DAILY GRINDHOUSE’S TOP 50 MOVIE CHARACTERS OF ALL TIME! PART FOUR (#20-11)

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Oh, it’s getting exciting now. Can you feel it? First off, here’s what’s happened so far.

Click here for #50 through #41.

Click here for #40 through #31.

Click here for #30 through #21.

And now you can stop clicking and start reading!

DAILY GRINDHOUSE’S

TOP 50 MOVIE CHARACTERS OF ALL TIME!

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20. Alabama Whitman 

The Movie: TRUE ROMANCE (1993)

Played By: Patricia Arquette

She’s a sweetheart, a badass — there is really no other way to describe Alabama than to quote her most famous line: “You’re so cool, you’re so cool, you’re so cool.” If that isn’t enough, consider the fact she took on Tony Soprano and won. (Sabina Stent)

 

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19. The Man From Another Place

The Movie: TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME (1992)

Played By: Michael J. Anderson

He speaks in reverse and talks about green Formica tables. What’s not to love?

?evol ot ton s’tahW .selbat acimroF neerg touba sklat dna esrever ni skaeps eH

(Mike McGranaghan)

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18. Francis Dollarhyde

The Movie: MANHUNTER (1986)

Played By: Tom Noonan

The man lurks in the background. He might never stand out in a crowd, aside from his looming height and his jacked-up lip. To look at him, you might never know what he’s becoming. Francis Dollarhyde is one of the screen’s scariest monsters, and one of the most under-acknowledged. MANHUNTER is the lesser-known Hannibal Lecter movie, and even when it is talked about, the conversation goes first to Brian Cox’s [brilliant, superior] performance as Hannibal Lecter, who only has a handful of scenes. Watch the movie again. Francis Dollarhyde, not Lecter, is the co-headliner. He’s an unknown quantity for half the film, which centers around the attempts of Will Graham (William Petersen) and Jack Crawford (Dennis Farina) to find the serial killer who periodically massacres families. Halfway through, Dollarhyde hijacks the narrative, and what was initially a superlative serial-killer thriller becomes one of the 1980s’ oddest character studies. The masked, tattooed super-murderer known as The Tooth Fairy turns out to also be a soft-spoken employee of a film-development lab, enamored with a blind co-worker (Joan Allen). MANHUNTER‘s brilliance, and that of the supremely under-recognized character actor Tom Noonan, is in the way the audience comes to know the movie’s monster in a strange and affecting way. The film’s horror and its beauty become intertwined, uncomfortably, and only a shockingly violent denouement will disentangle them again. (Jon Abrams)

 

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17. Coffy

The Movie: COFFY (1973)

Played By: Pam Grier

Coffy is a nurse out to introduce a bunch of heartless drug dealers to pain. This is not only an incredibly entertaining film, but also one that is interesting for how it puts sex and violence so close together — most American films keep the two very much separate. Of course COFFY has its dated elements, but there is a rocky morality to the movie that makes it very compelling still. Without Pam Grier, COFFY would probably still be relatively effective. But with Pam Grier, it’s an essential film in the history of American action cinema. Pam tears through these movies like a tigress through toilet paper. No one before or since — male or female — has ever been quite as sexy, sexual, funny, assertive, bold, and fierce. Pam’s career as an action star, when taken in perspective, was suprisingly brief. It’s not that Pam ever stopped being a force. It’s only because the system couldn’t handle her. Bunch of pussies. (Jon Abrams)

 

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16. Daniel Clamp 

The Movie: GREMLINS 2: THE NEW BATCH (1990)

Played By: John Glover

Intended as a satirical cross between Donald Trump and Ted Turner, Daniel Clamp (John Glover) makes my list simply because he is the only human character in this anarchic sequel to outshine the titular troublemakers. A man who has achieved success beyond his outrageous dreams, billionaire Clamp is made relatable to audiences through his sheer boredom with his life. While the gremlins run rampant through his high-tech building, making life hell for the mostly milquetoast protagonists, Clamp is practically giddy at the chance to face a new, unexpected challenge to his massive empire. While everyone else is in a horror movie, Clamp is busy refocusing the situation to make himself the heroic man of action who can save New York City — John McClane as a billionaire eccentric. The audience can see that he is a deluded individual, completely out of touch with the world below his penthouse. But Clamp is blissfully unaware of his own awfulness and that makes him endearing and memorable in his own ineffectual way. (Matt Wedge)

 

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15. Lawrence Talbot

The Movies: THE WOLF MAN (1941)

FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN (1943)

Played By: Lon Chaney Jr.

