Old School Americana & Nostalgia


‘Cheers’: Before Everyone Knew Their Names, These Cast Members Starred in Horror Films

‘Cheers’: Before Everyone Knew Their Names, These Cast Members Starred in Horror Films

Cheers boasted a cast of frightfully talented individuals, some of whom made devilishly memorable appearances in the realm of horror. Pull up a stool and tilt back a glass as revisit some of these macabre moments.

Ted Danson: ‘Creepshow’

1982’s Creepshow not only features a major Cheers cast member but boasts some serious horror pedigree. Directed by Night of the Living Dead mastermind George Romero and written by Stephen King, the anthology film is a loving homage to horror comics from the 1950s.

Ted Danson stars in one of the segments, the very same year he debuted as Sam Malone in Cheers. The story starts when Harry (Danson), is confronted by an angry Richard (Leslie Nielsen), who threatens him with a gun. Harry has been having an affair with Becky (Gaylen Ross). Richard takes Harry to the beach dunes and forces him into a hole, burying him up to his neck near the high tide line. Richard then sets up a video feed showing Becky buried “further down the beach,” enduring relentless waves.

Of course, this being a Stephen King-penned tale, it doesn’t end there. We won’t spoil it for you, but you’ll certainly see Sam Malone in a different light after taking this one in.

John Ratzenberger: ‘Motel Hell’

Before John Ratzenburger was added to the cast of Cheers as know-it-all-mailman Cliff Clavin, he was a journeyman actor. For instance, he famously had a small role in 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back as a rebel alliance soldier. However, that same year, he was nearly in over his head starring in the horror film Motel Hell.

Motel Hell is a bizarre little film, full of grotesque imagery and sardonic humor. The plot revolves around Vincent Smith (Rory Calhoun), a multi-talented individual who dabbles in farming, butchery, motel management, and the meat business. His unique twist? He ingeniously traps travelers and turns them into delectable human sausages. Bon appétit!

John Ratzenburger plays one of these future human sausages. Like Danson in Creepshow, Ratzenburger is buried up to his neck in the earth. It’s all part of the villain’s method of harvesting people for his delectable meat business. The victims are reduced to drooling zombies, a far cry from the encyclopedia of knowledge Cliff Clavin becomes years later.

George Wendt Starred in the Horror film ‘House’ Shortly After He Was Cast in ‘Cheers’

George Wendt became an early favorite of the Cheers cast, and he cashed in early with a horror film called House in 1986. This is another scary comedy with some serious horror chops. It’s written by Fred Dekker of Monster Squad fame, and directed by Steve Miner, who directed parts 2 and 3 of the Friday the 13th series.

The story revolves around a troubled writer living in his late aunt’s house, where he quickly falls prey to the eerie presence haunting the residence. George Wendt certainly leans into his Norm persona a bit here, playing the affable, beer-chugging neighbor.

In a bit of synergy, John Ratzenburger popped up for the sequel, House II: The Second Story, the following year.