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We Remember Anton Yelchin: How He Left His Mark in a Number of Genre Films

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On Sunday the 19th of June, Anton Yelchin passed away at the age of 27. Though he died very young for an actor he left behind an impressive and versatile mix of performances on film. You only need to watch a couple to see the potential he had for a long, great career of entertaining us for decades to come. We’ll never get to enjoy what could have been.

Luckily for us he worked for 15 years in front of the camera as both the leading man and as interesting side characters. Though his most iconic role is that of Chekov in “Star Trek” he worked in practically every genre Hollywood has to offer. He was a romantic lead, an action hero, a comic foil, a murder victim. He even voiced a Smurf. A book could and probably will be written about his cinematic achievements. For the purpose of this article, we’ll focus on his contribution to horror.

In a Shockya interview, he discussed his “appreciation and love for the grotesque in the genre” citing the Universal horror films of the 30s and Karl Fruend pictures as an influence. Of Bela Lugosi, he said: “I have watched countless of his films and really love him. He’s one of my favorite actors. He was wonderful and poignant because of his commitment.

Anton Yelchin - Fright Night Reboot

His enjoyment of the macabre came in handy for the role of Max in Joe Dante’s grossly funny, necrophilia themed Burying the Ex.

Max’s life revolves around horror fandom. His house and place of work are decorated with imported posters of obscure genre classics. He owns a Halloween costume store and watches Dracula movies while getting a quickie from his soon to be zombified girlfriend. In one scene he passionately defends the merits of the watching images of terror. Readers of this website may see more than a little of themselves in Max. Yelchin makes the character so convincing because in real life he was clearly one of us, a horror fan.

When a remake of a beloved classic is announced groans of protestation always abound. Such was the case for 2011’s Fright Night. But Yelchin made the character of Charlie Brewster his own. It didn’t feel like an unnecessary carbon copy of the original. It was a completely different movie with characters who are identical to their 1985 counterparts in name only. Had it been given its own title it would have gotten the respect and popularity it deserves.

It’s gotten a new generation of young viewers interested in horror and helped give vampirism back it’s bite after the neutering effect Twilight had on the subgenre.

As he said himself in an interview for POPSUGAR, the film “rejuvenates the idea that a vampire isn’t some melodramatic suburban teen. He’s just a destructive force.

Discussing vampirism again for Empire he said “I think traditionally, going back to Nosferatu that’s what that vampire was. It was a menace. It just represented darkness and destruction and evil… It’s much more what I’m drawn to in a vampire than seeing them lovesick.

His work in revitalising fanged flicks continued in Jim Jarmusch’s off-beat, visually poetic Only Lovers Left Alive. If his recent film Green Room is anything to go on, Yelchin wasn’t going to move on from the genre anytime soon.

Hollywood didn’t just lose a versatile, talented and likeable actor in Anton Yelchin. The horror community lost one of our own. Influenced by the classics and taking inspiration from great icons like Lugosi and Vincent Price he could have given us something truly special in the years to come. We’ll never know. All we can do is appreciate what he left behind.

There’s a scene in Burying the Ex where he sits drinking a milkshake, illuminated by blue and pink neon. He has more than a hint of James Dean about him. Now, sadly like Dean, Anton Yelchin will exist to us only as the image of his youthful prime. He deserved more time.

RELATED: Legendary American Actor Bill Paxton Obituary.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. ZombieJoe

    May 18, 2017 at 6:35 pm

    Anton was great in Green Room and the Start Trek series. Why isn’t Green Room getting any release? It was an intense movie all the way through. His accident that led to his death has never left my mind since I heard of it. A very strange way to go. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f04d07bc175f819ae3770f2cbcae3fe042a735fbf10dd6be8501a70ed464155a.jpg

    • Nick

      May 20, 2017 at 11:08 am

      It’s very sad. He had so much more to give the genre. Very talented indeed! Green Room is currently available in the UK on both DVD and Blu-Ray.

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