DAILY GRINDHOUSE’S TOP 50 MOVIE CHARACTERS OF ALL TIME! PART TWO (#40-31)

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Surely you saw the big kick-off to this list yesterday, but in the off chance you were off fighting fires or delivering babies, you can click here for #50 through #41.

Now that you’re all caught up, let’s get right back to it!

 

DAILY GRINDHOUSE’S

TOP 50 MOVIE CHARACTERS OF ALL TIME, 

TODAY, FOR NOW!

 

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40. Dr. Herbert West

The Movie: RE-ANIMATOR (1985)

Played By: Jeffrey Combs

H.P. Lovecraft’s original “Herbert West—Reanimator” short story presented Herbert West as a twisted genius filled with drive and arrogance, but the brilliance of the character when brought to life in Stuart Gordon’s 1985 film RE-ANIMATOR is that he retains these qualities while still remaining absolutely entrancing and — oddly — appealing. While thoroughly despicable and manipulative, Herbert West’s goal of eliminating death seems almost noble, even if his methods leave a little to be desired. Pitted against the fiendish Dr. Hill, West emerges as an unlikely anti-hero, played so brilliantly by Jeffrey Combs that it’s hard to separate the (incredibly underrated) actor from the role, which he played wonderfully twice more in BRIDE OF RE-ANIMATOR and BEYOND RE-ANIMATOR. (Doug Tilley)

 

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39. Chang

The Movie: ONLY GOD FORGIVES (2013)

Played By: Vithaya Pansringarm

ONLY GOD FORGIVES gets better the more I think about it — and I think about it a lot. It’s haunting, in a creepy and fairly awesome way. Propelled by the roving cinematography by Larry Smith which recalls THE SHINING and the pipe-organ-heavy, PHANTOM OF THE OPERA-feeling score by Cliff Martinez, ONLY GOD FORGIVES goes beyond eerie. It’s hellish. The awful violence and upsetting sex only contribute to the sense that this movie is transpiring in some dark netherworld. And if this is Purgatory, then Purgatory’s cruel overseer is Chang, the police lieutenant who patrols the Thai underworld with a fearsome coldness and a sharpened sword whose blade is kept busy throughout the film. Thai actor Vithaya Pansringarm would be nobody’s idea of an action hero — he looks like he could disappear into a crowd — but his performance here is redoubtable, elemental, almost mythic, more akin to a Leone character than anything else. If Sergio Leone were still working in the Twitter era, I wonder if people would find his movies slow, or indulgent, or impenetrable, or whatever people have attacked ONLY GOD FORGIVES for being. You want to argue? Take it up with Chang. (Jon Abrams)

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38. Quint

The Movie: JAWS (1975)

Played By: Robert Shaw

You would have to be insane to willingly chase down the man-eating great white shark in JAWS. While Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) and Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) just regard Quint (Robert Shaw) as being a little off, they cannot understand the demons driving this man until they get out in the middle of the ocean with him. His famous U.S.S. Indianapolis monologue, while presented as a frightening tale of how vicious great white sharks can be, also gives insight into the strange sort of survivor’s guilt he has lived with and which pushes him to put himself in a situation where he faces certain death. His demise, sliding into the mouth of the shark as he stabs it repeatedly, is probably exactly how this modern version of Captain Ahab wanted to go out. It’s a chilling, graphic moment in a film that was full of subtle scares that showed little gore up to that point. It’s made all the more powerful because it happens to Quint, the man best equipped to survive such an attack, but the one who never expected to. (Matt Wedge)

 

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37. Nurse Alex Price

The Movie: AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (1981)

Played By: Jenny Agutter

Throughout her career, Jenny Agutter has been the crush of many a young adolescent who first caught this beautiful British actress in one of her many erotic performances throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Like many, I was introduced to her charms as the enticing Nurse Price in the John Landis horror comedy AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON. What is not to love about a caring British nurse who helps a young American chowderhead lick his wounds after he’s been attacked by a werewolf? Armed with a hot shower and some Van Morrison on the soundtrack, Alex’s healing abilities makes one almost wish they were mauled by some supernatural beastie of the night. “A-ooooo!” indeed. (Mac Bell)

 

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36. Dr. Anton Phibes

The Movie: THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES (1971)

Played By: Vincent Price

Jazz lover, steampunk machinist, Talmudic scholar, organist. Considering he was married to Caroline Munro, his vengeful, baroque murder spree is quite understandable. Vincent Price’s 1970s revenge flicks were baroque classics, tongue gruesomely in cheek and filled with delicious in-jokes, playing to Price’s ability to ham it up gloriously without becoming a caricature. The black comedy flows like, well, blood, and what should have been a chilling reveal to rival Lon Chaney’s unmasking was, of course, blown by the ad campaigns. There are other movies in which you can see Price act, and act well; this is the one where you get have fun along with the old trouper. (Freeman Williams)

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35. General ‘Buck’ Turgidson

