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No Strings Attached: Remembering the Puppet Master Action Figure Series

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Puppet Master: The Action Figure Series

Kids are weird. It’s impossible to tell what’s going to resonate with them, what they’re going to gravitate toward or what it will take to really ignite that spark of creativity—or even healthy obsession. Some people remember Street Sharks or Beetle Borgs as things they loved as kids in the ‘90s and other people will have no idea what the hell those things are. For me, though, my tastes always leaned toward monsters. I dreamed of one day getting the Freddy and Jason action figures that we’re almost flooded in now. The only horror toys I had were the Universal Monster Happy Meal toys from Burger King.

And I was still dipping my toes into the genre when, in third grade, I picked up an issue of Lee’s Action Figure News and Toy Review that literally changed my young life. I don’t remember any of the X-Men or Spider-Man toys I probably picked up the magazine to read about in the first place because all I could see was this two page spread depicting Puppet Master: The Action Figure Series. I didn’t know what the hell Puppet Master was. But I could see from the description that it was a movie, possibly even a whole franchise.

Luckily, I had my childhood best friend, the guy who got me into horror, standing at my side. I pressed him for information on these movies. One look at these things and I was hooked. All I was even looking at were toys based on the films, not anything from the movies themselves. But from the designs of the characters, something resonated with me instantaneously. This was a series of figures based on killer toys that come to life. I thought it was the coolest thing ever. It was Toy Story for monster kids.

Puppet Master action figures - Blade

Unfortunately, living in a small town in Maine, these toys would not prove easy to come by. As much as I tried to dive into the franchise with both feet, literally renting the first three almost every weekend on a rotating basis, I couldn’t buy any of the films because they were currently out of print. I couldn’t buy any of the toys because we didn’t have anywhere close by to really buy that kind of thing. More than anything, I think the intangibility of that fed by passion for those movies and fueled my desire to get my hands on those toys.

It was around two years before I actually did get my hands on them, waking up to discover the whole set under the Christmas tree the way a normal-ass kid might discover a Power Rangers play set. That’s the magic of being a young fan. Everything is worth the wait. The toys did not disappoint. Not only were they accurate representations of the killer puppets I’d grown to love so much, but there’s one thing that I think distinguishes them from almost all horror movie based toys that followed.

They were actually action figures.

Now, I loved the living hell out of McFarlane’s Movie Maniacs because those gave me the Freddy, Jason, Leatherface, etc. toys I had always been dying to see. But they were designed to be displayed. They didn’t actually do anything. For the most part, that’s been the case ever since. These horror figures are by and large aimed at adults. You can pose them and maybe put different things in their hands, switch out some heads—but it’s all for the sake of how you think it will look on the shelf.

Puppet Master action figures - Six Shooter

The Puppet Master figures were actually designed to be played with, and I think that was ultimately a genius move on Full Moon’s part. They saw that kids were getting into their movies and recognized them as a part of their audience. Hell, Puppet Master 4 & 5 are borderline kids movies as it is. So they made the decision to make their characters available to the younger audience in a way that they could actually enjoy and have fun with. It was maybe the smartest thing Full Moon has ever done. I’m not sure Charles Band has made a better business decision since.

They were also aimed at collectors. Variant figures had started taking off in the ‘90s in a big way. Every new wave of Spawn figures would come with some slightly repainted figure that would be limited to only a few thousand so that people would go out of their way to seek that figure out and pay twice as much for it. Because of this logic, people who have never watched a single Puppet Master movie collected the hell out of the toys because those figures were variant city. There were about five different versions of every single puppet. Some of them were mild repaints, but some of them were actually cool.

For example, they had a new sequel to coincide with the release of the toys (Curse of the Puppet Master) and it featured a new look for Jester, so they had a variant figure to show off Jester’s new design. There was also a neat Torch in a camouflage jacket. My favorite, though, would have to be a repainted version of Blade with a silver face and red clothing, as an homage to the “Masque of the Red Death” sequence in The Phantom of the Opera.

