When I initially created this list I had shortlisted a few actors who aren’t really considered “horror actors”. The brilliant Max Von Sydow for example. He has been in three really fantastic horror films; Hour of the Wolf (1968), The Night Visitor (1971), and The Exorcist (1973). Or Donald Sutherland who is outrageously good in Don’t Look Now (1973) and Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978). And what about Oliver Reed?! He has some mighty entries with The Curse of the Werewolf (1961), The Devils (1971), Burnt Offerings (1976), and The Brood (1979). I felt obligated to mention their awesome contributions but I think all three of these men are probably better known for their other genre work. Beyond a shadow of a doubt the below 20 actors have left their mark on the horror genre! WARNING! Copious use of the word INTENSE! Without further ado, my twenty favourite horror film actors…

John Saxon doesn’t have a huge list of horror in relation to his acting credits; but it is nonetheless significant. Saxon has worked with two of my favourite directors Mario Bava and Dario Argento. Saxon is excellent in Bava’s The Girl Who Knew Too Much where he stars as Dr. Bassi. He is also good in a more minor role in Argento’s Tenebre. Saxon has a strong face and a bit of a cocky vibe I find appealing. Here are a few of his horror credits; The Girl Who Knew Too Much (1963), The Night Caller (1965), Queen of Blood (1966), Black Christmas (1974), Shadows in an Empty Room (1976), The Bees (1978), Cannibal Apocalypse (1980), Scorpion with Two Tails (1982), Tenebre (1982), A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), Death House (1987), A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987), Nightmare Beach (1989), Hellmaster (1992), Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994), From Dusk till Dawn (1995)

Donald Pleasance has 223 acting credits listed on IMDB. That is impressive. He was in the film industry from 1952 until his death in 1995. He has worked in every genre imaginable but he is still best known for his role in Halloween and all its sequels. Pleasance has an interesting intensity and mesmerizing eyes; his presence always leaves an impression. I must admit the original Halloween is my fave on the list, The Flesh and the Fiends and Phenomena wouldn’t be too far behind. Pleasance’s horror film credits; Circus of Horrors (1960), The Flesh and the Fiends (1960), The Hands of Orlac (1960), Eye of the Devil (1966), Death Line (1973), The Mutations (1974), Halloween (1978), Dracula (1979), The Monster Club (1981), Alone in the Dark (1982), Phenomena (1985), Prince of Darkness (1987)

Lon Chaney Jr is the son of silent film star Lon Chaney. Like his father, Lon Chaney Jr is best known for his horror appearances. Chaney’s Wolf Man, his best known character is superb. I quite enjoy Lon Chaney Jr’s horror films from the 40s. The quality of some of his later films is pretty shaky but there were a few more decent entries to come, including a personal favourite; Spider Baby or, The Maddest Story Ever Told in 1968. Here is just a selection of Lon Chaney Jr’s films; The Wolf Man (1941), The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942), Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943), Son of Dracula (1943), Calling Dr. Death (1943), Dead Man’s Eyes (1944), House of Frankenstein (1944), House of Dracula (1945), The Haunted Palace (1963), Witchcraft (1964), Spider Baby or, The Maddest Story Ever Told (1968)

Udo Kier was born to play a vampire with those incredible freaking eyes! I actually got to meet Udo Kier at the 2009 Rue Morgue Festival of Fear. His eyes are really impressive in person too. I really dig Morrisey’s Blood for Dracula and Flesh for Frankenstein. Kier gives a good performance in both but with Kier it is partly about the visuals for me. He is a fascinating man to stare at. Here is Kier’s short and sweet list of horror credits; Flesh for Frankenstein (1973), Blood for Dracula (1974), Suspiria (1977), Dr. Jekyll and His Wives (1981), Blade (1998), Shadow of the Vampire (2000), Mother of Tears (2007)

I have only seen two of Duane Jones horror films; Night of the Living Dead and Ganja & Hess. NOTLD is one of the best horror films ever made and Jones performance as Ben is intense and absolutely perfect. I really dug Jones in the trippy Ganja & Hess also, a sexy vampire film with a twist. Jones only has eight acting credits and six of those titles are horror. Jones definitely qualifies for the list! Jones horror films include; Night of the Living Dead (1968), Ganja & Hess (1973), Vampires (1986), Negatives (1988), To Die For (1988), Fright House (1989)

