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Top 10 Blind Genre Movie Characters!

Said hot damn! When we shot Susan Bier’s BIRD BOX atop our Top 10 Must-See Genre flicks of the Winter a few weeks back, we had no idea Netflix would have a bona fide global hit on its hands. Indeed, not only did some 23 million people watch the flick in the first week of its release, this damn blindfolded challenge is sweeping the nation. Hell, even restaurants are transforming their eateries into the post-apocalyptic setting so patrons can dine blindfolded. Crazy times! Of course, this got us to thinking about all of the best movies that feature blind characters who are central to the plot. Male, female, good guy, bad guy, it doesn’t matter. The only kind of blind we’re omitting here is of the martial arts variety, a la ZATOICHI or my man Rutger in BLIND FURY. Other than that, all is fair game. Lads, lasses, let’s get into our Top 10 Blind Horror Movie Characters Below!

#10. THE DOCTOR (BLINDNESS)

Granted, coming off of CITY OF GOD and THE CONSTANT GARDENER, there’s little debate that Fernando Meirelles took a major misstep with his 2008 sci-fi thriller BLINDNESS. That said, we’re less interested in feting the film itself as were in celebrating the character in it, of The Doctor (Mark Ruffalo), which offers an appreciably new spin on a main character who can’t see a damn thing. For those who missed it, The Doctor is just one of almost every citizen on Earth to suddenly fall victim to an epidemic of white-blindness. However, The Doctor’s Wife (Julianne Moore) is able to retain her eyesight, which she and her hubby decide to keep a secret from the rest of the hysterical masses. And yet, in the end, it is precisely the Doctor’s sense of inured blindness that allows him to save his wife by fending off a savage attack of starving invalids. As we know, Mark Ruffalo is one of the best actors in the biz, so to see him bring to full life a supporting character that can’t see but saves the day anyway is a sight to behold! GET HERE

#9. HELENA ROBERTSON (JENNIFER 8) 

How many of you have seen Bruce Robinson’s supremely slept on 1992 mystery JENNIFER 8? Weird ass flick, right? I know. The story sees Andy Garcia playing a newly relocated Los Angeles homicide detective who is assigned to a fresh murder case. After it becomes clear that a harem of blind women have been murdered over the past four years in the area surrounding San Diego, detective Berlin meets a cryptic blind music student named Helena (Uma Thurman), whose roommate is the latest murder victim. Not to spoil much more, but as Berlin becomes romantically entangled with Helena (who resembles his ex-wife), she begins manipulating him in ways that we the audience are as blind to see coming as her character is throughout. It’s a fascinating character made all the more compelling by Thurman’s radiant turn as a soft, dainty, helpless victim that arcs her way to becoming a formidable final girl! GET HERE

#8. JULIA (JULIA’S EYES)

Genre flick or not, I promise you, Spanish actress Belen Rueda (THE ORPHANAGE) gives one of the most realistic and fully dimensional blind character performances in the criminally unseen 2010 feature JULIA’S EYES. No joke, Guillem Morales’ terse and tireless tale of a woman slowly losing her eyesight while attempting to solve the enigmatic death of twin sister only goes as far as Rueda takes the material. And thankfully for us, she delivers such a thoroughly buyable turn as a woman at once resiliently strong-willed, physically and emotionally vulnerable, yet still aware enough to know she must bridge the gap between the two in order to survive. As her eyesight decreases throughout the film, Julia must find a way to retrace her sister’s steps in order to prove that her so-called suicide was indeed a covered-up murder. It’s a great character and even greater performance by Rueda! GET HERE

#7. ELI (THE BOOK OF ELI) 

I can’t front, I’m not the hugest fan of the Hughes’ brothers BOOK OF ELI, but there’s no way in post-apocalyptic wasteland that we’d omit the Denzel Washington’s brusquely brazen and badass turn as the titular messiah. What’s so great about this character is how we do not know that he’s blind under those sick shades for damn near half the movie, as he’s utterly capable of warding off violent looters and murderous mobsters regardless of how functional his eyeballs are. Even grander is how Eli is depicted as a holy scion of sorts in the end, as it’s revealed that he not only finished writing his bible in Braille, but memorized the entire thing before both it, and he was destroyed. Despite being unable to see, he recorded the whole thing mentally by touch, ensuring the mass publication of a new bible for the masses to worship once society recovers. Denzel is top notch no matter what role he plays, and Eli is no exception! GET HERE

#6. SARAH (SEE NO EVIL) 