Puppet Master action figures - Tunneler and Totem

Getting into the nitty gritty, though, let’s go through each of the puppets and what they could actually do. Starting with series one, we had Blade and Six-Shooter. Blade had a button on his back that you could press to make his eyes light up red. Mind you, he never actually did this in any of the movies, but it was something that featured heavily in the posters and marketing for the films. He also had interchangeable hands, which I thought was a neat feature. You could switch the knife and hook, or replace either one with a hatchet. Six-Shooter, meanwhile, didn’t do anything. If you watch the old toy commercial, all they do is excitably announce that you can move his arms.

The second series, Tunneler and Totem, also saw the action features lean heavily to one side. Tunneler had a dial on his back that you could move to make his drill spin. Much like Six-Shooter, Totem didn’t do anything at all.

Puppet Master action figures - Pinhead and Leech Woman

By the third series, which featured Pinhead and Leech Woman, Full Moon figured out how to make both of their figures interesting. Pinhead has a button on his back that you can press to make his head shoot upward—not off, mind you, which is kind of a missed opportunity. He also came with a barbell, which is sort of hilarious. Leech Woman had a button on her back that you would press to make the leech in her mouth wiggle. It’s gross and creepy, just as it should be. She also came with the knife she carried around in Puppet Master II, as well as extra leeches. Because if you’re going out, you’re going to need spares.

The fourth and final series consisted of Jester and Torch. Jester, much like Tunneler, had a dial on his back. You would spin this to make his head spin around and change expressions, just as he does in the movies. Torch had a button on his back that you would press to make both his eyes and flamethrower arm light up red. He came with a plastic flame accessory that could be attached to the flamethrower and when you pressed that, it would glow red as well.

The series was capped off with a big, 12” Decapitron that—appropriately enough—came with three interchangeable heads. It was eventually followed by a 12” Blade and around that same time the Retro Puppet Master action figure series came out to build-up to the release of that feature. By that point, though, more retailers were actually carrying the toys than would wind up carrying the movie.

Puppet Master action figures - Torch and Jester

If these were still in regular circulation, I would encourage any horror-loving parent to buy them for their kids. Ages three and up, though, as it says on the packaging. Sadly, they’re not that easy to come by. You’ll always see a couple at a convention, but the toy series turns twenty years old this year. Other than a brief reprint “Movie Editions” line in 2001, they’ve been out of print for a long, long time.

I was a weird kid with weird interests, as I’m sure most of us were. Some if not most of my happiest childhood toy memories revolved around these little guys.

I can only hope that the new reboot, Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich, in addition to injecting some much-needed fresh blood into the series, can also deliver some new merchandising. Those little puppets were horror toys you could play with in a way we really still haven’t seen since. You could have them all gang up on the Totem (that loser), or have your friends pretend to be evil Nazis—hey, you did it when you played Indiana Jones—while you fake drilled the living hell out of their knees. You know, normal kid stuff. Harmless fun.

They really were harmless, too, and that’s the point. These ghastly gruesome toys did the same stuff that a Batman toy would do and there’s something about that that makes for such a safe and satisfying introduction to horror. These toys really meant a lot to me when I was younger and I think they make for a cool and innovative anecdote even now. It’s amazing that a franchise like this, which never even had a theatrical entry, got a toy series this good. It shouldn’t have happened. But, thankfully, it did.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LmHoAy1BH3c

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Clive Barker Has Such Sights to Show You: Hellraiser (1987) – 30 Years of Pleasure and Pain [Part 2 of 2]

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In a showcase of SFX ingenuity, the resurrection of Frank Cotton is a remarkably repulsive sight of body horror that would make David Cronenberg proud. The gooey spectacle of the viscera of a human body reassembling itself from beneath the floorboards is a marvel of practical effects, which is pitch-perfectly executed by Bob Keen and his crew of special effects make-up artists.

With extreme attention to detail, every part of Frank’s anatomy comes back together as the bones, organs, and bodily fluids form this monstrosity. Accompanied by Christopher Young’s circus-esque/waltz-like soundtrack, it juxtaposes this grotesque depiction with a sense of wonder, as if we are witnessing something extraordinarily beautiful blossoming. Keen’s work on Hellraiser in general has aged incredibly well, standing out as some of the greatest imagery of 80’s horror.

