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The Top 10 Horror Movie Heroes

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The Top 10 Horror Movie Heroes

December 6, 2012
By Matt Molgaard - Staff Writer

Ash Williams in Evil Dead

Everyone loves a hero. But not every hero is remembered. It takes a special breed of protagonist to resonate in the memory banks of horror fans. For every 250 Mike Reilly’s you’ve got one Van Helsing, and that’s just the way the cookie crumbles. A hero must first be believable, second be likeable, and third, be pure in mission. Longevity never hurt the top dogs either.

Check out a list of the 10 best heroes you’ll find in horror cinema. There’s little doubt the majority of these names and faces will ring true to your own taste, but don’t be shocked to see a surprise entrant or two!  


10 Jack Brooks (Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer)

Jack Brooks in Monster Slayer, Jack Brooks

Most probably have no clue who Jack Brooks is. That’s a shame. This 2007 indie monster movie remains one of the unsung heroes of the genre. Fun as all hell, Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer plays out a bit like a contemporary Evil Dead. The story is drastically different, but there’s a certain likability that Brooks entices that really hearkens back to the presence and impact of Ash Williams.

Jack is a loose cannon but his transformation from troubled hard working plumber to outright monster slayer is perfectly paced and completely believable. The man’s been dealing with emotional issues and paranoia since childhood (when his family was obliterated by monsters), and the growing aggression he’s harbored for years erupts just in time to save a small town from the clutches of a man eating freak of nature.

Easily one of the coolest heroes to see birth in recent years, Jack Brooks is a new player on this field, but he’s one to watch. A Jack Brooks sequel feels almost mandatory. Here’s hoping creator Jon Knautz is of the same mind.


9 Seth Gecko (From Dusk till Dawn)

Seth Gecko in From Dusk Till Dawn

The truth is, Seth Gecko is far more anti-hero than hero. But he’s insanely bad ass, easy to cheer for, and oh so handsome (I had to say it). A wanted murderer with a taste for big money and the rebellious life, Seth finds himself trapped in Mexico at a bar known as The Titty Twister. The Triple T, as I like to call it, looks like little more than your typical tough guy bar on the outskirts of town. It’s not: it’s a feeding ground for a slew of vampires.

Seth’s ability to win viewers over is uncanny. This dude shoots up a store, offs a couple people and takes an entire family hostage, and we’re still so drawn to his magnetic personality and bad ass nature that it’s impossible to root against the guy.

Sure the tattoo is about as horrid as it comes, but hey, it was the ‘90’s, exaggerated tribal tattoos were still cool… I guess.


8 Hellboy


The only hero on this list that isn’t human, Hellboy oozes alpha male influence. He’s a lot like your buddy who always seems to take true pleasure in busting a couple heads at the bar, and then cracking a few jokes about it during the walk back home. However, Hellboy fights for a meaningful cause, and deep down inside, he’s a softy with an unwavering affinity for his partner in paranormal crime fighting, Liz Sherman.

Hellboy’s ability to juggle one liners and sensitive exchanges isn’t always detected in massive, muscular heroes whose male dominance ranks at the forefront of their priority list and that’s part of what makes him unique. The fact that he should probably be dwelling in eternal flame devouring souls out of sheer boredom, but chooses to fight for the safety of mankind doesn’t hurt his rep either.


7 Van Helsing (countless films)

Van Helsing

The arch nemesis to Count Dracula and perennial hero, Van Helsing has graced about 1000 films, has been portrayed by countless different actors and somehow, always prevails. Van Helsing stands for all that is good in one of history’s oldest horror stories, and that’s infinitely empowered his cinematic presence.

Regardless of what actor wields the cross and stake, Van Helsing is always one to pull for, and always will be. For my money, Peter Cushing pulled off the greatest Van Helsing audiences have ever seen, but many a man have exerted performances that warrant argument.  

More on Van Helsing


6 Martin Brody (Jaws)

Martin Brody in Jaws

After 1975, the ocean was viewed in significantly different light. The once welcoming waves of the water were suddenly cast in a horrifying new red hue. The great white shark that terrorizes the coastal community of Amity changed history, both within the realm of a fictitious reality, and here, in the outside world, where sharks really do tread waters in search of nourishment.

Local man of the law, Martin Brody served as one of three original shark hunters in Steven Spielberg’s record breaking shocker. A rational guy, not fond of the water is forced to face one of man’s most vicious predators. Brody is exactly the kind of dude you’d pick to wade through the trenches of war with. He’s a humble guy, learning on the job, but adapting and squeezing into the shoes of a hero comfortably. Brody never emits arrogance, and he never pretends to understand his predicament any more than he actually does.

A hero who thinks before acting is a hero who survives that which cannot be survived. That hero is Martin Brody.


