Is there anything better than watching a horror flick you’ve been waiting to sink your teeth into only to discover a little slice of fried gold briefly dropped right in the middle which leaves you feeling as though it were put there just for you?
You’re not alone.
Though there have been far too many cameos to cover in one list, here are a few (in no particular order) which always leave me smiling.
Hopefully they’ll leave you feeling…wait for it…
Simon Pegg & Edgar Wright as Photo Booth Zombies (Land of the Dead, 2005)
When interviewed for the Shaun of the Dead DVD extras, Bill Nighy noted that the trio of Pegg, Wright and Nick Frost had more or less memorized every zombie movie George A. Romero had ever made, adding “These kids are sick.”
Even sicker? When Frost shouted “We’re coming to get you, Barbara” through the phone at Shaun’s bitten mum, I was (to my shock) the only one in the Mall of America theatre who laughed. That confusion remained until I learned that Romero himself missed the nod to his Night of the Living Dead the first time he watched the funniest horror comedy this side of Army of Darkness.
And if you blinked back in ’05, you may have missed this photo op with the catalysts for Shaun of the Dead.
Ken Foree as Televangelist (Dawn of the Dead, 2004)
“When there is no more room in hell, the dead will walk the Earth.”
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Never has a recycled line felt less forced or been delivered as convincingly. Press pause for a moment to consider that despite different context, Foree was speaking the same words which had bounced off the abandoned walls of the Monroeville Mall nearly thirty years earlier.
Roger Corman as FBI Director Hayden Burke (The Silence of the Lambs, 1991)
With a laundry list that includes Jack Nicholson, Ron Howard and Martin Scorsese, Corman helped many an industry heavy get a foothold in show business, and was clearly never forgotten.
Corman refers to them as his “graduates,” and they like to place him in their films from time-to-time. Joe Dante and Francis Ford Coppola made it happen in The Howling and The Godfather: Part II, respectively, but Jonathan Demme could not have communicated his feelings for Corman more lucidly than when he cast him as the Director of the FBI in Silence.
Joining Coppola, it was the second time Corman appeared in a protege’s film that took home the Academy Award for Best Picture.
Annie Potts as Desk Clerk (Ghostbusters, 2016)
For my money, the best cameo from the new Ghostbusters isn’t even a discussion. With all due respect to Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson and Sigourney Weaver (spoiler alert — The end credits? Really?) this one is all Janine Melnitz.
Pott’s brief reveal notched not only my biggest smile, but the best nod to the original in the entire film. I mean, the spunky actress was handling calls behind a desk, asked whomever was on the other line to give her a second, pressed the phone against her jacket and offered a perturbed “Whattaya want?”
Like deja vu all over again.
Janet Leigh (Halloween H20: 20 Years Later, 1998)
Yes, Leigh was Jamie Lee Curtis’ mother and the shower victim in Alfred Hitchcock’s iconic Bates Motel shower scene, but Leigh and Curtis had already appeared in John Carpenter’s The Fog. So what set this cameo apart from just another spot appearance?
Leigh was named Norma (Hint #1), effortlessly dropped a line from another Leigh (Sheriff Brackett), her vehicle sure rang a bell and as she began to walk toward said ride, we were exposed to a few subtle notes from Bernard Herrmann’s Psycho score.
Wes Craven as Fred the Janitor (Scream, 1996)
Like Hitchock before him, Craven appeared in many of this films, but this particular tip of the fedora to Craven’s most iconic character was absolutely priceless.
The beauty was that the first time I watched Scream, it was on VHS, so there was that moment of “Whaaat?! Let me rewind!” Then came confirmation that it hadn’t been imagined. It was very real, very awesome and to this day, never gets old.
Richard Dreyfuss as Matt Boyd (Piranha 3D, 2010)
It had a little bit of everything. Dreyfuss bearing a strong resemblance to one Mr. Hooper, the song on the radio (Show Me the Way to Go Home) was the same one the schockered Quint and Brody belted with Hooper in the Orca’s cabin and damned if that bottle of beer that went overboard didn’t resemble the bloodied great white’s post-smile carcass as it cascaded through the water.
Oh, and Boyd probably could have used a bigger boat.
Chris Sarandon as Jay Dee (Fright Night, 2011)
I’m sorry, but I have no choice but to offer the gold to the original Jerry Dandridge simply for the fact that by that point in the reboot, I was resigned to the idea that none of the original cast members were going to make an appearance.
I also remember chuckling with a very audible “Yes!” in the theatre, but it only resulted in strange stares from those around me. Once again, it was a fly by. One for which I was (and continue to be) less forgiving than the Shaun incident, however. Tom Holland’s original was made in 1985, not the late sixties as with Romero’s Night. so give me a break — how could an entire theatre of people assembled to see Fright Night not have seen Fright Night?!
In any event, to wrap up, enjoy Sarandon own for a few precious moments.
What are your favorite horror cameos? Tell us all about them in the comments section below.