We have a global community at Popcorn Horror, and we try to cover horror content from all over the world. But today, we wanted to do something to honour the birthday of the NHS here in the UK. Having had a recent health scare (which I can only describe an ‘Cronenbergian’), I was fortunate enough to be looked after in an NHS hospital by some awesome medical staff. So, we thought we’d count down the greatest doctors in horror history, and wish the NHS a very happy 68th birthday!
Mary Mason (American Mary – 2012)
Extreme surgeon Mary Mason is a modern, feminist take on the ‘mad doctor’ character in the Soska Sister’s unique brand of body horror. She’s a troubled, sympathetic character with a sadistic streak, amazingly portrayed by Katharine Isabelle.
Dr. Seth Brundle (The Fly – 1986)
The Fly is rightly remembered for it’s groundbreaking practical effects and pushing the limits of body horror and gore. But actor Jeff Goldblum’s lead performance as the eccentric, ambitious doctor also deserves respect. The performance captures the right level of sympathy and disgust – it’s still an incredibly powerful horror film.
Dr. Heiter (The Human Centipede – 2009)
Dr. Heiter gets points for being campy enough to give hardened horror fans a macabre laugh, while simultaneously upsetting The Daily Mail and BBFC. He also gets points for actually being a useful doctor. Sure he tortured some lost travellers, but he had a long career successfully separating conjoined twins prior to his murder spree.
Dr. Génessier (Eyes Without a Face – 1960)
Eyes Without a Face has such an unsettling premise and execution – if it wasn’t in black and white you’d have a hard time believing it was made in the early 60s. Years before facial transplants were a medical possibility, Dr. Génessier attempts to find a new face for his tragic daughter in a truly chilling film.
Dr. Caligari (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari – 1920)
One of cinema’s earliest mad doctors, Dr. Caligari uses his patients trust to to murder local citizens. If it wasn’t for this early German expressionist masterpiece, the mad doctor character – and horror in general – might look very different!
Dr. Pretorius (The Bride of Frankenstein – 1935)
We had a hard time deciding between the more well known Dr. Frankenstein or his memorable partner Pretorius from the early Universal Frankenstein series. In the end Ernst Thesiger’s eccentric Pretorius won out. He’s one of the earliest horror characters you could consider ‘camp’, hilariously overacting as he attempts to build the monster a mate. He paved the way for blending horror and comedy – a fusion still popular today.
Dr. Anton Phibes (The Abominable Dr Phibes – 1971)
And finally, we had to have the Master of the Macabre himself – Vincent Price – on the list. In The Abominable Dr Phibes, Price plays the titular doctor seeking revenge on the medical team he blames for his wife’s death during surgery. Phibe’s technically isn’t a medical doctor – he has a PhD in Music – but he does creatively kill off a few of the medical variety.