A few years after her luminously starry turn in ROSEMARY’S BABY, Mia Farrow made a highly underrated movie with the great Richard Fleischer called SEE NO EVIL. Surely a riff on Hepburn’s WAIT UNTIL DARK, Farrow gives an even more subtly understated performance in SEE NO EVIL, playing a young blind woman named Sarah, who returns home to visit family in an isolated country manor. Sarah falls asleep in her old home, unable to see that her entire family has been left for dead some time ago. As she awakes and stumbles through a spate of fetid familial corpses, it soon dawns on her that she is being stalked by a serial-killing psychopath that still resides inside the house of horrors. Farrow absolutely owns the role as a blind woman whose vulnerabilities are worn on her sleeve, hiding a steely resolve beneath surface that she’s called upon to save herself with when confronting her odious antagonist in the end! GET HERE

#5. EMILY (THE BEYOND)

Straight up, what’s your favorite Fulci flick? I love me some NEW YORK RIPPER, but if push came to shove, I’d probably call THE BEYOND the Italian maestro’s all around finest. One of the reason it’s so, beyond the nastiest and gnarliest eyeball impalement ever committed to celluloid, is due to the central blind character of Emily (Cinzia Monreale). Remember, it’s Emily who warns final girl Liza (Catriona MacColl) of the impending doom that waits if she reopens the accursed hotel in which the film takes place. Liza ignores such admonitions and soon is thrown into a feverish gauntlet of a dreadfully atmospheric zombie onslaught. Shite’s insane BEYOND description! But what really separates this blind horror character from the rest is how, in the end, because of Emily’s heedless advice, both Liza and her compatriot John (David Warbeck) are stricken with same white blindness as Emily, unceremoniously welcomed by the disembodied voice saying: “And you will face the sea of darkness, and all therein that may be explored." GET HERE

#4. WONG KAR MUN (THE EYE) 

The listlessly asinine American redo notwithstanding, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more memorable and globally impacting blind horror movie character than Wong Kar Mun in the brothers Pang’s lid-peeling and orb-shattering J-horror import THE EYE. Of course, what differentiates Wong Kar is how she starts the film being blind, only to undergo a corneal transplant to restore her vision. But when her eyesight returns, it comes equipped with the ability to see vaporous apparitions and wan, long-haired ghouls that once haunted the previous owner of the cornea. As Wong Kar researches the history of where her new eyeball came from, she unearths a harrowing truth as it relates to her fate. Even crazier, the Pangs got the idea of the opening and closing surgical procedures to restore sight from real news stories in their native Hong Kong. And for a movie about blindness, keep an eye out for the ghostly woman’s face appearing in the window of train as it barrels through a tunnel.GET HERE

#3. FRANCO ARNO (THE CAT O’ NINE TALES)

I always loved that the great Oscar-winning character actor Karl Malden got to work with Dario Argento in his searing sophomore slasher salvo, CAT O’ NINE TALES. In the flick, Malden plays Franco Arno, a retired blind American journalist hot on the trail of a mysterious murderer who’s been gorily gouging victims to death across Rome. Arno teams up with a newspaper reporter to solve the crimes, which seem to be linked to top secret experiments conducted by a pharmaceutical company, but the closer they get, the bigger targets they become. As always, Malden is more than credible as a sightless newsman doggedly determined to do what’s right, tautly towing the line between potential suspect and endangered victim throughout the film. In the end, Franco overcomes his disability and, instead of a crutch, uses it to his benefit when he ultimately tricks and fells the sadistic slaughterer! GET HERE

#2. THE BLIND MAN (DON’T BREATHE)

The great Stephen Lang gives one of the most powerfully commanding performances of not just his entire career, and not just as a blind man, but a balefully blind bad guy, in Fede Alvarez’s superb heart-thudding and head-spinning home-invasion DON’T BREATH. What’s so great about this performance is that our sympathies as an audience shifts throughout the story, as The Blind Man is at first a seemingly innocent victim of breaking and entering. But then, when we discover The Blind Man’s own nefariously ulterior scheme regarding a female captive held in his basement, we go from feeling bad for the guy to hoping death for the guy. The wildly unpredictable peeling of these layers is what works so well, augmented by the choice to make the character a decorated war vet with brute strength and cunning, allowing him to aptly combat his invaders even without eyesight! GET HERE

#1. SUSY HENDRIX (WAIT UNTIL DARK)

Over 50 years later and Audrey Hepburn remains comfortably perched in her throne as the preeminent queen of sightless protagonism! Indeed, her turn as the deceptively demure but low-key ball-busting badass Susy Hendrix – a recently blinded and newly married woman – is among the most intensely convincing of all blind horror characters. Youngsters, do wise and see this flick stat, as the story sees Hendrix outwit a trio of sinister interlopers looking for a doll stuffed with heroin left behind by Susy’s husband. Trapped inside her home with an escalating sense of claustrophobic dread, Hendrix slowly outsmarts and overpowers her evil assailants, none more terrifying than a young Alan Arkin as Roat, a genuinely mortifying murderous maniac who’ll stop at nothing to retrieve his high-priced dope. Never mind a horror flick, Susy Hendrix is arguably the best blind character in the history of cinema! GET HERE

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