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Editorial: Sympathy for the Devils – Horror Characters I Felt Sorry For

We’re a funny bunch, us horror fans. Of all the emotions we experience watching our beloved freak shows, sadness usually ain’t one of ‘em. It’s hard to want to hug someone when they’re spitting up stage blood all over your screen, but every so often genuine empathy can be aroused in our hardened hearts for certain cinematic victims. So, without getting too heavy about things, I’m in the strange mood to pay tribute to a few:

CHARACTERS I GENUINELY FELT SORRY FOR

Freddy the Photographer – Dead & Buried

Oh, Freddy… I hope wherever you wound up that they’re taking good care of you. Freddy the Photographer visits the funky town of Potter’s Bluff and is almost immediately jumped by a gaggle of villagers and burned at a makeshift stake. Then they trash his car and stuff him in it, upside down. Then when the meat wagon comes to take him away, they realize his crispy remains are alive because he SCREAMS IN THEIR FACE. Clearly in a Grand Canyon of agony, Freddy is wheeled off to the hospital and wrapped in mummy gauze to recuperate. I think Freddy’s had enough. But no… Freddy then gets to watch slowly – with his one “good” eye – while a cupcake in a nurse outfit slowly produces a huge syringe, fills it with bad stuff, then jabs it into his eyeball. You know, so he can suffer a wretched, convulsing death. If any burned person named Freddy should be haunting people’s dreams, it’s this Freddy. My only hope is that he wouldn’t come after me, because I feel absolutely terrible for the guy and I hope he knows it.

Sympathy for the Devils - Horror Characters I Felt Sorry For

Anna – Martyrs

I look back on a weird lifetime of watching people being physically punished on film, and I sincerely think this gal takes the Beatdown Cake. The endless blows that Anna takes throughout this bitch of a film’s third act makes Joe Pesci’s bat-bashing in Casino look like a trip to Dave & Buster’s. If that seems an unfair comparison, it may be because I’m typing this in retrospect with an understanding of what happens to her once the slaps, punches and kicks cease. It’s unseasonably warm here in Louisville as I sit outside and type, but I just felt a full-body shiver.

Sympathy for the Devils - Horror Characters I Felt Sorry For

Everyone – Pet Sematary

Yep. The whole damn cast gets it hard in this thing – from the young to the elderly, from the healthy to the ill… Even the damn cat can’t hide from torture in this flick. There’s more than one way to skin an audience, and Mary Lambert’s adaptation of Stephen King’s bitter novel knows it. Ghosts, zombies, creepy kids, vicious animals, disease – it’s all here, and when The Ramones come blasting over the end credits, I breathe a sigh of relief every time. Some people hate The Ramones and really hate that their song “Pet Sematary” ends the movie, claiming it “takes them out of it.” After watching a family get chewed up, swallowed and shat out of Satan’s ass for 90 minutes, who the hell would want to stay “in it”?

Sympathy for the Devils - Horror Characters I Felt Sorry For

Milos – A Serbian Film

Milos, most definitely. Do I feel for his family? Of course, I do. But they didn’t have to go through all of what poor Milos did. He suffered through his own hell first, then shared theirs with them. Rotten business, I assure you. I realize there are still plenty of people who haven’t seen this rabid creature perform its beastly tricks yet, so I’ll just stop here.

Sympathy for the Devils - Horror Characters I Felt Sorry For

Ben Gardner – Jaws

Shit, man… I didn’t really care for Ben Gardner, but whatever went down on that boat of his must’ve been a horrifying ordeal. Brody and Hooper find Gardner’s boat turned nearly inside out, indicating that Gardner met his toothy end in a feverish bout of mano-a-tiburon. Worst of all, the guy was alone. So whenever, however that one eye of his was relieved of its socket, he probably knew nobody could hear his cries. That is, if he was still alive when that mysterious eye made its exit. I’m still very much interested in that eye. Nevertheless, Gardner’s head was severed from his body, and I don’t think the shark silently snuck up behind Gardner with a garrote rope to make that happen. Nope – the shark scared the hell out of him by trashing his boat, then ate the son of a bitch. And you know how dramatic this shark gets when it eats fishermen. Here’s to ya, Ben – I’m sure you knew exactly what was happening to you and felt every damn one of those teeth.

