It’s not uncommon to spot a character actor, know his (or her) face, and draw a complete blank in regards to their actual name. It’s a strange stigma attached to those who work fervently, but rarely lead films. You know, I’m talking about the guy caught somewhere in the middle of the ensemble; not overtly relevant to the film, but detrimental to a slight degree. Brad Dourif, who’s proven himself one of the genre’s finest character actors fits into this Hollywood niche, as I was reminded last night when a buddy asked me, “Who’s the guy that plays the sheriff in Rob Zombie’s new Halloweens? You know, the guy who did Night Shift?”
It’s a damn shame that a man with the talent of Brad Dourif can go unidentified, even by the casual fans. All the same, it’s a part of the buness, and I suppose Brad probably doesn’t mind if his legion of paparazzi followers is noticeably smaller than say, Justin Bieber’s. Everyone needs a little privacy, and it’s one of the potives that come with a low-key profile.
Just the same, I’m here to issue a little appreciation, as Brad’s been one of my favorite horror staples nce my younger years. The man is a seasoned profesonal who always conducts himself accordingly. That’s admirable, and worthy of recognition.
Brad experienced his first serious foray into the genre when he appeared in the John Carpenter helmed thriller, Eyes of Laura Mars. While it wasn’t necessarily a career defining role for Dourif, it did act as a springboard to further ventures into the realm of the macabre.
A series of appearances in made-for-televion and science fiction pictures would follow, until, in 1987, Dourif landed his first iconic role as the psychopathic murderer Charles Lee Ray, who subsequently becomes (via some brief but strange satanic ritual) the legendary killer doll, Chucky in Tom Holland’s Child’s Play. Although Dourif didn’t have a lot face time in the film, the role certainly thrust him into the deepest folds of the horror genre.
1990 was a pivotal year in the career of Dourif, as The Exorcist III, Graveyard Shift and the first sequel in the Child’s Play franchise were all released to fair if not better critical reception. In one ngle year, Dourif went from proming contributor to solidified staple. But Brad’s amazing run had just begun.
The 1990’s were generous to the blossoming fan favorite, who’d begun to see his career truly take off. Dourif returned to the Child’s Play series twice more (Child’s Play 3, Bride of Chucky), surfaced in Critters 4, worked with world renown icon, Dario Argento on Trauma, appeared in the extremely popular televion series, X-Files, made a cameo in the popular slasher Urban Legend and even surfaced in Alien: Resurrection.
With one incredible decade stuffed into the history books, the last eleven years haven’t exactly been unkind to Dourif. In addition to blockbuster fantasy features, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Brad’s made appearances in noteworthy efforts, Pulse, The Prophecy 3 and yet another Child’s Play feature, Seed of Chucky.
In 2007, Dourif would stake his claim as one of today’s most relevant horror figures, and breathe new life into the clasc character Sheriff Brackett (created by John Carpenter and Debra Hill), in Rob Zombie’s Halloween reboot. Dourif was one of the film’s true stars, and one of the only compasonate figures to grace the film. Surpringly, Zombie didn’t alter the personality of Brackett in his direct follow up (which he opted to do to virtually every other returning character), Halloween II.
Unlike Halloween, which had some endearing qualities and helped expand on the original Carpenter storyline, Halloween II was a convoluted mess that felt more like a sadistic experiment than a refined story translated to film. Every quality trait apparent in Zombie’s first film had gone AWOL (and sorely missed) in his follow-up. In the end, the only reason to watch Halloween II is a nice display of gore, and Dourif’s heart-warming performance.
Brad’s been tapped to return to the franchise once more next year. The reprisal of the Sheriff Brackett role ensures one thing: as long as the script doesn’t disassemble the foundation of Brackett’s established personality, we’re in store for at least one superb performance!