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Hail to Fire
by James Shafie

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So, today's column will be about three notable actors, who are all pretty well-known for their acting in horror films. Interestingly enough, all three seem(ed) to be tied down for their association with the horror genre. Since they were good at acting in an uncongenial manner or playing strange characters, they all appear to be almost blighted by their ability. Of course that's just one perspective on their situations. Some would say that their skill in the realm of horror only showcases their talent.

Anthony Perkins
Anthony Perkins was born in 1932 and died in 1992 due to AIDS. He was most known for the character of Norman Bates in the Hitchcock film PSYCHO. This role was unique because it made a psychotic serial killer seemed almost normal and very subdued. This role led to two sequels and one prequel, two of which Perkins directed himself.

This actor is one of my all time favorites. I have only seen him in four films (PSYCHO, CATCH-22, THE MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS and THE TRIAL) and those few movies have convinced me that he was unbelievably skilled at his craft. He could go from a quiet contentment to almost a mad rage in seconds. In CATCH-22 he played a skittish, mouse-like chaplain and in THE TRIAL he played a mild-mannered man pushed to the edge of sanity, and he was very successful in both roles.

Perkins was one of the few actors that I think could play just about anything.

Vincent Price
Vincent Price was born 1911 and died in 1993. He's most known for, well, himself. He created a character which he played in many films, notably THE FLY, HOUSE OF WAX and HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL. Price seemed to revel in his horror stigma, making the most out of his incomparable ability to be this sinister, mysterious man.

Vincent Price never seemed to have ever achieved a snobby or pretentious manner, though he did become very famous. Perhaps it was because he was still only a "B" actor. He was on the BATMAN television show, where he famously started an egg fight, after a scene was over, on set. Most actors that worked with Price have said that they enjoyed the experience, and some have even gone as far as to call him the best actor they have worked with. He also authored some cookbooks.

I really enjoy watching Price's work because he was able to instill comedy in parts of films where it was not meant to be. Also he is able to actually act, not just play the character he is known for. In the flick THE LAST MAN ON EARTH this is very visible. He plays a desperate, shaken man who has to fend for himself and survive in an intense and harsh environment. And he does it splendidly.

Christopher Lee

Lee was born in 1922 and is still alive. Hooray! His career has spanned over 50 years, and he is most known for his roles as villains. His voice is part of what makes him so sought after when choosing actors for bad guys; its incredible deep and menacing when he wants it to be. He delved into the horror genre working with the Hammer Company, starring in seven movies as the character of Dracula. Seven! That's nuts! It seems that only much later in his career is he getting the recognition he deserves. In the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy and episodes II and III of STAR WARS, his fame skyrocketed and perhaps so did his credibility.

His acting prowess might not be of expert caliber, but he assuredly does what he does well. He is a born villain; his whole demeanor can exude a sense of evil and malevolence. Does that sound mean? Mr. Lee if you're reading this, which you obviously are, I promise you, I only mean to compliment your acting. He also met J.R.R. Tolkien and apparently reads the LOTR trilogy once a year, which is a feat in itself. Kudos Christopher!

So go out there and (re)discover these masters of acting! Realize that these men are not just staples of the horror genre, but actors of the finest quality in all realms of film. Except maybe the western. Not sure about that one. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

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The Lair of the Mad
Every other Tuesday

'The Lair' discusses the many aspects and qualities of the horror genre. From actors, to make-up, to music, James Shafie explores everything the "cult" genre spews up.

Other Columns
Other columns by James Shafie:

Speaking Out

Yearn For Change

Queen of Night

Too Close Enough To Touch

The Time of the Beasts

All Columns

James Shafie
James Shafie is an avid watcher of movies of all sorts, but the horror genre is closest to his heart. He loves to read and is addicted to music, mostly metal and itís thousands of sub-genres. He was once fired by Blockbuster, which we see as a strong character trait.

If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to James Shafie by clicking here.

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