Published on 07 Aug 1919
Last Updated: August 6th
While it may live in the shadow of other better-known streaming services, Hulu, once regarded simply as “that TV thing,“ has managed to maintain itself as a viable competitor in terms of offering a great variety of content online. This includes an impressive selection of quality movies, but it's not always easy to browse through their catalog if you don't know what you're looking for. Which begs the question: What is the best movie on Hulu right now? From iconic classics to contemporary indie fare, here's a look at the 30 best films available to stream, ranked.
Related: The Best Hulu Original Series Right Now, Ranked
1. The Silence Of The Lambs 1991
Run Time: 107 min | IMDb: 8.6/10
Hannibal Lecter is one of horror's most iconic characters, but it's a testament to the creepiness of Anthony Hopkins in a leather muzzle that, no matter how many times the film gets quoted, hearing him tell Clarice Starling he's having an old friend for dinner still sends chills up our spines. Jodie Foster plays the FBI agent tasked with catching another serial killer with Lecter's same M.O., and she does it by striking up unnerving conversations with the guy, but Hopkins is the real star here, playing Lecter with a restrained insanity that makes his small talk of enjoying human liver with fava beans so much more nightmarish.
Annapurna2. If Beale Street Could Talk 2018
Run Time: 119 min | IMDb: 7.3/10
Barry Jenkins follows up the success of Moonlight with this adaptation of a James Baldwin masterpiece. Told in a nonlinear style, the film recounts the romance of Tish and Fonny, two young Black lovers living in 1970s New York. When Fonny is accused of a heinous crime, Tish and her family fight to prove his innocence. The story is heartbreaking and hopeful at the same time, and Regina King puts in an Oscar-winning performance as Tish's devoted mother.
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Magnet3. Let The Right One In 2008
Run Time: 115 min | IMDb: 7.9/10
Director Tomas Alfredson shrugged off the conventions of vampire movies when he crafted a disarmingly charming tale that focuses on the unusual friendship that develops between a bullied young boy, Oskar Kåre Hedebrant and a vampire girl Eli Lina Leandersson. Based on the novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist who also penned the screenplay the film received near-universal acclaim, winning multiple awards across the globe. It was remade in 2010 as Let Me In, which managed to be considered a successful endeavor that stayed true to the original while differentiating itself enough to stand on its own.
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Neon4. I, Tonya 2017
Run Time: 120 min | IMDb: 7.5/10
As flashy and over-the-top as the sequin-spandex numbers that graced the ice back in the '80s, I, Tonya manages to straddle a thin line. It's both a biopic of one of the most notorious female athletes in the history of figure skating and a raucous comedy intent on mocking everything troubling about American culture at the time. Margot Robbie is brilliant in her role &ndash playing a woman tortured by talent and her inability to capitalize on it &ndash and you can literally hear Allison Janney chewing every scene she's in as Harding's narcissistic, chain-smoking mother. Plus that parrot bite is as funny as you could hope.
Paramount5. Up In The Air 2009
Run Time: 109 min | IMDb: 7.4/10
George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, and Anna Kendrick star in this dark comedy about a man content with his life on the road until two women arrive to stir things up. Clooney plays Ryan Bingham, a man who travels the country firing people. He's happy to be a loner with no family to return home to, until he meets Alex Farmiga a fellow frequent flyer and they strike up a romance. Ryan's routine is also complicated by the arrival of a new hire name Natalie Kendrick who hopes to implement a remote program that would mean the end of Ryan's work travels. Clooney carries this thing, piling on the charm one minute before switching to the exasperated despair of a man journeying anchorless through his life.
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Lions Gate Films6. American Psycho 2000
Run Time: 101 min | IMDb: 7.6/10
Christian Bale stars in this horror thriller from director Mary Harron that focuses on a wehy New York businessman with bloody habits. Bale plays Patrick Bateman, an investment banker seemingly dissatisfied with his life of excess and envious of his successful colleagues. To cope, he entertains psychotic fantasies that see him hacking prostitutes up with chainsaws and torturing his co-workers. It's an edge-of-your-seat gore fest that leaves you questioning any sense of reality you may have in the end.
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Annapurna Pictures7. Vice 2018
Run Time: 132 min | IMDb: 7.2/10
Adam McKay's controversial biopic lands on Hulu with its impressive cast of Oscar-winners including Christian Bale, who undergoes a mind-blowing transformation to play former Vice President Dick Cheney. The film follows the build-up to Cheney's White House appointment, as he gains power first as a Washington insider, then as the man pulling the strings of the Bush administrations. Amy Adams plays his supportive, just as morally compromised wife, Lynne, with Sam Rockwell turning in a hilarious performance as Bush himself.
Paramount8. Shutter Island 2010
Run Time: 138 min | IMDb: 8.1/10
DiCaprio and Scorsese team up again, this time for a dramatic thriller that feels different from their normal fare but still just as intense. DiCaprio plays a detective drawn to a mysterious island that houses a psychiatric facility for the criminally insane. He's investigating the case of an escaped convict, but a conveniently-timed storm, a hostile staff, and some strange happenings lead him down a rather dark and dangerous rabbit hole. There's a twist ending here worthy of its build-up, and DiCaprio shares the screen with some notable talents including Mark Ruffalo, Michelle Williams, Sir Ben Kingsley, and Emily Mortimer.
Annapurna9. Sorry to Bother You 2018
Run Time: 111 min | IMDb: 7/10
Boots Riley's directorial debut comes courtesy of this dark, absurdist comedy that manages to weave themes of class and capitalism into a bonkers tale about a telemarketer living in Oakland who figures out a way to use his “white voice“ to make sales. As he moves up the ladder, selling while hiding his identity, he's pulled into a conspiracy that forces him to choose between cashing in at humanity's expense or joining his friends in a rebellion against the system. Lakeith Stanfield gives a riveting turn as Cassius Green, Cash, the kid at the center of this bizarre story, and Tessa Thompson gives a commendable performance as Cash's radical feminist girlfriend, Detroit.
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Getty Image10. The Beatles: Eight Days A Week &ndash The Touring Years 2016
Run Time: 137 min | IMDb: 7.8/10
Set during the touring years of The Beatles' career, from 1962-1966, director Ron Howard crafts an intimate portrayal of the world's most popular band with the help of both Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, along with widows Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison. Featuring 4K restorations of some of the band's most memorable concerts, this documentary is a must for any film lover, Beatles fan or otherwise.
Marvel11. Iron Man 2 2010
Run Time: 124 min | IMDb: 7/10
There's a lot to love about the return of Downey Jr. to the role of Tony Stark in Iron Man 2. We meet Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow, we're treated to a hellishly-fun villain in Sam Rockwell, and the look of the film is worlds above its predecessor. In the grand scheme of the Marvel universe, this flick isn't a stand-out, but it's an enjoyable watch, thanks to Downey Jr.'s complete comfortableness in the role of the billionaire-playboy-philanthropist-superhero.
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Paramount12. A Quiet Place 2018
Run Time: 90 min | IMDb: 7.6/10
John Krasinski's breakout horror flick has made its way to Hulu. The film stars Krasinski and his wife, Emily Blunt, as a couple trying their best to raise their family in the middle of an apocalypse where the slightest sound might attract other-worldly creatures intent on hunting them down and killing them. It's a thrilling turn for both actors, with twists you don't see coming and a satisfying ending.
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Roadside Attractions13. Ben Is Back 2018
Run Time: 103 min | IMDb: 6.7/10
Julia Roberts and Lucas Hedges star in this heartbreaking family drama about a mother struggling to reconnect with her son who's in the midst of a long battle with addiction. Roberts plays Holly, who returns home on Christmas Eve to find her son Ben Hedges waiting for her. Ben's been in rehab after getting hooked on prescription pills following a snowboarding accident in high school and has plans to celebrate the holiday with his family before returning to treatment. Those plans are quickly thwarted by old foes looking to use Ben to sell and smuggle drugs, and by the death of a close friend of Ben's who he may have introduced to pills. Roberts and Hedges are both magnetic in their roles, playing a tortured familial bond to great effect. It's not a fun watch, but it is an impactful one.
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Netflix14. District 9 2009
Run Time: 112 min | IMDb: 7.9/10
Neill Blomkamp's inventive sci-fi ernate reality utilizes the found-footage style of filmmaking to thrilling effect in District 9. After an alien spaceship parks itself over parts of South Africa, the world's governments decide to put the sick occupants found onboard in an internment camp called District 9. Years later, having used up all their resources and suffered through secret experiments, the aliens are outcast by society, seen as lawbreakers and scum by society. When a company is contracted to relocate the aliens to a new camp, one of its members is infected with alien DNA, setting off a string of events that end up touching on heavier themes of xenophobia, segregation, and the state of humanity as a whole.
