The 13th Floor

Is There Anything Scarier Than… Political Horror?

The scariest time of year is just around the corner. When all the creatures come out of their homes for one night looking to fill our pants with fear-created poop. Parents will hold their children closer as the cold, dark night descends upon them. Reporters will stand in random locations looking for survivors willing to tell their stories. Anxiety levels will be high as each of us waits for the inevitable.

The presidential election is coming, and no one is safe.

This year’s election is a true nightmare. Depending on your political leanings, you’re either pooping your pants over the possible reign of a giant orange beast or a secretive witch who has planned her strike for decades. Either way, by the end of November 8the, there will be Americans who are too afraid to sleep.

Lucky for us, the entertainment world has helped us get an idea of what could happen if we elect a monster, both literal and figurative, into the highest office in the land. So what say we take a few minutes and look over some of the scariest politicians put on film (and Twitter)?

Greg Stillson

THE DEAD ZONE (1983) Paramount Pictures

The first Stephen King entry on this little listicle, Greg Stillson is likely the first person you thought of when you saw this. In King’s classic book, and Cronenberg’s equally classic film THE DEAD ZONE. Stillson is everything we fear in a politician – full of rage, full of shit, and super crazy. In reality, guys like Stillson crack well before they reach the White House, but you do run into some who have made it all the way. Andrew Jackson, for example, really liked to duel people. I mean, he REALLY liked to duel. He had 13 of them. In one of them, Jackson killed Charles Dickinson (who also loved to duel) in such a way that the whole state of Tennessee turned on Jackson.

Anywho… Stillson was well on his way to the ultimate power when Johnny Smith and his powers saw a future where Stillson blows up the world. Johnny, seeing no other option, decides to assassinate Stillson.

King’s story, and Cronenberg’s movie with a script by Jeffrey Boam, is full on intense. I’ve never seen the TV series based on THE DEAD ZONE but I’ve heard good things.

Martin Sheen, by the by, is the only peep on this list to actually make it to POTUS, but as Josiah “Jed” Bartlet in THE WEST WING (AKA the greatest show ever made).

Senator Holt

THE HIDDEN (1997) New Line Cinema

Senator Holt was, as far as we know, a pretty good guy. He was likely going to run for president, and he may have been real solid. Not a great POTUS, but not a bad one.

That all fell apart when an alien slug slipped into Holt. Lucky for us all, the alien infested Holt is killed by another alien during a press conference.

THE HIDDEN is a real good flick that has been kind of forgotten over the years. Directed by Jack Shoulder (who also directed A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2: FREDDY’S REVENGE and somehow didn’t realize the movie was a metaphor for homosexuality) and starring Kyle MacLachlan as the space cop looking to stop the evil alien, I would say it is well worth your time if you haven’t seen it. It also has a great soundtrack.

Randall Flagg

THE STAND (1994) Warner Home Video

When we were first introduced to Stephen King’s greatest evil, it was in THE STAND. Randall Flagg, a tall man of no age, worked to create a new society under his rule after the plague has killed most of humanity. The only thing that stops Flagg is a nuclear bomb set off by the hand of God. And even then, if you’re familiar with the extended edition of THE STAND, Flagg survives.

King would next use Flagg in a book I am shocked has yet to be made into a movie, IN THE EYES OF THE DRAGON. In this one, Flagg is a wizard who, looking to secretly rule the kingdom of Delain, frames the prince for the death of the king.

This version of Flagg, along with other versions of him, would show up in King’s DARK TOWER series.

Flagg was first seen on TV as played by Jamey Sheridan in the miniseries version of THE STAND directed by Mick Garris. Soon enough he’ll be showing up in theaters when Matthew McConaughey plays Flagg, or more exact, Flagg’s alter-ego Walter o’Dim, in Nikolaj Arcel take on THE DARK TOWER.

Flagg also has a brief cameo in the miniseries 11.22.63, showing up at the Kennedy assassination.

King has called Randall Flagg his best villain, and I’m not about to argue with the guy. Flagg is everything we want and fear in a politician; he’s good looking, smooth as hell, smart as anything, and evil as all get out.

Damien Thorn

THE FINAL CONFLICT: THE OMEN III (1981) 20th Century Fox

I’m not going to lie to you, this whole list exists because of my love for the OMEN trilogy. This series is, in my little cared about opinion, the best horror movie series out there. It is the horror version of THE GODFATHER, and I love it.

Damien Thorn, the son of Satan, was born on the sixth day of June at six o’clock in the morning, his mother, a jackal, died during the birth. When I say jackal, I mean a literal jackal.

As Damien was born, the American ambassador to Great Britain, Robert Thorn, learned that his own child, whose wife Katherine had just given birth to, was stillborn. For whatever weird reason, Thorn and the hospital figured it would be better to replace the dead baby with the human boy born from a freaking jackal so that Katherine wouldn’t get a case of the sads.

Through the trilogy, we watch Damien grow up, going from an innocent child who doesn’t know that he is the Antichrist to his learning of what his purpose is. That purpose, by the by, is to make sure that the second coming of Jesus never happens by killing every boy born in Britain on March 24, 1982. We watch as Damien goes from baby, to little boy, to teenager, and then finally to a full grown man who himself becomes the American ambassador to Great Britain.

The trilogy is filled with talent both in front of and behind the camera, including icons like Richard Donner, David Seltzer, Jerry Goldsmith, Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, David Warner, William Holden, and Sam Neill.

Damien is, in essence, one of the most common attacks we hear on politicians these days – that they are the Antichrist. Both the left and right use this attack, with some people using it as a metaphor, and others meaning it literally. In the 2008 election, cries that Barack Obama was the Antichrist were so loud that the writers of the LEFT BEHIND series of books put out a press release saying that Obama wouldn’t be the Antichrist.

American elections are weird, huh?

Donald Trump

Remember way back up towards the start of this here list when I said we’d be looking at some of “the scariest politicians put on film (and Twitter)”? This is the Twitter one.

Now, I’m not talking about Trump’s actual Twitter account which is, in itself, a nightmare of poor grammar and ill chosen retweets. I’m talking about the Twitter account of Owen Ellickson, a writer currently working on the NBC series SUPERSTORE. For a while now, Owen has turned his Twitter account into a darkly satirical day by day look into the Trump campaign that he has titled TRUMP LEAKS.

In TRUMP LEAKS, we learn that Trump and his team are not just insane and incompetent, but actually evil. Roger Ailes is a creature straight out of a Lovecraft story. Ann Coulter delights in hunting humans. Those weird clown sightings that have been happening? That is Trump’s army readying for the end of the world. Through the series, Trump goes from a buffoon looking to be president to a man looking to blow up the world. The only things standing in his way are a Hillary Clinton who is constantly angry, and a conflicted Chris Christie (who Trump calls Hole).

The best bits, to me, are the Trump conversations with Paul Ryan. Ellickson writes Ryan as a weak man obsessed with Ayn Rand and NBC’s GRIMM who only wants to bring his plan for America to fruition, and believes that Trump will at least give him that. Trump is just a full on kooky Ken, making random choices and confused by the minority vote.

Ellickson’s story, told 140 characters at a time, is the best thing to come out of this election season, and I really hope that sooner or later these tweets get collected into a book. In my opinion, they would make for a great graphic novel done in the style of a newspaper comic. If you aren’t already reading TRUMP LEAKS, you can get started here.