No one can play a creepy bad-ass like David Hess. Hess chills my shit. His role in Last House on the Left is the one he is best known for but his roles in both Hitch Hike and The House on the Edge of the Park are equally disturbing. Hess plays monsters of the human variety and this guy knows fucking intense! His horror roles include; The Last House on the Left (1972), Autostop rosso sangue (Hitch Hike) (1977), The House on the Edge of the Park (1980), Swamp Thing (1982), Bodycount (1987), Smash Cut (2009)

Only fans of Italian horror films will be familiar with Ivan Rassimov. Rassimov doesn’t have a huge resume but a good chunk of his list is horror. No matter how small the role Rassimov stands out. He is another man on this list that has the ability to chill my shit. Rassimov is a great villain. Period. Sergio Martino’s The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh is my personal favourite of the list. Rassimov made a trio of great films with Martino, who happens to be a favourite director. Here are some of Rassimov’s better known credits; Planet of the Vampires (1965), The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh (1971), Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the key (1972), All the Colors of the Dark (1972), Man from Deep River (1972), Spasmo (1974), L’ossessa (1974), Last Cannibal World (1977), Shock (1977), Eaten Alive! (1980)

José Mojica Marins is known for playing Zé do Caixão or Coffin Joe. Coffin Joe is a strange cat who dons a suit, top hat, cape. and one gnarly set of fingernails. He’s a nasty bastard with a serious superiority complex with a hate on for the superstitious and religious. José Mojica Marins played Coffin Joe in several films; most recently in the 2008 film Embodiment of Evil. Some of the Coffin Joe films are sketchy, but the first two films At Midnight I Will Take Your Soul and This Night I Will Possess Your Corpse are boss! Coffin Joe is one of horror’s weirdest and more fascinating villains. Marins horror list includes; At Midnight I Will Take Your Soul (1964), This Night I Will Possess Your Corpse (1967), Strange World of Coffin Joe (1968), When the Gods Fall Asleep (1972), Black Exorcism of Coffin Joe (1974), Strange Hostel of Naked Pleasures (1976), Hellish Flesh (1977), Perversion (1979), Embodiment of Evil (2008), FilmeFobia (2008)

Anthony Perkins is another actor on this list famous for playing a single character. Perkins plays the infamous Norman Bates in Hitchcock’s 1960 horror masterpiece Psycho. I never get tired of re-watching Psycho and Perkins inspired performance as the deeply troubled Bates. I actually re-watched part 2 on the recommend of someone on twitter and it’s not too bad, but it does pale in comparison to the original. Perkins brilliant performance directed by one of the greatest directors of all time was a must for my list! Perkins horror credits; Psycho (1960), Psycho II (1983), Psycho III (1986), Edge of Sanity (1989)

Lon Chaney was nicknamed “The Man of a Thousand Faces.” You need only watch the below horror films to figure why. His mastery with makeup and his strong presence command your attention. His better known films; The Phantom of the Opera and The Hunchback of Notre Dame are top notch but my favourite on the list is Tod Browning’s The Unknown. I watched the Unknown for the first time quite recently and it absolutely fucking rocked! Chaney’s better known horror flicks; The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923), The Monster (1925), The Phantom of the Opera (1925), The Unknown (1927), London After Midnight (1927)

The list of actors known for playing a particular horror character continues! I really loved the first A Nightmare on Elm Street when I seen it back in the day. It really rocked my world. The effects were impressive but it was its villain Freddy Krueger that was the real appeal. An alleged child killer that was lynched mobbed by a group of parents and burned to death getting revenge by killing said parent’s children in their dreams?! Delightful! I love his nasty burned skin and trademark fedora. England is also a lot of fun in Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer and Zombie Strippers! Here are England’s better known horror titles; Eaten Alive (1977), Dead & Buried (1981), A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985), A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987), A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988), A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Child (1989), Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991), Wishmaster (1997), Strangeland (1998), Freddy vs. Jason (2003), 2001 Maniacs (2005), Hatchet (2006), Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer (2007), Zombie Strippers! (2008)

