The Top Ten Tuesday topic for this week was a bit unsuitable for the site, so we went off again on our own less-traveled path. This time we decided to devote our time and attention to the B-list actors that make some of our favorite movies so very, very watchable. The movies might be bad, but they tend to make them at least bad-good. (True B-movie fans know what I mean!)
Feel free to chime in with your favorites!
Our Favorite B-List Horror and Sci-Fi Actors
Keith David is not on this list for the reason you probably assume he’s on this list. Keith David is on here because of the old cartoon show Gargoyles. I have a voice-crush on him. (Is that even a thing?) And so when I found out that this dude actually did movies outside of Gargoyles, I started paying attention. And then I noticed he was popping up in lots of movies I liked, such as The Thing, Armageddon, They Live, and so on. I love this man (well, his voice at least.)
John Rhys-Davies – Okay, so here’s the thing abut John Rhys-Davies, he’s been in some movies that were so bad even I couldn’t watch them all the way through. (And that’s saying a lot.) However, he won my affection in Sliders, so I at least have to try movies when I see his name in the credits list or see his face. Even if I have to groan and shut it off after ten minutes, I’ve got to try. John Rhys-Davies was also the voice of McBeth on Gargoyles
Michael Ironside is an interesting one because I can’t say that I necessarily like him but I like a lot of the movies he has been in. Remember him as the teacher in Starship Troopers? So I’ll almost always check out his movies because it’s a good bet they’re going to be fun.
Greg Grunberg easily made this list, even if I had to look up his name because he’s a ‘that guy’. I first encountered him, as I’m sure many did, in Heroes, but since then I’ve seen him in a few B-movies and they’ve definitely been made that much better by his presence. Specifically, I love him in End of the World (in which he plays a video store owner that’s obsessed with disaster movies and who ends up living through one of those disasters), and in Big Ass Spider (which has Lin Shaye in it!) I think he’s a fantastic actor.
Lin Shaye is, unfortunately, the only female on my list. I think there are probably more that I pay attention to, but she’s the only one whose name consistently pops to mind. I first noticed her in the Insidious movies, but then after watching them, I noticed she was also in a lot of other movies I liked. Her role in Big Ass Spider is a small one, but oh, my god, she had me cackling. You have to watch Big Ass Spider just for the scene between Lin Shaye and Greg Grunberg.
Lance Henriksen – Uhm, is there a B-movie this man is not in? I mean, seriously! Obviously he’s been in some widely released movies as well (Aliens, for example) but it’s the ones that haven’t exactly gained critical acclaim where I love him. Movies like Man’s Best Friend and Harbinger Down definitely benefit from Henriksen’s presence. I know he’s a favorite of Gracie’s too. He brings a much deeper level to Pumpkinhead than the movie could have thought of. He plays so well off of the Pumpkinhead you can really believe they really are two halves of the same coin.
Tony Todd – Tony Todd might not get ‘starring’ roles but you cannot deny his screen presence and beautiful, deeply frightening voice. He’s sexy and frightening in Candyman but his role in the X-Files episode “Sleepless” was amazing. I don’t think many people could forget him in Final Destination.
Brad Dourif – You can put Brad Dourif into just about any role and he still looks like Brad Dourif. However, he wraps himself so thoroughly in that role that you don’t really notice. His more memorable roles have been Chucky (Child’s Play) and Grima Wormtongue (Lord of the Rings). My favorite is as The Gemini Killer/Damien Karras in Exorcist III. The interplay between him and George C. Scott is so electric that most of the time you don’t even notice that it’s two guys talking in a room.
Tom Savini – What can I say about Mr. Savini that probably hasn’t been said regarding his amazing special effects work? Probably not much. He certainly caught my eye in From Dusk til Dawn as Sex Machine (and his badass gun belt). There are probably a lot of people who knew this already and I had no idea. I realize that the info is there on IMDB for the reading. I’m getting to that. Yes, i know who they are and their general body of work but I generally leave themselves to themselves. But then I watched his segment on Nightmares in Red, white and Blue: The Evolution of the American Horror Film. I have to admit that his segment drew me in and made me tear up.
Before you notice that we have left one very, very important actor in the horror realm off the list we are adding him as a bonus. He really should need no introduction but it did not feel right to leave him off. The one, the only, the badass…Robert Englund. Most people recognize him with his mask and gloves on but he has been in far more movies than the Nightmare on Elm Street series. And also why the remake (excuse me, reboot) failed utterly. And can I get a glove raised for the short lived but could have been totally awesome television series Nightmare Cafe?
This was actually an interesting post to write because when I broached it with Gracie, it was clear it was hard to define exactly what “B-list” is. I”m sure there’s an official definition, but for me it falls in the “Hey! It’s the guy”. They might have some movies that achieve widespread fame, but their roles in them are generally small, or it was a one-off and they sank back into low-budget territory. They can be fantastic actors, but for some reason they’re just not known names, but instead are just very recognizable faces.