Related Story: Clive Barker Has Such Sights to Show You: Hellraiser (1987) – 30 Years of Pleasure and Pain [Part 1]

When Julia, who is clearly unhappy in her marriage to Larry, and longs for Frank’s touch again, leaves the dinner party they are having as she is bored, she walks upstairs and hears a strange noise coming from the room where Frank has just returned to the world of the living. It is here when Julia is confronted by monster Frank that we start to see his dark influence on her. At first, the sight of Frank’s ghastly appearance frightens Julia, but he starts to draw her sympathy when he reveals his identity and asks her to help him. Later, when lying in bed with Larry after yet another sexless night, Julia starts to think back again to her passionate time with Frank, and the promise she made that she will do anything for him. Julia agrees to help Frank restore the whole of his body, so she can have him again. She does this by bringing back men to the house while Larry is out at work, and murdering them with hammer blows to their heads, so Frank can feed on their flesh that puts more back on his bones. Terrified at first, Julia soon starts like what she does, and she must continue to kill for Frank to heal him completely before the Cenobites find out he has escaped them.

Getting back to the Sadean aspects in the film – two key characters in the work of Marquis de Sade are the sisters Justine and Juliette. They feature as the title protagonists in Justine, or The Misfortunes of Virtue (1791), and Juliette, or Vice Amply Rewarded (1797). Frank embodies Juliette – an amoral, self-serving, hedonist and sexual deviant, who uses others for his own ends, just as he uses Julia; while she loves him obsessively, she is nothing to him but a sexual conquest, and a pawn as he manipulates her to do his bidding. We know from Clare Higgins’ portrayal of Julia in the character’s flashbacks to her first meeting with Frank that she was once wholesome. The Julia here embodies Justine in Sade’s work, who is the complete opposite of Juliette – a virtuous woman. Although, it is Justine’s nature of moral and ethical principles that continuously lands her in trouble to punishing and humiliating extremes. Julia also married a virtuous man, Frank’s dependable nice guy brother Larry (Andrew Robinson). It is her commitment to this stability in pursuit of a virtuousness life that leads her on a path of self-destruction, when she encounters her husband’s polar opposite brother Frank, whose manipulation of her ultimately leads to her undoing when he betrays her. Julia’s name could be Clive Barker’s nod to Juliette; Frank’s influence can be seen in her change as she takes glee in her murderous quest in order to have him again. Therefore, while Julia once embodied Justine, her journey leads her to become a dark reflection of Frank’s Juliette.

The secondary antagonists are of course the Cenobites (The Order of the Gash, as they are also referred to as in The Hellbound Heart), although, that should be they are anti-antagonists. Not only did the marketing campaign have the movie going public believe they were the main villains, with Pinhead (or Hell Priest, as Barker prefers) as the main focal point, but technically, they are not really villains. Bound by the rules of hell, they are bureaucratic in their motivations – part of a religious sect that is carrying out their dutiful sacred actions.

The Cenobites, all clad in black leather bondage gear, have now, along with the Lament Configuration puzzle box, become so embedded in popular culture. The most iconic is the visage of Pinhead, so elegantly portrayed by Doug Bradley, and at this time was merely credited as ‘Lead Cenobite’, but the nickname Pinhead given to him by the cast and crew just stuck. Bradley’s captivating performance realizes this unique creation as an articulate and intelligent demonic being with a commanding presence that is coldly powerful, and delivers sublime, spine-tingling lines of dialogue. This Hell Priest has very little screen time, yet we can never forget him; an all-time great screen monster to rival the classic icons of early horror.

The story is reminiscent of a modern Gothic fairytale. Young’s wonderful fairytale-esque orchestral theme music over the title sequence establishes the mood and atmosphere. The dynamic between Larry’s daughter Kirsty (Ashley Lawrence) and Julia, is that of Snow White and her wicked stepmother. Kirsty is our young innocent heroine, mostly dressed in white, who has to prevail through her terrifying plight. Julia is… well, wicked. The fairytale theme is carried over to the 1988 companion piece Hellbound: Hellrasier II – Julia to Kirsty: “They didn’t tell you, did they? They’ve changed the rules of the fairy tale. I’m no longer just the wicked stepmother. Now I’m the evil queen. So come on! Take your best shot, Snow White.”

