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Unlikely Horror Heroes that Saved the Day

Shaun of the dead poster.

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Horror films sometimes seem like they are taking place in an alternate reality where the rules of real life and logic don’t apply. The biggest and strongest characters are often the first to go and it’s not uncommon to see a killer taken down by someone half their size. The hero or heroine is almost always someone that didn’t know he or she was the heroic type until they were thrown into a situation where they had to go ahead and save the day. Horror films often celebrate the underdog and we think that’s a good thing. It’s exciting to see an ordinary person rise to the occasion and save the world. So, we will now pay tribute to seven of the most unlikely horror heroes that saved the day. Some spoilers ahead, read with caution.

Ash from The Evil Dead trilogy

“Shop smart. Shop S Mart.” Ash is not the type of person one would see on the street and peg as a hero. He is seemingly just an ordinary guy that works an ordinary job as a store clerk. However, when things get real, he proves himself to be a hero of sorts and kicks some major ass. He may not have great comprehension skills but throughout the course of the trilogy he proves to possess many other dormant skills; he reveals a hidden talent for crafting interchangeable, replacement body parts and the masterful ability to stand up to and decimate deadites.

Shaun from Shaun of the Dead

Like Ash from the Evil Dead films, Shaun is a mild mannered store clerk but he finds inner strength that even he didn’t know he had when the zombie apocalypse hits his hometown. Shaun goes from mild mannered store clerk to wise cracking ass-kicker in an instant and he is a hero that audiences love to cheer for.

Reggie from the Phantasm franchise

If I were put up against a deranged undertaker that was decimating entire towns, only to reanimate the corpses for inter-dimensional slave labor, an ice cream man is not the first person I would expect to rise to show up and save the day. However, that’s exactly what Reggie does and he does it with ease. He is the kind of character that can hold his own with the guys and charm the ladies. We learn more about Reggie as the Phantasm franchise unfolds and he becomes the main character; and he just keeps getting more awesome.

Charley Brewster from Fright Night

Charley is an awkward adolescent that doesn’t look like he could put together a jigsaw puzzle, much less a team of vampire hunters to defeat his undead neighbor, Jerry Dandridge. But, when it’s necessitated by circumstance, Charley gets his act together, and along with his recruited companions, heroically defeats Jerry.

Kazan from Cube

Kazan isn’t a hero in the conventional sense. He seems to be a hindrance to the group for a large part of the film but once they discover that he is a mathematical genius and able to solve complex equations in his head, he becomes an essential component to the continued survival of the group. Kazan is also an unlikely survivor. Upon first watching the movie, I wouldn’t have expected him to make it out of the cube alive but he ends up being the only member of the group to walk away from the experience.

Laurie from the Halloween series

High school student and part time child care provider Laurie Strode doesn’t immediately strike viewing audiences as a heroine but as this list suggests, looks are often deceiving. Laurie proves to be one of the most badass babysitters ever to walk the earth and she is extremely cool under pressure. She thinks on her feet and outfoxes her maniacal older brother who has an insatiable urge to murder the shit out of her.

Nancy from the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise 

Nancy is very similar in character structure to Laurie Strode: She seems like an ordinary high school student until she is tested by the likes of a scar faced child murderer. She proves to be more than capable, both physically and mentally, than Fred Krueger and devises a brilliant plan to send Freddy back to hell – at least for a moment. The final act where she pulls Fred out of her dreams and has devised a series of intricate traps for him is genius.


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Written by Tyler Doupé
Tyler Doupe' is the managing editor at Wicked Horror. He has previously penned for Fangoria Mag, Rue Morgue Mag, FEARnet, Fandango, ConTV, Ranker, Shock Till You Drop, ChillerTV, ComingSoon, and more. He lives with his husband, his dog, and cat hat(s).
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