Typically, horror fans go crazy for fright flicks with a body count totaling in the double digits, or higher. Case in point, Dawn of the Dead has a reported death toll of 175. Army of Darkness has an estimated 107 total kills. (Both statistics from moviebodycounts.com) And both films are tried and true fan favorites for their liberal use of violence as well as countless other reasons. We enthusiastically commend George Romero and Sam Raimi for offering up a staggering body counts in these and many of their other films. We frequently pay tribute to horror films and horror killers that rack up above average kill counts, but it’s rare that we make a point to recognize characters that made a major impact on us without incurring a massive death toll.
With that said, we have elected to take the opportunity to spotlight some killers and their corresponding films that had a low body count but still made a significant impact on viewers.
Death Toll: 1
Jack Torrance only commits one murder in The Shining, and shortly after that, he is ultimately done in, himself. But Jack lives on in the hearts of fans everywhere. Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of Jack Torrance is one of the most haunting, mesmerizing performances in film history. Though Stephen King is a known detractor of the film, we think The Shining is a masterpiece of modern cinema and Jack Torrance proves that you don’t need a staggering body count to make a big impression.
Death Toll: 3
The majority of Jerry Dandridge’s victims were returned to their pre-vampire state after Brewster and company ended Jerry’s vamping days. In spite of that, his body count in Fright Night is sometimes debated amongst horror fans. To clarify, the deaths that we are including are the two girls and one bouncer in the club. The other bouncer just gets thrown across the room. We don’t have any concrete proof that he actually died. We are not calculating anyone mentioned on the news, because those deaths are not actually shown in the movie. Even though he didn’t live long enough to go up against Brewster in Fright Night II, Jerry Dandridge stuck around long enough to make a lasting impression on an entire generation of horror fans. We will take will Jerry and his strange, but enchanting dance moves over the characters being passed off as vampires these days.
Annie Wilkes from Misery
Death Toll: 1
While her actual death toll amounts to only one, Annie Wilkes is still one of the creepiest creeps of all. We see in the film that Annie has killed before and remembers it fondly. Her dark past comes to the surface when we learn that she keeps a scrapbook dedicated to her murderous proclivities. Annie is unique, because unlike most obsessed fans, her affliction is not of a sexual nature. Kathy Bates owned that role and succeeded at scaring viewers with very little actual violence.
Mrs. Tredoni in Alice, Sweet Alice
Death Toll: 4
Alice, Sweet Alice is a movie that I enjoy more every time I revisit it. The score is haunting, the atmosphere is tense, and the mask the killer wears is incredible. That mask served to make an already sinister murderer that much scarier. This American made giallo doesn’t pile up the bodies like some of the films released after its 1976 theatrical run, but it didn’t need to. Alice had tension to spare, a creative story, and unique characters working in its favor. Mildred Clinton’s performance as Mrs. Tredoni worked with all of the aforementioned elements to thoroughly impress us and really sell us on the character.
Muffy St. John from April Fool’s Day
Death Toll: 0
Though her actual death toll was zero, Muffy St. John headed up one of the most likable casts in slasher cinema history, pulled off an epic prank, and brought audiences a satisfactory twist ending. What makes the film unique and makes Muffy so unforgettable is that the whole movie is leading up to a slightly sick April Fool’s Day Joke. But, the amazing thing is that the script and direction keep the audience from feeling cheated and thus we celebrate Muffy St. John, as a highly memorable would be killer. Deborah Foreman played Muffy with a certain charm that we’re not sure anyone else could have done quite as well as Foreman did.