Sommerleigh Pollonais, Horror Head Writer
They say there’s nothing new under the sun so if this list sounds like one you’ve come across before I promise it’s not due to any shenanigans on my part. I just went down the rabbit hole of horror I visit every weekend and decided to rewatch a couple old favourites that brought to mind the most unlikely of heroes, the men in black (but not THOSE men in black). We’re talking fedora-wearing, holy water-tossing, power of Christ-compelling priests.
Yes, there are more than a few lists out there that covered this, but I also noticed more than a few of my personal favourites for ass-kicking men of God didn’t make the cut. So without further ado here are Five of my Favorite Badass Priests in Horror Movies You May Have Missed.
#5 Father Jon McGruder, Braindead aka Dead Alive
We expect to see priests in tales of possession but it’s certainly rare to see them show up when there are zombies running amok. But that’s exactly where we find our first heroic man of the cloth, Father Jon McGruder from Peter Jackson’s Braindead (also known as Dead Alive in North America).
Father Jon (portrayed by Stuart Devenie) is also the first priest I’ve ever seen deliver a roundhouse kick to a zombie’s face, hilariously decapitating it in the process. Yes folks, this silver-haired son of the seminary knows kung fu and he’s not afraid to use it!
Sadly, he doesn’t make it far before he himself becomes one of the undead. But no matter; Father Jon goes down in movie history as one of the baddest priests around.
#4 Priest, Priest
Loosely based on the Korean comic of the same name this action heavy horror once again pitted the ordained against vampires in an alternate world where a centuries long war has been fought between humans and bloodsuckers leaving the planet barren and large city walls the only defense against them. Well, the city walls and a group of warrior priests ordained to fight with superhuman skills and a host of deadly weaponry.
Paul Bettany, best known for his role as Vision in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, plays the baddest one of them all, simply known as Priest. Bettany coincidentally played an angel the year prior in Legion, another movie I enjoy revisiting from time to time. Here he trades avenging angels trying to destroy humanity for bloodthirsty creatures of the night as a tattooed priest on a mission to save the ones he loves.
This movie starts off with an animated opening narration and I think it could’ve been a lot better if they kept it animated all the way through. But I still rank Bettany’s Priest as one of the coolest men-of-the-cloth out there.
#3 Father Mendoza, Deliver Us from Evil (2014)
The creepiest possession horror stories are the ones “inspired by true events” which brings us to Deliver Us from Evil. This is one of those movies I’ve seen more times than I could count and while I can’t exactly say what it is about this genre entry I enjoy so much, I can say I thoroughly enjoy the team up of street cop Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana) and Spanish priest Father Mendoza (Édgar Ramírez).
Mendoza is one of those priests that doesn’t dress, look or act the part. He goes to bars, never wears his priestly robes and we never even see him in a church, but Ramirez brought real intelligence, nobility and, dare I say, swagger to the role. As seen in the final showdown between the two men and a very possessed ex-Marine making for a chilling and memorable finale, Father Mendoza also has the distinction of being the only one on this list who faces off against evil without getting possessed/killed in the process. So, if that doesn’t make him a badass priest, I don’t know what does.
#2 Pastor Jacob Fuller, From Dusk Till Dawn
Speaking of holy men in unlikely places, we leave zombies and demons behind and return to the realm of blood-sucking vampires, though now in a modern, regular world. When you have Harvey Keitel in the role of a pastor you know he’s going to be doing more than delivering sermons.
From Dusk Till Dawn is one of those movies that came out at a time when the internet wasn’t used to spoil everything movie related. Which meant if you were like me you went into this movie expecting Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino to deliver cool characters and crazy action movie fare, only to have the rug pulled out from under you as midway through this movie veered headlong into horror territory with outstanding results.
That horror dropped poor Pastor Jacob and his two kids smack dab into a nest of vampires unlike anything we had seen before. But in one of the most memorable sequences we get to see him combine his faith with a sawed-off shotgun and a piece of wood into a weapon of the Lord as he brutally showed these bloodsuckers what “a mean mhm mhm servant of God” looks like in action.
Sadly, like the heroic priest in Braindead, Jacob’s stand would prove to be his last. But he took down a host of vamps in the process making him a priest (or in this case, pastor) worthy to be on this list.
#1 Father Gabriel Amorth, The Pope’s Exorcist
This movie is over the top ridiculousness and I’m here for it! Think The Exorcist but written for a mainstream audience that also enjoys the superhero genre and you’ll have a sense of the tone it strikes. But none of it would’ve worked for me if it wasn’t for the larger-than-life performance of Russel Crowe as Father Gabriel Amorth.
The very real Father Amorth was indeed the head exorcist of the Vatican, but I doubt he ever blew up a demon with a cross to the forehead or teamed up with a young priest to banish CGI demons to hell.
The movie is obviously not taking itself seriously (I hope) so if you haven’t seen it and you prefer your possession movies to be more sombre, you might want to avoid it. That said, this list isn’t about the quality of the movies, but it is about the priests that made them fun to watch. And I had so much fun watching Crowe as Father Amorth, I would actually be down for a sequel if they ever made one.
A priest may not be the first person that comes to mind when you think of a horror movie hero and more often than not, they don’t survive these deadly encounters. But what they lack in longevity they make up for in being total badasses, willing to put it all on the line for the sake of righteousness and to that I say bless ‘em!
So, that’s my ranking. Any badass horror movie priests you would add to the list? And you can check more horror movie content below:
Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge-Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes. Double Tap Baby! Read More