We all need to start somewhere and Hollywood A-listers are just the same.
How many of the following stars did you know where in horror movies before they were famous? Some of the stars will regret their early roles I am sure but others will no doubt feel very proud.
I’ve also given each movie my personal rating. Do you agree with me?
- Johnny Depp – A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
This was the movie that introduced the world to the star that would be Johnny Depp and what a movie to be your first featured role, a true horror classic. It also has to be mentioned (spoiler alert) that his character Glen meets his demise in one of the bloodiest and most remembered deaths in the entire A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. If you haven’t seen this movie yet (I’m sure there must be someone), stop reading and go do it now!
Did you know? Mr Depp was actually chosen to play his character Glen ahead of a young Jackie Earle Haley who would go on to play Freddy Krueger in the 2010 remake.
2. Jennifer Aniston – Leprechaun (1993)
Jennifer found fame with the meteoric hit TV show, Friends in 1994. This role would go on to make the beautiful star a household name, not to mention a multi-millionaire. But, did you know that just a year earlier she was an unknown actress and the star of a cheesy little movie called Leprechaun which would itself go on to have a cult following?
This movie is worth giving a try if you haven’t seen it – it’s lots of fun and wonderfully cringeworthy in places.
3. Leonardo DiCaprio – Critters 3 (1991)
Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the most sought-after actors in Hollywood today. He became vaulted to fame for most people with his sterling appearance in the blockbuster movie, Titanic.
However, a very young Leo made his film debut as Josh in Critters 3. While this direct-to-video sequel to the horror-comedy series wasn’t a hit it’s does have the honour of introducing the world to the genius that would become Leonardo DiCaprio. Previously Leo had appeared on TV but this was an uncredited role in the TV show, Roseanne.
4. Tom Hanks – He Knows You’re Alone (1980)
Another triple A-lister, Tom Hanks has done it all in Hollywood and won every award going too. If you go back to 1980, a young Tom was perhaps taking almost any role offered. In this uninspiring rip-off of the classic slasher movie Halloween tom plays a rather uninspiring college kid. It’s a movie worth forgetting but it does offer a glimpse of a young and raw Tom Hanks.
5. Kevin Bacon – Friday the 13th (1980)
Everyone knows Keving Bacon but a surprising number are shocked to find that Kevin appeared as a camp counsellor in the original, and some say, still the best, Friday the 13th movie. (Spoiler alert) As is the way with camp counsellors at Camp Crystal Lake, he comes to a rather sticky but memorable end at the point of an arrow but not in a way you might expect when you hear the word arrow.
6. George Clooney – Return to Horror High (1987) and Return of the Killer Tomatoes (1988)
Superstar George Clooney has had his pick of choice movies and quality scripts over time but even George himself will admit his initial forays into the horror genre were less than premium quality although, Return of the Killer Tomatoes does have somewhat of a cult following (perhaps for all the wrong reasons). Of course after cutting his teeth in these stinkers, he later made up for his rude beginnings with the wonderful 1996 Quentin Tarantino horror-fest which is From Dusk ‘Till Dawn.
It’s worth mentioning that From Dusk ’till Dawn was the breakthrough movie for the beautiful Salma Hayek giving a masterclass in being sultry by playing sexy dancer, Santanico Pandemonium.
7. Paul Rudd – Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)
Paul Rudd has been hanging around the hugely popular Marvel Universe collection of movies as the diminutive Ant-Man of late. He’s also appeared in many popular movies and was even a hit with the fans of the TV show, Friends when he played Phoebe’s main squeeze, Mike Hannigan.
Before all of this Paul had the script for Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers fall into his lap and he said, “Yes.” Luckily this decision didn’t interrupt his blossoming Hollywood career too much. The movie was a stinker! Sometimes dubbed the worst in the franchise and Paul laboured long and hard under the yolk of the terrible story to try and save it but even his talented attempts could not perform a miracle.
8. Brad Pitt – Cutting Class (1989)
I don’t really need to introduce Brad Pitt, we all know him for his huge array of successful and eclectic movies. The versatile actor is another ‘go to guy’ when a director is looking for a leading man that can consistently deliver the goods.
Sadly, Cutting Class is another generic direct-to-video slasher movie holding onto the shirt tails of the highly successful Halloween, by holding on to the shirt tails I mean by the fingernails. With its cut and paste storyline and distinct lack of gore expected from a slasher flick, the movie itself may be described as, “Meh!” but Brads acting is pretty solid throughout, showing his developing acting chops that would set him in good stead for years to come.
9 & 10. Renee Zellweger and Matthew McConaughey – Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1995)
(Also known as The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre)
This final entry is a genuine two-for-one offering. Both Renee Zellweger and Matthew McConaughey appeared in this travesty of a movie which sullied even further the already heavily tarnished Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise.
The movie was so bad, the studio quickly shelved it as a dead project. Fortunately for the studio but unfortunately for everyone else Zellweger and McConaughey became big hits in Hollywood the very next year (Renee Zellweger with A Time to Kill and Matthew McConaughey with Jerry McGuire) so Columbia Pictures in its wisdom took the movie off the shelf, blew the heavy coating of dust away and released it in what appeared to be an attempted cash grab. They hoped to capitalise on the names of the two new darlings of Hollywood.
Understandably the critics hated it and the fans were let down. There was only one saving grace, McConaughey’s maniacal portrayal as Vilmer, a wild-eyed hillbilly type, was so off the wall it made the movie a little more palatable – it was so bemusing to watch his antics it was almost entertaining.
© Colin Lawson Books