When Geek League head honcho Jeff Carter asked me if I wanted to do a special Halloween feature on the 10 best horror villains of all time I immediately said “sure!” thinking it was going to be a piece of cake. Then I started compiling a list of all the horror villains I could think of. Of course there’s Jason, Freddy, etc., but there’s also the lesser known baddies like Victor Crowley from Adam Green’s Hatchet series. So I decided if I was going to do this article, I was going to need some criteria on which to compile the list.
- Only single killers. For the sake of this article I’m narrowing it down to those who worked alone. Sorry zombies, as much as I want to include you, you usually run (or walk) in packs, so you’re out.
- Tangibility – Again, I’m going to end up leaving a bunch of great icons on the cutting room floor (Pazuzu from The Exorcist, I’m looking at you), but if it doesn’t have a corporeal form, it doesn’t make the list. So basically, no ghosts (Amityville, Poltergeist, etc)
- No animals. I know, Jaws is one of, if not the biggest horror villains ever. But it’s a shark. And Cujo’s a dog. Sorry, but I’m just going to focus on humans. Don’t like it? Call PETA.
- Must be from the actual horror genre – So long Hannibal Lecter. This one may be controversial, but I just think Silence of the Lambs, while containing truly horrific imagery, is more of a police procedural than a horror movie. Same goes for John Doe in Seven (a little harder to excise because to me Seven is right on the cusp of a horror movie, but even IMDb lists it as a crime/mystery/thriller). Unfortunately this also leaves out Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer and American Psycho. Perhaps I’ll do a follow-up article on the Top Ten Realistic Horror Villains.
- Must actually kill somebody – See ya, Jigsaw.
Okay, without further ado, let’s get to the:
Top Ten Greatest Horror Movie Villains of All-Time![divider]
10.) Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder)
Fairly new to the genre, Victor Crowley was introduced to the horror world by Adam Green in 2006’s Hatchet. Reverend Zombie (Tony Todd) conducts boat tours of the haunted Louisiana bayous where patrons learn the terrifying tale of local legend “Victor Crowley”; a horribly disfigured man who was tragically and accidentally killed with a hatchet by his own father. Of course, the legend turns out to be real and the customers find themselves trying to keep all their body parts intact. Victor Crowley loses points for ultimately being a Jason rip-off, but what he lacks in originality, he makes up for in awesome kills (One poor woman has the upper part of her head ripped off her jaw) and having Danielle Harris as his foil. (Mmmm, Danielle Harris…) He also has one big ass chainsaw… (think he’s overcompensating for something?)[divider]
9.) Candyman – (Tony Todd)
Say his name five times. Candyman… Candyman… Candyman… Candyman… yeah that’s about as far as I’m gonna go. Essentially a riff on the old “Bloody Mary” urban legend (you know it, stand in front of a mirror with all the lights off and door closed and say her name three times) and based on Clive Barker’s short story The Forbidden, Candyman was a black slave who fell in love with his owner’s daughter. Consequently, he was chased down, had his hand cut off with a rusty saw, covered in honey and tossed on a beehive (“Not the bees! Not the beeeeeeesss!!!”). Before he died, he cursed the men who killed him and vowed to exact his revenge. Candyman doesn’t just kill people though, he also likes to frame them for the murders he commits. So your choice is basically, die by a hook handed monster or get anally raped by a 300 pound oaf named Bubba. Hmmm….[divider]
8. Chucky – (Brad Dourif)
All right, all right settle down. I know ya’ll are gonna give me shit for including this little doll of a psycho killer (see what I did there?), but let’s focus on the very first Child’s Play here, okay? Yes, Chucky is two feet tall. Yes, he makes bad jokes. Yes, he’s a doll. But when that first movie came out, it was so well done it made you frightened of a toy, ranking right up there with that freaky clown from Poltergeist. That scene where Karen Barclay (Catherine Hicks) is checking Chucky’s battery compartment to find it empty and then his head spins around and says “Hi I’m Chucky! Wanna play?” is still one of the creepiest scenes in a horror movie. Sure he eventually became a parody of himself and a family man (doll sex, *shudder*) but based on that first movie alone, Chucky carves himself a place on this list.[divider]
7.) Pinhead – (Doug Bradley)
Pinhead comes from the twisted mind of Clive Barker, a celebrated horror author whose works include The Midnight Meat Train and Cabal (which would become the severely castrated Nightbreed). But his most well-known creation is without a doubt Hellraiser, based on his short story The Hellbound Heart. While only appearing in the original movie for less than 15 minutes, Pinhead made a lasting impression on horror fans and the Hellraiser series has borne some NINE sequels, mostly direct-to-video/DVD drivel (including the latest, Hellraiser: Revelations which saw Doug Bradley unwisely replaced as Pinhead).