5 Ben (Night of the Living Dead)

Ben in Night of the Living Dead

The black man wasn’t frequently cast as the hero back in the 1960’s. Racism ran at fever pitch, and the idea of illuminating an African American as the lone symbol of hope and positivity was daring, to say the least. George A. Romero had the audacity to execute such a decision, and it helped alter the course of history, particularly in film.

Ben was an enthralling character, full of power and confidence. The shade of his skin all but disappeared in the wake of Duane Jones’ performance. Jones embodied heroism, and he delivered a showing that was not only convincing, but inspirational as well. Truth be told, Duane was a man that attempted to deliver perfection onscreen, and he was far ahead of his time, completely capable of sliding into frame with the greatest performers of his day.


4 Sam Loomis (Halloween)

Sam Loomis in Halloween

Dr. Sam Loomis was always a bit of an erratic, almost unstable fellow. His dedication to capturing Michael Myers stemmed from a combination of years of attempted breakthroughs with the troubled youngster and an underlying layer of guilt. It’s the guilt in Loomis’ personality that distances him from the remainder of the pack.

For more than two decades Sam Loomis stalked the notorious stalker, and time and again Sam would put a seeming end to the monster’s existence. But as we know: you cannot kill the boogeyman. Sam Loomis learned that the hard way, but his insistence on seeing justice prevail and carnage come to an end never subsided. Devotion to the greater good proved to be Donald Pleasence’s legacy as an actor. Heroics paid major dividends for a man with more than forty years in the business, and those heroics will always be associated with the character known as Dr. Sam Loomis.


3 R.J. MacReady (The Thing)

RJ MacReady in The Thing

When Kurt Russell takes on a hard-nosed, no funny business lead role, he’s remarkable. The majority of heroic characters the man has portrayed over time tend to possess an over-the-top quirky humor to them, and that works well for the man. But the straight laced, no jokes, no one-liner roles suit Kurt far, far better. Case in point: R.J. MacReady, the hero of John Carpenter’s legendary sci-fi/horror hybrid, The Thing.

MacReady has no time for jokes, and no room for overacting. That brouhaha held no business in The Thing, and it’s a good thing: the picture was far too bleak for any measure of comedy. Rather, what Russell brings to the character is a frightening edge that suggests he may assassinate you any time to save his own neck, yet, at the same time, wouldn’t even entertain the idea of throwing you under the bus. That’s a rather unique mash-up of character traits that not many performers can pull off in convincing fashion.

MacReady ranks as one of the most important men in horror history, and still stands as a high point in the storied career of Kurt Russell. Perhaps one day we’ll see Kurt and John reunited for something a tad less campy than Escape from L.A.   


2 Ash Williams (Evil Dead)

Ash Williams in The Evil Dead

When Bruce Campbell’s character, Ash Williams turns the corner from Average Joe to Merciless Hero in Evil Dead, a certain shift in the atmosphere occurs. The nice comfortable times are done and dispelled, the action is about to take on a life all its own and it’s electric to witness. Campbell balances both ends of the spectrum handily, and that’s a big piece of the magic behind Ash.

When the picture calls for measured humor, Campbell delivers, when the picture calls for outlandish jokes, Campbell delivers, when the film calls for a controlled, mature approach, Campbell delivers. Bruce is a special kind of performer because he’s got his obvious style and specific niche, but he’s proficient when functioning outside of his traditional comfort zone. That versatility enables him to do something special to the characters he plays: Bruce Campbell makes characters likeable.

Ash is an iconic figure, whose chainsaw appendage and hip, truncated punchlines (“groovy”) has left him uber endearing and profoundly memorable. The fact that the man manages to kick ass at all times probably doesn’t hurt his stature in the minds of fans.


1 Ellen Ripley (Alien)

Ellen Ripley in Alien

Technically, Ellen is a heroine, I admit it. But, she’s an awfully manly heroine, damn it! That’s a true statement, but it’s also a bit misleading: Sigourney Weaver is sexy as hell as Ellen Ripley. Most men would agree, but her intelligent yet bullish approach to life threatening trouble makes it easy to forget that there’s a stunning woman behind that heroic drive. She looks like she could kick a full grown man’s ass six ways to Sunday, and that’s something you simply cannot miss when eyeing Ripley.

Sigourney’s reprised her role as Ellen Ripley on numerous occasions, and while few sequels come close to rivaling the impact of the original Alien, just about every film in the franchise has still proven highly entertaining. In fact, Alien could and probably should be considered one of the greatest franchises in history. Of course, if you pull Ripley from the film, you pull the magic wind from the carpet’s folds. That’s just how important Sigourney Weaver’s character Ellen Ripley truly is.


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