Top 10 Horror Movie Villains of All Time
October is one of my favorite months and that’s partly due to Halloween and the increased interest in the horror genre. From books to movies to everything in between, in October I’m ready for a good scare. Since folks are typically more acceptable of things that go bump in the night around Halloween, I wanted to offer up my Top 10 Horror Movie Villains of All Time. Some are iconic, and some not as much. The only thing that matters is that when I think horror, these ten baddies jump right to the front of the line for me. You may disagree with some choices, or even notice some that I missed. Feel free to let me know.
While I admittedly only like the first Saw movie, the initial idea behind the character of Jigsaw is ingenious. Not only did Saw usher in a new era of torture porn horror (which I’m not a big fan of in general), but it gave us a new character to be terrified of. There’s something about the anonymity of the doll that is especially chilling and actor Tobin Bell wasn’t so bad either.
Aside from being the lead Cenobite and a harvester of souls, Pinhead (from Clive Barker’s Hellraiser series) was also a hedonist with hideous mutilations and goth leatherwear. Not necessarily the type of guy you want to get stuck in an elevator with. Even though his origin has changed between books, movies, and comics, I’ll always cringed as his prickly visage.
8. The Strangers
This selection is probably the only one on this list that you may feel comes out of left field. The fact of the matter is that watching the three “strangers” in the 2008 film The Strangers was the last time I was legitimately scared during a horror movie. I was uncomfortable the entire film and those three are the root cause of that.
This list wouldn’t be complete without the inclusion of a character played by Tony Todd. Most modern horror fans know him as William Bludworth from the Final Destination series, but he’ll forever by Candyman to me. In the film of the same name, Candyman comes through a mirror to kill the person who looks into the mirror and says his name five times. Sure, it’s a bit urban legendy, but it’s great, and Candyman is especially creepy as a character.
6. Hannibal Lecter
Psychopathic serial killer Hannibal Lecter has been played by several people over the course of the character’s appearances in film and television, but none of those portrayals are as memorable or horrifying as when Anthony Hopkins took the role with 1992’s The Silence of the Lambs. Lecter’s mask is just as iconic as Jason’s hockey mask and Freddy’s claws. After experiencing the psychological horror of Hopkins’s performance, you’ll never look at fava beans the same again.
I still remember the first Texas Chainsaw Massacre flick I ever saw. There’s something about watching a cannibalistic murderer running around in human-flesh mask armed with a chainsaw that’s pretty unsettling. While the series started to get campy as it went along, Leatherface was always an unsettling character, especially when you see how manipulative and oppressive his upbringing was.
My grandma mistakenly let me watch Child’s Play when I was nine years old because she didn’t know it was a horror movie. The deranged Good Guy doll freaked out the nine-year-old version of me as I had a My Buddy of my own (a fact that may date me a tad). I watch the franchise now, and there are definitely cheesy moments where you can tell it’s a kid dressed up and running around the house, but still hold on to that initial fear of seeing that movie as a kid. There’s just something about Brad Dourif’s delivery as Chucky that is simultaneously mesmerizing and eerie.
THE BIG THREE
It’s come to the point in this list where we’re down to the big three. In my opinion, any credible list of horror movie villains will include Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger, and Jason Voorhees in their top three. They are the gold standard for horror slasher flicks (coincidentally, they’ve also fallen victim to substandard modern remakes that destroy all the fun of the originals). Now that it is obvious who my final three villains are, the question becomes what order do they appear?
3. Michael Myers
Mr. Halloween himself. Long considered one of the first major successes in the slasher genre (no, I’m not forgetting about Black Christmas), and one of the first to feature a masked killer, the original Halloween movie is a classic in the genre that has helped shape slasher movies ever since. It helps that Michael Myers is a completely menacing villain.
2. Jason Voorhees
While the original Friday the 13th film is a classic, it’s not until the sequel where Jason exacts revenge on the campers of Crystal Lake. He doesn’t don his signature hockey mask until part three in the series, but even with a bag over his head, Jason is pretty intimidating. The movie’s score helps build the ominous qualities of the machete-wielding madman.
1. Freddy Krueger
No matter what, Freddy Krueger, as portrayed by Robert Englund in the Nightmare on Elm Street series, will always reign supreme as the king of horror. What makes him different than the likes of Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees is his incredible wit and camp factor. The other two are just brutes with knives who don’t really talk. Their characterizations only really happen through outside influences and plot, whereas Englund can actually rely on himself to develop the Freddy character. Not only is Freddy more interesting than the other two in my top three, his kills are only limited by the filmmaker’s imagination. Ultimately, that makes him the biggest bad ass in horror.