Bela Lugosi is best known for his role in Tod Browning’s 1931 film Dracula. Thanks to Tim Burton’s 1994 film Ed Wood a lot more people are now familiar with his role in Plan 9 from Outer Space. Not Lugosi’s shining moment. In fact, I enjoy Lugosi more in every other film on this list. My personal favourite Lugosi is probably Dracula, but Island of Lost Souls, The Black Cat, and The Raven wouldn’t be far behind. I actually like every Bela Lugosi film I’ve seen in varying degrees. Apparently his accent worked against him in the industry but it is also what made Lugosi such an intriguing villain. Bela Lugsoi’s horror credits include; Dracula (1931), Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932), White Zombie (1932), Island of Lost Souls (1932), Night of Terror (1933), The Black Cat (1934), Mark of the Vampire (1935), The Raven (1935), Son of Frankenstein (1939), Dead Eyes of London (1939), Black Friday (1940), The Devil Bat (1940), The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942), Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943), Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959)

I always thought Lance Henrikson was born to play a cowboy. And than he did, and he was awesome as Cole Wilson in Jarmusch’s Dead Man (1995). Henrikson is a versatile actor who can play bad-ass just as well as empathetic. He hasn’t been in tons of horror but he has been in some heavy hitters (at least in the Dungeon). Near Dark is one of my favourite horror films and Henrikson is superb as vampire Jesse Hooker but Aliens is probably the better known film, which is also quite fabulous (but kinda borderline as a horror film). He does a heck of a job in Stuart Gordon’s underrated The Pit and the Pendulum too. No matter what the size of the role, Henrikson always leaves an impression! Henrikson’s horror films include; Piranha Part Two: The Spawning (1981), Aliens (1986), Near Dark (1987), Pumpkinhead (1988), The Pit and the Pendulum (1991), Alien 3 (1992), AVP: Alien vs. Predator (2004)

Jeffrey Combs performance as Herbert West in the trio of Re-Animator films alone make him worthy of this list (well, okay the first two of the trio anyway)! Add the giddily insane wonderfulness that is From Beyond for a cherry on top! West’s horror list was smaller than I expected, but it’s not just about quantity it is about quality! When it comes to horror’s best demented performances there sure as hell ain’t many that can top Mr. Combs! Combs horror film list includes; Re-Animator (1985), From Beyond (1986), Bride of Re-Animator (1990), The Frighteners (1996), The Pit and the Pendulum (1991), Necronomicon (1993), Castle Freak (1995), Beyond Re-Animator (2003), Parasomnia (2008)

German actor Klaus Kinski is one seriously intense dude. I think he is a fascinating man to look at but he is also a good actor. He doesn’t have a massive list of horror titles but I think a lot of people like me still think of him as a significant genre contributor. I absolutely adore his take on Nosferatu which is definitely my favourite of the list. I really enjoyed The Dead Eyes of London also which I just seen for the first time this year. I recently re-watched Jess Franco’s Count Dracula which I dug much more than I recalled. He is featured alongside Christopher Lee and is actually a damn fine Renfeld. Kinski is a unique actor who has a commanding presence and a face that etches itself into your memory. His horror list includes; The Avenger (1960), The Dead Eyes of London (1961), The Door with Seven Locks (1962), Circus of Fear (1966), Creature with the Blue Hand (1967), Jack the Ripper (1976), Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979), Crawlspace (1986)


Spanish actor and director Paul Naschy has the smallest resume of my top five but a hearty chunk of what is there is horror. He isn’t called the king of Spanish horror for nothing! A great many of Naschy’s films tend to be of the lower budget variety and isn’t going to be to everyone’s taste. Personally, I almost always enjoy Naschy even in the less than stellar efforts. He has a flare for dramatics similar to Vincent Price and always commands the room. He plays both villain and victim; sometimes even in the same movie (see Vengeance of the Zombies)! Naschy has played the werewolf in several films, and may very well hold some kind of werewolf record! Two of his werewolf films are particularly close to my heart; The Werewolf Vs. The Vampire Woman and Doctor Jekyll and the Werewolf. Here is a selection of Mr. Naschy’s resume; Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror (1968), Nights of the Werewolf (1968), 7 Murders for Scotland Yard (1971), The Werewolf Vs. the Vampire Woman (1971), Doctor Jekyll and the Werewolf (1972), Vengeance of the Zombies (1973), The Mummy’s Revenge (1973), Hunchback of the Morgue (1973), The hanging Woman (1973), Dracula’s Virgin Lovers (1974), Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll (1974), Inquisición (1976), The Night of the Werewolf (1981), Panic Beats (1983)