Lionsgate15. Reservoir Dogs 1992
Run Time: 99 min | IMDb: 8.3/10
Quentin Tarantino recruits Tim Roth and Harvey Keitel for this crime thriller about a jewelry heist gone wrong. Full of shootouts, violence, and pop culture references, the film follows the group of criminals who suspect one of their own might be working for the cops. There's plenty of twists and inventive action sequences to keep you guessing until the end.Add To Hulu Watchlist
New World Pictures16. Heathers 1988
Run Time: 103 mins | IMDb: 7.3/10
Helping to close out a decade of memorable teen films on a dark note, Heathers is a savagely funny deconstruction of the frivolousness of popular cliques that helped set the tone of many dark comedies that would follow in its wake. The plot involves a popular group of girls known as The Heathers who invite Veronica Sawyer Winona Ryder to join them, guaranteeing that she would gain popularity by association. Eventually, Veronica finds herself teaming up with a dangerous sociopath Christian Slater in an attempt to break the Heathers' tyrannical hold on the school.
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Toho17. Akira 1988
Run Time: 124 min | IMDb: 8.1/10
Loosely based on the ground-breaking manga of the same name, Akira is considered a landmark in Japanese animation, as well as one of the best animated films ever produced. Set in a dystopian future in 2019, a teenager named Tetsuo gains tremendous telekinetic powers after a motorcycle crash, eventually going mad with power before bringing the military-industrial complex to its knees. A live action adaptation has been in the works in some form since 2002, but remains in development purgatory for the time being.
Lionsgate18. Stronger 2017
Run Time: 119 min | IMDb: 7/10
Jake Gyllenhaal and Tatiana Maslany star in this biographical drama about Boston Marathon bombing survivor Jeff Bauman. Bauman lost both his legs during the terrorist attack as he cheered on his girlfriend who was competing in the race. Gyllenhaal brings the man's inspiring true story of resilience and recovery to the screen, fully immersing himself in the role and showing the painful aftermath of trauma. There are bits about the terrorists and the coordinated manhunt for them, but the film shines when it focuses on Gyllenhaal.
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Dreamworks/Netflix19. Shrek 2001
Run Time: 90 min | IMDb: 7.9/10
We know what you're thinking. Shrek? Really? An animated comedy about an ugly green ogre who rescues a princess, befriends a donkey, and saves a kingdom. Look, it's a common misconception that Shrek was only for kids. Mike Meyers, Eddie Murphy, and Cameron Diaz all voiced characters in the film, and there were plenty of mature jokes that probably flew right over the kiddos' heads. Torturing a sweet Gingerbread Man, interspecies hookups, and a show-stopping song and dance number to wrap things up makes this a family-friendly comedy that the adults won't snooze through.
United Artists20. Rocky 1976
Run Time: 120 min | IMDb: 8.1/10
One of the greatest sports films of all time, Rocky helped put Sylvester Stallone on the map. Stallone plays a small-time boxer from Philly looking to break out of his working-class background and be a contender. When he gets the rare opportunity to fight in a heavy-weight match against an infamous Russian opponent, Rocky trains harder than ever before, battling against his class, his background, and his self-doubt to go the distance.
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Columbia21. Big Fish 2003
Run Time: 125 min | IMDb: 8/10
This fantasy-comedy from Tim Burton stars Ewan McGregor as a young Edward Bloom, a man with a gift for story-telling and a lust for life. In the present, Edward Bloom is an old man, on the outs with his son and on his deathbed. His son Will Billy Crudup, having grown up hearing his father's tall tales, believes he's lied to him his entire life. As Edward narrates his life, the fantastical adventures he went on, meeting Will's mother, joining a circus, saving a town, meeting a big fish, Will decides to investigate his father's claims and discovers that the truth is just a matter of perspective. In the end, the film is about reconciliation and appreciating life to its fullest.
Oscilloscope22. We Need To Talk About Kevin 2011
Run Time: 112 min | IMDb: 7.5/10
Eva Khatchadourian Tilda Swinton, who's unwilling and unable to properly care for her troubled son Kevin, watches her life unravel as her husband John C. Reilly ignores their problems and Kevin grows more and more sociopathic and violent. The story jumps around in time, showing Swinton's character as both a new mother who blames her son for ruining her life and as a woman who eventually blames herself for what becomes of her son. Swinton proves once again that she's the actress that indie movies need for complex characters that live their lives in grey areas. At its core, We Need To Talk is about the importance of proper parenting, communication, and probably therapy. And it's not for the faint of heart.
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Hulu23. Fyre Fraud 2019
Run Time: 96 min | IMDb: 6.8/10
The war of the Fyre docs kicked off earlier this year with Hulu releasing their surprise flick just days before Netflix's planned exposé. Both films rehash the same basic plot: a young entrepreneur scams thousands of millennials and investors out of millions of dollars, but Hulu's movie takes a closer look the aftermath and damage caused by Billy McFarland and Ja Rule, in addition to interviews and close looks at the events of the Fyre Festival disaster with a critical eye.
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Paramount24. Annihilation 2018
Run Time: 115 min | IMDb: 6.9/10
Natalie Portman leads this cast of badass women investigating a natural phenomenon that is slowly invading Earth. Portman plays Lena, a biologist who leads a team of women consisting of a psychologist Jennifer Jason Leigh, a scientist Tessa Thompson, and a paramedic Gina Rodriguez into “The Shimmer,“ a quarantined zone mutated by alien DNA that seems to be transforming matter at will and spreading further each day. Past teams, including one led by Lena's husband Oscar Isaac, have disappeared in The Shimmer and Lena goes searching for a clue as to what happened to them and how she can save her husband &mdash who returned changed from his mission. The entire journey is filled with bizarre happenings tied to meta-commentary about evolution and the human condition but honestly, the coolest thing about this movie is its cast and the kick-ass characters they play
Tribeca25. Hunt For The Wilderpeople 2016
Run Time: 101 min | IMDb: 7.9/10
A charming, unconventional story about what it means to be a family, Hunt for the Wilderpeople follows a juvenile delinquent named Ricky Julian Dennison, who is adopted by a couple living on a farm in a remote region of New Zealand. After Ricky fakes his suicide and escapes into the bush, his reluctantly adopted father Hec Sam Neill goes looking for him, and after a series of mishaps, the two are forced to survive in the woods together for months. It was released during SXSW in 2016 you can read our review here, and after rave reviews from critics the world over, it's gone on to become the highest-grossing film in New Zealand history.
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Magnolia Pictures26. Love, Gilda 2018
Run Time: 88 min | IMDb: 7.4/10
Before the Tina Feys, Amy Poehlers, and Maya Rudolphs of the world made Saturday Night Live a female-led powerhouse, comedian Gilda Radner starred on the sketch comedy series. She's an icon, an absolute legend in the world of stand-up, and she played her bigger-than-life characters on the show with a kind of quirky abandon that made you laugh at them and care for them all at once. This doc looks back at her career, her struggles in an industry that wasn't always accepting of her gender, and her brushes with more serious issues, like illness and eating disorders. Despite those serious topics, it's a breezy, feel-good watch for comedy lovers of every generation.
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Oscilloscope27. Coherence 2014
Run Time: 89 min | IMDb: 7.2/10
Coherence is one of those low-budget sci-fi stories that is extremely tough to explain without either giving too much away or requiring an extended entry. Essentially, a group of friends sifts through their own issues and insecurities during a mind-bending paradoxical experience. Taking place almost entirely in the same room on a single night, the characters struggle to find answers just as much as the viewer. It's a challenging yet enthralling film, perfect for those who love to overthink things.
Magnolia28. The Square 2017
Run Time: 142 min | IMDb: 7.3/10
This Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film follows Christian, an art curator whose life starts to unravel after he's robbed and a new controversial piece opens at his exhibit. Co-starring Elisabeth Moss, Dominic West, and an aggressive man-ape artist, the movie shifts seamlessly from an awkward and bitingly funny satire to a dramatic examination of life. Despite a running time of 150 minutes, it never seems to lag, jumping from extremely tense moments to eccentric characters while being undercut with haunting music. Like a work of modern art, it's very much left open to interpretation.
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Neon29. Colossal 2017
Run Time: 109 min | IMDb: 6.2/10
A decidedly unusual twist on the giant monster movie, Nacho Vigolando's Colossal follows Gloria Anne Hathaway, an unemployed writer who moves back to her hometown after her boyfriend Tim Dan Stevens breaks up with her. After moving into her childhood home, Gloria's heavy drinking starts to take a toll on her before she starts to realize that she may have a significant connection with a towering monster that spontaneously appears over Seoul, South Korea.
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Paramount Pictures30. Friday The 13th 1980
Run Time: 95 min | IMDb: 6.5/10
Kevin Bacon and Betsy Palmer star in this classic horror flick that follows a group of summer camp counselors who are terrorized before the start of the season. As the teens prep the cabins for kids to stay, they're quickly murdered off in increasingly graphic ways before the horrifying backstory of the camp and the boy who drowned there is revealed.
Published on 30 Jul 1919
Over the course of the last year, I have read nearly every crime book written by John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker, the authors of Mindhunter, which inspired David Fincher&lsquos Netflix series of the same name. So when I was offered the chance to interview Douglas, a retired FBI profile who served as the basis for Scott Glenn&lsquos character in The Silence of the Lambs, I jumped at the opportunity.
Douglas has come face-to-face with the worst evil this world has to offer, so it's fitting that he appears as an expert on Investigation Discovery'sSerial Killer: Devil Unchained, a three-part limited series about convicted murderer and rapist Todd Kohlhepp, who was arrested after a young woman escaped from a shipping container on his property. Kohlhepp is one of four murderers whose crimes are examined in Douglas and Olshaker's latest book, The Killer Across the Table, which was published in May.
Douglas made for an absolutely fascinating interview, and while I can see why his headstrong attitude might have rubbed some folks at the FBI the wrong way, it's clear that he's an expert on the darkest corners of the human psyche. I could've spoken with him for several more hours, but I made the most out of time our limited time together, and I hope you'll enjoy my chat with the Mindhunter himself.
How do you prepare to interview a guy like Todd Kohlhepp? How many hours do you spend reviewing case files and evidence and all that?
John E. Douglas: When you do interviews, and you know this because you've read my books, you know that to understand the artist, you must look at the artwork. You've heard me say that behavior reflects personality. The key thing I learned early on, which I didn't do initially&hellip I wasn't as thorough years and years ago&hellip but the thing I learned is, you cannot rely on self-reporting. So before I do the interview, I'm pretty well-versed in the crime itself, the victims, and the circumstances surrounding the crime. I'm looking through the records within the correctional system as well, and then, if possible, I'll try to even stage the interview itself. I didn't do it initially, but as time went on, if I had the opportunity, I would stage it, and I was always big on low-lighting and a very minimal amount of furniture, but a room where the subject could have choices as to where he would like to sit.
Manson, I knew he would do this, he sat up on a credenza looking down, and I expected him to do that. I'm trying to make the person feel comfortable and make him, or her, in some cases, make them feel like they're in control. Even in control of me. But I have to show them through my knowledge and communications with them that I'm very, very knowledgable about the case, soif you pull the wool over my eyes, I'm not going to confront you, I'm not going to slap you in the head, I may just chuckle and say, &lsquoc'mon, I know the case pretty well.' Often times, they're surprised by the response. If you're walking by the cell, you may have a hard time of differentiating who the bad guy was and who the good guy was &mdash so it's really this degree of comfort.
Surprisingly, even to this day, a lot of the people making these decisions about corrections, probation, parole and sentencing, they rely on self-reporting. They don't look at the material, and they get angry if I'm confronting them. Like, &lsquowell, we don't like what you say about us in your books, that we don't know what we're doing.' It just seems so obvious! Unless you delve into the crime itself and the specifics of the crime &mdash now, you may not be able to understand it, you may need someone to interpret it for you and explain what really happened, but you have to know all the elements of it, even up to the time of arrest. Did the subject give a confession? Did he lie? Did he come up with some phony alibi? These people are going to lie and they're going to test you. Those are the things I learned early on.
In the series Mindhunter, they bring in tape recorders, and we did that once, and we'd take notes and stuff in front of them, but we quickly learned you can't do that. You have to give them your 100 percent attention &mdash looking at them, listening to them, kind of like hostage negotiations. Paraphrasing, restatement of content. Letting them know that you understand what they're saying. If I'm writing notes, they're asking, &lsquowhy are you taking notes? Who's going to see the notes? Why do you have a tape recorder? Who's going to be listening to this tape that you're making with me?' Those are the kinds of things you have to prepare for.
Now with Kohlhepp, I tried to go into the prison and do the interview. I went through SLEDD in South Carolina. It's a law enforcement group, a state agency. And the local sheriff's department, as well as corrections, they wouldn't let me do it, for several reasons. First of all, the correctional institutions, they're way, way understaffed. When I was down there, seven inmates were murdered in the local prisons. In fact, corrections was criticized that they didn't move in right away. So what I ended up doing with Kohlhepp, and I would never do this with a David Berkowitz or a Manson-type of personality, or Dennis Rader, the BTK Strangler, I sent him, through our producer Maria Awes, the 57-page instrument protocol that I and Dr. Ann Burgess and my former colleague Robert Ressler developed early on in our research, which covers everything from the crime to the arrest to the subject himself, with information that's in corrections that the police may have, to the victimology, and everything about the victim. It's the &lsquowhy plus how equals who.' It's an UNSUB case, and in an unknown subject case, we're trying to come up with the &lsquowho.'
Here, we have someone incarcerated like Kohlhepp, so we're trying to come up with the &lsquowhy' &mdash the motivation. We communicated with him, and Maria received an extensive amount of communications with him, and we sent off the instrument. Not only did he fill it out all 57 pages, but he went way beyond. He provided dozens of addendums to it, and additional writings. He's very, very introspective, and at the same time, he wanted my opinion on what makes him tick. He was a totally different kind of killer than some of the other ones that I've been involved with. He's not really a sexually motivated type, who has fantasies of locking somebody up in a storage bin. It wasn't that way at all. He was more of a retaliation type of offender. He was a mass murderer and a serial murderer. So was Dennis Rader, who killed the Otero family, and then five or six other people. So if he feels you did him wrong, it kind of goes back to when he was in prison.
When he's 15 years of age, he doesn't go to a juvenile facility, they send him to an adult male prison after he was convicted of raping a 14-year-old girl when he's 15 years of age. So you learn pretty quickly who to trust, who not to trust, and if someone is distrustful, or does you wrong, or is a snitch, there's going to be retaliation. He doesn't have the social skills when he's released from prison at age 30, and as far as who he dates &mdash he dates some women, but his sexual gratification, more times than not, is coming from prostitutes. But no matter what he achieves in his life, including two college degrees, a private pilot's license, a real estate license, a real estate broker's license, and then he owns a real estate company, has no respect at all from his family, particularly his mother. His father abandoned him at 2 years of age, and he was abused by his grandfather, while his mother was very dispassionate and saw other men, and moved him from school to school to school. He began acting out in elementary school, and went to a psychiatric hospital at 9 years of age. So what happened was predictable &mdash that this person, at some point in his life, will perpetrate a crime.
In the motorcycle shop, he felt wronged, in his opinion. They made fun of him when he bought the motorcycle, because he didn't know how to ride a motorcycle. It's not long before he crashes it and tries to return it, and they laugh at him. He believes that they came back and stole the bike, because they delivered it to him, so they knew where he lived, and whether that happened or not, he waited and waited and waited months and months, and then the day came, and one day after school he says to himself, &lsquoI'm going to this motorcycle shop.'
And he's very proud of how he kills these four people. He talks as if he's in the military, and he's a real gun buff, a gun fanatic, and he kills a guy working on the bike. He's in the shop supposedly to buy another bike, but his intention is to kill whoever is there, so he ends up killing the owner, the manager of the shop, the mechanic, and the owner's mother. He was just a different breed of cat. And that's how I got involved in the case. It was with the Motorcycle Killings. I was speaking down in at South Carolina University as part of a speakers bureau, and the cops came up to me after my presentation at this university &mdash I didn't even know they were in the audience &mdash asking if I could help them. This was about a year after the mass murder in the motorcycle shop. And I said, &lsquoit just depends&hellip the more cycles of pathology, the easier it becomes, so send me what you've got.'
That's when they sent me all the case materials, and I went through everything, and then called them back up and told them that it is my opinion that there aren't multiple offenders involved, so this is not a group-cause murder, and it's not a criminal enterprise because no money was taken. There was plenty of money on the victims, as well as in the business office &mdash thousands of dollars was ready to be sent to the bank, so it's not that. It's not a sexual motivation-type. &lsquoSo what is it, John?' I said it's a personal cause homicide, a revenge/retaliation-type, because the person responsible feels they've been wronged. So it's either a disgruntled employee or a disgruntled customer, and if it's a disgruntled customer then the name of this person will be in their files.
So they took the information, and there's an article I did with an investigative reporter, and we put it in the paper hoping someone would recognize the traits and characteristics, but the cops never followed through. They went through some of the names, but they stopped because they focused in on another suspect who they believed showed inappropriate affect at the crime scenes. This was a guy who showed up right after the homicides, and they just thought he was weird. But had they continued running checks on all the people who purchased bikes from this bike shop, they would've come across Todd Kohlhepp, and then with a simple criminal check they would've seen he had a criminal history as a registered sex offender out of Tempe, Arizona, and it certainly would've been worth while to knock on his door and have a talk with him.
With Kohlhepp, unfortunately, I couldn't get to do the interview, but he filled out the instrument, and Maria and I talked about it, and I said because of his intellectual level and how introspective he is, I couldn't give that form to David Berkowitz or Dennis Rader and expect them to fill it out, because they're not that smart. But this guy had about a 118 IQ, and based on the communications that Maria and I received from him, I thought he'd do well. And he gave us a lot of information, which was very helpful and very believable to me. He said he's involved in other cases, and I believe him, whereas some other law enforcement agencies don't believe him, but I do believe him.
Tell me about your partnership with Mark Olshaker and how that collaboration works?
Douglas: First of all, I met Mark in 1994. He had a contract at Nova Television to do a story about the unit, and it was called The Mind of a Serial Killer, and that's how I got to meet him. I was getting near retirement and starting to think, &lsquothere's a book in me.' He wrote books, but nothing like my subject area. We went up to New York and met an agent, and then we went around, when the time came, to different publishers, and they were well aware of me. In fact, some of the publishers had books from other authors who had written books about cases I'd done. So we got the first contract with Simon & Schuster.
The way it works is, I'm really an instructor, and then I go out for a task force, and I'm instructing there, to give them some leadership and direction. Sometimes I'll write it out, or I'll go through the story and tape it, and then Mark will flesh it out and send it to me, then I'll review it and add to it, or change the organization of the story. Things like that. Mark has known me for so long.
The thing about Mark is, I have to remind him sometimes and be like, &lsquohey Mark, you know a lot, but you are not a profiler.' I'm not going to imitate being a writer. Because sometimes he'll say, &lsquowe did this&hellip' like with the Ramsay case, and I'll say, &lsquowe?Mark, you weren't there when I testified in front of a grand jury in Boulder, Colorado. I didn't see you sitting next to me when I was going through that.' But he's been around me so long that he knows me and knows the buzz words and all that. He wasn't involved when I went down to South Carolina in this Kohlhepp case, as I was involved with Maria, but for this next book that I did, The Killer Across the Table, I just felt that this Kohlhepp case could be one of the ones in this next book, because it's just so different, and the other three guys in the book are kind of different killers as well, and that's pretty much how we do it.
How does somebody go about getting a job like yours? Where does someone like me, who is fascinated with profiling, start?
Douglas: In the bureau, all the profilers, there's not really a profiler position, there's an agent position. So you join the bureau as an FBI agent, and then you're out in the field, and let's say you're in the LA office. The FBI investigates a couple hundred different federal violations, so you're assigned to some squad, and then you tip your hand and you say you're interested in criminal profiling, so you become a profiler coordinator. And a coordinator's job is, we'll send you to a two-week in-service, then you head back into the field, and if a case comes up in your territory, and you think it's something we can be of assistance on, you coordinate and work with police to send files back to Virginia.
There are police departments that have profiling people in there, so it's not just federal &mdash federal has a lot of them &mdash and I think right now it's an agent position in the bureau, but I think that's going to change in the future. It's good to have that investigative experience, but you could find someone who may have investigative experience in some capacity, or maybe they spent some time working in corrections but they also have a degree. The degree today, which I didn't have this kind of degree because it wasn't around, is forensic psychology, which is a new degree, and which would be a good background for someone. But I have people in my unit, I had one, Gregg McCrary, who was a music major. Had others who had business degrees. My doctorate is in adult education. You have to have that rub though, around law enforcement, and you have to be able to understand the language and the cases and the work.
And then to be accepted&hellip when I came back to Quantico, I had it all. I had degrees, four years of military service, seven years in the field, but I was young. I was like, 32. but what really got me accepted, and I almost did them strictly as survival, was to do the interviews and go into the prison and do the interviews from an investigative perspective. So that's what cops will look at. Not so much your degree, but your understanding of the crime, and their work, and the criminal perspective. By going into the prisons and conducting interviews from that kind of perspective. And people can do it. People write to me all the time, and some do it through communiques, but others have actually gone to the prison, and as long as they see you as a friend, a so-called friend, they'll talk to you.
Early on, I saw instructors being challenged in the classroom, but they didn't really have the facts of the case, and they were challenged by cops who actually worked the case. So by the time I was 34, if I was in a class and I was talking about the Manson case, for example, I'd ask the people in the class, &lsquoanyone here work the Manson case?' and a hand might go up. Well, let me tell you something, I got to spend quite a bit of time with him and the Manson Family members, and you probably didn't have the opportunity to ask him the kinds of questions I would ask him, so then I'd lay it out for him. So that was a quick way of being accepted. But the bureau is already making changes, where there are morecivilian jobs and non-agent positions. There are still good technical positions, but it's not always necessary to be an FBI agent to do criminal profiling.
Who's the scariest person you've ever met face-to-face?
Douglas: There have been different ones for different reasons, but it's probably Lawrence Bittaker, out in California. He was a convicted rapist who teamed up with another convicted rapist named Roy Norris. He was really&hellip his nickname was “Pliers Bittaker,“ because that's what he used on some of the victims. And they made audio tapes of the torture. I'm not intimidated by it, but when you do an interview and you're looking in the eyes of this guy, who now seems pretty normal when you're looking at him, I'm trying to visualize what this guy was like, what his face was like, when his victim was looking at this face. It was a different kind of face, I'm sure. A different kind of expression, that she saw on his face as he was scripting them and telling them things to say during the torture and rape. So he was pretty bad.
But then some other ones, like a Todd Kohlhepp. There was no interview,but what's scary about him is that he's so, kind of, normal. He's normal in his appearance, and he's smart. Had Kala Brown never been recovered from that Conex storage container, there's no way you could all tie those cases together, because they're all different. All the cases were so different, and they were retaliation types of crimes. He's scary in a different way. Criminally smart-scary.
Who was the one criminal who you always wanted to meet but never got the chance to for whatever reason?
Douglas: The guy who'd be a good one now is the African-American, Sam Little. But the one I really wanted to interview is the one I nearly lost my life on, and that was Gary Ridgway, the Green River Killer. I think he may have pulled the wool over some of the interviewers' eyes on some of the cases. He was one of these guys who was admitting to all kinds of cases, which he felt free to, because he wasn't going to face the death penalty, so I don't fully believe him 100 percent. But there are questions I wanted to ask him regarding victim selection and post-offense behavioral kind of things, like following the press. Did he go back to the locations where he killed the victims or where disposed of the victims, or the gravesites? What precipitated the crimes? Really to go back and learn, and I may still try to do that, because you can get access to him. He'd be one I'd be interested in.
Do you think that you could commit the perfect crime if properly motivated?
Douglas: No, because it would have to be something&hellip well, maybe if it was a contract type of thing, because if you're contracted to do something, you're not emotionally involved, kind of like in organized crime or a hitman, like with the Iceman up in New York-New Jersey, so you have no emotional attachment. But if it was committing a crime against people I know or in my area here, a good profiler or someone with those skills should be able to pick up some things.
For example, maybe I would stage the crime to make it look like something that it was not, maybe make it look like robbery was the intent. Now, they may have a difficult time with the first case, but then if I do multiple cases, they may start seeing a pattern. Again, it's the emotional attachment. I'd have to have a motive behind it, and so it'd be up to you or the cops to figure out that motive and to look at who are the victims who he's killing, and are there are any commonalities among the victims. I say that kiddingly to my wife. We get into arguments and I say, I could do something and they would never know it was me. Ha! No, I'd be the first person they would be after.
I know the Holy Trilogy of fire-starting, bedwetting and torturing animals, but are there any modern signs you'd look for in today's youth, maybe regarding their online activity.
Douglas: The big one of those three is animal cruelty. Up until a year ago, the bureau's uniform crime report never had a category of animal cruelty. Say it was a case of domestic violence, and the guy kills the woman's dog or pet to get back at her. There was no category for that. Now there's a category because after all these years they realized what we did back in the early '80s, that it's a pretty good predictor or red flag, something that you'd have keep your eye on.
