By Lindsay Robertson Is it the demonic grin, the evil staring eyes or the fact that his voice sounds like it’s oozing with sadistic pleasure and wicked intentions? All I know is that Tim Curry scares the living crap out of me. He’s played the Lord of Darkness in Legend, the voice of God in Animated Stories from the Bible and a whole plethora of weird and wonderful characters in between. This includes an extensive voice acting career covering literally hundreds of popular cartoons and full length animated features. My own first encounter with the Dark One was while watching Home Alone 2: Lost in New York in which Curry plays the hotel concierge. During a montage sequence an effect is used to make a maniacally grinning Grinch cartoon face morph into the far more menacing visage of Tim Curry (he’s just about to bust Macaulay Culkin for signing in to the hotel with a stolen credit card and he’s really pleased with himself apparently). This particular image was burned into the darkest corner of my mind for all eternity and continues to haunt my nightmares to this day. If it were possible for me to travel back in time and intervene in my life somehow then I would locate my nine year old self in the cinema, burst in moments before the demonic-Grinch-morph and scream the words “For the love of God, don’t look at its eyes!”. This same man would return to the family film circuit years later to torment me in Muppet Treasure Island – put it this way, if I’d been a cabin boy aboard that ship I would have slept with one eye open. He was a sweet transvestite... and a scary bitch For most people The Rocky Horror Picture Show is host to Curry’s most memorable and iconic performance. It’s a movie based on a musical inspired by the B-Movie genre and exists today as the very definition of the term ‘cult classic’. Allow me to summarise – Tim Curry plays the villain Doctor Frank N. Furter; a deranged, cross-dressing scientist who spends the overwhelming majority of his onscreen time strutting around in his panties. He discovers the secret to creating human life and uses this to whip up a blond, muscle-bound toy-boy for his personal gratification. Not content with having his own Aryan man ho to play with, he then creeps round the various quarters of his mansion and molests a few guests. When he’s not indulging in sexual deviance or singing about the joys of indulging in sexual deviance, he’s chasing Meatloaf with an axe. Oh, and he’s an alien. The Rocky Horror Picture Show is full of memorable moments and characters but it’s Tim who truly steals the show. From his fabulous entrance in Sweet Transvestite (where he scares the shit out of Susan Sarandon) to his dying moments he conveys a hedonistic creed that is almost impossible to deny. “Don’t dream it” he sings, “Be it”. However, his character’s philosophy also seems to be a thinly veiled excuse for touching up every living being in sight while prancing around in women’s knickers. The fact that every other character seems so captivated with Dr Frank is something that can only be equated to passing a car wreck on the opposite side of the motorway – gruesome beyond belief, you know it’ll give you nightmares but you just can’t pull your head back round. The wild black hair, the ghoulish make up (as if those facial features needed exaggerating) and the fact that his arse is barely covered the whole time creates something altogether more frightening than the sum of its parts. Never mind the fact that Curry’s voice makes the man sound as if he’s permanently ‘on heat’ and hearing it is enough to make you shudder with fright – that’s right, anyone could be his next victim and you are no exception. Tim is available for children’s parties by the way I’ve never understood the appeal of clowns even as a child – to me there’s something unsettling about a grown man in make-up and gaudy clothes trying to win kids over with acts of buffoonery. When I first saw the poster for Stephen King’s It - a horror TV movie starring Tim Curry as a killer clown - my anxieties were justified once and for all. Inspired by serial killer John Wayne Gacy, Pennywise the Dancing Clown remains one of Stephen King’s most infamous creations. In the novel and screen adaption, Pennywise is merely one manifestation of an evil entity that takes the shape of its victim’s fear and possesses a true form to horrifying for human comprehension. When you read into it like that, you can see that Tim Curry has essentially been cast as the face of fear itself. As if that wasn’t disturbing enough, the make-up artists for the series developed several prototypes for the clown face but failed to come up with anything scarier than Curry’s own facial features. That’s right – Tim’s face is more frightening than the wildest creations of professionals brought in for the sole purpose of terrifying the audience. It is a prime example of made-for-TV ham acting and scary moments that come off as hilarious. To be fair, that seems to have been the intention in many parts (just try listening to the line “Kiss me fat boy!” with a straight face). Still, some of the Pennywise scenes manage to give the audience the heebie-jeebies in spite of the rest of the film’s cheesiness. This is not accomplished by anything clever in terms of effects or script but rather by Tim Curry’s performance, particularly with the constant switching between the jolly mockeries of the main characters to the onslaught of aggression delivered directly to the camera. Incidentally Curry was kept away from the child-actors offscreen while in costume. Wise idea, though if it were me I’d keep him away from young children, period. Unless I really didn’t like the kid in which case all bets are off. Ladies and Gentlemen... Tim’s O-face Anyway, as it’s Halloween I’d like to treat you to one of Curry’s more obscure performances – the 1986 adaptation of The Worst Witch, which also starred Fairuza Balk (if you’ve seen The Craft then you’ll know that she’s been no stranger to on-screen witchcraft ever since). The clip below shows Tim Curry playing the part of The Grand Wizard and partaking in the scariest piece of acting mentioned yet... the horror of the 80s music video! My guess is that this scene was never actually scripted and that the director just put Curry in front of a green screen and tossed random props at him while somebody tinkered about on a Casio keyboard. If so then top marks for improvisation, if not then it’s still priceless. Happy Halloween everyone – now, has anybody seen my tambourine? Many thanks to Krystal Sim for introducing me to this slice of cinematic insanity