The Most Overqualified Performances In '90s Horror Movies

List Rules
Vote up the most surprisingly prestigious faces that popped up in '90s horror movies.

Bruce Campbell has been quoted as saying, "Bad movie money spends just as well as good movie money." There are plenty of famous actors who have won accolades and awards, starred in blockbusters and performed the words of the Bard on some of the most famous stages in Europe - and many of them have also slummed it in low-rent horror movies. After all, accolades don't pay the bills, and as Michael Caine once said about Jaws: The Revenge, "I have never seen the film, but by all accounts it was terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific."

Were all of the most famous faces in '90s horror movies just there to collect a paycheck? It doesn't seem like it, as many of them turned in some absolutely committed performances, even while others were near the ends of their careers and were probably just interested in getting paid and going home. Whether they're phoning it in or knocking it out of the park, vote up the prestigious performances you're most surprised to see in some of your favorite '90s horror movies.


  • Long before he was Captain Barbossa in Pirates of the Caribbean, Geoffrey Rush was an Oscar winner and one of the few performers to achieve the "Triple Crown of Acting," winning an Oscar, a Tony, and an Emmy. In 1996, he received his first Oscar nomination (and only win) for Shine, a biopic about pianist David Helfgott. In '98, he got his second nomination, for Shakespeare in Love, where he played theatrical entrepreneur Philip Henslowe. Then, in 1999, he took on the Vincent Price role in the remake of House on Haunted Hill.

    It might have seemed like a big step down from Oscar-nominated dramas, but Rush gave the role his all. After all, he had big shoes to fill, following one of the most beloved actors of the classic horror canon. Though Rush fits the part nicely, he didn't model his performance on Price but rather on cult filmmaker John Waters.

  • Donald Sutherland has been called one of the best actors to never receive an Oscar nomination, though he has been given an honorary Academy Award for his lifetime of achievement in film. He's also won two Golden Globes and been inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Though modern audiences might know him best as President Snow in the Hunger Games series, he rose to prominence in films like The Dirty Dozen (1967) and M*A*S*H (1970) and has appeared in around 200 films and TV shows.

    With so many movies under his belt, they can't all be winners, and in 1994, he starred in The Puppet Masters, an adaptation of Robert A. Heinlein's 1951 novel of the same name. In fact, Sutherland had appeared in a similar movie several years before, starring in the 1978 remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, another movie about alien parasites that take over human hosts. Unfortunately for everyone involved, The Puppet Masters was not nearly so well-received as that classic film.

  • One of only a few performers to ever receive the so-called "Triple Crown of Acting" - winning at least one Oscar, Tony, and Emmy Award - Al Pacino was actually fairly fresh off his 1993 Academy Award win for Scent of a Woman when he starred opposite Keanu Reeves and Charlize Theron in The Devil's Advocate, a legal thriller that made literal the whole "lawyers are the devil" idea.

    Unlike many horror films that bring in high-powered actors, The Devil's Advocate received mostly positive reviews, though it was also subject to a copyright infringement lawsuit brought by sculptor Frederick Hart, who claimed that a piece of art in the film too closely resembled his sculpture Ex Nihilo, which is on the facade of the Episcopal National Cathedral in Washington, DC. The suit was ultimately settled out of court, and VHS copies of The Devil's Advocate were shipped out with stickers on them affirming that the artwork in the film bore no relationship to Hart's sculpture.

  • Though technically one of only a handful of performers to ever win an EGOT - an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony - James Earl Jones has never actually won a competitive Oscar. He was nominated in 1970 for The Great White Hope, reprising the role that won him one of his three Tony Awards, but his actual win was an honorary award for lifetime achievement, presented by Ben Kingsley in 2011. However, his name (and his voice) are familiar to us all. He was the voice of Mufasa in The Lion King and Darth Vader in Star Wars. He was Thulsa Doom in Conan the Barbarian and Mr. Mertle in The Sandlot, to name a few.

    He was also in a 1990 horror film about a killer ambulance, directed by Larry Cohen. Never one to just phone it in, Jones gives perhaps the most unhinged performance of his entire career in this weirdo movie, which also features Stan Lee playing himself.

  • While Jack Nicholson's most famous role might be in a horror film - Stanley Kubrick's The Shining (1980), of course - his name isn't exactly synonymous with the genre. Instead, one of the most celebrated actors of the modern age is more known for starring in dramas and crime films like Easy Rider, Roman Polanski's ChinatownOne Flew Over the Cuckoo's NestAs Good As it Gets, and The Departed, to name a few. The recipient of the Academy Awards, Nicholson has been nominated for no less than 12, the most nominations of any male actor, not to mention dozens of nominations for other awards.

    Most of those aren't for the romantic horror film Wolf from 1994, however. In Mike Nichols's unlikely flick, Nicholson plays an editor who is bitten by a wolf and begins a predictable enough transformation, starring opposite Michelle Pfeiffer. While the movie did well on its initial release, not all reviews have been kind to it, with Time Out writing, "Quite frankly, it's hard to fathom why exactly anyone would have wanted to make this slick, glossy, but utterly redundant werewolf movie," and calling the film "toothless, gutless and bloodless."

  • While he is best known today for playing Vito Corleone in The Godfather, Marlon Brando already had an Oscar for best actor when he took that role, one that he'd nabbed for On the Waterfront all the way back in 1954. He won his second Oscar for The Godfather, and racked up a further six nominations over the course of his career. In 1999, Time magazine named him "Actor of the Century." By then, however, his career had already started to run out of steam, as demonstrated by his appearance in the 1996 version of The Island of Dr. Moreau, for which he was "honored" with a Razzie for worst supporting actor.

    A notorious box-office failure, The Island of Dr. Moreau was already a troubled production long before it ever made its way to theater screens. Original director Richard Stanley was replaced by the studio with John Frankenheimer, the filming location was hit with a hurricane, actors dropped out of production, and during the course of filming, Brando retreated to his own private island after his daughter Cheyenne took her own life. Needless to say, the resulting film is not anyone's finest hour.