Actor Charles Napier's grin is nearly as scary as the late James Coburn's was. In fact, Napier's characters genuinely frighten me at times. I am thinking particularly of his role as psychotic bad guy Harry Sledge in the 1975 Russ Meyer movie Supervixens. For once, one of the men in a Russ Meyer film actually steals scenes away from the overly endowed, bare-breasted women. You thought Willem Dafoe was scary in Wild at Heart? He's a pale imitation of Harry Sledge. Napier flashes that grin and you just know something horrible will happen. I don't understand why the other characters in Supervixens trust him even for one minute.

Napier was in four Meyer films: Cherry, Harry & Raquel (in which he displays full frontal nudity, I'm told), Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, The Seven Minutes, and the aforementioned Supervixens. But you've surely seen Napier even if you're not a fan of Meyer's movies. He's played cops, judges and terrifying bad guys on a number of TV shows -- he even had one-episode roles both on the original Star Trek series and Deep Space Nine. Or perhaps you saw him as Marshall Murdock in Rambo: First Blood Part II. Napier's also had small roles in nearly all Jonathan Demme's films: A doomed guard in Silence of the Lambs, the judge in Philadelphia, and a hairdresser in Married to the Mob. And let's not forget he's the leader of the real Good Ole Boys band in The Blues Brothers. He's got a square jaw that rivals Bruce Campbell's.

It doesn't matter how old Charles Napier is or how harmless his character is supposed to be. When he grins in that lazy, slow-yet-homicidal way, all eyes turn his way and the scene is his. And a chill runs down your spine, while at the same time you feel slightly titillated. Did I say that last bit out loud? Well, watch him and judge for yourself.
categories Features, Cinematical