More Than Peter Vincent: 9 Roddy McDowall Horror Movies

We all know Roddy McDowall as Peter Vincent, vampire hunter from FRIGHT NIGHT, but he's made more scary movies than that

By Dolores Quintana · @doloresquintana · September 18, 2023, 12:00 AM EDT
Image Credit: IMDB

Roddy McDowall horror movies are a thing! McDowall was a child actor who worked in film and television for the majority of his life. On his birthday, let's check out some of the other horror films that he played roles in other than his best-known role as Peter Vincent, vampire hunter in Fright Night, which is obviously a role that is the favorite of many horror fans. But he has been in horror since the late sixties. Fright Night was definitely not his first spooky rodeo!

The Legend of Hell House (1973)


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The Legend of Hell House is a haunted house film from 1973. McDowall plays a "physical medium," one of two psychics invited to investigate Belasco House, known in the film as the Mount Everest of haunted houses. McDowall plays Benjamin Franklin Fischer, the sole survivor of the previous investigation. The film also stars Pamela Franklin, Clive Revill, and Gayle Hunnicutt and was directed by John Hough. After the house kills the other twoteam membersm, Fischer and Ann Barrett (Gayle Hunnicutt) decide to confront the entity and end the haunting once and for all.

It! (1967)

IT (1967)

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It! (1967) is a horror film about a Golem, a being from Jewish folklore made of earth or some other lifeless substance brought to life through prayer. A Golem's purpose is usually to protect the local Jewish community, but this one is brought to life by a man Arthur Pimm (McDowall), who has some similar qualities and quirks as Norman Bates. One of those quirks is that he keeps his mother's body in his home. Pimm is in love with a woman named Ellen and kidnaps her, but is killed when the government detonates a small nuclear weapon (!) to stop the Golem.

Dead of Winter (1987)


Image Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.

Dead of Winter is the story of a desperate actress, Kate McGovern, who tries to make money and accepts a strange job after Mr. Murray (McDowall) casts her to replace an actress with a nervous breakdown. Mary Steenburgen plays the triple role of Julie Rose, Katie McGovern, and Evelyn, and Arthur Penn directed the film. Once she gets to upstate New York in the middle of winter, she notices photos of the actress Julia Rose dead and finds, to her horror, that Murray and Dr. Lewis have destroyed her identification. Kate has to try to survive and get her husband's help to escape.

Laserblast (1978)


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Laserblast is an independent fright film about a young man, Kim Milford, as Billy Duncan, who finds a laser cannon in the desert. Charles Band produced the film, and Michael Rae directed it. Roddy McDowall plays Doctor Mellon, whom Billy goes to when he gets sick. The doctor removes a metal disc from his chest, but later that night, a green-skinned Billy returns and kills the doctor by using the laser cannon to explode his car. After that, Billy returns to normal bbecomesnto a crazed killer when his girlfriend puts the pendant back on him.

The Poseidon Adventure (1972)


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The Poseidon Adventure is what is usually classed as a disaster movie. Disaster movies are horror movies when a group of people are trapped in a dangerous situation from which there seems to be no escape. If you substituted zombies or vampires as the problem in Poseidon, no one would argue that it was not a scary movie. In this film, directed by Ronald Neame, Roddy McDowall plays Acres, one of the ship's servers injured when the Poseidon capsized. He doesn't last long, but he makes an impression. It also stars Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, Red Buttons, Carol Lynley, Shelley Winters, and Leslie Nielson as the captain.

Fright Night (1985)


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Of course, we can't go without listing Fright Night because it is one of Roddy McDowall's best-known and beloved roles in horror. As Peter Vincent, he gives the film its horror credibility as an actor who has worked in the genre for twenty years. Vincent is so appealing even when he is trying to avoid helping Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale), Amy Peterson (Amanda Bearse), and Edward "Evil Ed" Thompson (Stephen Jeffreys) with their vampire problem. He's a great foil for Jerry Dandridge (Chris Sarandon) and Evil Ed, when he turns vamp himself.

Cutting Class (1989)


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Roddy McDowall plays Mr. Dante, the principal in this dark horror comedy slasher film. Rospo Pallenberg directed the film, which stars Donovan Leitch, Jill Schoelen, Brad Pitt, and Martin Mull. There is a killer at the local high school after a patient escapes the local asylum, and Paula Carson (Schoelen) is convinced that it is her boyfriend, Dwight. McDowall's role mainly involves making announcements over the school's PA, but he can't help but do well even with such a small part.

Arnold (1973)

ARNOLD (1973)

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Arnold is a rambunctious horror comedy about Lord Arnold Dwellyn, who is newly married and deceased, and his will requires his wife, Karen (Stella Stevens), to live with his body for the rest of her life to inherit his estate. Roddy McDowall plays Robert, Lord Arnold's younger brother, who has been having an affair with Karen and is unhappy with this idea. Elsa Lanchester, Farley Granger, Victor Buono, and Jamie Farr co-star in the film. The horror gets going after Dwellyn's greedy relatives search his estate for the money reportedly hidden on the estate and start being killed by death traps left by the former lord.

Planet of the Apes (1968)


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Planet of the Apes (1968) is usually considered a science fiction film, but it's about a future Earth where human beings are considered vermin and hunted by the simian rulers of the planet. The ending, where Charlton Heston's Taylor screams in horror when he discovers where he really is, is parodied a lot, but it is a chilling moment the first time you see it. Roddy McDowall plays Dr. Cornelius, a chimpanzee who is the fiancé of Dr. Zira. This is probably one of McDowall's other most famous roles, an intelligent and strong minded chimpanzee who is strong enough to defy the leaders of the simian civilization who hate human beings.