10 Horror Stars Who Never Won An Oscar

It’s Oscar night in Hollywood! We all may have our gripes with the Academy over things like the nominating process (see my posts on THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND STAN & OLLIE and THEY SHALL NOT GROW OLD ), but in the end, we’ll all still be watching – I know I will!

One of my gripes over the years has always been how the horror genre has gotten little to no attention from Oscar over the years. Sure, Fredric March won for DR. JEKYLL & MR. HYDE , but there were plenty of other horror performances who’ve been snubbed. The following ten actors should have (at least in my opinion) received consideration for their dignified work in that most neglected of genres, the horror film:

(and I’ll do this alphabetically in the interest of fairness)

LIONEL ATWILL

 Atwill’s Ivan Igor in MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM goes from cultured sophisticate to raving lunatic in the course of 77 minutes, and was worthy of a nomination. His Inspector Krough in 1939’s SON OF FRANKENSTEIN has become an iconic portrayal over the years (just ask Mel Brooks !). But the real crime is Atwill being passed over for his villainous Colonel Bishop in CAPTAIN BLOOD (though the film did receive a Best Picture nomination).

LON CHANEY JR. 

Many consider Chaney a one-note actor of limited range, but his performances as the simple-minded Lenny in OF MICE AND MEN and retired lawman Mart Howe in HIGH NOON prove Chaney could act when given the right material. And as Lawrence Talbot in THE WOLF MAN , Chaney gives an Oscar-worthy performance as the glib young man who becomes a tortured soul after getting bit by a werewolf. The low-budget SPIDER BABY found Lon shut out of Oscar consideration again as Bruno, chauffeur/caretaker to the bizarre Merrie Family.

PETER CUSHING 

Cushing could probably read the phone book and make it more dramatic than any ten actors working today. He never gave a bad performance in whatever he did, but Academy bias against horror never gave him the recognition he deserved. Of all his roles, I’d cite his Baron Frankenstein in Hammer’s first in the series, THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN , and Sir John Rowan in the (admittedly) out-there cult classic CORRUPTION as Oscar caliber. Then there’s his Gran Moff Tarkin in a little thing called STAR WARS

BORIS KARLOFF

When Boris Karloff first appeared on the screen as The Monster of FRANKENSTEIN , audiences across the country screamed at the sight of this hideous, inhuman thing, but thanks to Karloff’s acting skills, he imbued The Monster with a spark of humanity, and definitely deserved at least a nomination for his breakout performance. Equally deserving was his Ardeth Bey (aka Imhotep) in THE MUMMY , a romantic terror tale of love and death across the centuries. Boris’s work as twin brothers in THE BLACK ROOM is among his best, and his films with Val Lewton feature two distinctly different but fine portrayals: the murderous John Grey in THE BODY SNATCHER and the decadent Master Sims in BEDLAM . King Karloff was also denied a nomination for his turn as faded horror star Byron Orlok in Peter Bogdanovich’s brilliant TARGETS.

CHRISTOPHER LEE 

Oscar never recognized Lee for any of his outstanding roles, and the fact that his Lord Summerisle in THE WICKER MAN was ignored is truly an Oscar crime! Lee also should have got some Oscar love for playing against type as Duc de Richleau in THE DEVIL’S BRIDE , and his part as grave robber Resurrection Joe in CORRIDORS OF BLOOD, though a smaller role, should have  warranted some Supporting Actor attention.

PETER LORRE

Although not primarily a horror star, Lorre gave the genre two of it’s best performances, both Oscar worthy: the creepy child killer Hans Beckert in Fritz Lang’s M and the deranged, obsessed Dr. Gogol in MAD LOVE . And I think his role as the humble immigrant turned crime boss Janos Szabo in the horror-tinged noir THE FACE BEHIND THE MASK was worth a nomination. As for his non-horror roles, there’s CRIME AND PUNISHMENT, THE MALTESE FALCON, THREE STRANGERS, BEAT THE DEVIL….

BELA LUGOSI

Lugosi’s iconic Count DRACULA , still as death and evil as anyone in movie history, didn’t get past Oscar’s garlic-laced gates, and neither did Bela during his career. Granted, the Hungarian star made some poor choices over his movie days, but I’d say his Poe-obsessed Dr. Richard Vollin in THE RAVEN and broken-necked Ygor in SON OF FRANKENSTEIN deserved at least a look by the Academy. I could cite his Dr. Carruthers in THE DEVIL BAT and Dr. Vornoff in BRIDE OF THE MONSTER as examples of how a bad film can be elevated by a good performance, but I’d be stretching if I said they should have got Oscar consideration. One can dream, though, can’t one?

VINCENT PRICE

Price was known to ham it up on occasion (and parodies that notion in HIS KIND OF WOMAN ), but take a look at his work in film noir and discover Vinnie when he tones it down – he’s a great actor. Of his horror films, Price does fine work in the Roger Corman Poe series: Roderick Usher in HOUSE OF USHER, Prince Prospero in MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH, and Verden Fell in TOMB OF LIGEIA all find Price giving subtle, nuanced performances; and his witch hunter Matthew Hopkins in Michael Reeves’ THE CONQUEROR WORM is as finely etched a portrait of evil as you’ll ever see. Even when he cranks it up to 11, as in THEATER OF BLOOD , he’s more than watchable, and his Edward Lionheart in that film is an unforgivable Oscar snub! Price also should have been considered for his short but pivotal role as The Inventor in Tim Burton’s EDWARD SCISSORHANDS.

CLAUDE RAINS

Like Peter Lorre, Rains wasn’t primarily a horror star, but his dazzling performance as Dr. Jack Griffin in James Whale’s THE INVISIBLE MAN is a tour de force of both physical and vocal acting, and the fact that Oscar didn’t see it is (wait for it) Another Oscar Crime! However, of all the great actors on this list, he’s the only one recognized by the Academy for his work – Rains received Supporting Actor nominations for MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON, CASABLANCA , MR. SKEFFINGTON, and NOTORIOUS . He didn’t win for any of them (but should have for CASABLANCA!)

ERNEST THESIGER

“And the winner is… Ernest Thesiger for BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN !” That phrase was never uttered during Oscar’s banquet honoring the films of 1935, as the Supporting Actor category wasn’t initiated until a year later, but if it had been in effect, I’d place my money on Thesiger’s Dr. Pretorious to win it all!

Honorable mentions go to Colin Clive’s mad Henry FRANKENSTEIN and John Carradine’s strangler Gaston Morrell in Edgar G. Ulmer’s BLUEBEARD, and I’m sure you Dear Readers can think of many other Oscar-worthy performances in the horror field, so have some fun while we all wait for tonight’s Academy Awards ceremony… and I’ll have more on that little shindig later tomorrow!

MONSTER KIDS CELEBRATE “THE SHAPE OF WATER” OSCAR VICTORY!

Fans of classic horror movies were dancing in the streets from Karloffornia to Transylvania when THE SHAPE OF WATER won the Oscar for Best Picture last night! After 90 long years, a genre-themed film was given the Academy’s top honor. Guillermo Del Toro, a lifelong fantasy and classic film fan, also received an Oscar as Best Director (and quoted Jimmy Cagney in YANKEE DOODLE DANDY in his acceptance speech!). Coincidentally, last night was the anniversary of the birth of William Alland , producer of THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, which served as an inspiration for THE SHAPE OF WATER. Somewhere in Hollywood heaven, Mr. Alland, director Jack Arnold, stars Richard Carlson, Richard Denning, Nestor Paiva, and Ben Chapman are all beaming with pride! (Happily, Julie Adams and Riccou Browning are still with us to join in the celebration).

More Oscar ramblings:

*The opening sequence, mixing old & new black and white footage, was a nice touch, as were the montage segments preceding the Best Actor, Actress, and Supporting presentations, brief though they were.

*Speaking of brevity, the show ran about three hours and forty-five minutes, way too long. Much as I enjoy Jimmy Kimmel as host (who even joked about the length of the Awards), maybe if they cut out some of the comedy bits, we film fans could get some sleep before Monday arrives!.

The delightful Eva Marie Saint

*Classic film buffs got a treat when 1954’s Best Supporting Actress winner Eva Marie Saint appeared to give out the award for Best Costume Design. The delightful Miss Saint had the line of the night: “I just realized something… I’m older than the Academy!” (She’s 93 years young)

*Sorry,  but Mark Hamill looked like shit, even in a tux. What happened, Luke Skywalker ? Sandra Bullock, on the other hand, is still a hottie far as I’m concerned!

*Jordan Peele won Best Original Screenplay for GET OUT, another horror film. It was a great night for my favorite genre! Bravo, Jordan!

*89-year-old James Ivory, who has been making movies since 1953, won the Best Adapted Screenplay for CALL ME BY YOUR NAME. Bravo, James!

Blade Runner 2049

*Another veteran filmmaker, cinematographer Roger Deakins, finally copped an Oscar after 14 tries for BLADE RUNNER 2049. About damn time!

*Being the 90th anniversary of Oscar, I expected more classic film tributes than I got. Which brings me to the “In Memoriam” segment. Though Eddie Vedder did a fine job singing the late Tom Petty’s “Room at the Top” over the montage, once again the Academy omitted some true giants of the field. For instance, where was Anne Jeffreys? Tobe Hooper? Not to mention Lola Albright, William Peter Blatty, Don Pedro Colley, Don Gordon, Skip Homeier, Elena Verdugo, and so many others who contributed to the history of cinema? (For a more comprehensive list, click to my post IN MEMORIAM 2017: FILM & TELEVISION )

That’s all for now. See you at next year’s Oscars!

 

OUTLAW GANG ATTEMPTS OSCAR ROBBERY!!

Extry! Extry! Here, hot off the presses, is a photo of the desperate outlaws trying to escape…

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Seriously, never in all my Oscar-watching days have I seen them give the Best Picture award to the wrong picture!! Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway looked befuddled, when a Price Waterhouse official came and straightened out the snafu. Seems Warren was handed the “wrong” envelope when he announced LA LA LAND as the winner instead of MOONLIGHT! The Academy has vowed to look into the whole sordid affair, and will call in Inspector Clouseau to investigate!

Congrats to both films. More Oscar musings:

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*LA LA LAND may have not won Best Picture, but did bring home six statuettes, including Best Actress Emma Stone, and Best Director Damien Chazelle. I really need to see this film!

*It was a good night for our local New England artists. Besides Providence, R.I.’s Chazelle, local boy Casey Affleck (from right down the Cape in Falmouth) copped Best Actor for MANCHESTER BY THE SEA, while Viola Davis (across the border in Central Falls, R.I.) won Best Supporting Actress for FENCES.

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*Speaking of Davis, she gave the most emotional speech of the night on art, life, and love that was straight from the heart. Bravo, Viola!!

*Jimmy Kimmel was great in the host position, and thankfully he kept the politics to a minimum. What he did was funny (To Meryl Streep: “Nice dress. Is that Ivanka?”) without being overbearing. His running “feud” with Matt Damon is a modern-day version of the Jack Benny/Fred Allen shenanigans of the 1930’s-40’s and just as funny .

*The Oscar version of Kimmel’s “Mean Tweets” was hysterical.

*Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson electrified the audience with his stirring rendition of “You’re Welcome” from MOANA! Just kidding.

*Justin Timberlake really did electrify everyone by opening the show singing “Can’t Stop the Feeling” from TROLLS, and Bill Withers’ “Lovely Day”. Best opening in decades!

*The part where the people on the tour bus were brought into Hollywood’s Dolby Theater would have been a lot funnier if the tourists were all wearing ‘Make America Great Again’ hats, don’t you think?

*The women of filmland were all thinner than the mic stand! Ladies…this is not healthy. You all look like anorexic junkies! Please, go eat!! (Except you, Jennifer Anniston… you’re perfect!) (And you, Amy Adams. Ditto!)

*As usual I have issues with the “In Memoriam” segment. Apparently, so does producer Jan Chapman, whose picture was shown in place of costume designer Janet Patterson. Glad to hear you’re okay, Jan!!

*The Academy could’ve at least acknowledged the late Herschell Gordon Lewis, who virtually created an entire film genre on a $1.98 budget, though I knew they wouldn’t. But the fact they forget Madeleine LeBeau…

…unforgivable! Also omitted were Billy Chapin, Gloria DeHaven, Bernard Fox, Bert Kwouk, Theresa Saldana, William Schallert, Our Gang’s Jerry Tucker, Robert Vaughn, and Alan Young. I will give them credit for including Lupita Tovar, however.

*All in all, a better show than 2016. See you at the movies!

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Random Musings on Last Night’s Oscars

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Well, the 88th Academy Awards are over. It was a strange show, to be sure…not necessarily good, but strange. I’ve just got a few thoughts in my head I need to get out:

*THE RED CARPET: Overlong and vapid. Seriously, this was just ridiculous. I’m no fashionista, so I don’t care what Miss Anna Rexic is wearing this evening. I know many people do though, so we’ve gotta have the “Pre-Game” show to sell the sponsor’s products, right? Yeah. I just think the time would be better spent on showing something like Gena Rowlands, Debbie Reynolds, and Spike Lee receiving their honorary Oscars.

