Some of the best Scream Kings to honor this Halloween

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American actor Lon Chaney Jr (1906 – 1973) with a coffin on the set of the film ‘Witch and Warlock’, later titled ‘Witchcraft’, at Shepperton Studios, UK, 21st January 1964. (Photo by Kent Gavin/Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
American actor Lon Chaney Jr (1906 – 1973) with a coffin on the set of the film ‘Witch and Warlock’, later titled ‘Witchcraft’, at Shepperton Studios, UK, 21st January 1964. (Photo by Kent Gavin/Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images) /

3. Lon Chaney Jr.

Creighton Tull Chaney, known as Lon Chaney Jr to the public, was the son of “The Man of a Thousand Faces” and followed his father’s footsteps into horror. Chaney Sir is more famous, but his son dove deeper into horror and contributed more to 1940’s Hollywood when horror movies were cash cows.

Chaney’s life was haunted by alcoholism and the shadow of his more successful father, making his casting of the devastating Wolf Man all that more appropriate. With the insistence of Universal, he started going by the name Lon Chaney Jr so people would be more inclined to see his films. Once he changed his name he started getting work in horror movies, his first being A Scream in the Night (1935). In 1941, he played the title character in The Wolf Man and would return to play him in four additional films.

After The Wolf Man, Chaney proved as profited for Universal as his father and he branched out. He was given the role of Frankenstein’s Monster in The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942) and the Mummy in The Mummy’s Tomb (1942) then Dracula in Son of Dracula (1943). Chaney Jr is the only actor in history to have ever played all of Universal’s four main monsters: The Wolf Man, Frankenstein’s Monster, the Mummy, and Count Dracula. He worked with fellow scream kings, Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff and Vincent Price more than once.

Some of his other movies include, The Mummy’s Ghost (1944), The Haunted Palace (1963), Witchcraft (1964), Dracula vs. Frankenstein (1971) where he plays someone other than a famous monster, and Dr. Terror’s Gallery of Horrors (1967).

circa 1932: Bela Lugosi, the stage name of Bela Ferenc Blasko (1882 – 1956), the Hungarian born actor and film star. Acclaimed for his performance in ‘Dracula’ on Broadway in 1927, Lugosi began acting in feature films in 1930. His appearance in Dracula in 1931 marked the start of a long career in horror films. His career subsequently declined due to the effects of drug additction. He was buried with his Dracula cape. (Photo by Mabel Livingstone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
circa 1932: Bela Lugosi, the stage name of Bela Ferenc Blasko (1882 – 1956), the Hungarian born actor and film star. Acclaimed for his performance in ‘Dracula’ on Broadway in 1927, Lugosi began acting in feature films in 1930. His appearance in Dracula in 1931 marked the start of a long career in horror films. His career subsequently declined due to the effects of drug additction. He was buried with his Dracula cape. (Photo by Mabel Livingstone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images) /

2. Bela Lugosi

Bela Lugosi lived and breathed the monster world, but not by choice. Some might say he was the original Edward Cullen, getting groupies to swoon over him and start a new age of vampire obsession. Most likely the very first of the major horror stars of the talkie era, Bela Lugosi was a renowned actor not just in horror but in the entire film industry. After exploding on the screen, he was given many great roles in a short amount of time but then pushed into supporting and B-roles as the years went by, casted only for his name recognition. By the end he was living in poverty with a heroin addiction that was developed from the opiates he had regularly used to treat his chronic back pain from fighting in WWI.

Born in the Kingdom of Hungry (now present-day Romania) Béla Ferenc Dezső Blaskó was born to be an actor. He ran away from home at the age of eleven and joined the theater, making his official stage debut in 1901. In 1927 he landed the lead role in a Broadway production of Bram Stroker’s Dracula, which would influence Universal to give him the starring role in their own 1931 Stoker adaptation.

His dark features and natural Hungarian accent hypnotized movie goers. He gave off an aura of sophistication while playing his monsters with the slighted edge of insanity. His accent made him perfect for movies in an Eastern European setting. Unfortunately, that same advantage became his demise because if you ever noticed, leading men in the old films never had an accent outside of an American one. Lugosi was doomed to play villains. He only played Dracula twice but did play more vampires in Mark of a Vampire (1935) and Return of the Vampire (1943).

He received critical acclaim for his performance as the unhinged Ygor in Son of Frankenstein (1939) which then started off his forced partnership with Boris Karloff. They worked together in at least five films: The Raven (1935), The Invisible Ray (1932), The Body Snatcher (1945), Black Friday (1940), The Black Cat (1934)

Lugosi was buried in California wearing his Dracula cape. He didn’t request to be so, but his son and ex-wife thought it was what he would have wanted. I feel pretty confident in saying that if he could, he’d rise from his grave just to throw the thing out and give those two a long ranting lecture. Haunted by Dracula his whole life, why would he wanted to spend eternity wearing the man’s cape?!

HONORABLE MENTIONS or the six men that I just couldn’t fit in:

  1. Peter Cushing
  2. Tim Curry
  3. Skeet Ulrich
  4. Kevin Zegers
  5. Shawn and Aaron Ashmore
  6. Thomas Dekker