Peter Cushing usually plays the films protagonist and rarely gets to play the villain. He was under contract with Hammer Films and made more films than I felt like counting for the studio. He is often cast along side Christopher Lee, with Lee of course playing the baddie. Cushing has played Van Helsing several times and is the best Van Helsing EVER! Cushing is always natural, likable and believable in all his roles. He has a kind face and an undeniable strength and intelligence that always makes me root for him but never feel sorry for him. He has an impressively huge library of horror titles that are worth celebrating! More great titles than you can shake a stick at here but a few of my faves are The Curse of Frankenstein, The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Flesh and the Fiends, The Brides of Dracula and Horror Express. I dig every single film listed here and a hell of a lot more. Also, he was Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars! Here is a selection of his wonderful horror titles; The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), The Abominable Snowman (1957), Dracula (1958), The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958), The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959), The Mummy (1959), The Flesh and the Fiends (1960), The Brides of Dracula (1960), Frankenstein Created Woman (1967), Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969), Scream and Scream Again (1970), The Vampire Lovers (1970), Twins of Evil (1971), Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972), Horror Express (1972), The Creeping Flesh (1973), The Beast Must Die (1974), Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974), The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974), Shock Waves (1977)

I had a monstrous crush on Christopher Lee when I was a kid. All my little girlfriends were in love with Shaun Cassidy and Leif Garrett but I was all about Christopher Lee and Harrison Ford (Yep. big love for Hans Solo). Lee is a tall drink of water that was cast more often as villain than the latter. His deadly serious demeanour and killer stare speak volumes! I have probably been too forgiving of Lee’s lesser films and so what? The man has given me hour upon hour of rock solid entertainment! I love Lee! Lee is probably best known for playing Dracula which he has done numerous times in his career. A few of my favourite films on his list are The Devil Rides Out, The Wicker Man, Dracula: Prince of Darkness, The Hound of the Baskervilles and Horror Express. I like every film on this list and many more too. Lee is the only actor in the top five still living. Lee has had one hell of a career in his senior years even though he has more or less gotten away from the horror. Lee is the cat’s meow! Here is a small selection of his titles; Dracula (1958), Corridors of Blood (1958), The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959), The Mummy (1959), The City of the Dead (1960), Taste of Fear (1961), The Whip and the Flesh (1963), The Gorgon (1964), The Skull (1965), The Face of Fu Manchu (1965), Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966), Rasputin: The Mad Monk (1966), The Devil Rides Out (1968), Dracula Has Risen from the Grave (1968), The Oblong Box (1969), Scream and Scream Again (1970), Horror Express (1972), The Creeping Flesh (1973), The Wicker Man (1973), The Keeper (1976), To the Devil a Daughter (1976)

Under Vincent Price’s IMBD listing it states he is best known for The Hollywood Squares (1965), Mystery! (1980), Edward Scissorhands (1990), Basil, the Great Mouse Detective (1986). What the Hell?! I like Edward Scissorhands and all, but by no means is that his best film by a long shot! Sheesh!! VINCENT PRICE IS BEST KNOWN FOR HIS HORROR FILMS!! Damn right he is! There is absolutely no one like Vincent Price. His fantastic voice and flare for dramatics is a joy to watch. While Price is a shitload of fun as the villain, he can actually play the perfect protagonist as he does in the wonderful The Last Man on Earth. I love a lot of these films, but I am particularly fond of The Fly, House of Usher, The Tomb of Ligeia, Witchfinder General and The Abominable Dr. Phibes. Here is just a selection of the mighty Vincent Price’s impressive horror resume; House of Wax (1953), The Mad Magician (1954), The Fly (1958), House on Haunted Hill (1959), The Tingler (1959), Return of the Fly (1959), The Bat (1959), House of Usher (1960), Pit and the Pendulum (1961), Tower of London (1962), The Raven (1963), Diary of a Madman (1963), The Haunted Palace (1963), The Tomb of Ligeia (1964), The Masque of the Red Death (1964), The Last Man on Earth (1964), Witchfinder General (1968), The Oblong Box (1969), The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971), Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972), Theatre of Blood (1973), Madhouse (1974), The Monster Club (1981)