Violent themes. You could be on the computer. What are they watching? Because you can become desensitized through some of the violence that you see on television or computers, or by playing war games on the computer. It can desensitize you. I don't think you should necessarily do away with that, but if somebody has a dysfunctional background, or they're coming from childhood abuse of some form, then you throw in this other mix of violence on the computer, or in movies or books or the internet, then you observe behavior in school&hellip the kid's an asocial loner, not so much anti-social, but asocial, and he doesn't fit in with the rest of the kids in the school, and he's kind of lost in the shuffle of 2000-3000 kids&hellip there's a big potential for a problem in the future. In fact, some of those characteristics I just gave, that's what they've seen with school shooters, who are generally asocial types who don't fit in. It's not one thing, you look at all the different areas, or several different areas, because one thing alone may not be enough to cause anybody to do anything violent.
How has your job affected your dreams of late, because you often write about your nightmares in your books, so I'm wondering how you're sleeping these days.
Douglas: Not that great, because if I'm involved in something, I'm thinking all the time of cases, or ideas on a specific case, and I find that that helps at nighttime, because it's kind of peaceful. When I was younger though, I would have more nightmares. It was hard to turn off something like a violent murder, where you visualize a scene and it's not just a gunshot and the person's dead, but it's things that may have been done to the victim before and after death. And then you come home at the end of the day, and you're in bed with your wife, I'd be lying if I say you don't have flashbacks. You see something like that and it's hard to get that out of your brain,
With law enforcement, you see that they try to desensitize these feelings. You may even look at them and say, &lsquowell, I have inappropriate affect, and I'm laughing at a crime scene,' but that's the way they're attempting to cope with it. What I do, me personally, I felt like I could not put up any kind of wall. To really understand and interpret a crime, you have to walk in the shoes of the offender as well as the victim, and you try to reconstruct in your mind that interaction, and what took place.
And that's why, when I was 38 years of age, I was on the brink of disaster when I was up in New York City training cops, because I had this anxiety attack in the middle of my presentation, but no one even caught it. My mouth was talking, because I know my materials, but my brain is elsewhere. My brain is thinking of the cases I'm doing, the cases I have to do. I'm pretty much alone and they're promising me new people, but it takes a couple of years to train a new person. So by the time I get back home, I'm 38 and I feel like something's going to happen. I may die here. And the day I leave for the Green River murder case, I say goodbye to my wife at home, and she's a schoolteacher, so then I went by her school to say goodbye again, and she said, &lsquowhy are you telling me this? You don't look well.' I had this tremendous headache, and that's when I finally get up to Seattle and I take out two agents who are understudying me.
That night I say, &lsquolook, I think I'm getting the flu. It's Tuesday. I'll see you Friday.' As you know, I collapsed, and then they kicked down the door on Friday. Nobody checked on me because I told them not to check on me, but also because I had the Do Not Disturb sign on the door, so there was no maid service or anything like that. I was on the floor for three days in a coma, and I was paralyzed. I was a wreck. I had to go through five months of rehabilitation. Emotionally. I was a basket case, and when I went to a stress psychologist he said, &lsquoJohn, you're burning the candle at both ends. You're showing indicators of post-traumatic stress disorder. And if this viral encephalitis didn't get you because of your low immune system, the doctors say that something would've happened to you. So it's not easy. It's better today, plus I'm in control, and I can say &lsquoyes' or &lsquono' to different requests, whereas when I was in the bureau, they used to kid around and say &lsquoDouglas is like a male whore. He can't say &lsquono' to his customers.' And you can't say &lsquono,' because if a family makes a request for help through the bureau, you can't turn your back, so you do whatever you can to try to help.
What are some of your favorite serial killer movies, or portrayals of serial killers in film and television?
Douglas: The Silence of the Lambs was really a great movie. Jonathan Demme and Jodie Foster did a tremendous job. It was terrific, but that was not really very realistic. There was no Hannibal Lecter type, and we would not send a young agent out to work a case alone.Criminal Mindsis another one. In that first year when they started, they were patterning Mandy Patinkin after me and my background. They were taking my cases from my books and twisting a few things, so it was no longer John Douglas' cases, so we don't have to option any of his books, we'll just twist a few things around.
But then, when you get back to the unit, yeah, you have a gun, but you're not making arrest, you're not kicking down doors. You're not so much the player anymore as you are the coach. So I would be the coach, and even though people are asking me, many times, to do some of these interviews, some I would do, but the majority of the time, no, I will coach you. I will find the best person in your department to conduct this type of interview. So that show is just way beyond, and that's what I like about Mindhunter. It's conversation that they're having. It's not an interrogation, it's not an interview. It's a conversation with violent offenders, but from an investigative perspective, and it's non-violent.
That's how it all started, by going into these prisons. I wanted to be a good instructor, and I thought, &lsquohow can I accelerate my learning? By doing these interviews.' The bureau wasn't in favor of this. I butted heads with the bureau throughout my career, not just in the '80s, but right up to '95, when I retired from the bureau. Knowledge is power, and when you start getting this knowledge on the criminal personality, and that applies to not just homicides, but it can apply to other violent crimes within the FBI, like I did for the bureau. Actually, the bureau was the last ones to embrace it.
So you get this power, and as an example, you get a call from the LA FBI office and the agent-in-charge of that office, asking me to provide him information &mdash how best should he talk to the press what should he say, and what shouldn't he say? Because we have this kidnapping case, and I'll be going before the media soon, so what should I say? So you give him ideas of how he should present it, just in case the offender is listening in. So everything works out fine, and he's very happy.
Who's not happy is FBI headquarters, and the criminal investigative division that works kidnappings, but they don't work it. They have the violation on the desk, so they oversee it, and they go back and tell the office administratively what to do. So they jump on my case, saying, &lsquoWho the hell are you, telling the agent-in-charge, and how come you're not going through us?' And I said, &lsquowell, the agent-in-charge of LA called me.' And they say. &lsquowell you tell that agent-in-charge he has to come through headquarters,' so when you do that and tell that guy in charge of LA, he may come back and say, &lsquowell screw them. All they're going to tell me is to dot my i's and cross my t's. I want it from you.'
So it's a form of power. You're not looking for the power, but you get this power, so people are maybe upset with you, and then you may get some notoriety. Again, you're not looking for the notoriety, but you're getting notoriety in the Atlanta Child Killings. You're not looking for it when they do an article down there after the trial, and they say &lsquoFBI Super Sleuth Plays Major Role in Atlanta Case.' So some people are happy, but there are always some who are not too happy.
I know Mindhunter Season 2 is going to explore the Atlanta child murders and Manson and Berkowitz, but if it were up to you, what would you like to see the show focus on in Season 3?
Douglas: There's a lot more they could do. A good one would be the Hanson case up in Alaska. Robert Hanson. He's the one who hunted down women, flew them up into the wilderness in his airplane that he owned, and then he'd strip 'em down naked and hunt them down like wild animals. That's going to be a big one. And Green River is going to be a big one.
The BTK, they're doing it now. I don't know if they'll come to a resolution. It's based on the book, but they may Hollywood-ize it, like the backstory with me and the girlfriend. I was married with one young daughter, and then later a son. There are some other cases, and some cases are not well known, but they're interesting cases. We were involved, my partner and I, in the John Gacy case. And of course you've got Ted Bundy. That was another agent in my unit who I sent down to spend time with Ted Bundy. That has to be one as well.
What's on your recommended reading list?
Douglas: Ressler, my partner, did some. He did Whoever Fights Monsters. Most of the ones who are doing the writing, they're not so much investigators. So you're not necessarily getting the investigative perspective, you're getting the journalistic perspective, but they might be good books. And I'm prejudiced toward my own books, but the Crime Classification Manual CCM. We're on our third edition of that, and I tell reporters and police to take a look at that when they're investigating a case or writing about a case.
And then we're going to be doing a podcast, and we may start in August. We don't have a name &mdash we had a name but we don't know if we can use it &mdash but it's going to be me and Olshaker, and Maria Awes, from Devil Unchained, she's going to be the producer. She's going to produce our podcast with her team. We don't know where you'll be able to find it yet, but right now, UTA and my speakers bureau, Greater Talent Network, are getting ready to shop it around, and there's interest already. Because there are a lot of true crime podcasts, and I've spoken at these conventions and people are doing podcasts at these actual conventions.
What do you make of this current true crime boom and what is it about the worst fo human nature that makes people wants to watch and listen to those stories?
Douglas: It's kind of like how I started, which was with the &lsquowhy plus how equals who.' They want to know who are these people, and what motivates them. Most of the audience though are 80-90% women. I did a big one over in the UK in May, for the last two Tuesdays, I've spoken to a group of 400 teens from all over the US up in northern Virginia, and the majority of the audience, about 80%, are female, and they are the victims of these crimes. Of course, we're seeing so much of it on television. It's been with us ever since Silence of the Lambs came out. Some thought itcould be a fad that would come and go, but there are so many cases. They just want to try to understand the criminal personality and motivation, and what really makes these people tick. Are there ways to identify them, or identify early indicators in childhood that would predict that they would perpetrate these crimes?
