The first horror movie of 2015 to really blow my mind is Late Phases, a film Bloody Disgusting calls: “A masterpiece of the werewolf genre.” I couldn’t agree more; in addition to being a great thriller, Late Phases manages to bring fresh vitality to somewhat played-out werewolf tropes. This is no easy task when you consider how werewolf mythology tightly bound to specific rules: Werewolves emerge every full moon; if you get bitten by a werewolf you’ll become one; the only way to kill a werewolf is with silver bullets. Who could have possibly imagined that the way to reinvigorate the werewolf genre would be to set a film in a retirement community?
Nick Damici’s portrayal of blind veteran and newest community member, Ambrose, is nothing short of amazing. Despite the fact that his character is handicapped and retired, Ambrose is tough as nails and fiercely independent; while Damici is actually in his 50, make-up, including prosthetics helps him look much older. While he hardly seems the typical horror movie protagonist, he’s completely riveting and believable throughout. Another actor who shines in Late Phases, someone who actually is a senior citizen, is Tom Noonan (who’s performance in House of the Devil was exemplary); he plays the kind yet complicated Father Roger. These actors carry the film and the scenes they have together absolutely crackle.
Slashers are definitely geared towards younger audiences (and therefore feature younger actors) but the horror genre as a whole is hardly ageist. There are plenty of older actors whose contributions to horror cannot be understated; many have been acting for decades and show no signs of slowing down.
This list pays tribute to living horror movie actors over 60 years of age. They may be past their peak physically, but they’re still in their prime when it comes to delivering chilling and compelling performances. Enjoy!
Sigourney Weaver: Alien, Aliens, Alien 3 (October 8, 1949)
When Neill Blomkamp’s Alien 5 hits theaters in 2016 (knock on wood) Sigourney Weaver will be a spry 67 years old. Not only does Weaver epitomize aging gracefully, she’s still tough enough to kick major ass when her male counterparts fall short.
Malcolm McDowell: A Clockwork Orange, Halloween, Excision (June 13, 1943)
Malcolm McDowell made his first horror movie in 1971 and doesn’t appear to have any plans for retirement. When he appears in Rob Zombie’s latest, 31, in 2016 (fingers crossed) he’ll be 73 years young!
Lance Henriksen: Aliens, Near Dark, The Pit and the Pendulum (May 5, 1940)
Regular Blood-Shed readers know I’m a huge fan of Lance Henriksen, who I believe is a true underappreciated horror icon; you can check out my list of the Top 10 Horror Films featuring Lance Henriksen: HERE. When his latest film, Harbinger Down, hits theaters late this year (God willing), he’ll be an energetic 75 years old!
Anthony Hopkins: Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal, The Rite (December 31, 1937)
Much respect to the first man to receive the Best Actor Oscar for a role in a horror movie; Anthony Hopkins was already pushing 60 when he his portrayal of Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs left audiences stunned and gasping in 1991. Since then, he’s appeared in dozens of films, including his most recent horror offering The Rite in 2011. This year alone, Hopkins is set to appear in 6 films. Not bad for a 78-year-old!
Bill Nighy: Underworld, Shaun of the Dead, I, Frankenstein (December 12, 1949)
Bill Nighy single-handedly kept the Underworld franchise from descending into cheesiness with his riveting portrayal of vampire patriarch Viktor; the only Underworld film he was not featured in, Awakening in 2012, is the lest impressive of the series. Coincidence? Rumor has it he’ll be playing a coroner in Fergle Gibson’s upcoming feature, Payne & Redemption, which is aiming for a 2016 release date; at that time, Bill will be 67-years-old!
Ray Wise: Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, Jeepers Creepers II, The Lazarus Effect (August 20, 1947)
Ray Wise is another unsung hero of horror destine to be considered an icon of our generation. His ability to fluctuate between kindly-happy-go-lucky and all-together-terrifying proves he’s an actor of outstanding abilities. He’s set to reprise his role as Leland Palmer in Showtime’s revival of Twin Peaks; when it hits TV sets in 2016, Ray will be 69 years old!
Lin Shaye: A Nightmare on Elm Street, Insidious, Dead End (October 12, 1943)
While the Insidious franchise has a lot of great things going for it, no one can deny that Lin Shaye’s compelling portrayal of psychic Elise Rainier is a big part of the series’ success. Shaye has been in close to 100 movies and TV shows since the year 2000 with Insidious 3 set to hit theaters later this year; three additional films featuring Shaye have been completed and are currently seeking distribution, while another 6 films are currently in post-production. At 73, Shay’s got more get-up-and-go than the Energizer Bunny!
Ben Kingsley: Suspect Zero, Shutter Island, Stonehearst Asylum (December 31, 1943)
Ben Kingsley is the quintessential evil Brit: Sauvé, intelligent, and viciously dangerous. Born during the turbulent years of WWII, he has a knack for playing characters who are as poised and confident as they are terrifying. With 2 completed films yet to be released, 2 in post-production, 2 currently filming, and 2 in pre-production, Kingsley keeps himself busier than an actor half his age. Not bad for a 72-year-old!
Christopher Walken: The Dead Zone, The Prophecy, Sleepy Hollow (March 31, 1943)
Christopher Walken’s versatility makes him an asset to any genre, but his slightly off-kilter acting style is perfect for horror movies. His ability to be simultaneously calm and unnerving makes him an awesome antagonist. With 3 films in post-production and 1 currently filming, Walken will be relevant for many years to come.
Christopher Lee: The Wicker Man, Curse of Frankenstein, Horror of Dracula (May 27, 1922)
Part of me suspects Christopher Lee actually is a vampire, akin to the Count he’s portrayed in classic Hammer films—and I mean that as a total compliment! It’s like he’s immortal! Since launching his career in 1946, Lee has become one of the most respected and prolific actors in horror or any other genre. In addition to being a bona-fide icon of horror, Lee is also an accomplished heavy metal musician. Yes, you read that correctly. He’s released 4 albums to date; his first release, Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross, won Metal Hammer’s “Spirit of Metal Award” at the Golden Gods ceremony in 2010. His most recent album, released in December, is a collection of heavy-metal style Christmas songs. Not only is Lee a genius thespian, he’s a renaissance Man for All Seasons and living legend. At 93-years-old, he’s also the oldest actor on this list.
Sample some of Lee’s darkest Christmas carols in the video below.
Who are your favorite horror actors over 60? Sound off in the Comments section!
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I’m disappointed the list didn’t include Angus ‘the Tall Man’ Scrimm
That’s the nature of Top 10 Lists: They inevitably exclude worthy candidates. I’m definitely also a big Phan of The Tall Man!