Kirsty is one of the quintessential female protagonists in modern horror – strong, smart, and resourceful; this is a signature trait of Clive Barker’s female characters. The young Lawrence does remarkably well in her film debut – full of confidence and energy. Higgins as Julia is one of the best female villains the genre has ever produced. Her arc from happy wholesome housewife, to unhappy unwholesome housewife, to cold evil murderer of sex seeking men, is not only an interesting character development, but also an ironic reversal of what horror was saturated with in this decade – axe-wielding male maniacs slaughtering promiscuous young women. Robinson’s film work will always be best remembered for two roles – as the deranged Scorpio Killer in Don Siegel’s classic 1971 Clint Eastwood starring action thriller Dirty Harry, and this. He actually gets to play two roles here – we love him as the good-hearted Larry, but despise him when his skin changes bodies, but the actor is clearly having a blast playing this latter part.

Hellraiser is one of the great directorial debuts of the genre. It is a wildly imaginative horror tale that pushes boundaries in the obsessive pursuit of sexual desires, with the filmmaker’s vision of this fantastical story that is both disturbing and disgusting fully realized, despite the limitations of the low budget; due to Barker’s creative mind to get the most out of such meagre resources, he was able to overcome these obstacles. It is tightly scripted, assuredly directed, all-around well-acted, features unforgettable imagery, groundbreaking practical special effects, a highly memorable score, and is encapsulated in a chilling atmosphere.

It also gave us the last great horror icon of the 1980s. Clive Barker does indeed have such sights to show you in pleasure and pain.

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A Retrospective of Tim Burton’s Batman Returns

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Danny DeVito in Batman Returns 1992

Thunder roars as sheets of rain ravage the exterior of a Gothic mansion; a woman in childbirth screams in agony from within. Soon, a second scream joins the chorus of pain; a child—but something’s wrong. A trained midwife recoils in abject terror and even the attending physician finds himself crippled with nausea. A monster is born.

This grim and grisly scenario sounds like the beginning of an R-Rated thriller, but it’s not; it’s the opening scene from Tim Burton’s Batman Returns, released in 1992 and starring Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, and Michelle Pfeiffer. Not only is Batman Returns often forgotten on lists of subversive Christmas movies, it’s altogether deceptively bleak and harrowing, nearing the borders of legitimate horror.

From a gray, utilitarian aesthetic and admissions of psychopathy to scenes of mass shootings that would have an entirely different resonance if released today, Batman Returns is more of a non-traditional horror movie than your typical Tim Burton romp or superhero flick. For starters, we’re presented with a consistently overcast, decaying Gotham City where, despite an energy surplus, day-to-day existence resembles life in a crumbling former Soviet bloc state.

Our hero Bruce Wayne/Batman (Keaton) has always been moody and brooding, but the character acknowledges his dark side, making a self-comparison to the likes of Norman Bates and Ted Bundy. While plenty of caped crusaders live dual lives, few would group themselves with notorious serial killers. It hints at something truly dangerous lurking in the tortured playboy’s psyche.

Similarly, the anti-hero Catwoman (Pfeiffer) is unlike any other manifestation of the feline night-stalker. The canonical origins of Selina Kyle describe an orphan who took to thievery in order to survive life on the mean streets of Gotham. In Batman Returns, however, Catwoman is a revenant or a zombie. After behind murdered for being too smart, Kyle is resurrected by a gang of alley cats who literally breathe life back into her. Cats have long been associated with witchcraft and were even regarded as emissaries of Satan. Batman Returns insinuates a post-death barter with Old Scratch where Kyle traded her immortal soul for a chance to return to the Land of the Living—for revenge!

The true villain of Batman, though, is a fiend of rare cruelty and depravity. The fact that DiVito is a celebrated comedian is cheap subterfuge for a truly abominable heart. After surviving an attempted infanticide (his parents dumped him off a bridge like garbage), Oswald Cobblepot reemerges from the icy sewers as Penguin: A deformed monstrosity whose rise to social prominence hides nearly Biblical wrath.