It’s a toss-up as to which Universal monster is deserving of more sympathy: The Wolf Man or Frankenstein’s Monster? Neither one asked to exist. They both are cursed to continue their lives in loneliness and possible violence for as far as they can see. For me, Lawrence Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr.) is the slightly more pitiable of these two because he is acutely aware of who he was before being cursed to turn into a werewolf, who he hurts/kills, and how incapable he is of controlling himself when the full moon rolls around. From awkwardly trying to reconcile with his family after years as the black sheep to his mad desperation to find Dr. Frankenstein in hopes that the insane doctor may be able to successfully kill him, Talbot becomes the most psychologically damaged and fascinating character of the classic Universal horror films. (Matt Wedge)

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14. Jack Burton 

The Movie: BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA (1986)

Played By: Kurt Russell

Snake Plissken, R.J. MacReady, Elvis Presley. Kurt Russell played a string of unforgettable characters for John Carpenter. But none are as immediately appealing as ol’ Jack Burton, the tough-talking big-rig driver who finds himself at the center of plenty of supernatural shenanigans in BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA. Despite being perpetually over his head, Russell brings an extra dose of unearned swagger to his John Wayne imitation, and his self-confidence in the face of a series of unreasonable events make him a terrific sidekick — even if he *thinks* he’s the hero. (Doug Tilley)

 

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13. Peter Vincent

The Movie: FRIGHT NIGHT (1985)

Played By: Roddy McDowall

In an interview I did with Tom Holland, he referred to FRIGHT NIGHT as “a love letter to fandom,” particularly to fans of the horror genre. If there is one physical representation of the horror as a whole in FRIGHT NIGHT, it is manifested in Peter Vincent, Vampire Killer.

Peter Vincent is ‘60s and ‘70s horror personified –he’s got hamminess, that great Victorian-era get-up, and perhaps most notably, he is named after Peter Cushing and Vincent Price (it can be assumed his middle name is Lee). Originally the character was to be portrayed by Vincent Price himself, but the role ultimately went to Roddy McDowall. McDowall’s performance is full of such tremendous humor and nuance, that it might go unnoticed with all the big visual and make-up effects that surround him. In his films that he shows on Charlie Brewster’s favorite TV show, “Fright Night,” Peter Vincent is steadfast and strong, but off-screen in the present day, McDowall brings a certain pathetic sadness to the character of a washed-up old actor with nothing to lose, thanks to audiences what would rather see “demented madmen running around in ski-masks, hacking up young virgins.” As the film moves on, we see Peter Vincent go from a total non-believer to a believer in vampires, simply because there is no other explanation.

When he fights off Evil Ed in wolf-form, we see Vincent come to grips with the fact that Ed’s just a boy, with nary a line of dialogue stated. In the final confrontation, we see Peter Vincent turn into the fearless vampire hunter he portrayed on screen for so many years as he triumphantly exclaims to the head bloodsucker, “You’re out of time, Mr. Dandridge.” Peter Vincent comes to the realization that all his years killing vampires on film have just given his life meaning, and that meaning is to kill real fucking vampires. (Mike Vanderbilt)

 

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12. Jareth, The Goblin King 

The Movie: LABYRINTH (1986)

Played By: David Bowie

Goddammit, David Bowie… you are the reason I’m into guys who wear eyeshadow and who contact juggle. Who else could have possibly played the role of this magical monarch who lords over his labyrinth? Despite everything else that people may or may not like about the film (which is my favourite of all time) no one can deny that this character had an effect of girls of my generation. But with his almost cold demeanour, his temptations, who could really resist his charms? Purr. (Tristan Risk)

 

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11. Martin Q. Blank

The Movie: GROSSE POINT BLANK (1997)

Played By: John Cusack

Here’s a true story — from the years 2008 to 2011, the only film I owned in a digital format was GROSSE POINT BLANK. Every time I had to kill half an hour, I would turn on my iPod and press play. When the movie ended, I would start back over. Moving back to Alaska after college wasn’t a fun decision, but somehow, watching Martin Blank struggle with his own homecoming made it feel a little bit better. And Martin Blank remains John Cusack’s perfect performance — arrogant, confused, and determined in equal amounts. (Matthew Monagle)

 

COMING UP NEXT — THE TOP TEN GREATEST MOVIE CHARACTERS OF ALL TIME!

REALLY. THE BEST ONES THAT HAVE EVER BEEN, OR WILL EVER BE. CHECK BACK WITH US IN A HUNDRED YEARS AND SEE HOW RIGHT WE ARE.

 

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Jon Abrams

Editor-In-Chief at Daily Grindhouse
Jon Abrams is a New York-based writer, cartoonist, and committed cinemaniac whose complete work and credits can be found at his site, Demon’s Resume. You can contact him on Twitter as @JonZilla___.
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