They just busted a guy over in the UK who had been writing true crime books. I think his name is Paul Harrison. He got busted because he said that when he was 23 of age, he understudied at Quantico, and we taught him profiling, and he interviewed Ted Bundy, David Berkowitz, John Gacy, all these people. He's in his late-40s and he's done a ton of books. And they sent information asking if we knew this guy, and we didn't know this guy. He's getting ready to do a big speaking conference, and after all these years someone decided to check up on the guy, and he's a phony. It just came out a few days ago. It's crazy.
Serial Killer: Devil Unchained is currently airing Monday nights on Investigation Discovery, while the second season of Mindhunter will debut on Netflix on Aug. 16.
Published on 15 Jul 1919
strong>EXCLUSIVE: Andrew Bachelor, a.k.a King Bach To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, Meet The Blacks and Marvel’s Daredevil actor Scott Glenn have been added cast of Greenland, the STXfilms disaster thriller starring Gerard Butler and Morena Baccarin. Young actor Roger Dale Floyd, who will appear in WB’s The Shining sequel, Doctor Sleep, is also set to co-star.
Ric Roman Waugh is directing the film based on a script from Chris Sparling, with revisions by Mitchell LaFortune and Roman.
Currently in production, the pic centers on one family's fight for survival in the face of a cataclysmic natural disaster.
Thunder Road Films' Basil Iwanyk is producing the film with Butler and Alan Siegel via their G-BASE production company.
Bachelor’s upcoming slate includes Coffee and Kareem, a Netflix film starring Taraji P. Henson and Ed Helms, Holidate opposite Emma Roberts and Kristin Chenoweth, also for Netflix, and John Legend's and IFC's new variety sketch series Sherman's Showcase.
In addition to Netflix’s Daredevil series, Glenn’s recent credits include The Defenders, HBO’s The Leftovers, and Hulu’s Castle Rock. Past films include Urban Cowboy, The Silence of the Lambs, Training Day, and The Bourne Ultimatum.
Bachelor is repped by UTA, Christina Bachelor, Adam Kaller, and Duncan Hedges Glenn by Innovative Artists, Talent and Literary Agency Inc., and Parseghian Planco Floyd by 22 Talent and Industry Entertainment.
Published on 09 Jul 1919
Every week, IndieWire asks a select handful of film critics two questions and publishes the results on Monday. The answer to the second, “What is the best film in theaters right now?,“ can be found at the end of this post.
Reactions to Ari Aster’s “Midsommar” predictably run the gamut, but there seems to be a general consensus that Florence Pugh is fantastic in the lead role. In the aftermath of Toni Collette’s work in “Hereditary,” and Essie Davis’ memorable turn in “The Babadook,” there’s been something of a renewed appreciation for horror movies as a vehicle for strong performances.
This week’s question: What is the best and/or most indelible performance you’ve seen in a horror film, and how did it leverage the genre to accomplish something that might not have been possible in a more grounded type of movie?Isabelle Adjani in “Possession”
Joel Mayward @joelmayward Cinemayward.com
Upon reading the prompt for this survey, a single image came into mind, that of Isabelle Adjani violently and passionately convulsing in a dank subterranean hallway in Andrzej Zulawski’s “Possession.” Adjani deservedly won the Best Actress prize at Cannes for “Possession” and “Quartet.” She’s remarkable throughout the entire film portraying both Anna and Helen, but this scene is *the* scene for me when it comes to horror, a sort of grotesque and tragic miscarriage which feels completely out of control and other-worldly. And it’s arguably not even the most outrageous and disturbing scene in “Possession,” which is why the film is one of my all-time favorite horror films, as well as one I’m not sure I want to ever watch again.Kathy Bates in “Misery”
Allison Shoemaker @allisonshoe The A.V. Club / RogerEbert.com
While Toni Colette’s turn in “Hereditary” springs to mind immediately, I’d like to go at least a little further back and throw armfuls of roses and maybe some soup at Kathy Bates for her performance in “Misery,” a great Stephen King adaptation that could easily have been a miserable one, if not for her generous, deliberate, precisely balanced performance. If Bates played Annie Wilkes with a wink for even a moment, the whole thing would fall apart. She is wholly committed to what Wilkes believes of the world, including the fact that she is not the villain of this story, even when the sledgehammer comes out. That said, there’s no shortage of exemplary performances in horror films looking forward to reading other spirited defenses of Sissy Spacek, Daniel Kaluuya, Jodie Foster, Mia Farrow, Naomi Watts, Sigourney Weaver, Max Schreck, the “Let The Right One In” kids.Marilyn Burns in “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”
Sarah Welch-Larson @dodgyboffin, Bright Wall/Dark Room, Think Christian
Marilyn Burns sells pure terror for the second half of “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre,“ but she isn't reduced to just another screaming body. She's still a person behind those vocal cords. The second to last shot, of Burns getting away in the pickup truck, is unforgettable. She's doused in blood and exhausted, and we can see relief, terror, triumph, and joy, all in her face all at the same time. Toni Colette and Essie David turn in fantastic performances, but Marilyn Burns deserves to be lauded for her performance decades before.Jamie Lee Curtis in “Halloween” 2018
Joey [email protected], News Editor for Wicked Horror, freelance for Birth.Movies.Death, Vague Visages, The List
Horror has a lovely tradition of featuring a young actress front and center in her first, career-defining role and then bringing her back years later as an adult to showcase her talents again think Neve Campbell in “Scream 4″ or Heather Langenkamp in “Wes Craven’s New Nightmare”. Never was this trope better utilized than with 2018’s hugely effective “Halloween” reboot, which found Final Girl Jamie Lee Curtis returning as Laurie Strode, quite literally 40 years after her first tussle with Michael Myers.
Curtis was terrific in the role, her first movie role, back in 1978. But, with four decades in the business behind her, she brings a new grit and a sophistication to the character. By making Laurie, essentially, a doomsday prepper living on the outskirts of Haddonfield in a secure compound with a drinking problem and a difficult, barely there relationship with her adult daughter, Curtis is given the opportunity to showcase her acting chops in ways hitherto unseen in the series consider the fact she previously played an on-the-verge Laurie in another, less memorable installment.
We watch as Laurie sobs in her car, stroking a gun, unable to even look behind her as The Shape boards a bus that will take him to another high-security prison to live out the rest of his sentence. “Halloween” plays with our perception of Laurie by putting her in many of the positions Michael occupied in the original movie, this time as the instigator. Curtis takes to the role with aplomb, resisting the urge to chew the scenery by imbuing this new, older Laurie with the war wounds 40 years of running from her past have given her. It’s a quiet, emotionally nuanced performance rich with understanding of both the character itself and the many women who will see their less outlandish experiences reflected in her. It could only work in a horror movie.Bette Davis in “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?”
Christopher Llewellyn Reed @chrisreedfilm, Hammer to Nail, Film Festival Today
The great Bette Davis 1908-1989 &ndash #2 on the AFI's list of top actresses of the 20th century &ndash was, amazingly, finding it increasingly hard to find work in her fifties when she landed the role of Baby Jane Hudson in director Robert Aldrich's deeply unsettling and relentlessly creepy 1962 “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?“ opposite her lifelong rival, Joan Crawford. Though Aldrich &ndash the quintessential journeyman &ndash would continue to dabble in a variety of genres throughout his career, he created, with this particular movie, one of the best examples of psychological horror of its and any day.
The story of two sisters, both former movie stars who now live together in reduced circumstances, the one having caused the other's debilitating injuries, “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?“ gave Davis one of the indelible roles of a career filled with landmark performances. So far over the top that she soars above the planet, Davis mugs and emotes in a manner that would be ludicrous in any other kind of film, yet here is perfect in every way.Mia Farrow in “Rosemary’s Baby”
Lindsey Romain @lindseyromain, Staff Writer at Nerdist
The performance that will forever resonate with me is Mia Farrow’s haunting portrayal of a doomed pregnant woman in “Rosemary’s Baby.” Though physically small, her presence is enormous in the film. Her affected voice and demure polish make her come off as somewhat naive, but as the horrors unfold around her–and as she realizes all too late how alone she is and how cruel even our loved ones can be in the quest for power–she becomes ferocious. I can still recall her shrieks at the film’s end or the way she screams “this is really happening” before her rape by the Devil. It’s a legendary performance.
