One of the reasons I love horror movies so much is that they are constantly surprise me. One of the many ways they do this is by changing the face of evil. Sure, I love the slasher - some guy in a mask - classic! You have ghosts, zombies, vampires and so many other movie monsters to choose from as well. To me, however, it's when evil is presented in an unlikely form that really gets to me. Some of the top horror movies
succeed because they manage to surprise me. There are so many different ways that evil seeps through - here are some of my favorite examples:
Legion is a great example of taking something safe and natural and turning it into a nightmare. A kindly old lady turns into a wall-climbing demon - while Legion may be a somewhat underwhelming film - that scene alone is worth the price. A lot of credit has to be given to the actress Jeanette Miller (who has plenty of credits in her resume) for the performance - she just plays it so perfectly. Other roles that fit? Laurence Olivier as the worlds worst dentist in Marathon Man, Sidney Blackmer and Ruth Gordon as the Castevets in Rosemary's Baby and whoever played the old lady in the bathtub in The Shining - I still haven't recovered from that shock.
Man's Best Friend
Animals often make great horror icons (Jaws anyone?) but certain animals make sense at being evil. Dogs, however, always give me the worst feeling. I mean, these are supposed to be our companions - and when they turn, it's never pretty. Cujo remains the best example. A kindly, even cuddly St. Bernard has a run-in with a rabid bat and turns into a blood-crazed canine. It's the transformation that gets me. Certain breed (like Rottweilers) are often portrayed as "evil" - but another great example is the husky in The Thing. It's very friendly - right up until it mutates and tries to infect you.
Oh, the uber-creepy kid - one of the best examples of turning innocence into evil. The bar was set quite high thanks to The Bad Seed and the excellent performance from Patty McCormack. Some other examples can be found in Pet Sematary, Village of the Damned and The Ring (Daveigh Chase carried the torch well). When the casting is right - children turn into monsters - and it will make you rethink babysitting forever more.
When it comes to toys - movies have a way of turning the mundane into murderous monsters. The prime example has to be Child's Play and Chucky, but there are plenty of other examples. Puppet Master has stringless horror coming to life and offing the unlucky in various ways. Magic features a literal dummy (as in a ventriloquist's dummy) but for my money nothing beats that horrendous clown doll seen above. Poltergeist is one of the first horror movies I remember watching and that close doll was a big reason why I love horror films today.
That's right - your own parents are out to kill you (or someone at least). More often it's a step-parent (or sibling) causing issues, but as Kathleen Tuner proves in Serial Mom - just because someone appears nice and unassuming doesn't mean they're plotting to kill you. Other terrifying parents include Margaret White from Carrie, Jack Torrence from The Shining and, evil to the core, Eleanor Shaw Iselin in The Manchurian Candidate (you will never view Murder, She Wrote or that nice teapot in Beauty and the Beast in the same way ever again).
What can be more boring than a plant? It's all green and leafy and just kind sits there. Yet movies somehow make them evil - whether it's an alien plant that wants you to feed him (Little Shop of Horrors) or some kind of vegetable attack (or is it a fruit?) - plants are not as docile as you think. If I learned anything from The Happening (other than M. Night Shyamalan is officially over) it's that you don't want to make Mother Nature unhappy - or she might make you sit down in front of a huge, running lawnmower.
Those are just some of my favorite examples of evil turning up in unexpected forms. I'm sure you can think of your own examples - I know there are plenty more out there (killer rabbits? Night of the Lepus!) but as I said before - that's why I love horror films - they're never boring.
Chris Kavan is a chief critic and blogger at FilmCrave.com
, and he's convinced that we all go a little mad sometimes.