R.I.P. Wilford Brimley: A celebration of his career in horror

Wilford Brimley (Photo by Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images)
Wilford Brimley (Photo by Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images) /

Wilford Brimley, star of John Carpenter’s The Thing passed away yesterday. He was 85. We look back at his career and celebrate his work in the horror genre.

Wilford Brimley, passed away yesterday according to Deadline. He was 85 years old.

A legendary character actor, he was comfortable riding a horse, coaching a baseball team or trying to fight a shapeshifting alien on a remote base in Antarctica. That was the beauty of his talent. Even though he was usually part of an ensemble of talented thespians, through quiet and sincere intensity, he managed to make his presence known.

In John Carpenter’s The Thing, Kurt Russell and Keith David were the stars but Brimley as Dr. Blair commanded any scene he was in. When MacReady asks how he is doing, Blair answers him with weary desperation, “I don’t know who to trust.”

He managed to echo all of our sentiments with those five words. We could feel the pain and exhaustion of fighting an alien enemy that we couldn’t see but could strike at any time and kill us.

Although Wilford Brimley was predominantly known for dramas, he also had a few horror films under his belt.  If you are in the mood to check out some of his efforts in that realm, we have compiled a short list.

Mutant Species (1995)

In 1995, he starred in Mutant Species, which was basically another interpretation of Predator.

When a bio-hazardous material is found on a crashed rocket, in a deserted wooded area, the Army is called in to clean up the scene. However, little do they know that what is about to happen is actually a genetic test masterminded by a dastardly scientist named Frost (Powers Boothe).

Of course, a soldier ends up getting infected and transforms into a monster that goes on a murderous rampage. Brimley plays General Devro, a man who is vehemently opposed to Frost’s super soldier genetic enhancements.

Progeny (1998)

This particular movie is like Rosemary’s Baby, except this time, Satan didn’t impregnate a woman, aliens did! Arnold Vosloo plays Dr. Craig Burton who experiences some missing time when he is being intimate with his wife.

As it turns out, she becomes pregnant. Then Burton discovers with the help of Dr. Clavell (Brad Dourif) that she had an encounter with extraterrestrials and the fun begins. Wilford Brimley is Dr. David Wetherly, the ob-gyn that is taking care of Craig’s wife.

Death Valley (1982)

Death Valley is a pretty harrowing film about a road trip that gets out of hand. A mother, her young son and new boyfriend decide to visit Death Valley. Instead of a pleasant vacation, they end up having to fend off a serial killer. Wilford Brimley plays the Sheriff in this pre-The Thing role.


You can stream Mutant Species on Amazon Prime, Hulu and EPIX.

Were you a Wilford Brimley fan? Let us know in the comments.