Last St. Patrick’s Day I whipped up a piece on some of horror’s greatest drunks. It was a far from comprehensive list, but then again it wasn’t intended to be. Soon after posting it I begin to think of other drunks I could’ve included, and a couple readers reached out with some suggestions, so I decided to do a follow up and, hey! Whatta ya know! You’re reading it now. And I’m drinking a Guinness as I type it, no kidding. So without further ado, here are some more of horror’s greatest drunks.
I suppose saying John Strode is a great horror drunk is a bit misleading. I should say John Strode is one of the great assholes of horror who also happens to be a drunk — and man, what an drunken a-hole this guy is! Even when he’s sober he hates the neighborhood kids, he hates his daughter and her illegitimate child, and after his wife informs him that she knows why they were able to get such a good deal on their house – Michael Myers killed a bunch of people in it – he ends up hating her, too!
Strode, like a lot of drunks who are secretly ashamed of their behavior, hides a bottle in his desk at work, which he pulls from after the aforementioned call from his wife. Arriving home completely in bag, he runs over his grandkid’s bike and charges in the door, totally disheveled and demanding dinner. And while he doesn’t get any dinner, he is served a nice big bowl of comeuppance for dessert, courtesy of Myers. John Strode is one of the great a-holes of horror, which makes his demise that much more enjoyable.
Mrs. MacHenry – better known simply as Mrs. Mac to the sorority girls she presides over – is truly one of the greatest horror movie drunks of all time. Good humored, straight-shooting, and little patience for the bullstuff, Mrs. Mac’s demeanor makes it clear she’s an old-school boozehound who prefers to keep a perma-buzz. But like the aforementioned John Strode, Mrs. Mac feels the need to hide her vice. She chooses a couple classic methods: she uses the ol’ hollowed (hallowed?) out Bible trick:
And she also conceals a bottle in the back of a toilet tank, which ends up serving a dual purpose:
Ah, yes! Utilizing the sherry’s high alcohol content for its antiseptic properties, Mrs. Mac gives her mouth a good swish after brushing her teeth. If that doesn’t scream alcoholic!, I don’t know what does.
Demon Knight‘s Uncle Willy is the type of character who, if he were a real person, you’d probably always be chiding: “Uncle Willy, you ol’ dog, you!” Played by genre legend and character actor extraordinaire Dick Miller, Uncle Willy is the grizzled, liquor lovin’, woman-chasin’ rascal that embodies that one real-life uncle every family seems to have (y’know the one: never invited to family gatherings but shows up anyway, reeking of booze, with a different girl on his arm than the last time you saw him.)
The titular demon of the film tricks Willy into turning against his comrades by posing as a bartender and serving Willy copious amounts of that sweet (deadly) nectar. Of course, Willy is imagining the whole thing ala The Shining. A character happens upon Willy whilst he’s in this illusory daze, and we see him swinging his arms about and talking out loud to the thin air – much like an old-school alcoholic with the DTs might do. Not that I’d know anything about that. Moving on!
Sweet Jane. As tots, her and her sister were a popular vaudeville act. But as Guns N’ Roses once crooned “Nothing lasts forever”, and so neither did their act. They got older, the crowds grew uninterested, and ‘Baby’ Jane Hudson fell into a bottle and never came out. In fact, her drunkeness directly led to her sister being paralyzed in a car accident. Or did it? Jane was too drunk to remember.
Throughout the movie, Bette Davis’s ‘Jane’ slurs her words, stumbles about, and goes on major power trips. Perhaps the most realistic part of her portrayal is Jane’s mood swings: like that one pitiful drunk at the party, she bounces between energetic and jubilant to sour-faced and downright threatening – at the drop of a hat. Well, more like ‘at a drop of liquor’, really. And like the shameful drunkard she is, she hides her empties:
It’s like that old saying goes: there are only two things that are certain in life on Elm Street – dead teens and their drunk parents.
Beginning with the first A Nightmare on Elm Street, a recurring trend is firmly established: the moms and dads of Springwood are major drinkers. Nancy Thompson’s mom, Marge (seen above), is your classic gin-for-breakfast type and therefore constantly looks like she just rolled out of bed. Nancy’s dad, Sgt. Don Thompson, isn’t much better: by ANOES3, an estranged Nancy finds him barely coherent at a nearby tavern. And by ANOES4, we not only have a new heroine – Alice Johnson – but we also have a new drunk parent, her dad, Chris Johnson (seen above). By the fifth movie he’s sobered up, but look: can you blame any of these adults for self-medicating? Because of their lynch mob actions, they wrongfully murdered a suspected child killer, and in turn his charred dream spirit came back to kill all the kids on Elm Street. Yeesh, I need a drink after just typing that.
The last time I did one of these, I had an “M.V.P.” (Mostly Very Plastered) award. That honor then when to the perpetual beer-grasping Tom Atkins (I implore you to find a role where his character isn’t prominently seen drinking – it can’t be done.) This time around, the award for M.V.P. goes to Robert Shaw’s ‘Quint’ from that big killer vertebrate movie. It may be a movie about a shark, but it’s Quint who drinks more than a fish.
Google “Quint” and most (if not all) of the image options you’re offered show him holding a beer – or crushing the empty. Shaw’s portrayal of Quint is one of the many times on a film set where art imitated life: according to lore, Robert Shaw was actually suffering with alcoholism throughout the filming of Jaws. During the first take of his famous USS Indianapolis monologue, the actor thought it would be a good idea to do it while genuinely intoxicated, but the results ended up less than spectacular. Shaw asked Spielberg to give him another shot – this time while sober. The next day, he got it right in one take. Or so the story goes.
Regardless if it’s true or not, it only adds to the mythos and legend that is Robert Shaw’s ‘Quint’. In Jaws he is the quintessential man’s man: a rugged, hard-working, beer-slugging son-of-a-gun. And watching Shaw pull it off so effortlessly, you can’t help but think he plays the role almost autobiographical.
As I drain my second can and toss its tin carcass into the recycling bin, I must bid you adios. Well, for now at least. I have a feeling this isn’t the last you’ve read of Great Horror Movie Drunks!