I’m not keen on being garrotted, torn apart, possessed or dragged to hell at the best of times, but sometimes you’re watching a movie and instead of worrying about the protagonists you just can’t help feeling a bit of pity for some of the poor old sods who have to do all the horrible stuff. Some of them are having as miserable time as their victims, some are just misunderstood, and some are just wild and crazy guys. Here are my favourites, or at least ones I can relate to, if one can ever really relate to an eighty foot tall Hell Demon.
TARMAN FROM RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD
The tar-man zombie type thing from Return of the living dead is one of the greatest depictions of Zombiedom ever committed to film. He is also one of the silliest. The moment he is released from his sealed barrel after 20 years and exposed to the atmosphere, his skin disintegrates into a dark, melting mess. You can see his bones sticking out everywhere, his eyes bulge in craziness and a big fat tongue slobbers about, licking his non-existent lips. He’ll not hesitate to dive straight into a punk’s head and munch into his lovely brains; he’s a truly horrific creation. Plus he’s smart, witness him using a chain pulley system to break open a locker door to get to the heroine and her tasty grey matter. Better, he’s also got a demented, twisted charm, livening up proceedings whenever he’s on screen. He walks about like the top half of his body is going to drop off at any moment, dribbles bits of himself everywhere he goes and seems genuinely happy to see people – albeit for the wrong reasons. Finally, when his head is departed from his body with a well timed baseball bat, you get the feeling that the best character in the film has departed too.
BUB FROM DAY OF THE DEAD
While initially similar to Tar-man, in that he’s also an incredible depiction of a zombie, in many ways Bub is the polar opposite of the funky fella above. Taught to follow simple tasks and maybe even be controlled a tad by the nutty Professor Logan, Bub takes great pleasure in listening to music, using a phone and reading a book (okay so the book is upside down but hey, he gets the idea). Like a puppy he seems to reallly care for his teacher and when the professor is gunned down, it is a genuine emotional moment. Not because of the death of the professor, who was a bit of a mad git to be honest, but Bub’s heartbreaking reaction to finding his master’s corpse (which he doesn’t eat by the way, just moans over).
MOLASAR FROM THE KEEP
Okay, so Molasar from Micheal Mann’s second, hard-to-find WW2 set movie is an ancient evil force held within a Keep to prevent him from taking over the world with, I don’t know, some bad stuff. And yeah, he may be about eight foot tall, with burning red eyes and a skull-like face, oh and have the ability to tear a man in half with his breath. But the only people he kills are a regiment of Nazis, plus he heals Ian McKellen from being a life-long cripple, and he saves his daughter from being raped. But really, just let me repeat: HE KILLS NAZIS. We could have done with him on our side. I think he’s alright; damn that stupid Scott Glenn for ruining it all by coming along and sealing Molasar back into The Keep for all eternity. At least I think that’s what happened: the film is almost incomprehensible and the climax involves Tangerine Dream providing a cover of The Snowman’s Walking Through Air. I’m not even making that up.
SAM FROM XTRO
Another film for the ‘WTF?’ generation: I have no idea if Sam is the man who is abducted by the aliens in this low budget British cult, or if he is in fact the alien who does the abducting, or maybe even a mixture of the two. The film makes little to no sense with scenes like a woman giving birth to a full grown adult and an old lady being killed by a life-size Action Man. All I do know is he’s a bizarre, nightmarishly unique monster, made up of a man in a suit walking backwards on his hands and feet.
Look at him! He’s a lunatic! A cross between an angry pig and a predator, I remember seeing Rawhead Rex photos in Fangoria magazine when I was a confused teenager and being so excited to see him move. Unfortunately, when I finally did get the VHS that’s the one thing he didn’t do: move. The mask used in the film has no moving parts, the upshot of which is that he has this constant look of surprise and anger on his face, as if he’d just discovered something horrible in his pants and is blaming God for the mess. The upshot for me was that is I felt kind of sorry for the poor fella.
HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP
I don’t feel sorry for these guys though. A pack of half-man/half-salmon (!) mutants, they are determined to kill our men and rape our women. Well, I say ‘pack’, but I’m pretty sure you only see one or two at a time, I think budget constraints meant they only had one proper suit. They also look like they’re either going to fall out of their costume or drown at sea due to the demands of pretending to be Humanoids from said Deep. So it’s not the Salmon-men I feel sorry for at all, it’s the guys playing them.
NIGHT OF THE DEMON
Famously (okay famously to me and about ten other people) there wasn’t meant to be any demon in Night of the Demon at all, Jacques Tourneur’s classic was originally meant to be all about the power of suggestion. However the producers had different ideas. The moment Tourneur delivered his film they went back on set and shot this wonderful beast. I think he’s great and unlike some others on this list, he has moving parts and everything. He’s a bit of a Godzilla in that in that you can tell he’s a bloke in a rubber suit, but whether he’s chasing someone through the woods, stomping on someone’s head or throwing them under a train, you’ve got to admit he’s got character. And that’s alright by me.
CHATTERER FROM HELLRAISER
It’s a miserable time being a Cenobite. You almost certainly have lots of long metal things inserted into you or wrapped around your private parts making it difficult to sit down. Plus you can guarantee that your nipples will be exposed with rods thrust through them, which must chafe terribly when you’re going for a jog. Then there’s all the chat about eternal damnation and soul burning. It’s all got to get incredibly dull after, well, an eternity. But all this is multiplied by a million if you are Chatterer. You can’t see (his eyes have gone who knows where), you can’t hear (ears cut off and wired up) and your mouth is pulled back so all you dentistry work is exposed for everyone to see. Every time you eat a meal, standing up of course, Pinhead is there going “You’ve got something in your teeth. There. And there. And there. And there.” etc etc. Plus you’re obviously cold, hence the name Chatterer. It’s a miserable afterlife, and that there’s no denying.
PYRAMID HEAD MAN FROM SILENT HILL
This guy makes Chatterer look like the lucky one. The Pyramid on his head is obviously far, far too heavy for him; I mean seriously he can barely look up. Add to that the fact he has a selection of unfeasibly large weapons to deal out death (which is his job, he’s not doing it for fun) which he seems to be struggling to lift. If ever there was a man who needs a career change, Pyramid Head Man is the one. Although being called Pyramid Head Man probably helped him when getting the job in the first place: “WANTED: Man for unholy human execution in live-in haunted town. Must be able to provide own Pyramid.” Poor bloke.
THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE
Okay I don’t have a soft spot for the guy at the front, but the middle and back parts have all my sympathy.