Masters of Horror: Brad Dourif

Brad Dourif is a creepy-looking guy, there, I said it. But he’s also a very well-respected actor that has turned in numerous roles over the course of his life and has perfected that creepy look that nature has seen fit to bestow upon him. From one movie to another he’s actually changed his look a bit and has managed to become one of the trustworthy types that might still carry a bit of an edge to his character, but can take on roles other than those that are bound to induce one nightmare after another. It’s kind of funny that one of his most iconic roles didn’t come until well after a decade into his career, but it is worth noting that he earned a BAFTA award for his part in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. He even won a Golden Globe for new actor of the year, so the guy is good at what he does, and while he hasn’t focused on horror throughout his entire career, the one role that managed to get him noticed in a big way is the same one that was taken over by Mark Hamill in the most recent Child’s Play movie. 

Stating that Chucky put Brad on the map in a big way isn’t exactly fair, since he was a bit of a big deal before that, and he’s done plenty after that both in the movies and on TV. A lot of people might relegate his fame to a single role when it comes to the movies, but his list of credits is long enough to make it clear that while Chucky is a big success story in his career, he’s not limited to being the voice of the killer doll since he’s taken part in several other projects over the years that have shown just how great his range is and how he can use his looks and his talents to create characters that people will believe and will either enjoy or revile depending on their place in the given story. 

His role as Grima Wormtongue in The Two Towers and Return of the King for instance went a long way toward furthering the idea that he’s someone that can really play the part of a sniveling and easily intimidated individual to a tee. Grima was all big and bad when he had support and was able to do what he wanted, but when someone of greater power was there to challenge him, there was nothing he could do, he had to back down and fear for his life. The manner in which Brad played this character was perfect since it was seen that a lot of people couldn’t stand the character but would readily agree that he was needed and as a result, he was performed in a way that was undeniably perfect. Brad has taken on a lot of other characters that have been just as weak but somehow influential, such as Dr. Jonathan Gediman from Alien Resurrection, who was a bit of a sycophant to the xenomorphs since he happened to think that they were fascinating specimens. Just like a lot of people that ‘admired’ the creatures, Gediman was made to suffer at the hands of the xenomorphs since the biologically engineered alien that was given birth to by a queen of all things, thanks to the genetic tampering that was performed on a clone of Ellen Ripley, created something that tore half of his skull off. 

In other words, he does tend to play weak, ineffectual characters that still manage to drive the plot forward in their own way, and while he does get taken out rather easily at times by one thing or another, he is a useful character for the duration of his time in the movie he’s in. This is a big part of what’s made him such an easy character to watch, since the knowledge that his characters are usually there for one purpose or another, but usually end up getting snuffed, is a comfortable situation for a lot of people. There are plenty of performances in which Brad’s character doesn’t get killed by the end of the movie, but one has to be honest and state that these are the least remembered. In the end, some of his best characters are those that are the vilest and that end up having very bad endings. 

Chucky is one of those since from the first movie when he exited his human body, the murderous spirit of Charles Lee Ray became a truly troublesome ghost that just wouldn’t quit as he came back in one body after another. At one point it’s easy to think that someone would figure out that the deaths that Chucky was responsible for weren’t accidents or able to be blamed on anyone else. But then again, that would ruin the story just a bit. 

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