Ten of Cinema’s Most Infamous Principals and Deans

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Dean Adams (John Neville)
Urban Legend

When the horror genre was given a much-needed shot in the arm by the classic gore-fest, Scream, it was only a matter of time before cookie-cutters were unleashed and similarities within other modern horror flicks emerged. Though Urban Legend has a decent premise (deaths based on, what else, urban legends) it just didn’t quite capture that icy “who dunnit” feel of its predecessor. Even so, Dean Adams gets a solid kill in this film as he’s run over in a parking garage by his own car, forcing emergency spikes into his back. Not too shabby. He’s the one after 1:29 in the clip.


Principal Himbry (Henry Winkler)

As noted in the previous entry, Scream did for the sadly stagnating state of horror what Taco Bell did for fast food: opened up a whole new way to kill people. The ’80s saw a rehashing of the slasher genre with piles and piles of sequels that did more harm than good to everyone’s faith in the big screen scare. But with Scream, new horizons were opened and humor within horror became less sad and more integral to the story. In this film, we get the uncredited Henry Winkler, portraying a serious jackass, get his comeuppance. Watch for the nod to Freddy Krueger played by Wes Craven himself!


Dean Martin (Ned Beatty)
Back to School

Thornton Melon (Dangerfield) decides it’s a great idea to return to college to prove to his son that it’s really not that big a deal. Hey, why not? With his money, all he has to do is contribute some cash and more or less buy his way to a degree while not really doing anything to earn it! Yeah, well, even the best of intentions have consequences, and Thornton’s son finds this whole thing rather shitty. Melon learns the error of his ways and does things the right way, but not before running afoul of Dean Martin.



Dean Gaskell (Frances McDormand)
Wonder Boys

Anyone who fancies themselves a writer of some kind or another (myself begrudgingly included) will find this story of a blocked creative writing professor unable to conjure the magic of his first successful novel hitting very close to home. Sure, I’ve never penned a novel, per se… some chap books here and there, but you know what I’m getting at. Michael Douglas is the prof, and his current love interest (after being left by his third wife) is Dean Gaskell, who happens to be married to the head of the department of which Douglass teaches. Oops. Here’s some of Frances McDormand:


Dean Mooney (J. Patrick McCormack)
Van Wilder

Either you like Ryan Reynolds or you don’t. He was a solid-8 acceptable as Green Lantern, but he dropped the hammer, as it were, in the remake of Amityville. He’s a decent enough actor, and even carried this week’s Family Guy, but it’s this particular performance as campus king Van Wilder that really shows what he ought to be doing: snarky, sarcastic comedy.


P. Joe Clark (Morgan Freeman)
Lean On Me

Our second principal of the list comes in the form of one Joe Clark, the antagonist-turned-protagonist of one of the original “improve the school” movies. You see, Eastside High School is deep in the inner city of Newark, New Jersey and the combined standardized test scores are low enough that the state threatens to take over the student’s education unless something can be done, immediately. Welcome Mr. Badass himself, Morgan Freeman. I’m pretty sure I’d listen to this guy read a diner menu, and apparently so would the kids.


Principal Rooney (Jeffery Jones)
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Our third principal on this list is infamous not for how he runs his school, but how he allows one particular student to turn his entire life upside down. From the very beginning of the flick when Cameron poses as Sloan Peterson’s dad in order to get her out of school, the gigantic mound of shit is just teetering off camera ready to destroy the proverbial fan. All Ferris wanted was a day off… from his dull life, from school, from responsibility. Who hasn’t craved that once in a while? And, in all actuality, his exploits never did more than skirt the border between sanity and legality. Yet Mooney, ever on his quest to slay the mighty dragon, becomes more of a Quixotic character than a Arthurian one. Did you get all that?


Dean Ulich (David Wohl)
Revenge of the Nerds

When it comes to classic college comedies, Revenge of the Nerds is easily in the top 5. Much like it is here, conveniently. At its core, the movie is a classic example of outcasts outwitting the heads of the class and winning the day… and even the ladies. The ‘David’ here, are the Tri Lambs, whose cast of nerds just want to reclaim their campus house that’s been overtaken by the ‘Goliaths’, aka the Jocks of Pi-Delta-Pi. They do everything their nerdy minds can conjure to win the day. Who doesn’t love a good nerd tale? Oh, and that’s Dean Ulich in a close-up performing really off-rhythm claps.


Dean Yager (Jordan Charney)

Dean Yager is kind of a jackass. Just when Ray and Egon really hit on something — something that might require continued use of the University’s equipment and funds — he unceremoniously pulls the plug. But, if you look at as a glass-half-full situation, it did, eventually, lead to the Ghostbusters themselves. So, maybe it wasn’t so bad. Yeah, it was pretty shitty. Right about the 12:20 mark is when it all goes down. No, I didn’t cut out the scene because who doesn’t want to watch Ghostbusters?


Dean Wormer (John Vernon)
Animal House

The original and very, very best. Animal House is where it all began and by ‘it all’ I mean the whole ‘desire to join a frat to fit in’ plot device. You see, Larry and Kent want to join a fraternity and stumble on the Delta Tau Chi where they discover that Kent, thanks to his brother, is a legend! Bluto agrees to let them in since they need the dues, and renames them Pinto and Flounder. But, before the rest can be considered history, we also have the devious Dean Wormer who wants nothing more than to shut down the frat house thanks to a history of on-campus insubordination. But it’s never that easy… and now the rest is history.