When people hear “Horror Hall of Fame” (as one does, you know, every day, right?), they tend to think of the killers, critters, entities, etc. that cause so much mayhem and hilarity. However, my thoughts run to the people who make these films so enjoyable. Of course, there are the obvious ones: you’ve got your Doctor Loomis types, your Chief Brodys, your pantheon of Final Girls. Yet I believe there are some unsung heroes out there, and their time has come round at last. So what if they almost never make it to the end credits?
Kathleen Kinmont as Kelly Meeker in Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Meyers (1988)
Now, as a Women’s and Gender Studies instructor, I feel compelled to put this in as gentle and non-judgmental a manner as I can, but hey: Kelly is the evil slut of this movie. She’s kind of the town whore and as tends to happen in these movies with their messed-up gender politics, she pays for it (impaled with a shotgun, I’ll leave the symbolism to you). True, she does try to steal the unibrowed Brady (Sasha Jenson) away from our nominal ingenue Rachel Carruthers (Ellie Cornell, who I also love), but really, one gets the sense that Brady is only using Kelly to get back at Rachel for having to babysit that night. Kelly’s grown on me over the years: she’s sassy and sex-positive, and I say that’s not a bad way to be. And really, she gets her comeuppance when Rachel dumps coffee on her in the kitchen. The reason Kelly is one of my horror heroes, however, is that she answers the door to trick-or-treaters wearing only a t-shirt that reads “Cops Do it By the Book” (it should be mentioned that her father is the sheriff of Haddonfield in this and the next movie). What a magnificent slut. I applaud her.
Louis Gossett Jr. as Calvin Bouchard in Jaws 3-D (1983)
This dude. After featuring Murray Hamilton as the evil old white man in charge in the first two Jaws movies, I am guessing the makers of Jaws 3-D were trying to go all Affirmative Action in terms of corrupt bureaucracy in the third entry, which features the awesome Gossett as entrepreneur Calvin Bouchard who apparently built the Sea World marine park where the film takes place. Although quite charming to his public, he is also prone to taking foolish chances (resulting in the death of the captive baby great white and thus riling up his considerably larger mother) and tends to put PR and profit ahead of his employees’ lives. He exists primarily as an antagonist, although in the end we see that he is not so bad and he actually survives the film (although it could be made a little clearer). Why do I love him so much? Because of the lines he gets. Consider:
“You’re talkin’ about some damn shark’s mother?”
“Listen, nephew. There’s a $2-1/2 million turbine that’s not gonna go up in smoke because of some damn fish! Shut the pumps down!”
“Get me some lights down there! I can’t see shit down there! And get me some medical attention here, quick!”
“Because they cost too much to replace and they burn out, that’s WHY.”
I’m glad Gossett had a good year in the early 80s (winning an Oscar for An Officer and a Gentleman, although this brought it to a crashing halt), but I swear he seems to have wandered into the wrong movie, kind of like the comic relief stoners and the biker gang from Friday the 13th, Part 3 3-D. And I am sure they will end up on here sooner or later.
Dominique Dunne as Dana Freeling in Poltergeist (1982)
Oh, Dana. Poor, poor Dana. She spends most of the movie staying with friends while her parents try to get her sister Carol Anne out of the TV. She finally gets to come home, everything seems fine, she goes out to get herself a hickey, and comes home to see her HOUSE BEING SUCKED INTO ANOTHER DIMENSION. I don’t blame her for standing in the street and screaming hysterically. Personally, I would have been dropping the f-bomb left and right, but that’s just me. Sometimes in life, all you can do is scream, “WHAT’S HAPPENING?”
Hallie Foote as Grandma Lois in Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)
Last one for tonight. Grandma Lois from Paranormal Activity 3: because you do not see her coming. And she will mess you up. Do not go to grandma’s house unless you want to get messed the hell up. She has powers and she has friends with similar interests and like I already said… she will mess you up. Shudder. Serious kudos to Hallie Foote for craftily underplaying that role. I hope they bring her back for the fourth movie.
Next time: Jud Crandall, the drunk mother from A Nightmare on Elm Street, and more.