Sympathy for the Devils - Horror Characters I Felt Sorry For

Three Characters from The Fly Series – Seth Brundle, Andre the Fly, and the Dog

Seth Brundle: Jeff Goldblum made Seth Brundle one of the most interesting and sincerely pleasant characters our genre has ever had the pleasure of housing. In his original state, Brundle is a character that I could watch for hours. Hell, give me a miniseries about how the guy acquires the parts for his telepods. He’s a good guy, so when things get weird, it’s painful to watch. And yet, Goldblum is still so charming and clever under that makeup, it’s a “joy” to watch. Doesn’t mean I still don’t get weepy at the end, though.

Sympathy for the Devils - Horror Characters I Felt Sorry For

Andre the Fly: “Help me! Heeelp meeee! Don’t let it! Dooooon’t let it!” My father sent me the original Fly for my birthday when I turned nine, I think. He knew I loved horror films, and I loved him for the gift. Then the ending crashed into my soul like a flaming helicopter and made me question opening any future gifts he may send me. He made up for the trauma by sending me Spaceballs soon after.

Sympathy for the Devils - Horror Characters I Felt Sorry For

The Dog: In The Fly II, Brundle’s boy, Martin, is kept in Bartok laboratories for observation. He befriends a Golden Retriever, which his wicked father-figure (Bartok, the big cheese himself) decides to mutate for research purposes. The miserable mutation is still cute in an extraordinarily pathetic way, and when Martin discovers the pooch is still alive, he humanely puts it down by (sigh) suffocating it. You can tell in the pooch’s eyes that it doesn’t want to live, but doesn’t enjoying dying slowly at the hands of its old friend either. Just awful, but at least that bastard Bartok gets his later (more on that in the next article).

Sympathy for the Devils - Horror Characters I Felt Sorry For

Susan – Open Water

Yes, another shark film. Why not? I’ll take a machete to the face any day over a feeding frenzy, which is what Susan was required to endure with her husband. For hours and hours. As I presume this is a flick that remains on many folks’ To-See Lists, I hesitate to go into detail. Maybe it’s because so many people have swung through my basement and asked about it, only knowing it’s a dark, dark ride. As such, I also hesitate to screen this for newcomers because it usually requires a long walk in the park afterward, and I have pretty bad allergies.

Sympathy for the Devils - Horror Characters I Felt Sorry For

Michael – The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover

Perhaps not a traditional horror film, but certainly a horrifying film. Michael Gambon plays ferocious gangster Albert Spica, who spends nearly every night in a restaurant he “owns” degrading his henchmen, the patrons, and most of all, his wife. When she falls for a bookstore owner who quietly frequents the restaurant, Spica eventually finds out and has the man cruelly dealt with by force-feeding him pages of books from his own shop. Tim Roth is the thug who does the honors and is chilling as he slowly and coldly spears page after page down the fellow’s shredded throat with a wooden spoon. On paper, the scene seems ridiculous and perhaps unintentionally funny. Wrong.

Sympathy for the Devils - Horror Characters I Felt Sorry For

Arthur Grimsdyke – Tales from the Crypt ’72

Peter Cushing’s turn as the gentle, good-hearted, and ultimately betrayed Grimsdyke is a fantastic bummer. Grimsdyke is the slovenly yet generous neighborhood hermit-widower who makes toys for his neighbors’ children out of trash he finds. His uppity neighbor doesn’t care for Grimsdyke’s blemish of a home on the face of the neighborhood, so he first arranges for Grimsdyke’s collection of stray dogs to be taken away by the city. Then he encourages the parents not to let their children visit Grimsdyke. Then he sends a severely depressed and lonely Grimsdyke a collection of phony Valentine’s Day cards loaded with hateful “love” poems. Peter Cushing’s face is impossible to forget while soaking all of this poison in. His face is equally unforgettable when he returns from the grave after hanging himself to rip the heart out of his evil neighbor. Yesssssss…

