Yesterday marked the 8th anniversary of Dennis Hopper passing away.
Hopper, who passed away on the 29th May, 2010, was an American actor, film maker, photographer and artist. Hardcore Dennis Hopper fans will remember his initial big break alongside Hollywood royalty James Dean in Rebel Without A Cause (1955). This was followed by a handful of films and television credits taking up the 60s-80s including a small indie film by the name of Apocalypse Now (1979).
For me, Dennis Hopper hit his stride in the late 80s/early 90s when mainstream Hollywood forgot about the drug addiction and love troubles. Leading him to memorable characters in almost every English speaking home. Here is my homage to the original American Bad Guy. Dennis Hopper’s Top Ten characters.
10. King Kooper
Film: Super Mario Brothers (1993)
Every nerd that grew that pulled out his Nintendo cartridge to blow and reinsert knows this film. Super Mario Brothers played to mix reviews and reception originally. Claiming to be a live action interpretation of the flagship Nintendo game of its namesake. Super Mario Brothers swung for the fences and missed terribly. With the only redeeming performances by Dennis Hooper as big bad, King Kooper, and
Bob Hoskins (of Who Framed Roger Rabbit fame) which carried the film home.
Film: Rebel Without A Cause (1955)
Rumour has it that this was the performance of which Dennis Hopper was most proud. He dealt out a meager performance as a Goon hassling out James Dean’s character Jim Stark. Not a mind blowing performance by any means. More of an interesting role which shaped the best character actors of the last 100 years.
8. Father Duffy
Film: House of 9 (2005)
Nine strangers. One location. A house. They are forced to kill each other off until only one of them remains. Left to escape the front door to, yeah you guessed it, another bloody house. It’s the homeless man’s answer to Saw. Dennis Hopper plays the voice of reason in the guise of Father Duffy. A priest with a checkered past dedicating his remaining time as a beacon of light to these eight strangers. An interesting time for an actor who, during this period of his career, was playing every bad guy that was thrown at him.
7. Ronnie Purnell
Film: The Last Ride (2004)
It’s Old Men out for Revenge. The Last Ride is a woeful B-rated action flick in desperate need of someone’s attention. This movie will be lucky if it has yours in the first sitting. It’s a simple cop and gangster revenge story vicariously lived through the lives of their sons. If you’ve been been paying attention at character actors over the two decades then the name Fred Ward will be all too familiar. Forget the story altogether. I just want to watch Dennis Hopper and Fred Ward go at it. On-screen chemistry doesn’t come this easy.
6. Lieutenant Lefty Enright
Film: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)
Start your chainsaws. Here’s one for the horror fans of old. Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 unveils more to the mythos of Leatherface’s cannibalistic clan. Dennis Hopper plays the local cop looking into the macabre atrocities. In an amusement park of all places.
5. Rudolph ‘Red’ Diamond
Film: Boiling Point (1993)
Has their been an actor Wesley Snipes hasn’t teamed up with? Boiling Point sees Dennis Hopper’s character team up with fellow sociopathic killer to take on the mob and the police. All for the final score. Hopper’s character is very stereotypical for the time but you can feel the underlying tension that is immeasurable and looks to snap at any moment.
Film: Land of the Dead (2005)
Ever wondered what Trump would do in a zombie infested world? Land of the Dead answers that question as Dennis Hopper plays Kaufman. A community leader of sorts who decides who can join the rich in luxury while the rest of the city lives in squalor. Oh, and there’s zombies intent on feasting on your flesh. It’s one of the last George Romero films. Kind of amazing.
3. Howard Payne
Film: Speed (1994)
Howard Payne is the most well known and memorable character Dennis Hopper has played. Bomb crazy terrorist who rigs up a popular bus route to explode, only to be foiled by Jack Traven (Keanu Reeves). This movie has been overplayed and repeated on every network ever through the entire 90s decade.
Film: Apocalypse Now (1979)
Seriously, you haven’t seen this film? That’s a paddling.
Film: Waterworld (1995)
Back in the day, Underworld was a sinking ship. Pardon the pun. It failed to make any significant ground so much that it’s notoriety came from the VHS release. Waterworld features a barely surviving human race living out the remainder of their days in a water wasteland with no food or land in sight. It’s the polar opposite to the world in Mad Max. Featuring the most evil character Hopper has played, Deacon, who controls the “Waterworld” with fear and tyranny. A skinhead Hitler who would rather see people starve, even his own minions than survive.
Rest in Peace Dennis Hopper!