The 5 Best Horror Movie Villains of All Time
Slasher movies live and die on the strength of their baddies. These cinematic villains are masked murderers, supernatural beings, or raging psychopaths who always seem to be creeping up around any corner. Just who is knocking at your front door this spooky season? And why would you answer it if they were indeed a slasher villain vying for some revenge from a past victim by murdering another one … like YOU!
What’s a horror story without an evil presence lurking in the shadows? Horror movies live and die (and sometimes want to give us all heart attacks) with these boogeymen that have nefarious plans up their sleeve, so make sure not to walk too close behind them when crossing paths because there’s no telling what.
Annie Wilkes (“Misery”)
Stephen King has crafted scores of unimpeachable villains over the course of his storied career, but Annie Wilkes is tough to top. She’s a nutcase with her own ideas about what’s right and wrong that is so twisted she even had power over someone as strong-willed as Paul Sheldon in Misery (a novel).
She also toplines a story that’s both fantastical and believable. A crazed fan sets out with the goal of shaping reality in her favorite book series into an image she so desires, authorial command be damned. She was scary and prescient when Stephen King first created her but now has become more brutal than ever before as time passes by since he wrote about this character for the first time back in 1977.
The Babadook (“The Babadook”)
“The Babadook” is a horror film that showcases not only the life-threatening nature of its titular monster but also the psychological effects it has on those who survive. The movie’s protagonist Amelia (Essie Davis), must learn to live with her fear for as long as she lives after facing this creature head-on and coming out alive.
A terrifying abstraction who pops out of the pages and wreaks havoc on a poor widow. The Babadook is sort of like Robert Smith, Edward Scissorhands, Pierrot le Fou (of Cowboy Bebop fame), and maybe even a demonic ferret for good measure.
The Candyman, a character from an urban legend, was abandoned by his child’s father and killed to hide their indiscretions. In this film, he is portrayed as sympathetic because he pays dearly for falling into love with an all-white family member; when revealed, it changes everything about him.
The most iconic slasher of all time is the “Joker” from Batman. This was a role that actor Robert Englund did not expect to play so well in, but it turns out he left an impression on audiences everywhere as one of the best villains ever created for film and TV.
The Joker has been played by many different actors throughout his decades-long legacy, with some doing more justice than others (ahem, Jared Leto) or having less screen time overall; however, few can compare to what Anthony Hopkins brought into this world when he took over portraying him after Jack Nicholson’s portrayal had come to its conclusion back in 1989 for Tim Burton’s “Batman.” It should be noted, though, that before Mr.
Cesare (“The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari”)
This classic horror masterpiece achieved fame by transforming the silent film era into a dark, dreamy world where nothing is certain. The story follows somnambulist Cesare (Conrad Veidt), who murders at the request of hypnotist Dr. Caligari(Werner Krauss). Director Robert Wiene creates claustrophobic scenes to heighten tension and anxiety with his intricate set design that makes an upside-down environment feel downright cozy in comparison.
Caligari is a film about the story of young man Friedrich Feher, whose world falls apart as he becomes aware that Dr. Caligari has an evil scheme. At first, we are led to believe it’s the honest account by this unreliable narrator but soon learn that there may be more than meets our eye with him and his confusion over supernatural events in this movie which have stood out for nearly 100 years thanks to Veidt’s iconic performance as a sleepwalking killer named Cesare/Cali.
The film Night of the Living Dead has set a new standard for what is considered “scary,” and even if it isn’t as scary nowadays, that should not discredit its originality.
Night of the Living dead was way ahead of its time when it premiered in 1968 because zombies had never been seen on screen before then; however, now they are commonplace with TV shows like The Walking Dead airing multiple seasons annually.
The Entity (“It Follows”)
Scary movies often remind us of our own nightmares, but they’ve never felt more apt than when applied to David Robert Mitchell’s anxiety-driven “It Follows.” What could be a better nightmare than the idea that you’re being pursued by something that can’t ever escape? The movie gets clever in its premise (a demonic STD marks your target for an entity with shape-shifting abilities determined to hunt and kill those it encounters). But what makes this film so unnerving is how cleverly it manipulates your eyes into looking for “It” in every scene. You can’t be too sure of the identity of someone because, at any time, they could become a monster and come after you–even if that person seems harmless on screen right now!
Zombies lurk in the shadows, waiting to strike. You never know when they’re going to pop out and start walking towards you with an eerie gait. Constant vigilance is required for survival; it’s exhausting but unavoidable because death does not sleep either! There has been no escape from them so far, the only deferment of their deadly force that will eventually be unleashed on us all — even after we turn off our TVs or put down our books at night, we can still feel its menacing presence drawing closer…
Wes Craven made Ghostface so iconic that most of us naturally assumed it had been created for the movie, but Fun World’s Munch-influenced mask was first manufactured as a simple Halloween costume in 1992. The fact that they were readily available – incredibly generic and not original at all – is what makes Wes’ idea even more powerful when we see how influential these tropes can be when worn by the wrong people (a gruesome phenomenon “Scream” sequels exploited).
Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees have been available off the rack for decades. They were always just individual people – Ghostface could be anybody, and seeing 10 of them at your grade school Halloween dance brought Sidney Prescott’s horror all too close to home. “Scream” was about stabbing a hole through that wall between horror movies and real life; with this point made sharply enough by Ghostface, so many still flinch whenever they see someone in their costume on the street.