The Movie: DR. STRANGELOVE OR: HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB (1964)

Played By: George C. Scott

While many believe Peter Sellers walked away with DR. STRANGELOVE thanks to his powerhouse trio of performances — and particularly in the guise of the titular mad doctor – for me the film’s secret weapon is George C. Scott’s General ‘Buck’ Turgidson, who combines an endless enthusiasm for war (especially against commies) with broad goofball antics. Whether loudly slapping his own stomach while taking an important phone call or tripping over his own feet while dismissing the possibility of a “doomsday shroud”, the character is hilarious, maddening and — like the film as a whole — disturbingly plausible. (Doug Tilley)

 

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34. Leatherface

The Movie: THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974)

Played By: Gunnar Hansen

This poor guy wasn’t born a killer, he was made to be a killer. He has emotions and desires; only it was hard for him to convey them through a mask made out of human flesh. You couldn’t hear them, but they were still there. This hulking maniac with a chainsaw, chasing and torturing trespassing teens haunted my dreams for a long time, but I couldn’t ever not watch THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. Leatherface was so powerful, he just made every scene HIS scene. (Jeremy Lowe)

 

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33. Norma Desmond

The Movie: SUNSET BOULEVARD (1950)

Played By: Gloria Swanson

Gloria Swanson is glorious in this strange film noir. Anytime a character’s introduction in a film kicks off with a funeral march for a chimpanzee, you know this is someone you’ve got to get to know a little better. I worry that the newer generation will miss gems like this, since they’ll know the name, but might not take the time to discover the flesh and bones of the film. Norma is a sad siren and a Machiavellian black widow at the same time. Angry, insane and vulnerable, she remains to me one of the strongest characters in cinema history. (Tristan Risk)

 

Yoda

32. Yoda 

The Movie: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980)

Played By: Frank Oz 

No pun intended, but Yoda is a forceful character. He has to be. He’s the mentor to Luke Skywalker, the hero of the trilogy, the one who trains Luke to harness the Force and to transform from a farmboy-turned-pilot into a full-fledged Jedi Master. It’s impossible to do now, but as a thought experiment, try to imagine seeing THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK with fresh eyes. When Yoda first appears, he plays the role of a fool. He’s little and green with ears the wingspan of a vampire bat — he plays right into the comedy of his appearance. Once his true identity is revealed, the force of his personality very quickly takes hold. He’s friendly, but he’s strict. He really puts Luke through it, like Mickey Goldmill did to Rocky Balboa. You get the sense, though you can’t imagine how, that he’s been through it himself. He’s got endurance. He’s stuck it out in this universe for nine-hundred years. He can lift planes with his mind. He’s so much of a boss he bends the traditional rules of grammar and syntax to his will. This guy is tough. And, keep in mind, Yoda is all of these things… and also he’s a puppet. The weight of the entire trilogy is hung on the thin nail of possibility that worldwide audiences will buy into a puppet as the authoritative crux of the hero’s journey. Between Mark Hamill’s 100% commitment as a scene partner and Frank Oz’s voice work, somehow they pull it off. (Mike McGranaghanJon Abrams)

 

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31. Jugs Jennifer

The Movie: MOTHER, JUGS & SPEED (1976)

Played By: Raquel Welch

The glory of Raquel Welch is that she’s a sex symbol with a story arc. Her career initially saw her boxed in as a genre-film pin-up and as eye candy in throwaway films featuring more famous male stars during the 1960s, but across the course of the 1970s she ripped out of that box and turned into a genuinely adventurous leading lady. Regardless of one’s opinions of the films themselves, try to imagine another female star –let alone one previously pigeonholed as simply a sex symbol –taking on roles as disparate as the ones Raquel played in MYRA BRECKINRIDGE, HANNIE CAULDER, and KANSAS CITY BOMBER. There are a lot of Raquel roles I would have wanted to include on a top-50 list, but I’m going with the first one I ever saw her in, MOTHER, JUGS & SPEED, because it’s fairly representative of the point. [Going forward, I can’t be sure how much I’ll get to revisit this movie, due to the presence of a certain male co-star, but that’s an agony since this is one of my faves. Maybe there’s an all-Raquel cut some editor can provide.] Jennifer is the receptionist at an independent ambulance company competing against rival services and legitimate medical personnel. They’re barely-legal L.A. outlaws, riding into life-or-death situations like stand-offs. Most of them do it for the kicks. Some just need the money. Jennifer wants to drive, but because she looks like Raquel Welch, the owner of the company, Harry Fishbine (the endlessly under-appreciated Allen Garfield) won’t even consider it, and the all-male staff of lechers and reprobates has saddled her with an unflattering nickname she hates. None of that is going to stop her though. Why? Because she’s played by Raquel Welch, a sexual revolution in human form. Don’t get in her way. (Jon Abrams)

 

SEE YOU HERE TOMORROW FOR THE NEXT TEN!

 

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