Throughout Batman Returns, Penguin performs a litany of atrocities. He nearly bites a man’s nose off for what he perceives as a condescending attitude. During his run for Mayor, he molests a young staffer and, later, decides to kill Catwoman for denying his sexual advances; “You gave me all the signals!” he bemoans before sending Kyle off to her death (luckily, she has lives to spare).

Penguin/Cobblepot is a crime boss who organizes several terrorist plots against the city of Gotham, employing a gang of circus freaks (an extra terror for those suffering coulrophobia). This culminates in an attempt to kidnap and murder every first-born child in Gotham, a scenario reminiscent of God’s final plague upon Ancient Egypt. When this plot is foiled, he attempts to launch a missile assault on Gotham, an act which (if successful) would rack up a whopping 100,000 casualties! It’s a body count that would have put Jason Voorhees and his ilk to shame.

Penguin’s physical attributes are as twisted as his evil soul; his mouth oozes slime like the decaying gob of a drug addict and his flipper hands could be an allusion to a rash of birth defects suffered by children born to mothers who took the morning sickness drug thalidomide. It only takes a hint of real-life social tragedy to give a fictional character profound (and, in this case, terrifying) resonance.

Other connections between Batman Returns and the horror genre include the participation of FX legend Stan Winston (Aliens, Pumpkinhead, and Wrong Turn among many others) and body actor Doug Jones (Pan’s Labyrinth, The Shape of Water) plays the “Thin Clown”. It’s also worth noting that Christopher Walken’s corrupt character is named Max Shreck; it’s a shout-out to Max Schreck, the actor who played the Count Orlok in 1922’s Nosferatu, and this speaks to the character’s metaphorical blood-sucking.

While Christopher Nolan would steer the world of Batman into even darker territories in the 21st Century, Batman Returns is nonetheless more sinister than most manifestations of the seminal superhero. While Burton’s madcap methods of storytelling and Danny Elfman’s soaring score suggest a jaunty, adventurous experience, the film hides more terror in its subtext than most slasher flicks wear on their sleeves.

If it’s been a while, check out the trailer and synopsis for Batman Returns below. Viewed through modern lenses with an eye for horror, it’s a wellspring of intense terror and devious delights. Consider giving it a fresh watch for a subversive Christmas story like none other.

Synopsis:
The monstrous Penguin (Danny DeVito), who lives in the sewers beneath Gotham, joins up with wicked shock-headed businessman Max Shreck (Christopher Walken) to topple the Batman (Michael Keaton) once and for all. But when Shreck’s timid assistant, Selina Kyle (Michelle Pfeiffer), finds out and Shreck tries to kill her, she is transformed into the sexy Catwoman. She teams up with the Penguin and Shreck to destroy Batman, but sparks fly unexpectedly when she confronts the caped crusader.

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16 Horror Veterans Who Also Appeared on Freddy’s Nightmares

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As most of its creators have acknowledged… “Freddy’s Nightmares,” the anthology series based on the Nightmare on Elm Street films, has hardly stood the test of time. The show’s production coincided with the release of the massively successful A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master. Despite having a pretty cool concept, it seems reasonable to assume the producers had only one goal in mind: to keep milking the cash cow that was Freddy Krueger. After all, this was around the time of Freddy lunch boxes.

As Freddy (Robert Englund) predominantly only served as host, the series had to sustain itself by focusing its storylines on a number of nutty incidents that occurred in the fictional town of Springwood, Ohio… at times, seemingly orchestrated by Freddy’s sheer history and presence. There are certainly a few gems to be found here but, by and far, the show was limited by its budget and more than once the plots proved rather outlandish, even by Nightmare standards.

While the series is known for having featured early performances by Lori Petty (Tank Girl), Mariska Hargitay (“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”), and Brad Pitt, it is interesting to note that “Freddy’s Nightmares” also showcased a number of horror veterans either as leads or in bit parts. Here, we run down a list of familiar faces you might remember from other films at the time…

1.) Lar Park Lincoln (Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood)

Only months after overcoming Jason Voorhees, Lar Park Lincoln found her way onto Elm Street in the second episode of “Freddy’s Nightmares.” Coincidentally, that episode, “It’s a Miserable Life,” was directed by another Friday the 13th alumnus, Tom McLoughlin (Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI).

Lincoln appears in both segments as Karyn. She is initially relegated to a minor role as the girlfriend of Bryan (John Cameron Mitchell), the first segment’s lead. Bryan begins having hallucinations while working the graveyard shift at Beefy Boy, his father’s fast-food burger joint; and towards the end both he and Karyn are gunned down in the restaurant’s parking lot, just as he had envisioned. During the second segment, Lincoln takes center stage. Having survived the gunshot wound, Karyn awakens in Springwood Hospital, only to experience the same hallucinations that plagued her boyfriend.

2.) Burr DeBenning (A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child)

Before appearing as Mr. Jordan in A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child, the late Burr DeBenning also starred opposite Lar Park Lincoln in “It’s a Miserable Life.” He appears in the second segment as Dr. Serling (a nod to “The Twilight Zone”), who treats Karyn upon arrival at the hospital.

As Karyn begins experiencing hallucinations, Dr. Serling brings a level of menace to the madcap proceedings. Fun fact: DeBenning is one of only two actors to have appeared in both the Nightmare on Elm Street films and this TV series, the other being Lezlie Deane (Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare).

3.) Nancy McLoughlin (Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI)

As the wife of the episode’s director, Nancy McLoughlin also scored a role in “It’s a Miserable Life,” just as she did in Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI. She appears as a nurse opposite Burr DeBenning, and the two share a moment of gleeful madness as they sew Lar Park Lincoln’s mouth shut.

4.) Stu Charno (Friday the 13th Part II)

Stu Charno, whom genre fans will remember as Friday the 13th Part II‘s unwittingly fortunate Ted, appears in “Saturday Night Special” as Jim, a friend of the first segment’s lead, Gordon (Scott Burkholder). Both segments of the episode focus on a social outcast (male in the first, female in the second) who attempt to overcome their obstacles to impress the objects of their affection.

5.) Jill Whitlow (Night of the Creeps)

Jill Whitlow solidified her horror icon status when she took a flamethrower to zombies in Night of the Creeps. In “Mother’s Day,” she assumes the role of Elm Street’s manipulative flirt Barbara Gamble. Appearing in both segments, Barbara convinces new kid Billy (Byron Thames) to throw a killer party at his pad while his mother and abrasive stepfather are vacationing.

As it turns out, Billy has just moved into the previous home of one of Freddy’s last victims. The party takes a turn for the worst and in the second segment, it is revealed that Barbara has been framed for murder.

6.) Diana Barrows (Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood)

Unlike Lar Park Lincoln, Diana Barrows wasn’t as fortunate when she faced Jason in Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood. Likewise, when she played a snobby sorority sister in “Rebel Without a Cause,” Burrows found herself at the mercy of Connie (Katie Barberi), an Omega Kappa Pi reject at Springwood University.

7.) Diane Franklin (Amityville II: The Possession)

Diane Franklin couldn’t escape the family issues she faced in Amityville II: The Possession, and the same is true for her character in “Freddy’s Nightmares.” As Jessica, Franklin appears in both segments of “The Bride Wore Red.” During the first, she worries that her fiance, Gavin (Eddie Driscoll), is having doubts about their marriage (unaware that Gavin has become entangled with a stripper from his bachelor party).

During the latter half of the episode, Jessica deals with her parents’ crumbling marriage. As past trauma comes back to haunt her, she decides to take matters into her own hands. Fun fact: This episode featured Phill Lewis as one of Gavin’s bachelor party pals.

8.) Bill Moseley (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2)

In “Black Tickets,” Bill Moseley plays a similar role to that of Jim Siedow’s character in the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre. As the rural oddball Buzz, Moseley plays a tow truck driver that encounters a young couple (Brad Pitt and Kerry Brannen) stranded near Springwood. Buzz offers to transport the two to his brother’s motor lodge, which turns out to be a rather “fishy” place.

