September 9th, 1954. That’s the day that one of the most prolific and accomplished horror actors in the business was born. Jeffrey Combs has starred in movies and TV like Re-Animator, The Frighteners, From Beyond, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Castle Freak, Bride and Beyond Re-Animator.

His IMDb reads like a whats-what of the horror genre. He’s worked with Stuart Gordon extensively, including his most famous role as Dr. Herbert West in Re-Animator and it’s sequels. That character had the chance of being too hammy and too unlikeable for audiences, but Combs’s performance gave it that extra bit of horror magic.

The sequels Bride of Re-Animator and Beyond Re-Animator gave Herbert and Combs more room to work with the character and cemented him as a horror icon. What was my first introduction to Combs? It wasn’t Herbert West, that came much later in my horror life. No, it wasn’t From Beyond either. It was his villainous turn in The Frighteners.

The Hemorrhoid Donut FBI Agent

Milton Dammers isn’t the main antagonist of Peter Jackson’s The Frighteners, but he is the most memorable villain in the film. No offense to Jake Busey, but Combs’s turn here is masterful. It’s a role that lends itself to his strengths. Through the whole thing you’re strangely interested in why he’s the way he is. It’s like Herbert West but further down the path of mania and narcissism. This was the role that I knew him from for a long while, until I saw Re-Animator.

Dr. Herbert West, The Most Unlikeable Likeable Character In Horror

Herbert West is likely the greatest role that Combs has ever played. He’s a horror icon, and one of the most revered characters in the history of the genre. One that went from co-main in the first film to the whole damn show in the two sequels. It’s a testament to the writing and performance that such an unlikeable character would go on to be almost heroic.

He would make a heroic turn, albeit in a gender-swapped way with his turn in From Beyond.

From Beyond Gave Combs A Turn As A Scream King

The movie directly after Re-Animator took Stuart Gordon and part of his cast from that film: Combs and Barbara Crampton, and switched up the roles. Crampton was the heroine in this one, with Combs playing the man-in-distress. He tries for some heroic moments but the evil Pretorius dispatches him handily. In the end, Combs holds off the otherworldly Pretorius and allows Crampton’s Katherine to escape.

It’s another side to Combs’s acting profile that gave us a great look into his skills. He’s played a villain, an anti-hero, and a more timid type hero in this film. If you haven’t had the chance to watch this one, the Scream Factory release is fantastic, but out-of-print. It’s currently playing on Pluto TV for free, so check it out there or on Blu-ray.

Pop On Your Favorite Jeffrey Combs Movie To Celebrate His Birthday Today

These are just three looks into the long career of horror icon Jeffrey Combs. His appearance on The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs on Shudder is also a great look into the career and life of the man. He’s a wonderful follow on Twitter as well. So, from all of us here with THS Fright-A-Thon, happy birthday to Jeffrey Combs and all his roles.

What’s your favorite Jeffrey Combs role? Is it Herbert West?

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