Karloff “The Uncanny” is a nickname that somehow just doesn’t justify the man’s awesomeness. I’m just going to call him Karloff “the awesome”. Instead of listing my favourite Karloff films I am going to suggest you check out my TOP 10 Karloff films slideshow featuring the sweet melodic sounds of Roy Orbison. I included it below. Also, let it be known that Karloff and Price are pretty much interchangeable depending on my mood. I gave Karloff the number one spot based on his senior position (he is 24 years older than Price). Whether he is playing the straight man or the villain he is absolutely top notch! And that voice! That wonderful, fantastic perfect voice! Let us not forget that he is the voice of the Grinch! There has never been, and never will be anyone like Boris Karloff. He was truly one of a kind and in my opinion is horror’s most talented actor. Here is a sampling of his horror titles; Frankenstein (1931), Behind the Mask (1932), The Mummy (1932), The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932), The Ghoul (1933), The Black Cat (1934), Bride of Frankenstein (1935), The Raven (1935), The Walking Dead (1936), Black Friday (1940), The Body Snatcher (1945), Bedlam (1946), Corridors of Blood (1958), The Raven (1963), The Comedy of Terrors (1963), Targets (1968)



  1. Great post!
    Love the list! 🙂

  2. Awesome! Glad to see Klaus Kinski, Duane Jones, and Udo Kier on this list. Very interesting blurbs too!


    • goregirl Says:

      Thanks Steve! I love all these men, and there were a lot more shortlisted. The top five involved little to no thought at all, but 6 to 20 changed numerous times! I’ve started my 20 favourite women of horror list and I can not for the life of me come to a consensus as to who belongs in my top five!

      • Can’t wait to check out the women’s list! What you said about Kinski is so true, the man is so damn intense. He’s awesome any time he is on the screen. I don’t think you had it listed in your blurb and maybe you have seen or head of it, is the horror film ‘Schizoid,’ which stars Kinski. It’s not the greatest, but it is more Kinski. His performance as Count Dracula is one of my favorite performances of all time.

  3. That’s a great list. Love the top five and that’s an interesting choice with Duane Jones. it’s tragic he starred in so few films because his performance in NotLD is brilliant. Klaus Kinski is also a legend. He is so intense and his Nosferatu is chilling. I prefer Fitzcarraldo because it has a happy ending more or less.

    I side with Ridley Scott when he calls Aliens a military shoot-em-up. the horror from the Alien franchise started to leech out with that one but it’s still one great action flick and has awesome performances from Weaver, Paxton, Biehn and even Reiser.

    Have you seen the Donald Pleasence film Death Line? It’s atmospheric at points but dull at others. An interesting curio nonetheless.

    • goregirl Says:

      I seen Aguirre: The Wrath of God for the first time not too long ago and Kinski knocked my socks off!

      Aliens is totally an action film. Entertaining nonetheless but it is an action film.

      I really liked Sherman’s film Dead & Buried and decided to check out Death Line during my favourite 70s film thing. Not top 10 material but I liked it.

  4. Very thoughtfully compiled, thanks! Udo Kier is in the new space nazi movie “Iron Sky” I think… and at my bar we occasionally play the DVDs featuring Coffin Jo, with subtitles on. They make for pretty amazing cheesy background, with the crazy fingernails and all. It’s always fun to watch a couple on a first date, and one of them will let their eyes drift to the TV, and if it’s just the right moment, a decision gets made to either end the date or stick it out and have sex. Weird.

    • goregirl Says:

      Gory greetings and thanks! Once upon a time we had a bar here in Vancouver that played movies on Sunday nights. It was a lot of fun! They would pick movies that didn’t involve a lot of thought…like Destroy All Monsters, The Story of Ricky etc. I think Coffin Joe would be quite proud he had gotten some people laid!

  5. Yet another wonderful list! All twenty are favorites of mine,and I love you have included Duane Jones on your list because he would be in my top twenty list as well. I can still remember that kick to the gut feeling I had seeing Night of the Living Dead for the first time. A very cool and intense list! : )

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