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Huntington’s horror roots

By Staff | Aug 25, 2009

Would “Return to Huntington” be a better title for Rob Zombie’s upcoming “Halloween” sequel remake?

Sure, Michael Myers (Tyler Mane) goes on another killing spree, but Huntington’s own former Academy Award nominee, Brad Dourif (“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”) returns in the role of Sheriff Brackett.

Dourif has turned the horror/science fiction genre into a steady form of employment, as his quirky character credits include “Body Parts,” “Trauma,” “Bride of Chucky,” “Soul Keeper,” “Graveyard Shift,” “Shadow Hours,” “Pulse,” and “The Wizard of Gore,” as well as appearances on the “Deadwood” TV series, “Lord of the Rings: Two Towers,” “Eyes of Laura Mars,” and the infamous studio busting, “Heaven’s Gate.”

 Born in 1950, Dourif’s break came when he was cast in the role of Billy Bibbit in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” based on Ken Kesey’s novel and Dale Wasserman’s play about a rebel loose in an insane asylum. The film gave Dourif an Academy Award nomination for “best supporting actor,” although he did not win, the film won best picture, best direction (Milos Forman), best actress in a leading role (Louise Fletcher) and best actor, Jack Nicholson. The cast of the 1975 film also included Danny DeVito, a young Anjelica Huston (as an uncredited extra), Christopher Lloyd, and Scatman Crothers. 

Dourif did win a Golden Globe and a British Academy Award for his portrayal of the suicidal Bibbit.

Actually, famous West Virginia golfer William Campbell is the now 59-year-old actor’s step-father. The Dourif family founded the BASF plant on Huntington’s Fifth Avenue. He began acting in school productions and at the Abbott Theatre, on 14th Street West, then home of Community Players.

 At 19, he quit Marshall and headed for New York where Forman would cast him as Bibbit after working with Forman in off-Broadway productions. 

Recently, Dourif told Debbie Rochon of Fangoria Radio that normally good-guy sheriff’s are one dimensional but his role in “H2” is more “filled out.” Revealing that he likes to have a character quirk to hang his acting on, the Huntingtonian has lived what he terms an “uneventful” life except for a few “stupid mistakes.” He has raised a family and now has grandchildren. 

Interestingly, Dourif told Rochon that if there is one common theme throughout the assortment of horror and science fiction roles, it is the relationships the films have with families. He called “H2” about the “power and need of family.” 

According to a source close to Dourif, he endured a family tragedy growing up in Huntington. He lost his own father in the French Riviera. The elder Dourif went swimming and never came back.

Contact Tony at trutherford@graffitiwv.com