As horror fans, or just fans of movies in general, we as an audience and as movie-goers are always looking for people and characters in any given situation that we can identify and relate to. What makes the movie going experience so fulfilling is when we can truly connect with the people in the story that we're watching and we care about what happens to them. And for fans of the genre, there's nothing we love more than getting a character that is just like us. The horror movie nerd. The one that's seen all the movies, that knows all the rules, that wears his/her love of horror movies on their sleeve and sometimes plastered all over their walls in the form of posters and Fangoria covers. So with that in mind, I wanted to give you my top 5 cinematic horror movie nerds. Here are the peeps whose knowledge and love of the genre benefited their characters and helped them to (in the case of our horror examples) survive and (in the case of our comedy examples) get a few laughs. That's right, we'll be delving into characters from both the horror and comedy genres and as you'll see, 1987 seemed to be a good year cinematically for the horror fan! So without further delay, here we go…
5) Tommy Jarvis (Corey Feldman) – Friday The 13th Part 4: The Final Chapter (1984)
For myself and I'm sure a slew of other budding & curious horror fans that grew up in the 80's, one of the most appealing things about the character of Tommy Jarvis as introduced in Friday The 13th Part 4: The Final Chapter is that he was our age! Up until that entry, all the previous films and sequels focused on teenage camp counselors and campers. But Tommy (as depicted by Corey Feldman) was the first kid I remember seeing in a major horror franchise film like this, and not only that, but he was obsessed with masks and monsters; just like we the kids watching this movie were. Now, I never got as far as he did in terms of creating my own masks or puppets Tom Savini-style, but I related to him and wanted nothing more than to also be an FX artist like my heroes of that era. And seeing Tommy's room full of stuff that he himself had sculpted and created made me feel like with a little bit of imagination and effort, I was totally capable of doing it too.
The other thing that made Tommy stand out is that he inadvertently became Jason Voorhees' nemesis. So many "adults" and "teenagers" faced Jason for 3 films before this (technically 2 since Mama Voorhees was the killer in the first) and the one person that ended up finally taking down the hockey masked maniac was a kid, approximately the same age as a good chunk of the franchises' fanbase. Tommy had lived with monsters as something he related to, loved and wanted to create, but when faced with a real life monster threatening his family and friends, he took action, shaved his head and drove that dame machete right into Jason Voorhees' freakin' noggin. He became the horror movie hero we cheered for and followed through 2 more sequels.
4) Sean Crenshaw (Andre Gower) – The Monster Squad (1987)
Look. This one's a no brainer. Sean started a freakin' club called "The Monster Squad". He wore a bitchin' T-Shirt that read "Stephen King Rules". He wanted to see a movie called Groundhog Day Part XII on opening night! If ever there was a kid that represented us as horror fans, it was Sean (as played by Andre Gower) in Fred Dekker's beloved flick The Monster Squad. And not only that, but he had a whole crew of friends that entertained each other with horror movie trivia and debated the logistics of movie monsters with great thought and intelligence on a regular basis. Is a silver bullet the only way to kill a werewolf? Does the Wolfman have nards?
I was always in love with the Universal Monster movies for as long as I can remember, and I also have fond memories of seeing most of these iconic monsters together in Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein, but The Monster Squad is the movie that not only brought them all together, but it let a group of kids get in on the action and not only participate, but help save the day. Kudos to Eugene for getting the army to show up, even if they were a bit too late. If ever there was an excuse to continue renting horror movies from the video store down the block without my parent's consent, it was to make sure my friends and I were all well versed on how to off some monsters in the off chance they ever planned for world domination.
3) Francis "Chainsaw" Gremp (Dean Cameron) – Summer School (1987)
Growing up, my love of the horror genre was only rivaled by one other sub-genre of film – the 80's teen comedy. And one of my all time favorites was the Mark Harmon fronted Summer School, in which Harmon portrays Freddy Shoop, a gym teacher abruptly ditched by his girlfriend mere moments before they're supposed to take off for a vacation to Hawaii and then suckered into teaching an English course for the summer instead. To say he's got a motley crew of slackers would be an understatement. But among the batch were two lunatic teenagers obsessed with the (as they frequently put it) "Tobe Hooper 1974 classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre"; they were Dave (Gary Riley) and Chainsaw (Dean Cameron). And while I related to the hyper frantic goofball character that was Chainsaw, he reminded me more of the metalhead kids I shared hallway space with in high school. Those shifty yougans that would always go smoke a cigarette in between classes.
