Most unexpected cameo:

The Elephant Man in "From Hell"

"From Hell" is full of surprises. First, this stylishly gruesome Jack the Ripper thriller stars a surprisingly pimple-free Johnny Depp as a drug addicted detective. It also features Heather Graham as the most unrealistically attractive 19th century prostitute a film maker could envision. No smallpox scars or syphilitic ulcers? That's almost as shocking as the actions of Jack himself.

We found the movie's greatest surprise in a quick scene showing a deformed man in a hospital. Neither friend nor foe, fish nor fowl--it's the Elephant Man!




 In "From Hell," Joseph Merrick is shown to a room of physicians.

 The prosthetic makeup is entirely accurate.

 Giving us our first glimpse of Merrick as he must have appeared--in full color.

Joseph Merrick, the actual fellow who suffered not from elephantiasis, nor from neurofibromatosis, but from the Proteus syndrome, became a 19th century British celebrity. Funny that he should get another 15 seconds of fame 110 years after his death. These images are actual photos of Merrick, certainly more disturbing than any created with movie makeup. Proteus syndrome involves slow overgrowth of bones and soft tissues. Especially characteristic of the rare condition is its lop-sidedness, with opposing limbs much larger than each other. While the fascination with this fellow will likely continue, we doubt he'll end up starring in any buddy movies. Kicking arse alongside acne-scarred Jet Li in "Have Trunk, Will Travel?" That'll be the day...

Runners up, Unexpected Cameo:


Howard Cosell's toupee, "Ali"


Yeti the abominable snow man, "Monsters Inc."

© 1996-2008 Vail Reese M.D.

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