The leader of a group of S&M style agents of Hell known as the Cenobites, summoned to this world when one opens the Lament Configuration, a Rubik’s cube from Hell puzzle box. While Freddy and Chucky were prone to cracking jokes and Michael and Jason were mute, Pinhead was well articulated, waxing eloquently on the joys of suffering. What makes Pinhead really stand out from the rest of the pack is that he not only kills you in gruesomely horrific ways, he also takes your soul back to Hell where he continues to torture you forever. Oh the humanity…[divider]
6.) Michael Myers – (various, first played by Nick Castle, most recently by Tyler Mane)
Not the original slasher film (that notoriety goes to Alfred Hithcock’s Psycho), but definitely the one that kicked off the modern era slasher. Michael Myers was introduced in John Carpenter’s Halloween in 1978, when he was simply credited as “The Shape.” Shot on a budget of $320,000, the producers couldn’t afford to have an original mask made, so they bought the cheapest mask they could find: a Captain Kirk mask. A few modifications here, and the rest is history.
Michael is in no rush to kill his victims (mainly his family members), having waited for years in a sanitarium before finally breaking out and patiently stalking his sister, he also casually strolls along as his intended victim tries to run away. Michael must have some untold telekinetic abilities as well, as he always seems to catch up to said victim (or they fall. Or hide, but he still finds them). And while we really didn’t need Rob Zombie to give us the back story as to why Michael is a killer, he certainly brought home the fact that Michael can be the most brutal.[divider]
5. Leatherface (Gunnar Hansen)
Loosely inspired by the story of Ed Gein, a serial killer in the 50’s who liked to make trophies and keepsakes from his victims’ bones and skin, Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre featured a sadistic family of cannibals, including Leatherface. A mentally challenged, cross dressing/face wearing monster of a man, Leatherface’s weapon of choice was (obviously) the chainsaw. Probably one of the most disturbing movies of all time (EW voted it the #2 scariest movie ever), it features very little gore, despite the title. In fact, only one person is actually killed with a chainsaw, at least until the sequels…[divider]
4.) Jason Voorhees (Kane Hodder has played him the most)
Jason Voorhees, the killer from Friday the 13th Part 2 onward (remember, Jason’s MOTHER was the killer in the first one!) is the Timex watch of horror killers. He takes a licking (axe to the head, electrocuted, drowned, the list goes on) but somehow keeps on ticking. Chalk it up to him possibly being some sort of zombie/demon hybrid. It’s really the only thing that would make sense for his constant resurrections. There’s a saying in the bible that “the wages of sin is death,” and Jason is the collector. If you’re a teen and you’re drinking, doing drugs or fornicating, well, you’re going to die, pal. Okay, even if you’re not doing any of these things, if you happen to cross paths with this monstrosity, chances are you’re going to die.[divider]
3.) Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund)
Ah, A Nightmare on Elm Street. This was the movie that cemented my love of horror films. And Freddy Krueger, at least in the first one, was a terrifying villain. From the imagination of Wes Craven, Freddy was the stuff of well…nightmares. A literal Boogeyman, Freddy comes to you in your dreams, terrorizing his victims with a glove of razor-sharp finger knives. Playing off the urban legend that if you die in your dream, you die for real — if Freddy kills you in your dream, he kills you for real. Freddy eventually became silly, cracking jokes and bad puns, becoming the Jay Leno of horror. Still, he’s probably the most popular horror villain (count how many Freddy’s you see on Halloween) and has managed to survive Roseanne Barr, Alice Cooper, Jason Voorhees and a really shitty remake.[divider]
2.) Dracula (Bela Lugosi, among others)
“Listen to them, children of the night, what beautiful music they make.” Originally conceived in Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel of the same name, Dracula has appeared in thousands of films, from Universal’s Dracula to F.W. Murneau’s Nosferatu, to Blade Trinity (although let’s try to ignore that one, eh?) Besides Bela Lugosi, Dracula was played on-screen most memorably by Christopher Lee, who appeared as the notorious Count in several Hammer productions alongside Peter Cushing as Van Helsing. Unlike other killers who were disfigured or mentally challenged, Dracula was suave, handsome and had a way with the ladies. Probably the best known of all horror villains, and arguably the most popular, Dracula introduced “vampires” into the lexicon. Without him, there wouldn’t have been The Lost Boys, or Salem’s Lot, or Twilight. Wait, maybe that last one wouldn’t be such a bad thing…[divider]
Perhaps you’ve heard of this guy? He’s gone by several names: the Devil, Beelzebub, Lucifer, Prince of Darkness, Mitt Romney, the list goes on and on. Satan is in fact, the original horror villain, dating back as far as the Bible. Satan has been in more movies than all the killers on this list combined. The most powerful of all villains, Satan knows more than the Shadow what evil lurks in the hearts of men. And women. And kids. And dogs. Okay, like everything.
Satan convinced Eve to eat the apple, introducing sin into the world (and what’s more evil than that?). He has people killing in his name (Charles Manson, among others). Satan can give you what you want the most…for a price (usually your soul). He plays a mean fiddle. And let’s face it, 50 years from now, when Jason and Freddy have long been forgotten about (unless Hollywood is still regurgitating itself with remakes and prequels and resurrections) Satan will still be raising Hell (see what I did there?) Now read this paragraph again but every time you see the name Satan, read it like this: