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Best Horror Movie Actors of All Time

Horror actors range from A-list celebrities to the very best that B-list has to offer. Some of the biggest names in Hollywood, like Kevin Bacon and Jennifer Aniston, got their humble beginnings in the horror genre in films like Friday the 13th and Leprechaun. According to Bloody Disgusting, Aniston has mixed feelings about starring in the 1993 horror-comedy alongside Warwick Davis. Even still, horror actors have the innate ability to deliver comedy and deliver blatant terror.

It takes a special talent to be able to react to occurrences that seem obscure or absolutely disgusting. Not to mention the actors who undergo hours upon hours of make-up to portray the monster or villain that their character reflects. Although major award ceremonies often neglect the horror genre and the performances it has to offer, these actors come back time and time again to give it their absolute all. Here are some of the greatest horror actors of all time.


10 Tom Atkins

Toms Atkins
Universal Pictures 

Tom Atkins‘ first film role was in a movie called The Detective, which also starred Frank Sinatra. Atkins played a police officer, a role he would go on to play fairly often. However, he is best known for his roles in cult classics like Halloween III: Season of the Witch, The Fog, and Night of the Creeps. Atkins returned to horror in 2009 for the remake of My Bloody Valentine and again in 2019 for a film called Trick.

Yet, Atkins’ most memorable role is as Doctor Daniel Challis in Halloween III, which is one of the most controversial films of the franchise. The third installment of the franchise was released a year after Halloween II and to audience’s surprise, the film didn’t feature Michael Myers. Halloween III stands alone as a great Halloween movie not only for its unique plot concept, but also due to a charming performance by Atkins.

Related: Jennifer Anniston’s Leprechaun & 5 Other Actors Who Did Horror Movies Before They Were Famous

9 Barbara Crampton

Concorde Pictures

Barbara Crampton has been a horror staple since the 1980s, during which she made her debut in a thriller called Body Double. However, Crampton’s cementing role in the genre was in 1985’s Re-Animator, the loosely based adaptation of HP Lovecraft’s terrifying classic. Crampton has become as much of a cult classic to horror as the films that she has been in. Following Re-Animator, she was in Chopping Mall and Puppet Master. However unlike some of her co-stars, Crampton has made a home in the horror genre with a lineage featuring some of her most iconic performances.

8 Tony Todd

Tony Todd covered in bees in Candyman
TriStar Pictures

Tony Todd is most known in the horror community for his role as Daniel Robitaillie in Candyman, which, according to All That’s Interesting, is loosely based on a true story. He would go on to reprise his role in the two sequels that followed, but before he was the iconic hook handed slasher, Todd was in Tom Savini’s remake of Night of the Living Dead. One could say that Todd is a true staple within the genre when it comes to the master of doom and gloom, having been in the entire Final Destination Franchise, and 2018’s Hellfest.

7 Keith David

Universal Pictures

Keith David has been placed in roles from horror to voice acting in animated films. However, his presence in two prominent 80s horror films cemented in the genre forever. They Live and The Thing are two of John Carpenter’s best movies, and David’s portrayal of his characters is a huge contributing factor. One of the most memorable scenes in horror to date is the often-debated interaction between David’s character Childs and Kurt Russell’s MacReady in The Thing.

6 Lon Chaney Jr.

Lon Chaney Jr. in The Wolfman
Castle Films

Lon Chaney Jr. was the son of prominent silent film actor, Lon Chaney Sr., who was most well-known for his role in Phantom of the Opera. Following in his father’s footsteps, Chaney would go on to be one of the biggest stars on Universal’s lot. One of the best Univeral Monster Movies, The Wolf Man, was Chaney’s breakout role. The monsters he went on to play during Universal’s golden era all required a great deal of makeup and prosthetics.

5 Bela Lugosi

Bela Lugosi as Dracula
Universal Pictures

Horror icons ripped from the page are often some of the very best. Bram Stoker’s Dracula was published in 1897, and would be brought to life by Universal in 1931. Bela Lugosi, one of early horror’s leading men, would portray the count himself. Lugosi found himself as one of Universal’s most wanted when it came to horror, as he was in almost all the early productions ranging from the Edgar Allan Poe adaptations to the Abott and Costello parodies.

4 Chris Sarandon

Columbia Pictures

Chris Sarandon‘s acting credits stretch far beyond the horror genre. However, the characters he presented in certain films wouldn’t be the same had another actor been in his place. 1985’s Fright Night is one of the most underrated vampire films to come out of the 1980s. Sarandon played Detective Mike Norris in Child’s Play, and also voiced the infamous Jack Skellington in A Nightmare Before Christmas. According to Looper, Sarandon was chosen for the role because his speaking voice was close enough to Danny Elfman’s, the composer responsible for Jack’s singing voice.

Related: Evil Dead: The Best Moments in the Franchise, Ranked

3 Jamie Lee Curtis

Jamie Lee Curtis

Jamie Lee Curtis is the daughter of Janet Leigh, who was killed by Norman Bates in Hitchcock’s infamous shower scene in Psyho. Curtis’ first role was in Carpenter’s horror classic Halloween, where she portrayed one horror’s favorite final girls, Laurie Strode. Halloween gave Curtis her big break, and she would go on to become a beloved character within the franchise, both the original and the reboot. Her acting credits reach far beyond the horror genre, but Curtis is an actress who is always quick to remind others where she found her cinema roots.

2 Toni Collette

Toni Collette in Hereditary

Like most of the actors on this list, Toni Collette is not only a horror genre native but instead a frequent flyer. Her diverse acting talents have allowed her to be cast in a variety of roles, and she’s most noted for the films in which she has a dysfunctional family. Collette has been in horror film’s ranging from all-out comedies to heavy hitters like Hereditary. Her acting talents know no bounds, and there are no limitations to what kind of horror film she can appear in next.

1 Bruce Campbell

The Evil Dead 1200 x 630
New Line Cinema

Bruce Campbell and his involvement in The Evil Dead franchise is one of the most fascinating pieces of horror history. According to Vocal Media, Campbell and Sam Raimi put together a prototype to attract investor that was titled Within the Woods. From there, the franchise took off and always delivered in its ability to portray terrifying practical effects. Campbell has returned for every installment of the franchise either as an actor in the film or an executive producer, and that is part of the reason why these films are always delivered with a tremendous amount of care.

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