9.) Lezlie Deane (Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare)

Along with Burr DeBenning, Lezlie Deane is one of only two actors to have been featured on “Freddy’s Nightmares” as well as to have starred in a Nightmare on Elm Street film. The episode in which she appears, “Cabin Fever,” was directed by Robert Englund; and her role as Sue Keller is much different from the troubled youth she played in 1991’s Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare.

As Sue, Deane plays a flight attendant who advances upon passenger Carl (Brett Cullen). Later, her ominous presence ignites Carl’s flight nerves while en route from Chicago to Springwood. Deane returns as the heroine in the genuinely creepy second segment. While at a bar, Sue meets and returns home with Jim (Ted Demers), a charming business suit-type who declares he has a fetish for taxidermy. Fun fact: Jim’s cabin is the same Sable Ranch cabin that was featured as Higgins Haven in Friday the 13th Part III.

10.) Tamara Glynn (Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers)

Before she donned devil horns and charged at Michael Myers with a pitchfork, Halloween 5‘s Tamara Glynn had a bit role in the first segment of “Love Stinks.” As Laura, Glynn is caught in a love triangle as her boyfriend, Adam (John Washington), is stalked by a young temptress (Susanna Savee). Her best moment comes in the form of a nightmare sequence where she brandishes a cleaver and taunts her beau. Fun fact: This episode was directed by John Lafia, who would go on to helm 1990’s Child’s Play 2. 

11.) Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator)

Dr. Herbert West himself, Jeffrey Combs, also appears in “Love Stinks,” albeit in the second segment. Combs plays Ralph, the stepfather to lead Max (Georg Olden). As the owner of a pizza joint, Ralph scores his stepson a job but as it turns out, the pizzeria is the former location of Springwood’s trouble-prone Beefy Boy restaurant; the same fast-food establishment where Lar Park Lincoln’s boyfriend met his end in “It’s a Miserable Life.”

12.) Dick Miller (Gremlins)

Dick Miller had already made a name for himself by starring in a number of well-regarded horror hits, including A Bucket of BloodThe Little Shop of HorrorsThe HowlingGremlinsNight of the Creeps, and Chopping Mall. He appears in “The Light at the End of the Tunnel” (also known as “Freddy Something”) as Al, the gruff “Lord of the Underworld,” who hires Michael (David Arnott) to work in the sewers of Springwood. Unfortunately, Michael also happens to suffer from a fear of the dark.

13.) David Kagen (Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI)

The number of Friday the 13th alumni who have appeared on the show is truly something to behold. David Kagen from Jason Lives appears in the first segment of “Identity Crisis.” As Fred Thomas, Kagen plays an architect who tries to eliminate the fears his co-worker Buddy (Jeff Conaway) has over approaching his 40th birthday. Meanwhile, Buddy attempts to address his relational issues with his sadistic yuppie son.

14.) William Butler (Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood)

Yet another cast member from Friday the 13th! William Butler first appeared as a student in “The Art of Death” and later had an uncredited role as Trenton in “Heartbreak Hotel.” While Butler didn’t face Freddy Krueger in either episode, he is the only actor to have appeared within the Nightmare on Elm StreetFriday the 13th, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchises (he had lead roles in Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III as well as Tom Savini’s 1990 remake of Night of the Living Dead).

15.) Charles Cyphers (Halloween)

Charles Cyphers (aka Sheriff Leigh Brackett in the first two Halloween films) appears in the Season 2 opener, “Dream Come True,” one of only six episodes that explicitly revolves around Freddy Krueger. Cyphers has a small role as Ben Ostroff, a new station owner whose cameraman (Gerard Pendergrast) attempts to capture Freddy on film.

16.) Tiffany Helm (Friday the 13th: A New Beginning)

Fans of Friday the 13th will hardly recognize punk goddess Tiffany Helm in “Heartbreak Hotel.” As the clean-cut Mary, Helm is a pregnant country belle who works as a hotel waitress. There, she meets Roger (John Stinson), a tabloid writer looking for a scoop.

As Mary goes into labor, she allows Roger to film the birth of her child, which he intends to spin for an article about the spawn of Satan. Fun fact: Helm’s mother, Brooke Bundy, appeared as Elaine Parker in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors and A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master.

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