John Saxon – Horror’s Strong Arm of the Law


Overnight we heard the sad news that acting legend John Saxon had passed away at the age of 83, due to pneumonia.

Saxon will, for many, be forever known as Lieutenant Thompson from the Nightmare on Elm Street series, but his talents reach far beyond that role.

His horror journey actually began with another film that would go on to become a cult classic; Bob Clark’s Black Christmas. In a weird twist of fate, Saxon would be called up at the last minute for the role of Lieutenant Fuller after original choice Edmond O’Brien had to leave the project due to ill health.

Before his venture to Elm Street, Saxon would again be cast in a law enforcement role as Captain Pearson in 1980’s Jaws-ploitation Blood Beach.

Just two years later he would go on to work with legendary Dario Argento on the giallo murder mystery Tenebrae, portraying literary agent Bullmer. This performance is notable for his shocking death scene in the middle of a public square where he is stabbed to death.

Saxon was making a name for himself in the genre and was the perfect choice to portray the father of the haunted Nancy Thompson, in Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street two years out from Tenebrae.

Once again making the police officer role his own, Saxon is a detached father trying to make sense of a series of unusual deaths whilst burying a long-forgotten secret. Saxon really encapsulates the guilt attached to the murder of Freddy whilst also being a parent that never truly understands their child. His on-screen chemistry with Heather Langenkamp was no doubt one of the reasons he returned to the series in 1987’s Dream Warriors and for the final time for Wes Craven’s New Nightmare in 1994.

Saxon would continue to dip back into the Giallo sub-genre with Umberto Lenzi’s Nightmare Beach, which tells the tale of a killer clad in a motorcycle helmet. He would portray the chief of Police, Strycher.

He would also try his hand at directing in 1988 with the schlocky Death House aka Zombie Death House where a renegade federal agent uses a new drug to create an army of unbeatable warriors.

In 1996 he would also join Robert Rodriguez’s bombastic From Dusk Till Dawn, now elevated to an FBI agent role.

This is just a snapshot of John’s work in the horror genre but for many he will forever be known for his role in Enter the Dragon.

Tell us your favourite John Saxon role in the comments.




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