Look, any character that requests an in-class screening of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in order to impress the Italian exchange student is A OK in my book. You also have to give Chainsaw and Dave props for performing a killer bunny stunt in the middle of a packed petting zoo/amusement park and also for orchestrating a (fairly realistic) class massacre in order to frighten off any would-be substitute teachers. Respect!
A few years later, we horror fans got to see Dean Cameron appear in another genre offering as an off-kilter Slayer fanatic Ralph in Bad Dreams.
2) Morgan Stewart (Jon Cryer) – Morgan Stewart's Coming Home (1987)
Another late 80's teen comedy that a lot of people are unfamiliar with is the vastly underrated Morgan Stewart's Coming Home, where Jon Cryer portrays Morgan Stewart, a fun horror fanatic, harmless trouble-maker and prankster who's been shuffled from boarding school to boarding school and deprived of a normal family upbringing due to his parents standing in local politics. Cut to him at his 9th boarding school and his parents have finally opted to bring him home, but unfortunately it's not for the most genuine of reasons. Instead, they are polling with the slogan "vote for the family" and despite his parents misunderstandings regarding his obsessions with "pornographic films" as his mother puts it (actually just good old fashioned horror!), he's determined to make them a "family even if it kills" him.
Morgan has always been my favorite of the horror movie nerds and it's simply because he was as normal a kid as they come. He wasn't dressed all in black or obsessed with goth music or morbidly mulling over death. (Not to knock that, I was into all of that stuff at one point myself) But he was just an average looking teenager that happened to love horror movies with all his heart and soul. Hell, the very first shot of the movie opens on Morgan's Fulci ZOMBI poster on his wall. He owns (and references several times) his Texas Chainsaw Massacre chainsaw autographed by Tobe Hooper. He meets the girl of his dreams Emily (Viveka Davis) "call me M like in Dial M For Murder" while waiting in line to get George Romero's autograph. His first date with Emily is to go see a midnight screening of Attack of The Killer Tomatoes! If this doesn't sound like the most romantic movie ever made to you, then you're not the horror nerd that I am apparently.
There's even a nod to Psycho's infamous shower scene which is always a sure fire way to reach my heart. If that's not enough to convince you to check this out, then the appearance of character actor Paul Gleason (The Breakfast Club) as the film's "villain" should seal the deal. Don't let the cheesy teaser trailer fool you, this gets my highest possible recommendation.
1) Randy Meeks (Jamie Kennedy) – Scream (1996)
Oh Randy. In this writer's humble opinion, you were the heart and soul of the Scream franchise and for me personally the moment they killed him in Scream 2 is the moment I stopped caring about the Scream movies.
In Wes Craven's big comeback genre film from ‘96, Jamie Kennedy played Randy Meeks, the video store clerk that knew everything there was to know about horror movies. "What's that horror movie with the mom from ET?" "The Howling. Horror. Straight ahead." He's the character that had an unrequited love for our lead heroine Sidney Prescott. The last man standing at a party watching John Carpenter's original Halloween alone after everyone else has already left. And the most likely suspect to be a killer amongst his peers for harboring that Norman Bates-esque innocence. (He wouldn't harm a fly, would he?) In other words, he was one of us! With a film as self referential as Scream was, there needed to be someone to point out that there was a method to the madness, that there was a formula to the movies we all grew up watching and loving and that whomever the killer was, he was following this formula to a tee and taking their love of horror films one step too far.
Again, I thought it was a huge, huge mistake killing off this character half way through the second feature and I suspect the filmmakers also felt that way considering they worked in a cameo for Randy in Scream 3. (No love for Randy in Scream 4 though?) Because of our love and respect for you Randy, you are our number one cinematic horror movie nerd. R.I.P.
Did we miss anyone? Who are your favorite cinematic horror movie nerds?