Best Horror Movie Performances by Military Veterans

Actors in a horror movie can usually go one of two ways, serious and believable or camp-made. These actors and military veterans played the roles with seriousness, method and professionalism, which makes them memorable. More so, many actors and veterans had lived through serious life experiences, sometimes in times of war, which may have added to the depth of their portrayals and art.

  1. Christopher Lee as Dracula.
Lee as Dracula. Photo courtesy of

Christopher Lee has had an incredible career as an actor, from his roles in major British films to franchises such as star wars, The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. He is known worldwide for his acting prowess and screen presence. His acting abilities were no more on display than during his ten screen appearances as Count Dracula. The man embodied evil, suavity and class in his portrayal, which spanned almost two decades of his career. He honed his ability to play a villain that would later be exhibited in Star Wars Episodes II and III.

Lee served in the Finnish Army, British Home Guard and Royal Air Force, mostly during World War II. He was involved in many intense operations as the Allies recaptured Europe from the Nazis.

2. Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance in the brilliant.

Best Horror Movie Performances by Military Veterans
Nicholson as Jack Torrance in The Shining. Photo courtesy of

Nicholson has had a prolific career spanning decades and roles, some of which are villains, though none take the cake like his performance as Jack Torrance in the brilliant. The film grew out of a great novel of the same name by horror literature master Stephen King and is then directed by the one and only Stanley Kubrick. Nicholson’s delivery is so flawless and memorable that the film ranks in the top 75 greatest films of all time and is protected in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, not to mention its IMDB rating of 8.4. /10 and its 85% Rotten Tomatoes score. also with an audience score of 93%. Nicholson has so many quotable lines and historical scenes, it’s hard to top.

Nicholson served in the California Air National Guard from the late 1950s to the early 1960s.

3. Lance Henriksen as Bishop in aliens.

Best Horror Movie Performances by Military Veterans
Henriksen (left) as Bishop on screen with Sigourney Weaver (right) as Ripley and Carrie Henn (center) as Newt in aliens. Photo courtesy of

Lance Henriksen is another horror movie staple with his performance in the sci-fi horror film, aliens. Cameron Takes Script To New Heights After Ridley Scott Premiere Extraterrestrial film. Henriksen’s role as Bishop sheds light on how AI could work in sync with humans and the likely benefits of AI in supporting humanity. He embodies the character with depth, ease and humanity, which is a rare combination. He continued his role as bishop, in one form or another, in some of the sequels of aliens.

Henriksen served in the United States Navy from 1955 to 1958, attaining the rank of petty officer third class.

4. Donald Pleasance as Dr. Loomis in The Halloween franchise.

Best Horror Movie Performances by Military Veterans
Pleasance as Dr. Loomis in his many appearances in the Halloween franchise. Photo courtesy of

Pleasance transitions into a solid performance, but with diminishing storyline and production quality as the series progressed, throughout the premiere. Halloween franchise from the late 70s to the mid 90s. He plays Dr. Loomis with conviction and depth, which adds a lot to each of the episodes of the series. He is a mainstay and truly spells out the horror that will ensue due to Michael Myers’ escape from incarceration. Pleasance can be seen in other classics such as The great Escape and as the Bond villain, Blofeld in you only live twice.

Pleasance served in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. He was shot during the war, captured by the Germans, and spent time in a POW camp. He put on plays for his fellow inmates at the camp, which may have been part of his inspiration to star in The great Escape.

5. Dark Horse Nominee: Tom Savini as “Sex Machine” in From dusk to dawn.

Best Horror Movie Performances by Military Veterans
Tom Savini as “Sex Machine” in From dusk to dawn. Photo courtesy of

Tom Savini has made a career out of makeup, special effects and comedy for horror films. He worked on some of the best of all time, including dawn of the dead, horror show and Friday 13 I and IV. He played a fun and memorable role in From dusk to dawn like Sex Machine, which was based on his dawn of the dead character, Blades. Although his character valiantly fights vampires in From dusk to dawnhe ends up being bitten by one and turns into a bloodsucker that Clooney and company have to deal with.

Savini served in the US Army during the Vietnam War as a photographer. He used his experiences with war and death in his gory makeup effects. To quote his 2002 interview with the Pittsburgh Post, “When I was in Vietnam, I was a combat photographer. My job was to photograph images of damage to machines and people. Through my lens I’ve seen hideous things [stuff]. To deal with it, I guess I tried to think of it as special effects. Now, as an artist, I just think about creating the effect within the limits that we have to deal with.

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