Don Shanahan @casablancadon, Every Movie Has a Lesson, 25YL, and Medium.com
In my eyes, the best horror movies take characters meant to represent ordinary people and put them through an arc of unfathomable challenges.  No roller coaster wringer was better than Mia Farrow's in “Rosemary's Baby.“ The simmering and tortuous escalation of her character's mounting fears is incredibly compelling to witness. What makes her role stand out is the convincing unraveling that comes out of Mia's committed acting. The kicker is that soft, smiling final image of resignation and evil acceptance that washes over here after all she went through and was revealed. Most people in her position go down fighting, so to speak. She instead turns and we buy it. That doesn't happen without Farrow's twisted empathy and tremendous emotion. For over a half-century now, every female horror protagonist since is chasing her level of wrought veracity.
Clint Worthington @clintworthing, Consequence of Sound, The Spool
It’s hard to look at Florence Pugh in “Midsommar” and not think of the smiling claustrophobia beset upon Mia Farrow’s Rosemary Woodhouse in “Rosemary’s Baby.” Like Pugh’s Dani, Rosemary is welcomed into a seemingly-innocuous environment, one that celebrates her, only for her to begin seeing the sinister, disorienting forces at work around her. Farrow’s Rosemary is delicate as crepe paper, trapped in a world that infantilizes her so much she ends up internalizing much of it. Much like with Dani in “Midsommar,” the viewer feels absolutely helpless to help or save her, Farrow infusing Rosemary with a thick blanket of vulnerability. The lynchpin of Farrow’s performance is not in her fear, but her anxiety the alienating nature of her marriage to John Cassavetes’ Guy, the uncanny attention of her neighbors, the nascent tension of feeling alone in a crowded New York City.
This is to say nothing of her nascent motherhood, a subject that causes Rosemary tremendous pause. If “The Babadook” is a horror film about the everyday challenges of motherhood, “Rosemary’s Baby” mines the anxieties of pregnancy &mdash the slow subjugation of your body and life to another’s &mdash to full effect. Farrow plays these tensions with an underappreciated sense of frailty, as if she could collapse into the Castavet’s Satanic influence at any moment. That suspense, so perfectly calibrated by Farrow, makes it one of the most elegantly layered horror performances of all time.Jodie Foster in “The Silence of the Lambs”
Q.V. Hough @QVHough, Vague Visages, Screen Rant, RogerEbert.com
While growing up in the 80s, horror villains like Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees creeped into my subconscious. Still, they remained movie characters. By 1991, “The Silence of the Lambs“ felt less like a horror film and more like a real-life threat. And it wasn't Anthony Hopkins that struck a nerve as the serial killer Hannibal Lecter, but rather Jodie Foster's jaw-dropping performance as FBI trainee Clarice Starling.
Foster strays from the “I'm very good at what I do“ young professional archetype. Clarice is vulnerable and naive, if only because there's no definitive playbook for communicating with someone like Lecter. Foster carries that sense of unease in the way she walks, in the way she talks. Her face is rigid and full of stress. Clarice's jaw is tight. As a viewer, you can almost feel her teeth grind. Foster brilliantly depicts someone who's trying so hard to be professional, but doesn't necessarily understand her small tells. She understands when to push and pull back on specific emotions a swirling of nervous energy.
Because Hopkins both improvises and hams it up as Lecter, he's able to produce genuine reactions from Foster, specifically during conversations at the Bimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane. As the film progresses, Foster's performance becomes more affecting as she navigates mysterious settings and meets new characters. Her scenes with Hopkins establish a full character profile and narrative depth, but the primary investigation sequences bring the character to life. Foster's teeter-totter mannerisms – the distinct character idiosyncrasies – make Clarice feel like a relative, or a friend. Incidentally, the climactic Buffalo Bill sequence feels purely terrifying as Foster interprets her character's disbelief and fear Clarice's perseverance and ride or die commitment. Foster makes the viewing experience seem authentic, like a real-time live stream. It's chilling.Gloria Holden in “Dracula’s Daughter”
Andrea Thompson @ areelofonesown, The Young Folks, A Reel Of One’s Own, The Spool
When I saw the 1936 film “Dracula’s Daughter,“ I was immediately struck by Gloria Holden’s performance as the titular character, the Countess Marya Zaleska. She makes the Countess, possibly Hollywood’s first reluctant vampire way before that idea ever caught fire, a woman who was as worthy of fear and respect as sympathy. Zaleska’s tragedy was just how much she aspired to be good, despite a nature that found nourishment in blood and death.
And the genre meant “Dracula’s Daughter“ could take what truly lied at the heart of her conflict and run with it to the darkest places. The ending also doesn’t offer much comfort or reassurance, or even allow the righteous hero to save the day after he rushes in to rescue his damsel of a love interest. No, Zasleska’s downfall is trusting the wrong person, someone even more monstrous than she, and had nothing like her vampiric nature to excuse them. Thanks to Gloria Holden’s beautifully chilling presence, what could’ve been another cheesy B-movie ends up an engaging psychological study that leaves audiences questioning just how much separates us from the monsters that are the source of our worst nightmares.Anthony Hopkins in “The Silence of the Lambs”
Daniel Joyaux @thirdmanmovies, freelance contributor for Vanity Fair, The Verge, MovieMaker Magazine, Filmotomy
At the risk of going with maybe? a very obvious, cliched choice, the answer is Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Hannibal Lecter in Jonathan Demme’s 1991 film, “The Silence of the Lambs.” It’s not as though horror and horror-adjacent films hadn’t been scary prior to 1991, but that scariness was always derived, somehow, out of super-natural or sci-fi elements. There were demons, monsters, aliens, evil spirits, zombies, villains who seemingly couldn’t be killed, or some combination of all of the above. Dr. Lecter was none of these things. He was a short, middle-aged man in a cell with no extraordinary ability except his intellect and, I suppose, his eyes that apparently didn’t ever need to blink.
But Dr. Lecter was the scariest of all, and that fear arrived almost purely based on the performance of Anthony Hopkins. His stare, his cadence, his posture, his sound effects, his perpetual serenity… they all served to cripple our defenses. We let him into our fear centers and ceded control to his gaze, because it was so incomprehensible to our brains. Most horror movies, even the best ones, still operate at some sort of base cognitive dissonance. Not Dr. Lecter, though.Duane Jones in “Night of the Living Dead”
Robert Daniels @812filmreviews, 812filmreviews
Not only does Duane Jones portray the smartest character in “Night of the Living Dead,“ he's the best actor. Much of the cast is over earnest: bordering on comical&mdashbut Jones offers a calm and thoughtful respite, though his character performs much of the heavy lifting when defending this motley crew of &lsquosurvivors.' He stands as the hero, up until recently a rarity for Black actors, while adding a complexity to Ben, partly born through the color of his skin, but also through the content of his actions.
In fact, Jones's best moments arrive when his character is basically left to his own wits, as the supporting participant Barbara sits catatonic on a couch. The instances where the gears are turning in his head: when finding small advantages through the leg of a table or the burning of a chair, and when he offers shoes to Barbara&mdashadd subtle layers of wit and empathy. The tight rope he must walk, from the shocking scene of him slapping a white woman to the sharp barbs he throws at the older white Henry, is rife with pitfalls to become the villain, especially during a segregationist period. In the end, he’s barely given a backstory. Nevertheless, the control Jones displays: not just through his character’s actions, but upon his character’s emotions, especially as others offer wide-eyed proclamations, adds a naturalistic component to this unnatural film.
And while Jones’s character would later become a stereotype of the sensible black guy who's perpetually slain in a horror film, his awareness of the film's importance to the Civil Rights Movement and to America during the period is reflected in his acting, making for an influential role and performance ahead of its time.Peter Mullan in “Session 9”
Aaron Neuwirth AaronsPS4, We Live Entertainment, Why So Blu, Out Now with Aaron and Abe
I find horror films tend to get some of the best and most unsung performances from actors on a near yearly basis, given both a physical and emotional commitment from the performer. As such, there are plenty to list, many who have probably come up in this survey. I’m going a bit more obscure with Peter Mullan as Gordon Fleming in Brad Anderson’s “Session 9.”
This moody, psychological horror / haunted house film does plenty to keep the viewer uneasy. And thanks to a compelling and grounded story, the film has you relating to Gordon, while not knowing what to think with him.
For a film about working in an abandoned mental hospital, it would be easy to turn it into a slasher flick. Anderson makes it much more about the personal drama shared between these characters with the addition of spooky recordings some of the crew become obsessed with. For Mullen’s role, in particular, we know something is up with him, but he does plenty to keep certain motivations hidden while maintaining a pained expression throughout.
As a viewer, the stress of wanting Gordon to complete this job almost overtakes whatever possible supernatural element there may be. Given his talent as a character actor, it’s not much of a surprise to see Mullan play a layered role so effectively, but it makes it all the more personal to see the actor as such a flawed man who is also the lead character.
