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Seven of the Most Deviously Frightful Doctors in Horror Films

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Doctors. Aside from the medical field, they’ve excelled in so many areas. Literature… Dr. Seuss. Sports… Dr. J. Sugary beverages… Dr. Pepper. Successful doctors are everywhere. And they’ve certainly left their mark in – and on – the horror genre.

Without a doubt more than a few movie doctors have gone off the deep end, many of them with some pretty colorful results. We’ve seen our favorite doctors and scientists do all kinds of nasty things to their human victims. Most take bodies apart, but a couple of them even put things back together, most notably Dr. Frankenstein. Yes, there have been some great ones, like Dr. Anton Phibes, Dr. Jekyll and Dr. Giggles, but here are a few of our other favorites: Seven of the Most Deviously Frightful Doctors in Horror Films.

Seven of the Most Deviously Frightful Doctors in Horror Films

Mary Mason-American Mary
We may as well it kick off with the newest film on the list, and also the only female entrant. Mary Mason, or Bloody Mary as she’s known to her patients, is the damaged title character in American Mary, the kick-ass sophomore effort by filmmakers Jen and Sylvia Soska. Brilliantly portrayed by Katharine Isabelle, Mary Mason is a med school student who suddenly finds herself a celebrity in the underground world of extreme body modification. Mary is a wonderfully unique creation surrounded by a backdrop of wildly colorful characters, making the film both thrilling and visually shocking.


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Dr. Joseph Heiter-The Human Centipede: First Sequence
There’s creepy, and then there’s Dr. Heiter creepy. Dieter Laser’s portrayal of the nefarious Dr. Heiter was an instant classic and (in addition to the film’s shocking concept) helped turn The Human Centipede into the sensation it became. Heiter was obsessed with combining three humans with one gastroenterological tract and making what he referred to as a “Siamese Triplet,” and we all know there’s only one way to do that…and it ain’t pretty. Apparently the three-dog was not enough to keep him entertained. Heiter was truly nuttier than squirrel poop and certainly deserves his place on this list of devious docs.

Herbert West-Re-Animator
Okay, technically West was also a med student like American Mary, but a lippy, know-it-all of a student he was. West was conceited, brash and smug, but I guess any of us would be a bit high on ourselves if we had discovered a way to bring dead tissue back to life. That whole uncontrolled hubris/god-complex tends to make humility a bit of a problem. Jeffrey Combs’ portrayal of West helped to make Re-Animator the cornerstone of 80’s horror that it went on to become. The film is brutal and bloody as hell but never takes itself too seriously, and the ongoing power struggle between Herbert West and the equally entertaining Dr. Carl Hill (played memorably by David Gale) makes for a fun story as the classic special effects come to life.


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Dr. Paul Moreau-The Island of Dr. Moreau
Whether we’re talking about the 1977 version of the film with Burt Lancaster as Moreau, the 1996 remake with Marlon Brando in the role or the 1931 classic (entitled The Island of Lost Souls) where Charles Laughton played the character, the bottom line is Dr. Moreau is a troubled individual. Based on the H.G. Wells novel, Dr. Moreau basically created an island community for himself surrounded by manimals, part-human/part-animal (that probably didn’t need any additional explanation) beasts he constructed in his lab through vivisection experiments. Moreau rules over the beasts with a set of rules, the most important being that the monstrosities are not to kill, but when one thing leads to another and humans start killing other humans, it comes time for everyone to visit the house of pain…and we’re not talking about the fun “Jump Around” House of Pain either.

Dr. Jonathan Crane-Batman Begins
It’s not often that we get to work in a Batman villain on one of our lists, but if Dr. Jonathan Crane, aka The Scarecrow, doesn’t belong here, no super-villain does. Dr. Crane is hellbent on terrorizing his victims with drug-induced hallucinations. Played in Batman Begins by Cillian Murphy (who was cast as Dr. Crane after not getting the role of Bruce Wayne, which he initially auditioned for), The Scarecrow is contaminating Gotham City’s water with a fear-inducing toxin that will allow him to control the people of the city. And speaking of Gotham, why the hell would anyone live there?! If it’s not Dr. Crane’s fear-inducing toxin, it’s The Joker and his Smilex. Honestly, how cheap is the real estate in this city?


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Dr. Seth Brundle-The Fly
In one of the most beloved horror remakes ever, Jeff Goldblum plays Dr. Seth Brundle. He’s a scientist obsessed with the concept of transporting matter through the air, a process that involves breaking down the subject to a molecular level in one pod, transporting it and reassembling it at its eventual destination. Unfortunately, when a fly (literally) got into the ointment and was broken down together with the test subject, the technology didn’t really understand how to put them back together separately, and Dr. Brundle melded with the insect and eventually became the awesome “Brundlefly,” a hybrid of the two which started out as much more doctor than fly and ended up quite the opposite. Not surprisingly, as one’s body turns into a giant fly, it becomes increasingly difficult to hold it together mentally as well, and the Brundlefly turns into a real pain in the ass for everyone around him.

Dr. Hannibal Lecter-The Silence of the Lambs
16 Minutes! Anthony Hopkins was on the screen in The Silence of the Lambs for a grand total of 16 minutes. We’ve mentioned that fact here before, but it always merits another shout. Hopkins iconized Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Lecter is incredibly dangerous, not because of any physical trait, but because he is so intelligent that he is several steps ahead of everyone around him at all times, and just when you think you have him caged, he’s free again, blending into another crowd and disappearing right in plain sight. Dr. Lecter is a viper, always coiled and prepared to strike. And we watch him with devilish anticipation, awaiting his next move. He is the embodiment of creepy evil.

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Scott Hallam