There are countless delights offered by the horror genre. Scares, impactful storytelling, and haunting imagery all come to mind—but there’s one element that isn’t considered enough in my opinion. There is always something truly undeniable on my mind when I sit down to watch a horror movie: just how many regulation hotties are gonna be in this thing?
Call it weird, call it unhinged, but there’s something about seeing someone with a charismatic screen presence having fun AND looking good amidst spooky chaos that makes me feel warm inside. I’ve learned that sometimes, the catharsis of a good horror film includes developing a questionable crush. As a long-time horror fan, there have, of course, been nearly endless streams of crushes running parallel to my watch history. However, with Halloween season officially around the corner, let me walk you through 5 of my favorite horror hotties.
Tom Savini in anything, but mainly From Dusk ‘Till Dawn (1996)
If you follow me on Twitter, you probably know where this is going. When I re-watched Robert Rodriguez’s camp classic From Dusk ‘Till Dawn semi-recently, I thought I knew what I was walking into. Lo and behold, I had no idea what waited for me in the cool dark of the theater that night. Flickering across the screen with all of the charisma and charm to live up to his character’s name (Sex Machine) was Tom Savini. I felt the wind getting knocked out of me every time he slew a vampire. Right from the introduction of his character, there is something undeniably hot about him. Maybe it’s how confidently he whips a beer out of another guy’s hand, guzzles it down, and reveals his crotch-pistol when he gets a disapproving stare.
It’s clear that Tom Savini is having the time of his life, and that kind of joy is so infectious, I could feel it radiating off the screen and into the theater. I could go on and write sonnets about how good Savini’s arms look, or how his genuine talent shines through, but you should just go watch one of his movies and see for yourself!
Matthew Lillard in Scream (1996) / Scooby-Doo (2002)
This list would be truly incomplete without acknowledging the goofy, impossibly tall charms of Matthew Lillard in two very different spooky classics. Among horror aficionados, Lillard is probably most well-known for his role in Scream—Wes Craven’s hyper-self-aware take on slasher movies. He plays the role of Stu, the bumbling but dedicated accomplice to Skeet Ulrich’s Billy. The two boys work together to create the Ghostface killer, terrorizing the town of Woodsboro, California together. He’s chilling and unhinged, but goofy enough to seem approachable here (what other killer would be worried about their parents reprimanding them?).
Scooby-Doo, however, might be his best, silliest work in the horror genre. Lillard’s iconic take on Shaggy Rogers—Mystery Inc.’s chief scaredy-cat and snack-lover—is unforgettable, especially for the generation of kids who grew up with him. Shaggy is a perfect goofball, someone you could go on a legendary snack date with and protect while watching scary movies together on your couch. He could also definitely whip you up a comically stacked sandwich and it would miraculously work! What could be more crush-worthy?
Tony Todd in Candyman (1992)
Speaking of impossibly tall, charming men, Tony Todd’s presence in the original Candyman is unforgettable. Although he’s a terrifying entity brought to life by belief, his desires (for legacy, for retribution for his horrific end) are understandable. Todd’s voice beckons out to Virginia Madsen’s Helen in a parking garage, smooth and soft as velvet even if he’s asking her to be “his victim.” It’s a siren call that could draw anyone into the warm, bee-laden arms of Candyman.
His presence throughout the film is undeniably imposing (Tony Todd is 6’5) and powerful, but also gentle in a way. It feels contradictory, but also right for a movie that has elements of gothic romance alongside the many other ideas it threads together. There is something terrifying and alluring about how easy it could be, to just give in to the chilling charms of Candyman. All you have to do is call him by his name (five times, to be exact).
Vincent Price in House on Haunted Hill (1959)
Potentially the most undeniably iconic actor in the genre that’s on this list, Vincent Price is a horror legend for a reason. Suave, charismatic, and never afraid to be goofy or terrifying (depending on what the movie he’s in calls for), he was deeply committed to his work.
It’s no wonder that one of his most indelible roles was as eccentric millionaire Frederick Loren in House on Haunted Hill. Forcing several strangers to try and survive for a night in your potentially haunted (maybe just rigged?) mansion is kind of a douchey power move, but a power move nonetheless. Hell, he might be a slimy dude who doesn’t even love his wife, but the way he lays out the rules for his house guests, pouring out drinks and delivering the confines of their stay is annoyingly charming. I’d give anything to be able to have a bourbon with this dude, even if he was setting me up to get scammed (or killed!). You might even be inclined to stick around his mansion in the next life, just to be close to him.
Sam Neill in Possession (1981)
Possession is a wholly unique horror movie. It’s nearly impossible to say what it’s about, but the barest-bones summary I can give you is that it’s about the end of a relationship. There’s espionage, an amorous monster, doppelgangers, and the unsettling feeling that you never quite know what’s happening. This might not seem like ripe ground to develop a horror movie crush, but hear me out! Despite being grim and wiry in this movie, with eyes that spill over with rage, love, and a million other emotions, Sam Neill is giving his all to his performance as Mark.
Mark’s been jilted by his wife and mother of his child for another, and he lashes out in horrible ways (including going on an ugly bender alone in a hotel room). Maybe it’s the weird, toxic passion he expresses when he presses his wife, Anna (played by the gorgeous, unforgettable, Isabelle Adjani) about how to fix what they have that makes him alluring. Maybe it’s just because he’s hot, young Sam Neill. But regardless he is impossible to ignore. As Mark’s life implodes on-screen, and any chance at a normal relationship with his wife crumbles, there’s something there that keeps you watching.
Horror movies have always held a certain escapist allure for me. These five crushes represent one of the best parts about that escapism: throwing a little thirst into it! So the next time you’re feeling weird about thinking the lurking killer in the shadows of your favorite slasher is kind of fine, remember: you’re not alone!