If there was a hall of fame for horror actors, would it be called the hall of fangs?
In honor of Halloween being only a calendar page away, here are five actors who built their reputations by playing characters in scary flicks. A couple of them have Oklahoma ties.
The English actor earned dual monster cred for playing the creature in two classic Universal franchises. Karloff was perfect as Frankenstein’s monster in 1931, and he was the fellow behind all those bandages in “The Mummy” the following year.
Karloff revisited the role of Frankenstein’s monster in “The Bride of Frankenstein” and “Son of Frankenstein.” He played a different role in “House of Frankenstein” and Glenn Strange of “Gunsmoke” fame wore the monster makeup.
Karloff was in dozens of other horror flicks and — bonus — voiced the title character in “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”
Lon Chaney Jr.
Chaney touched just about all the Universal bases. His signature role was the sympathetic beastie in “The Wolf Man,” but he also played the mummy in three films, Frankenstein’s monster in “Ghost of Frankenstein” and the vampire Count Alucard (hey, isn’t that Dracula spelled backwards?) in “Son of Dracula.”
Did you know Chaney was born in Oklahoma City and, if not for a toss in cold water, might have died at birth? The Tulsa World wrote about it in 2016.
Lugosi played Dracula in a Broadway theater production before tackling the role again in a 1931 film. Originally from Hungary, his accent enhanced his performance.
Did Lugosi overachieve? He became typecast as a horror actor, appearing in films like “Murder in the Rue Morgue,” “The Raven,” “Son of Frankenstein” and “White Zombie.” Lugosi was Ygor in “Son of Frankenstein,” but he played Frankenstein’s monster in “Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man.”
Though Price excelled in horror and villain roles, in “real life” he was an art aficionado who had a great appreciation for Tulsa’s museums, specifically Gilcrease Museum and the Philbrook Museum of Art.
Price made his horror debut alongside Karloff in the 1939 movie “Tower of London,” and he starred in “The Invisible Man Returns” the following year. His horror career kicked into overdrive in the 1950s and 1960s with a string of movies too numerous to mention. His daughter once told the Tulsa World she avoided those movies because pops usually met a grisly fate.
Pop culture factoid: That’s Price’s voice you hear at the end of the Michael Jackson song “Thriller.”
Britain’s Hammer Films came bursting through the horror door in the 1950s with color versions of movies featuring classic critters like Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster and the mummy. The floodgates opened for waves of horror flicks, and Lee was among actors who gave movies their “bite.”
Lee, though he played other characters in the Hammer-verse, is best known for his work as Dracula. Once you’ve seen, in color, blood-red eyes and blood on his fangs, it’s a sight that might be permanently etched in your memory banks. Once you go bad, you’ll never go back? Fans of the “Star Wars” franchise know him as Count Dooku.