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The 13 most important actors in American Horror.

Updated on October 11, 2015

When I think of horror, there are a few actors that stand out as the elite leaders that made this genre what it is today. You probably already know who the top 3 or 4 will be. There were many great actors that did not make it on here. That is because this list of 13 is all about those who impacted horror and made their industry grow. Some great actors also have a charisma or that x factor that sets them aside from all of the rest.

Here they are...close your eyes and pray!

I hated to leave off:

Ken Foree- A rather large enemy of zombies in dawn of the dead. He is still acting today.

Bill Mosely- Brought back to Hollywood by Rob Zombie, this freaky legend is now appearing in films by the score. He was perfect in The Texas Chainsaw Masacre 2 in 1986, and now is still sought after in many new gore flicks.

Basil Rathbone- He was the best as Dr. Farankenstein. What an awesome actor!

John Caradine- He replaced Bela as Count Dracula, was in the Boogie Man, and of course, was iconic as the crazy old man that no one believed, in The Howling.

Maybe not the best, but the most instrumental.

13. Peter Lore- He was a great, and creepy actor. He was Vincent Price's side kick for some time. He also stood pretty well on his own too.

12. Brad Dourif- He is not a household name, but this creep played a murderer and a freak in so many movies. He was perfectly casted in Urban Legend, and Child's Play!

11.Jack Nickolson- With the lead roles in Little Shop of Horrors, and The Terror, and memorable roles in The Raven, and of course, The Shining, it was hard to leave him out. What a resume!

10. Claude Reins- He played the Phantom, The first Invisible Man ever, and Larry Talbot's father. Claude may have been better known for romantic musicals, but when it came to horror, he was in a class of his own.

9. Tony Todd- Whether trapped in a house with Zombies, or one of the most intelligent ghosts ever, The Candyman, he added something that no one else could.

8. Anthony Hopkins- We all know why he made the list! One name changed slasher movies forever

7. Anthony Perkins- He became famous when he started playing with "filthy girls"! Just a nice mamma's boy with a small problem, right?

6. Lon Chaney Sr.- The original Phantom, Hunchback, and Mr. Hyde, Lon Chaney shocked the world in silent films.

5. Lon Chaney Jr.- He mastered many monsters, including Frankenstein's. But, he was best known as Larry Talbot, The Wolfman.

4. Robert England- The dreamland demon, terrorized Elm Street first, and then the entire world! He was good in a few other movies as well.

3. Bela Lugosi- Not only is he seen as the best to bring Dracula to life on the big screen, he also played the werewolf that bit Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr.). In 1932 he played the lead in White Zombie, one of the ground breakers that launched the Zombie Craze!

Also, he played Frankenstien's Monster, and changed the face of horror. His intense eyes and creepy sneer gave the Monster an unforgettable face lift!

2. William Henry Pratt- Not sure who he is? He was great as an evil wizard, a twisted, mad scientist, the Mummy, and of course, Frankenstein's Monster. He was an unforgettable icon! You may know this British actor better as Boris Karloff. There was only one!

This is my pick as number one!

  1. Wonder who is number one?

I just listed some greats, but one man stands alone. He was one of the smartest men in Hollywood history. He sucked you into the story, and then made you want to run away from it. He played a creep, and a hero. He battled wizards, the bat, zombies, and others. He is the icon of icons! So many movies were going to be B-rated until he signed on. He took many flops and turn them into features! If you think about it, The Fly, The Tingler, and The Raven (even though, Karloff, Lorre, and even Jack Nicholson were in it) wouldn't have worked without him.

Need I say more about the one who changed horror forever? You know who he is...

1. Vincent Price-

My brother in law met him, and has a few pics of the two together. Yes, I basically hate him for it.


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    • MikeSyrSutton profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago from An uncharted galaxy

      I know, I threw a twist in there Amanda.

      He had a real impact on horror for several decades! Thanks for chiming in.

    • amandajoyshapiro profile image


      4 years ago

      Oops, my bad! Guess when scrolling down it skipped over that one. Good to know it's there!

    • MikeSyrSutton profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from An uncharted galaxy

      Boris is number 2. I introduced him as William Henry Pratt, his real name.

      Thanks for the comment! Who were some of your favorites?

    • amandajoyshapiro profile image


      4 years ago

      This is a good list, especially because there are so many actors names people don't remember even if they love the characters. But where's Boris Karloff?

    • MikeSyrSutton profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from An uncharted galaxy

      Thank you!

      If you look at how the different actors effected horror, I can't see how V.P., B.K. and England go any lower than they are. They were ground breakers and then continued to impact that industry for decades.

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 

      5 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      I must admit that although I don't watch horror shows, Anthony Hopkins would be my number 1 choice for Silence of the Lambs. Very interesting hub, Mike.


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