December is rough time to have a birthday, dear fiends! As great as the Ho-rrorday season is, some birthdays get overshadowed because this time of the year. To make up for this, we’re celebrating the totally awesome December horror birthdays today in one big ol’ post! We wish all these wonderful ghouls the best and we hope they have/had the most spooky-cool birthday imaginable! 🙂
TONY TODD: DECEMBER 4, 1954
If there is a man we can describe as the modern Christopher Lee, it’s certainly Tony Todd. Standing at a Sasquatchian 6′ 5″ and possessing a wicked charisma, Mr. Todd is certainly worthy of his reputation as a legend of fright! Mr. Todd’s compelling performance as the titular boogeyman in 1992’s Candyman is the kind of Monster that elicits both fear and an odd sort of sympathy like only the truly great movie creeps can. The great monster would go on to play a plethora of great monsters and madmen, including the eternally classic duo of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde! We dare you to say his name five times!
SHIRLEY JACKSON: DECEMBER 14, 1916
The Undisputed Queen of Horror Literature! Ms. Jackson is primarily known for The Haunting of Hill House (the basis for The Haunting) and The Lottery, a truly chilling short story. Genre geniuses Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, and Richard Matheson have all cited Jackson as an inspiration on their own work and she remains the High Priestess of Printed Chillers. While all of her morbid fiction is prime fright fare, I highly recommend We Have Always Lived in the Castle, one of my all-time favorite novels. The first paragraph is one of the greatest openings ever written and a great example of her peculiar style:
My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise. I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenent, and Amanita phalloides, the death-cup mushroom. Everyone else in my family is dead.
Thanks for haunting us, Ms. Jackson!
The first paragraph is certainly one of the greatest openings ever written:
SARAH PAULSON: DECEMBER 17, 1974
Sarah Paulson is one of three performers to appear in every single season of American Horror Story and she always emerges as one of highlights in a show bursting with sensationally macabre delights! Throughout the course of the show, she has portrayed a psychic, a perpetually teary-eyed ghost, Siamese Twins with a dark past, a witch, and other victims of the strange and macabre. She also starred on American Gothic in the mid ’90s, so Ms. Paulson is no stranger to the world of Terror-Vision. Of all her wonderfully oddball performances on AHS, it’s her dual performance as the conjoined Dot and Bette in Freak Show that made her a favorite of ours here at Kinky Horror. Two heads are better than one!
FREDDIE FRANCIS: DECEMBER 22, 1912
Here’s a fellow with an eye for horror! While Terence Fisher was Hammer’s Master of Terror, Freddie Francis certainly has an impressive collection of British shockers to his name. His works include 1971’s Tales from the Crypt for Amicus, Dracula Has Risen From the Grave, Evil of Frankenstein, Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors, and Girly. In addition to his Hammer and Amicus terror tales, Mr. Francis had an excellent career as a cinematographer, even winning two Academy Awards! Mr. Francis was also the man who gave The Elephant Man its eerily beautiful look in 1980. For six (including the wraparound) excellent tales of the macabre in one, Check out Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors! Looking creepy, Freddie F.!
DICK MILLER: DECEMBER 25, 1928
Dick Miller is a National Treasure to anyone with a healthy love for exploitation, blood, and gooey ghouls! With his craggy face and distinctive voice, he has graced (and saved) a seemingly endless amount of B-movies with a blue-collar charm all of his own. Horror aficionados will certainly remember his turn as Walter Paisley in Roger Corman’s A Bucket of Blood, a true classic of splatstick! Even if you don’t recognize the name, you’ve certainly seen his lovable mug before, as Mr. Miller has appeared in such classics as The Terminator, The Howling, and Gremlins. The affectionate and ever-popular descriptor of “that guy” was practically coined for Miller. Appropriately enough, there is a documentary called That Guy Dick Miller that serves as wonderful tribute this legend and we highly recommend it to both fans and newbies alike. Nice to know That Guy!
BARBARA CRAMPTON: DECEMBER 27, 1958
Barbara Crampton is one of the dreamiest, screamiest scream queens to ever haunt the screen! From her early (and still excellent) work in Re-Animator and From Beyond to her work in modern fare like You’re Next and Beyond the Gates, it’s clear that this scare idol is going strong and will continue to her decades-long reign! Ms. Crampton is one of horror’s best-loved actresses and an inspiration to us here at Kinky Horror. For fans looking for a new Crampton masterpiece, check out her truly excellent turn in We Are Still Here, a modern creeper sure to turn your hair white! Keep up the ghoul work, Ms. Crampton!
F.W. MURNAU: DECEMBER 28, 1888
The Master of Shadows! F.W. Murnau was once called “the greatest poet the screen has ever known” by French film theorist and director Alexandre Astruc, and his dreamlike imagery certainly backs this claim up. Murnau was like a painter, more concerned with the mood and images than the dimensions of his characters. His cinematic paintings have lost none of their power today. Why, just look at enduring popularity of his Nosferatu, his unauthorized adaptation of Dracula! That film is the golden standard of the German Expressionist Accustomed to the weird and eerie, Murnau also directed versions of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Faust, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Unfortunately, HIs Jekyll and Hyde and Hunchback are lost to time, but his Faust survived and is highly recommended. Hail Murnau!
BARBARA STEELE: DECEMBER 29, 1937
The Scream Queeniest of All Scream Queens! Barbara Steele is up there with Vincent Price and Peter Cushing in the realm of fright legends! Her piercing eyes cut through you like a machete and her dark presence will stick with you long after the credits roll! She’s worked with Vincent Price, Roger Corman, Mario Bava, Joe Dante, and many other titans of terror and she can hold her own with the best Horror has to offer. Her performance in Black Sunday is iconic in every sense of the word and continues to haunt the best of us to this day. Ms. Steele has a gazillion slasherpieces her name, but we highly recommend Long Hair of Death, a lesser-known gothic chiller with great atmosphere and a killer ending that does Wicker Man before Wicker Man! Long Live the Queen!