Horror films have consistently been dismissed and abandoned by the critics and the educators of these fine countries of ours. They are seen as trash and filth while the same tired stories of old family dramas and historical autobiographers with no sense of urgency garner award after undeserving award. However, it would be very unwise to say that every single critic and educator thinks this way. In most film school curriculums, there is at least one or two film classes that focus on horror cinema. In an effort to praise the people brave enough to look into a horror film and deliver the deep and philosophical meanings to the masses, I dedicate this editorial to you. Without wasting any more of your time, here are the The Best Professors from the universe of the Horror Film.
5: Professor Raymond Knowby (Evil Dead 2) The first entry on the list, Professor Raymond Knowby gets the special distinction of not only being the…first character on the list but also that he is the only character on the list that you don’t physically see with your eye balls. Yes that’s right, while you may not recognize the name; Prof RayKno is the titular voice that reads the words directly from the Necronomicon which in turn lead to his despair as well as the demise of Ash and all his friends (twice!). Some of you may say that since he doesn’t even appear on screen (He actually does for a split second flashback, so you jerks are all wrong) then he shouldn’t even be on the list. Well, call me crazy but I believe that the man who single handedly brought back demons from another dimension into earth on two separate occasions commands at least a little bit of respect in the fictional universe.
4: Professor Henry Northrup (Creepshow: “The Crate”) This is another character you may not remember clearly, so I’ll refresh your memory. Henry Northrup was played by the Oscar Nominated Hal Holbrook in the segment of the eerily segmented Romero film Creepshow called “the Crate”. In “The Crate”, a monster that lives in a large wooden crate is found under a set of stairs at Horlick’s University. Professor Dexter Stanley then unleashes the creature unknowingly and all hell breaks loose. Stanly runs to Professor Northrup’s home and fills him in on the demonic Antarctic 100 year old monster in the basement. At this point, Henry decides to do the only logical thing. He sends his wife down there to die while cleaning up the mess left by the monster to cover up the fact that it was ever there. The whole movie his alcoholic wife kept telling him how useless he was, which is proved to be false considering the second that he had that window to get his wife out of the picture, he made it happen. Plus, Henry’s wife is none other than Adrienne Barbeau. In order to be with Adrienne Barbeau during her prime, that constant abuse may very well have been worth it. Just sayin’.
3: Helen Lyle – The Candyman
Well OK, Helen isn’t technically a professor but she is a student and she is deeply involved in the world of academia so I’m counting it. Helen begins the film by studying various local legends and myths for her and her friend’s thesis projects when a quick trip to the wrong part of town bestows upon her the legend of the Candyman. If you look into a mirror and say his name five times, it’s said tha the will appear. So Helen ignores the warnings and does it anyway. At that point, the physical world of Helen in Chicago and the mental world involving Helen and her sanity are constantly at each other’s throats leaving the viewer constantly confused and disjointed. Helen’s dedication to her work is what lands her on this list, even if that meant you know… well I’m not going to tell you. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, then shame on you. (FUN FACT: Candyman will be celebrating its 20 year anniversary in 2012).
2: Professor Van Helsing – Horror of Dracula
For the records here, I’m speaking of the van Helsing that was portrayed by Peter Cushing in the 1958 film Dracula (Horror of Dracula for us Yanks). Now even though this wasn’t the original portrayal of Dracula or even Van Helsing for that matter, this version is the one that got the most fame and merit and continues to be parodied to this day. Van Helsing begins the film by coming into town to visit his acquaintance Jonathan Harker only to find out that Jonathan Harker has been killed and attempted to be turned into a vampire. Upon further inspection, he takes a stake to his colleague’s heart in order to stop him from becoming a vampire. At the end of the film, Van Helsing turns Dracula (Christopher Lee) into dust there by becoming both a scientist and A COMPLETE BAD ASS.
1: Peter Venkman – Ghostbusters I personally credit Peter Venkman (played by the living legend Bill Murray) as being the shining example of how nerds can also be the coolest people in the world. The character of Venkman is by no stretch of the imagination brilliant and holds doctorates in both Parapsychology and Psychology. When we first meet him, he appears to have a reputation around campus as kind of being a dick and his experiments surely aren’t anything special or groundbreaking. Therefore, it doesn’t matter that he decides to ditch the world of academia, which at this point in his life is probably the only thing that he really knows, and throws it all away to go hunt and capture ghosts. Imagine the balls that must take. You have to go to your friends and loved ones and say “You know what, f**k it. I’m going to hunt specters”. That’s like someone with multiple degrees in Civil Engineering who has made a decent living all of a sudden turn around and decide to physically crush rocks and make concrete. I guess it’s all about doing what makes you happy and in his case, being an entrepreneur is more fulfilling that then world of academia. Wow, I guess this isn’t the best person to end this on… whatever Bill Murray is the man.