Sadly, Hansen died of pancreatic cancer in 2015, and although Leatherface was his legacy, fun fact – he wrote a non-fiction travel memoir called ‘Islands at the Edge of Time, A Journey to America’s Barrier Islands’.

Tim Curry – Pennywise in ‘It’ (1990)

Pennywise as played by Tim Curry.

No one could chew scenery quite like Tim Curry, a man whom you could always rely on to deliver ridiculous dialogue with exactly the right amount of seriousness and vice versa. Curry would alternate between high camp (‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’) and straight horror (he played Darkness in Ridley Scott’s ‘Legend’), but was almost always the star of the show (he even stole the movie ‘Congo’ from under the noses of the gorillas).

Unfortunately, Curry suffered a stroke in 2012 which confined him to a wheelchair, but he made a rapturous cameo in the TV ‘Rocky Horror’ remake ‘Let’s Do The Time Warp Again’. Curry gave his blessing to the new Pennywise, Bill Skarsgard, in the monstrously successful ‘It’ remake earlier this year, but to older fans, he’s the one true Pennywise.

Tobin Bell – Jigsaw in ‘Saw’ (2004)

Jigsaw as played by Tobin Bell.

As John ‘Jigsaw’ Kramer in the ‘Saw’ series, Bell is about as close to a horror icon as this generation has (The Babadook was unavailable for comment). The devious madman who dished out ironic punishments was the star seven ‘Saw’ films, despite being dead in four of them, and – it’s a miracle! – he’ll return for the eighth movie, ‘Jigsaw’, this Halloween.

Bell provided the voice for villain Savitar in ‘The Flash’ and just finished filming his role in ‘My Pretty Pony’, which sounds cute but it’s actually based on a Stephen King so the pony is probably undead or something. Don’t ever expect to see a ‘Saw’ movie without him in it.

Linda Blair – Regan in ‘The Exorcist’ (1973)

Regan as played by Linda Blair.

The Scare Blair has been in the business of ‘boo!’ since she was thirteen years old, when she so memorably played possessed girl Regan William Friedkin’s ‘The Exorcist’. Now 58, she’s never been afraid to poke fun at her pea-soup-puking past, counting spoofs such as ‘Repossessed’ and ‘The Blair Bitch Project’ on her resume, not to mention her cameo in Wes Craven’s ‘Scream’.

Her last high profile movie role was in one of the most terrifying motion picture events of the year 2000, otherwise known as ‘The S Club 7 Movie’. Most recently, Blair has been devoting her energy to rescuing abandoned and abused dogs and she runs her own non-profit organisation, the Linda Blair Worldheart Foundation.

Daveigh Chase – Samara in ‘The Ring’ (2002)

Samara as played by Daveigh Chase.

Did you know that in the same year she played lank-haired TV-crawling demon child Samara in the US remake of ‘The Ring’, Daveigh Chase also played sprightly animated Elvis enthusiast Lilo in Disney’s ‘Lilo & Stitch’? Now that’s range.

Outside of the usual horror circles, Chase made waves in 2009’s ‘S. Darko’ – yes, the ‘Donnie Darko’ sequel that literally nobody asked for – once again playing Donnie’s younger sister. She played Rhonda on ‘Big Love’ for five years until 2011, but didn’t hit headlines again until early 2017, when she was arrested after leaving a dying man outside a hospital, which is never a good headline to have your name in it.

Watch a trailer for ‘Jigsaw’ below…


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