Sympathy for the Devils - Horror Characters I Felt Sorry For

Frank – Return of the Living Dead

Who didn’t love Frank? The guy’s hilarious, friendly, and has a wealth of bizarre knowledge that would’ve ensured at least one great story a day for young Freddy, had his career at Uneeda Medical Supply Co. not been so gruesomely cut short. Frank figures out he’s gonna become a ravenous zombie upon being exposed to 245 Trioxin, and rather than race around the city shrieking for brains and murdering people, he decides to do himself in. This sucks hard, because Frank knows the only way to truly kill himself is to burn himself. Guy takes off his wedding ring and kisses it before crawling into a blazing crematorium. Heavy… The worst part? We know Frank doesn’t go into some sort of blessed shock like lobsters do when they’re tossed in a boiling pot because Frank screams his head off. Really – I’ve heard that lobsters don’t feel a thing when they go in the pot, and that rumored “screaming” you hear is pressure seeping through their chitin exoskeleton. Frank did not have a chitin exoskeleton.

Sympathy for the Devils - Horror Characters I Felt Sorry For

Chris Haberman

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Chris Haberman

  • The Woman In Black

    For sure one character I felt super sorry for was the mom in Dark Water (Nakata’s version). The ending haunts me to this day. I don’t think I’ve cried so hard during a horror film before or since.

    • Chris Haberman

      Good call.

  • DavidFullam

    Cushing’s revenge in Crypt is one of the great “Hell Yes!” moments in Horror cinema.

    • GJW

      Ok. NOW we have a basis for one more list!! This was a GREAT list. Something different but a very enjoyable read. The one I absolutely most agree with is Martyrs. Seriously,I have never felt such sympathy for a fictional character in a movie. I just truly felt bad as hell for what those girls endured. I kind of got lost in the movie,man thinking back now that was really a GREAT movie,anyway,I did get lost in the movie and really felt for those characters. That doesn’t happen much with me. BUT,I digress. The next list which I think would be a fun read is your “Characters we loved to see get theirs”. I know there are several characters you/we remember that you/we just hated and could not wait to see get theirs. Ones we gave a triumphant “hell yeah” to when they met their demise. And one last thing: How in the world could you NOT include Meg from “The Girl Next door” in/on your list. Anna and Meg would be my top two. Man……I felt so many emotions watching that one.
      ————————————————-
      “Well, for one thing, I think he was probably a closet homosexual who did a lot of cocaine. That whole Yale thing.”

      • Chris Haberman

        LOL – as I said, wait till Part 2 of this article hits. It’s in the works! ; )

        • GJW

          Looking forward to it!

          ———————————-
          “Well, for one thing, I think he was probably a closet homosexual who did a lot of cocaine. That whole Yale thing.”

      • Vanvance1

        I found it most fulfilling when Obama was swallowed by the shark who later spit out his head. That was satisfying enough but the additional touch of having two dolphins use it as a ball for an impromptu game of water basketball was awesome!

        • Chris Haberman

          Oh my…

  • The Buz

    This list is most excellent. Great work dude. I agree with every single entry.

    A few others I would add:

    Steele from Day of The Dead: The guy was just an asshole. Loyal to a fault, and in reality really didn’t like Rhodes, but he loved the other men that he commanded like family and, like anyone would, got pretty pissed off when he felt they were needlessly being put in harms way. He just unfortunately shared the same opinion of a more homicidal maniac who Steele stupidly followed commands from (though only from threat of being shot himself). Then after being deserted by the very man he sold his soul to serve, he’s left to attempt to fend off the un coming herd of zombies only to say a quick prayer before blowing his brains out. Knowing full well that’d he be going to hell judging from his Catholic prayer moves just kind of made me feel bad for the dude. I can’t say his actions deserve such horror.

    And John Arnold (Sam Jackson) from Jurassic Park: Dude didn’t want to shut down the main computer systems. Said it would fuck shit up. Finally does it at the insistence of Richard Attenborough. Kind of works to bring the system back on, so he takes it upon himself to go out into the maintenance shed only to be eaten by uber smart raptors. That fucking sucks. Guy probably signed up for the job thinking he’d never have to even deal with the fuckers and could sit behind a computer all day and just do his job. Then he gets eaten due to some rich guy hiring an obviously crooked asshole to be in charge of his park security system. Not to mention said old guy breeding one of the most deadly horrifying creatures ever to walk the planet Earth. I’d be pissed if I was John Arnold.

    • Chris Haberman

      Glad you guys are digging it! Wait till Part 2 to this article shows up… >: )