15th Oct2019

Ten Best: Horror Movie Villains in History

by Chris Cummings

As we approach Halloween and the horror movie genre begins to awaken for the folks who perhaps don’t watch it to an unhealthy level like perhaps I do, I thought it might be a bit of fun to compile a TOP TEN of the best horror villains in history. I mean, there’s a lot to go at, but it’s easier when you focus on the iconic ones, those villains that have either become so well-known that they almost transcend horror, or those that have been involved in a franchise that has spanned a number of movies, a number of years and taken a vast number of victims. We all love a villain, whether they’re straight from the depths of hell or just down at the farm, we love to see an evil or psychotic baddie trying to take down a group of people trying to survive. So, let’s get going shall we? Who are the ten best horror villains in history?

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10) Ghostface

Scream was a bloody riot back when it came out in the 90s. Wes Craven created this satire of a genre he himself helped to build to such prominence in the 1980s, and he gave the 90s a new villain too. A black mask with a white ghostly rubber face, the mask was so big that it even spawned a series of parody movies. It was a halloween costume for many, and after four movies in the series to date, Ghostface has become one of the best villains in horror. Knife in hand and a bunch of snarky know-it-all teens to hack through, the ghostly-one chopped and slashed his way into the hearts of horror fans forever.

9) Pennywise the Clown

Now, Pennywise has only been a part of the 1990 TV mini-series in which Tim Curry masterfully portrayed the clown, and then recently in both IT: Chapter One and Chapter Two, in which Bill Skarsgård plays the evil tormentor with bright hair and a white face. The character, both versions of it, have become iconic and very popular, and pushed horror out into the mainstream again. Clowns seem to be a common fear in people, and with Curry and Skarsgård at the helm, they managed to bring a charismatic evil to their roles, scaring the pants of millions of people in the process.

8) Jigsaw

The Saw franchise is a long one. The series saw many unwitting victims being tortured by a variety of devices, puzzles and traps. Having to survive these demented obstacles in this psychotic playground was very cool to see, and the mastermind behind it all was Jigsaw. A new kind of horror villain, he was intelligent, calculated and cold-hearted, willing to teach a lesson to those he felt were taking their lives for granted. An excellent character who is unlike any other villain on this list, he is less “scary” and more just… sociopathic and cruel.

7) Norman Bates

Psycho remains one of the greatest horror films of all time, and it was Anthony Perkins’ portrayal as Normal Bates that took it to another level. He was a complete nut, full of violent intent and emotional scars, and with those layers to his character he became an icon of horror. There are few scenes in the genre as iconic as Bates slashing and hacking at Janet Leigh in that famous shower scene, and Perkins brought this demented fella to life with his performance. Some of the other Psycho films we saw (aside from the Vince Vaughn headed one, oof) offered some very interesting things too, but it was that original film, all the way back in 1960, that put Bates on the map and brought us one of the greatest villains of all time.

6) Pinhead

I’m a sucker for Hellraiser. The whole series, even the bad ones, I like. It’s the first couple though, that really are bloody magnificent films, and introduced us to Pinhead, a cenobite who joined our screens in 1987 with the intent to tear our souls apart. The whole race of the cenobite is a hugely creepy and dark one, straight from hell with nothing but intentions to maim, torture and kill, they were twisted and gruesome creatures, but it was Pinhead, played by Doug Bradley, who stood at the front of the pack, the leader, speaking with a booming powerful voice, demanding fear, demanding victims. Absolutely brilliant stuff. Man, Clive Barker has a peculiar imagination.

5) Chucky

A toy with the soul of a serial killer who awakens and starts killing people? I mean… it could work, I guess? Oh, it did work, and it’s continued to work (on and off anyway) for 31 years. A sarcastic, brash, smack-talking doll with a knife and little respect for life? Perfect. He’s become a real favourite among fans, and Brad Dourif’s voice-performance remains absolutely iconic, bringing the little murderous fella to absolute life. The movies themselves are a mixed bag, though I personally enjoy most of them, and the Chucky character is the selling point, the reason to watch, so it’s a good job he’s so bloody entertaining.

4) Leatherface

One of my favourite horror movies of all time is the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Tobe Hooper’s classic gave us a gritty, grimy horror film full of blood and brutality, and at the heart of the horror was the butcher with the dead-skin-mask known as Leatherface. He was huge, looking and violent, and looked scary as hell. Gunner Hansen really did a wonderful job. Since that original film we’ve seen many incarnations of both the film and the character, and it still has life. He’s an iconic image, a horror villain that most people recognise even if they haven’t seen the movies. Yup, he’s famous. I wonder how he’d look walking a red-carpet to sign autographs due to his popularity? Don’t ask him if he’s got a pen handy, he’ll likely pull out of a hammer.

3) Jason Vorhees

Friday the 13th is a huge horror franchise. One of the biggest ever. Jason has, like the series, become an iconic example of horror, the kind of villain that is so well-known that people who have never even watched a film from the series are super-familiar with the hockey-mask wearing killer from Camp Crystal Lake. There’s been merchandise, Halloween costumes, video games, toys and loads of films, and it isn’t going to stop. Jason is a monster, but not just the kind of monster that kills poor innocent campers, he’s also a march-monster. I’d imagine with all those royalties he could afford a fresh mask and maybe a nice country retreat to get some rest after all that… erm… murdering.

2) Freddy Krueger

I mean, come on now. Robert Englund’s portrayal of Freddy is absolutely incredible. Englund became Krueger, he became the character to the point where the remake failed badly and there hasn’t been another attempt at recreating the magic of the series. Full of one-liners, humour and jokes, Freddy became the evil monster that people loved to hate… and maybe also just loved. In the 80s, Freddy became so popular that kids were wearing his face for Halloween, he was featured on collector cups and kids colouring books. Freddy-mania took over the world. The character itself is a complex one, horrific in its background, and it’s performed perfectly. Absolutely brilliant.

1) Michael Myers

I think, after all these years and eleven separate Halloween films, Michael Myers has become THE horror villain. The Shatner mask has become THE horror mask. From 1978 until modern-day (with two planned movies yet to come), Halloween is a hugely popular franchise, and Myers, clutching his knife, with a cold dear stare, is one of the main reasons for that popularity. He’s a giant killer, he’s frighteningly silent and soulless, and the character will never NOT be terrifying if given a place to prowl and a darkness to wander around in. The original movie and original Myers is the creepiest, but the character still has that edge, which is great to see after all these years.
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Thanks for reading!

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