By the time “Session 9” reaches its violent conclusion, the movie satisfies on a level fit for a horror film, but there’s a character resolution that plays into the strength of Mullan’s very human performance that helps the film stand so strong.Terry O’Quinn in “The Stepfather”
Alonso Duralde @aduralde, TheWrap, Linoleum Knife, Breakfast All Day, Who Shot Ya?
Years before “Lost” became a TV phenomenon, I was a fervent fan of Terry O’Quinn because of his deliriously brilliant work in “The Stepfather” 1987. This wickedly funny and terrifying satire of Reagan-era family values stars O’Quinn as a man who marries into existing households, striving for picture-perfect perfection. When his new spouses and step-children invariably disappoint him, he murders them, changes his identity, and moves on to the next family. What makes the film work as well as it does is O’Quinn, all “Father Knows Best” blandness one minute and homicidal malevolence the next. It’s a performance that’s both unsettling and hilarious in a film written by the legendary Donald E. Westlake that achieves a similar effect.Jordan Hoffman @JHoffman, Freelance
Roman Polanski's performance in “The Tenant” the titular tenant, if you will! is the lynchpin in a movie that's a collage of styles and obscure narratives. The character as written is a bit of a blank, but the sniveling, shrimpy Polanski loathed now more than ever! comes to life as the dark hybrid of Chaplin's Tramp and Josef K. That Polanski isn't a “movie star“ this is his only lead role adds even more curious gloss.Jaroslava Schallerová in “Valerie and Her Week of Wonders”
Luke Hicks @lou_kicks, Film School Rejects/One Perfect Shot, Birth.Movies.Death.
There are three names written on the proverbial masthead of the Czech New Wave: Vera Chytilová, Milos Forman, and Jaromil Jires, Jires among the seminal movement’s most forgotten filmmakers. It might be intimidating to dive headfirst into a filmography as dense and pop-culturally unexplored as Jires’s, but you won’t second guess your decision if you start with the bizarre, surrealist, coming-of-age trance that is “Valerie and Her Week of Wonders.” Jaroslava Schallerová plays Valerie, a 13-year-old girl who’s just had her first period in a relatively medieval daydream full of sensuous extravagance, sharp-toothed vampirism, and fairytale references galore.
The film is mesmerizing in all of its macabre, phantasmagorical expression, but its intentional lack of an interpretable plot structure means it hinges almost entirely on Schallerová’s execution, which is truly extraordinary. Valerie ebbs and flows between unbridled curiosity, childlike fear, brazen audacity, and bewildering delirium. Spurred by the wonders of an erotic awakening, she steers us through the unpredictable terrors of self-discovery, sinister religiosity, and the loss of innocence in a cruel, ever-shifting sphere of surreality. It’s an unforgettable performance that will leave you with more questions than answers.Max Schreck in “Nosferatu”
Richard Brody @tnyfrontrow, The New Yorker
Horror, schmorror genre has nothing to do with it. Most great movies are marked by distinctive performances, because most great directors have original ideas about performance. The performances in “Midsommar,” despite the actors’ talent and dedication, are merely professional and competent, certainly not unusual it’s not their fault. One doesn’t have to look far to see that, when a film labelled “horror” is exceptional, so are its performances, as is Max Schreck’s, in F. W. Murnau’s “Nosferatu,” which is both more phantasmagorical than most and as grounded as any&mdashMurnau didn’t take its supernaturalism as an excuse for laziness, but as an inspiration for inventive makeup, costumes, and effects. Yet Schreck’s performance isn’t different in kind from Emil Jannings’s performance in Murnau’s “The Last Laugh.” The concept of genre is regressive.
Sarah Marrs @Cinesnark, LaineyGossip.com, Freelance
I have to go with a classic, Max Schreck as Count Orlok in “Nosferatu“. Would there even be wildly committed horror performances without him? Silent films can often seem cheesy to modern audiences, but there is something so creepy and off-putting about Schreck's performance in “Nosferatu“ that it defies even the most cynical modern viewer to find it anything other than totally effective. After nearly a century of genre expansion, “Nosferatu“ might not scare you, but Schreck's performance will definitely creep you out. His silhouette is one of the most famous images in horror cinema, and his long-nailed and long-toothed vampire is so indelible it still works as a reference for movies like “What We Do in the Shadows“.
Without dialogue to communicate his intent, Schreck built Orlok as a purely physical terror, something strange and demented and not quite of our world. Sound would cheapen Count Orlok, who, without words, seems to exist in a dreamlike state, a silent horror emerging from darkness. Count Orlok is a creature that can only exist in silent cinema, and the days of early cinema, with no reference for a “real“ vampire, gave Schreck the room to create a monster so acute he survived through changing technologies and tastes to remain one of the most unforgettable monsters in film. Max Schreck crept up the stairs and set a standard that actors have been chasing for almost a hundred years.Edith Scob in “Eyes Without a Face”
Oralia Torres @oraleia, Cinescopia, Malvestida
Horror goes where other genres can't or won't dare to go. Many of the dark stories and characterizations in horror movies reveal tragic realities or responses to something horrifying that couldn't be explored in regular dramas. One of the best examples of this is Edith Scob's brilliant and terrifying performance in Georges Franju's “Eyes Without a Face.” Her character, Christiane, wears a white mask to cover her disfigured face, and dreams for a chance to leave the house she's confined in. Scob plays both a creepy and tragic figure, trapped in her paternal household that won't let her do anything until she has her face “back“ most of her performance during the film relies in her expressive eyes, which reveal her internal struggle for self-worth and desire for freedom.Liv Ullmann in “Hour of the Wolf”
Ethan Warren @EthanRAWarren, Bright Wall/Dark Room
In “Hour of the Wolf“&mdashIngmar Bergman's sole venture into something like traditional full-throated horror&mdashLiv Ullmann has by far the least showy role. Playing the concerned wife to Max Von Sydow, who delivers a performance full of sound and fury as a painter plagued by mental illness and the increasingly real manifestations of his paranoid conjectures, Ullmann is asked mostly to listen and react, slowly absorbing the instability of her life's foundation and struggling to envision a way forward. It would be easy for a less skilled performer to fade into irrelevance in the role, and yet Ullmann commands the screen, embodying the role with such complete assurance that it seems less like a performance than a conjuring. She may be the often-silent observer to the howling maelstrom around her, but “Hour of the Wolf“ belongs to Ullmann, and the film's success is owed almost entirely to her work as an anchor keeping us rooted in a story that without her might well spin off into hollow hysteria.Naomi Watts in “The Ring”
Mike McGranaghan @AisleSeat, The Aisle Seat / Ranker
As someone with a particular fondness for horror films, it’s hard to pick just one performance here. That said, I think what Naomi Watts did in “The Ring” exemplifies how great acting is just as important to a scary movie as the traditional creepy elements. “The Ring” has a pretty outlandish premise: anyone who watches a cursed videotape dies seven days later. Watts makes the paranoia her character feels after viewing it seem authentic. And that paranoia turns to outright panic once she realizes her young son has also seen the tape. The actress grounds all the crazy supernatural stuff, giving the movie a strong human center. With a less capable lead, “The Ring” would have been silly. With Watts, it’s harrowing.Q: What is the best movie currently playing in theaters? A: “Midsommar”
Published on 17 May 1919
Evelyn “Brandy“ Foster, who managed the childhood career of daughter Jodie Foster, died May 13  in her Los Angeles home from complications related to dementia. She was 90 years old.
Her death was confirmed by Jennifer Allen, publicist for Jodie Foster.
Born Evelyn Almond and raised in Rockford, Illinois, Foster had been a big band singer and worked briefly as a Hollywood publicist when, after she and husband Lucius Foster divorced in the early 1960s, she began managing the career of son Buddy Foster, best known for his role as Mike Jones on the 1968-71 series Mayberry R.F.D.
According to information provided by Allen, Evelyn Foster managed and guided daughter Jodie’s career until 1991’s Oscar-winning performance in The Silence of the Lambs the Oscar was the actress’ second, after 1989’s The Accused, and marked her third acting nomination following 1976’s Taxi Driver. Jodie Foster’s first professional job came as a child model at age 3, when she appeared in the famed Coppertone suntan oil ad, and her early TV credits include The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, Mayberry R.F.D., and Paper Moon.
“Evelyn was without a doubt the strongest person her family has ever met, a champion, a fighter, full of fire and love,” reads a family statement. “No one could beat her style, all five feet tall with naturally ‘cork screw’ hair. Her family will remember those dimple smiles and big hugs and well placed four letter words. No one messed with Nana, an original like no other. May she live in all of us forever.”
Foster is survived by children Jodie, Lucinda, Constance and Bud. No public service is planned. In lieu of flowers, the Fosters “suggest you look up at the sky, open your arms and say her name. She would get a kick out of that.”