*CHRIS ROCK: Dude, I thought your opening monologue was hysterical! But there’s an old saying, “Quit beating a dead horse”. The race jokes kept getting lamer and lamer. And that interview with movie patrons on the street sure didn’t help your cause. Oh, and the Girl Scout cookie bit was a blatant rip-off of Ellen DeGeneres ordering pizza for the crowd. No wonder Kevin Hart’s getting all the good parts!!

*SYLVESTER STALLONE: I’m sure Mark Rylance gave a good performance, but…C’MON, IT’S ROCKY, MAN! Sly will probably never get another shot at Oscar. Unless he gets nominated for THE EXPENDABLES 17!

*BEST SONG: Really? Lady Gaga makes a bold statement with “Til It Happens to You”, and loses to that Sam Smith snoozer from SPECTRE (try saying that three times fast!) And what’s up with The Weeknd’s hair? Good lord!

*MAD MAX: FURY ROAD: When Max began to sweep all those technical categories, I knew it had no chance at Best Picture. Happens all the time.

*IN MEMORIAM: Colleen Grey. Geoffrey Lewis. Dickie Moore. Roddy Piper. Joan Leslie. Jean Darling. Gunnar Hanson. Angus Scrimm. Kevin Corcoran. Martin Milner. Yvonne Craig. Jayne Meadows. James Best. Ron Moody. Patrick Macnee. Abe Vigoda. #OscarsSoDisrespectful.

Other than that, it was a pretty good show, and I can’t wait for next year!!

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My Personal Top Ten Oscar Winners for Best Picture

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Watching movies, like appreciating any art form, is a purely subjective experience. My idea of a great film could be your idea of a stinkeroo. After all, my two favorite directors are John Ford and Ed Wood! Keeping that in mind, I’ve decided to do something different here. Since I’ve viewed 61 of the 87 Best Picture winners, I’ve come up with a Top Ten list of the all-time best Best Pictures I’ve seen. And here it is:

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  • 10- *tie* REBECCA (1940) and ON THE WATERFRONT (1954). This may be cheating, but I really couldn’t pick between the two. Hitchcock’s American film debut is simply a masterpiece of suspense, while Marlon Brando leads a powerhouse cast in Elia Kazan’s powerhouse drama. Both deserve to make the list.
  • 9- RAIN MAN (1988). I could watch this movie over and over and never get tired of it. Dustin Hoffman has never been better. “Uh-oh, two minutes to Wapner!”
  • 8- WEST SIDE STORY (1961). The only musical on the list, only because SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN didn’t win the award. The Jets vs The Sharks in an American classic.
  • 7- UNFORGIVEN (1992). Clint Eastwood’s elegy to the Western genre is timeless. Gene Hackman is fantastic as Little Bill. No matter what you may think of Clint, he’s one of our greatest living  filmmakers.
  • 6- ALL ABOUT EVE (1950). Deliciously bitchy backstage drama, from the poison pen of Joseph L. Mankiewicz. Fine performances all around, including a small role for young Marilyn Monroe.
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  • 5- GONE WITH THE WIND (1939). I was ambivalent about including GWTW at first, but finally decided it belongs here. One of the all-time great epics. Overlong, but it still delivers the entertainment goods.
  • 4- ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST (1975). Another movie I could watch over and over. Jack Nicholson nails it as McMurphy, supported by a top-notch cast and Milos Foreman’s direction.
  • 3- THE BRIDGE OVER THE RIVER KWAI (1957). Probably the best anti-war film of all, and that’s saying a lot. When it comes to epics, nobody does them better than David Lean. Alec Guinness (pre-Obi Wan) is superb.
  • 2- THE GODFATHER (1972). Brando again, with a cast of young actors who all rose to stardom due to this Francis Ford Coppola film. THE movie of the 70’s!
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  • 1- CASABLANCA (1943). Was there ever any doubt? Still my all-time personal favorite. If I could only watch one movie for the rest of my life, this would be it! Here’s looking at you, kid!

And there you have it. Honorable mentions would go to GRAND HOTEL, THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES, BEN-HUR, THE SOUND OF MUSIC (yeah, I’m a sentimentalist), THE GODFATHER PART II, ROCKY, ANNIE HALL, FORREST GUMP, THE FRENCH CONNECTION, MILLION DOLLAR BABY, and NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN. So how about you, Dear Readers? Agree? Disagree? Would you add or subtract any from your own personal Top Ten lists? I’d love to hear your reactions, so feel free to comment away!