10 Onscreen Gollum Lookalikes
- by Cherokee, 28 October 2015
The Lord of the Rings trilogy changed the film game. Peter Jackson’s cinematic retelling of the well-to-do and respectable Frodo Baggins turned post-Home Alone clammy Macaulay Culkin gave the bygone fantasy genre a jolt of Elvish-lasting life. The overuse of slow-motion, the epic treks across New Zealand plains; the non-subtle homoeroticism: like many others, I was down for it all. While LotR introduced a different era of fantasy storytelling – something richer than blockbuster filmmaking had seen for some time -, its noticeable lasting impact sits with the work of WETA, the visual effects company who created Gollum’s motion captured CGI.
Nearly 15 years later and cinema is still impacted by the ripple effect of Gollum’s animation. Motion capture is everywhere. Technology has advanced, and rapidly so, which has given leeway to more films featuring actors physically playing animated characters. But it’s not just WETA-style innovative technology that’s a feature onscreen, in both films and games, Gollum’s design is something of a trend now, too.
Lord of the Rings isn’t a horror trilogy, but there’s a strong grounding of the genre in Fellowship of the Ring, A Two Towers and Return of the King. (Nothing has traumatised me more in the cinema than watching that Galadriel scene in Fellowship. You know the one.) The influence of horror aside, Gollum is a classic movie monster who could very well rank up there with the Draculas and Frankensteins. So it’s no surprise that horror movies and games have used Gollum as a starting point when creating their own creatures. (Or, at the very least it looks like they have. Maybe a little too much.)
If you’re like me and crave a lot more Gollum in your life than you’re getting, you are in luck. Turns out there are quite a few onscreen Gollum doppelgängers who will be able to keep you going until you can hear him say “My precious”, in his sultry, husky tone again. Here’s some of them.
I know what you’re thinking. Yes, this is a list of Gollum-lookalikes and the titular ghost in Mama is on it. Sure, she may not be the first onscreen character who pops to mind when thinking of the loin cloth wearing, bald former Hobbit, but she is here for a reason.
She has a spindly disproportionate body with a penchant for torn up, raggy clothes, much like Gollum, yes, but it is her crawling game that gets her into the top ten. No one on the rest of this countdown scuttles quite like Mama. If you saw that coming towards you, you’d rather have it out with Gollum standing on the top of Mount Doom. At least there’s more of a chance you’ll get out alive, anyway.
When it comes to the Gollum-like, virus-riddled zombies in Rec and Quarantine, the two films go hand-in hand. Both have creatures who sport stringy hair in dire need of conditioner, are permanently hunching (basically butt naked) and live in a darkened hovel without anything but their own – most likely, really dull - company. What fun conversations it would be speaking to these two.
Now we’re getting to the good stuff - hairless Gollums. This is where shit gets real. I am so down for this. Continuing the zombie theme, Mutants shows the descent of one man into the undead - bald egg head and bad teeth in toe, walking as if he is ready to burst into a flash mob version of The Time Warp. And this motherfucker is clothed, from head to damn toe, which, honestly, is an absolute revelation on this list.
I shouldn’t be surprised by a film like Leprechaun: Origins when it’s produced by WWE Studios. (Yes, that WWE.) But I have every reason to question why – just why – did they make their Leprechaun look like this. It’s dreadful. So, so dreadful. Did they not have the rights to Warwick Davis’ version of the Leprechaun in the series? Who thought this was a good idea? Who sat in a meeting, with the design of the Leprechaun laid out, and said to run with it? This person needs to be held accountable. Their clear fascination with Gollum in this instance is not okay. Back 2 tha Hood is better than this.
Everything you’ve heard about Outlast is true. Like so many who tried to brave the nightmarish world of the psychiatric hospital in the game, I wimped out not too long into its playtime. Profusely sweating palms and feeling like my heart was going to burst out of my chest isn’t my idea of a fun time. Shit gets intense and while I do love me a bit of Gollum, having this dude shoving his face in front of your only source of vision in complete darkness is not cool.
Dark, dingy and desolate surroundings are Gollum’s broody jam, so what better place for a post-Sméagol creature to pitch up than Charing Cross tube station on the London Underground? If it weren’t for his fashionable attire throughout the film (cut-off jean shorts, green hospital gowns, etc.), you’d be hard guessed to spot who is the OG Gollum if you checked out both guys from behind. Their visible spinal contours are unprecedented.
There is no better way to describe the Descendants in Drake’s Fortune, the first game in the Uncharted series, as anything other than Gollum on steroids. They’ve got the pasty, sweaty-looking skin down pat; a wardrobe’s worth of loincloths to cover their modesty, and enjoy similar pastimes like creeping around in pitch black cave-like dwellings. Except there are no spindly, wiry bodies in sight. They’re all about the Stallone muscle. If these guys weren’t into eating alive humans, they’d probably punch you into oblivion instead.
Children are terrifying; absolutely terrifying. And horror films get that. Angelic faces with bulging Disney eyes and childish giggles are not to be trusted. Looks are deceiving and kids aren’t an exception to the rule. To break it down: If you think you see your dead daughter, try not to run around the streets of Italy looking for her. It’s not the best idea. Don’t be fooled by their size, either. They may look like a 9 year old, but they’re probably a 33-year-old woman. Stay away from babysitting, or adopting, or taking your kids on a holiday, or just anything to do with children, really.
People never do learn, though - there are tropes for a reason, after all -, and Pandorum’s humanoid cannibals are a commandment to that. Pair a horror cliché (a kid) with the body of a baby Gollum and what do you get? Something that should have, immediately, been burnt with fire. Bet you can guess what didn’t happen when this sassy Gollum lookalike showed up.
Until Dawn isn’t the first property to feature the Wendigos, a once-human drawn to cannibalism and legend of the Algonquian peoples. These dudes have a history of being adapted for films, TV shows and comic books, going through a long, drawn out physical transformation (very much like what Smeagol endured before becoming Gollum, taking a pit stop at a Stephen King look along the way). They’ve looked like this and this and have even been in an episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.
It’s hard to keep track of where or when the Gollum influence started to kick into the modern Wendigo (shout out to that Supernatural episode), but it is Until Dawn’s version of the creatures that truly capture all the Gollum-isms your heart could desire. Crawling on all fours, pouncing out of nowhere, a lack of clothing (what is with these guys bounding around in horrific weather without any means of coverage?) and inaudible yelps - they have got it all.
The number one of Gollum lookalikes; the daddy of them all. Who else could score the top billing on this list? No other Gollum-ish monster can come close to the crawlers in the The Descent - they were utterly brutal. They could take out every other creature on this list without flinching, probably all at once. Yes, they’re that hardcore. They are the Arnold Schwarzenegger version of Gollum wannabes and the first rule of anything resembling Arnie is not to fuck with it. Ever. Even the horrid design of the crawlers in the sequel are unable to deter from the sheer, pissing-pant terror that the original movie’s monsters caused.
Gollum gets everywhere! Have you spotted him anywhere else? let us know in the comments below!