11. Lance Hendriksen
This man was born to scare people. His eyes are intense, his face meatless and with a simple mask he could easily pass as Slender Man. Forget the villain sitting in the dark detailing his master plan, Hendriksen is the man who shares nothing and strikes fear with one look. Making a career out of playing both clean-cut heroes and masterful psychopaths, he even made the good guys look a little bad or at least on edge about something.
This understated actor never broke into blockbuster fame, though he appeared in some of the most popular films of the 80’s and 90’s. His ability to go through pages of dialogue with just a few facial expressions made him one of the most versatile and rare actors of his generation. His first breakthrough was in James Cameron’s Aliens (1986) and he was actually Cameron’s first choice as the title character in The Terminator (1984) before Arnold Schwarzenegger got the role. No doubt if he had been casted, the Terminator franchise would have been much more frightening then exciting.
My favorite performance of his is Jesse from Near Dark (1987), one of the greatest vampire films ever made and one of the most criminally ignored ones. Near Dark is the anti-Twilight, so if you hated Bela Swan or Edward Cullen then watch it. Pumpkinhead (1988), The Pit and the Pendulum (1991), Dead Man (1995), When a Stranger Calls (2006), Abominable (2006), Cyrus: Mind of a Serial Killer (2010), It’s in the Blood (2012), Scream 3 (2000), Mansion of the Doomed (1976), and Damien: The Omen II (1978) are just some of the other horror movies he’s been in and they don’t even scratch the surface.
10. Bruce Campbell
In a time when every horror movie had virgin heroines and handsome leading men, Bruce Campbell paved the way for gory comedies, groovy heroes and the rare “final guy”. It’s unusual to see a character laughing in a horror movie who isn’t the villain, but Ash laughed plenty, and I would have given all the money I had in my Freddy Krueger piggy bank to see the Dream Demon fight Ash Williams. The jokes would be none stop.
Where some actors would grow bitter, Bruce Campbell seemed to have no problem being pigeonholed as a horror B actor. His feels no shame being associated with the Evil Dead franchise and genuinely loves playing Ash. 1981’s Evil Dead went against the usual horror cliches by having a male character be the last one standing. The film tried being serious but ended up coming off as campy, and the sequels went with it. Every sequel after it dove further into humor and irony and Campbell was no different. He happily became the face of the franchise and managed to survive until the very end of the series. He’s like Neve Campell.
I’d count Jamie Lee Curtis as another to survive her horror series but technically she died in the first Halloween timeline, so in my book that counts as not surviving the franchise.
Campbell played Ash in Evil Dead (1981), Evil Dead II (1987), Army of Darkness (1992), Ash vs. The Evil Dead series (2015-2018) and as a cameo in the remake, Evil Dead (2013). He was also in Maniac Cop (1988), Intruder (1989), The Dead Next Door (1989), Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat (1990), Waxwork II: Lost in Time (1992), and From Dusk till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money (1999).