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Without further ado, the top unintentionally terrifying movie characters (or what I like to call the list which stars a majority of Johnny Depp’s characters).
We all know the movie from 1990 (and if you haven’t seen it by now, you should). Directed by Tim Burton it stars Johnny Depp as Edward Scissorhands a young man who has scissors for hands. He was the creation of an old Inventor (played by Vincent Price, which was also his last role before he died). The Inventor however had suffered a heart attack and died while in the act of giving a pair of real hands to Edward, leaving him “unfinished” forever.
I remember watching this movie in my youth and Edward was one of those characters you were scared to look at, but strangely felt compelled to not look away. I mean the guy had scissors for hands! Growing up your parents would constantly say to “be careful” with scissors. So I wonder how the guy even did anything normal, not to mention the closest relative Edward probably has finger wise is Freddy Krueger (it wasn’t an awfully pleasant correlation, especially as a kid). Although, I wonder who would win a fight between the two of them actually, not in the dream world, but like a fight involving fingers-only (if that could be such a thing). Anyway the point being here was a character that was misunderstood based on his appearance where the tagline for the movie is “the story of an uncommonly gentle man”. So if you could get past the fright, shock, awe, you too would warm up to him. (Myself? Not so much.)
The 2005 re-make of the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory from 1971, starring once again Johnny Depp in the ‘lead’ role of Willy Wonka, the mysterious and eccentric candy maker who one day decides to send out five golden tickets hidden amongst his famous ‘Wonka Bars.’
Let’s all be honest right now, while the idea of touring a candy factory as a kid probably is the greatest thing. Did no one for one second think that Willy Wonka was a little bit scary? I mean even in the original film he virtually tortured the children for disobeying his rules, granted they are rules. But what kid is going to listen in a factory that solely creates and designs candy. I’m not saying it’s absolution, but there was something that always inherently bothered (see: freaked me out) about Willy Wonka. Maybe it’s a credit to Johnny Depp being able to play unintentionally terrifying characters in Tim Burton movies. After all, there is always something about Burton’s lead characters which tend to be on the playful macabre, those almost villains who in this case, probably built and supplied the witch’s house in Hansel and Gretel thinking “oh a candy house, how delightful!” not thinking ultimately of the consequences. (Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka actually freaked me out more I think growing up. Just because he had candy still made him, you know, a stranger to me. It was even worse when he yells at Charlie at the end of the 1971 film, no kid likes to be yelled at. I think in reality his portrayal prepared where Depp’s characterization could go in terms of being even more, I’m going to say, lunatic.)
From the 2007 film, Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. The guy is called “the demon barber” for starters and with all Tim Burton characters, the allure once again is the compelling nature to not look away. Also there seems to be a common penchant for being misunderstood and ultimately become redeemable. Maybe this list should be which character from Burton’s world has the better upside, Mr. Scissorhands, Mr. I’ve got candy for you, or at this point Mr. “I’ll give you a nice clean shave but if you wronged me I’ll kill you and to dispose of your body you’ll be baked into a pie” Todd. (I’m sorry that might’ve been a spoiler to some, but really it’s a mild twist, so if you still haven’t seen the movie, rest assured you still can.)
You know I got to be honest; Sweeney is probably the more approachable person to me. Granted I know his back story but if he’s going to give me a genuine clean cut/shave/trim then I’d probably become a regular. After all it’s hard to find a good barber, one you can trust with your hair and not have to explain every single last thing you need/want done (maybe I’m just high maintenance). (Fun fact: did you know 16 different people have portrayed Sweeney Todd? Those include but not limited to: Ben Kingsley [1998 TV film], Kelsey Grammer [1999 concert], and Ray Winstone [2006 film]). Okay I thought about it a little more, finding a safer barber would probably be an easier thing to do.
From Tim Burton’s 2010 adaptation of Alice in Wonderland, where Johnny Depp stars as Tarrant Hightopp, aka The Hatter, aka The Mad Hatter. Outside of appearances, I would have to say that The Mad Hatter is probably just defiantly strange on purpose. While a psychiatrist might classify him as “potentially poisoned, the result of multiple personalities, an individual made up of different people and their extreme sides, paralleling that of a mood ring where based on emotions the subtleties could border a reflection of darker tendencies, even that of a dangerous personality, and even the light hearted smile could be an illusionary result of forceful humanity.” I’m no psychiatrist mind you, I just took that from multiple descriptions of the intended portrayal of Burton/Depp’s The Mad Hatter.
Let me tell you something, all of that there, Burton/Depp succeeded. Obviously if I’m Alice I’m going to have tea with him, but ONLY in Wonderland. Where while only in Wonderland would having tea with the Hatter make sense, no wait, appropriate sense. At least with the Red Queen we know to be afraid, you really just don’t know what to expect with The Mad Hatter. But if you’re crazy enough you might sit down and have tea with him, I akin it to a museum park ride where you psych yourself up and ultimately yell out “okay let’s do this!!”
So there you have it, my mild/soft list of unintentionally terrifying characters. I don’t think it’s any accident they’re all Johnny Depp/Tim Burton based characterizations and that’s probably a poignant association. On what the two know they can achieve together through films and the conscious thought of what they have done before, what they can take from, and what else they can do with characters Burton casts Depp in. After all, there is one thing to say about all four I’ve listed here, there are definitely interesting if not fun to watch. They are characters meant to steal the spotlight and in some cases are meant to be showcased entirely through the full length of a film. (You know what though, Edward Scissorhands still creeps me out to this day and that’s why he’s on this list.)
Our sponsor offered up other characters to dig into, such as E.T. the Extra Terrestrial (aka no way I ain’t phoning home with you), Sloth Fratelli (aka HEY YOU GUYS!!!), Harry from 1987 film Harry and the Hendersons (aka you know I think John Lithgow who is also in this movie is probably just a guy who might be unintentionally terrifying), and Falkor from the 1984 film, The Never Ending Story (aka thinking back on this film I don’t have many memories, in class when it was movie time, it was always this film versus Legend ). The point is there are a lot of characters out there, maybe you liked Gizmo from the Gremlins (1984) but didn’t like what he could become, or maybe it was the Oompa-Loompas or Ewoks, etc.
If you got any yourself, we encourage you to sound off below!