The Top Ten Most Terrifying Horror Movie Villains Ever!
"The oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown." - H.P. Lovecraft
In my opinion, the most effective, heart-stopping horror movies are those which cater to our fear of the unknown. The less we see the better, and the less we know just encourages our imagination to fill in the blanks with what personally terrifies us the most. Thankfully, the mindless, almost comedic slasher films that dominated the 90's are losing steam, being replaced by brilliant cinematic works that require our own speculation and curiosity in the process of that strange, unexplainable impulse to scare ourselves. Here then, is a list of the most horrifying movie antagonists ever to grace the silver screen. While there are a few exceptions (notably Leatherface), the common factor throughout most of these movies is their ability to employ subtlety to slowly build suspense, effectively torturing the viewer with the questions, "what next?" and "what if?"
Oh, be warned, there are SPOILERS!
10. Leatherface from "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre"
This is a no-brainer. A fat guy with a strange penchant for athleticism who wields a chainsaw is scary enough, add to that the fact that he communicates in grunts and wears a mask made from human flesh and you have the stuff of nightmares. Leatherface's terrifying appeal (unlike other serial killer stereotypes) is that while he remains far from ordinary, he's just enough grounded in reality to remain a very real possibility. The fact is, a guy much like Leatherface could possibly grace your nightly news someday, and that makes for a frightening antagonist indeed.
Oh, and he wants to chop you up with a chainsaw and then eat you.
Trailer for the Original "Texas Chainsaw Massacre"
9. The Witch from "The Blair Witch Project"
While The Blair Witch Project seems to be a fairly ridiculed movie these days, when it first came out it was a groundbreaking concept. The realism defining the movie, which was executed in a simple, and extremely cheap manner, was the brilliant selling point which catapulted its creators from unknown film makers to millionaires practically overnight. With jerky, amateurish filming and a script based largely upon improvisational dialogue, The Blair Witch Project appealed to both our desire for realism and our fear of the unknown. Which is exactly why the movie's antagonist makes this list: You never even see her. With progressively bizarre and violent actions being carried out by the witch paralleling an increasingly looser grip on reason for the young filmmakers, the movie rightly refrains from revealing its shadowy antagonist and instead reveals a complete loss of sanity in its victims. The less we know is often the better when it comes to horror, and what we know of the Blair witch is this: She lives in an abandoned house in the woods, she's really old, she knows black magic, she likes to mess with people's minds, and she indiscriminately kills both children and adults. Scary stuff.
How the Blair Witch Project Should Have Ended
8. All the Monsters from "The Mist"
Based on the novella by Stephen King, "The Mist" is a movie about a trans-dimensional science project gone awry. A secretive army base, rumors of bizarre experiments, and an enveloping mist are all components of a movie that is terrifying in its implication that there exist other dimensions in which nightmarish creatures roam about with carnivorous intentions. While the movie's characters hole up in a less-than-secure grocery store, other-worldly beasts terrorize, poison, and eat them. From skull-faced spiders the size of terriers to a black, two-story monster resembling a praying mantis, the monsters of "The Mist" are not just horrific because they are monsters, they are horrific because they are unexplainable. When the final scene reveals a tentacled, lumbering creature as large as a skyscraper traversing the mist-covered remnants of their town, it is soon apparent that the surviving band of humans have lost all hope. The world belongs to the mist, and the monsters residing within it.
The Movie and the Novella!
AMAZING Scene from The Mist
7. The Vampires from "30 Days of Night"
It seems that these days, vampires just aren't that scary anymore. While there's always existed a certain romantic allure to the vampire, even that handsome, Romanian prince Dracula lived in a foreboding Gothic castle and roamed the peasant countryside at night searching for terrified victims to murder. Enter the spectacular crapfest known as "Twilight," and vampires have become about as frightening as any number of kids wearing eyeliner and frequenting cemeteries while drinking lattes and reading Baudelaire. While once being but a small component of the vampire, mysterious sex-appeal has now fully defined them, and has hence overshadowed the fact that they are diseased old farts who sleep in dirt-filled coffins and drink human blood.
This is why "30 Days of Night" was so, umm...refreshing. Gone was the fashionable twenty-something with a brooding, mysterious sort of animal magnetism. Instead, viewers were given a taste of the real thing: A black-eyed, rage-filled bloodaholic who would bite the face off any human so brash as to try to kiss it. There's no denying it, these vampires are ugly. With black, pointy teeth, misshapen faces, and a skin color resembling a corpse (that is, after all, essentially what they are), the only priority of the villains in "30 Days of Night" is to eat as many humans as possible. Additionally, a strange guttural language used by the vampires furthers one's sense that these are creatures ancient, sinister, and unsettlingly, not romantically, mysterious.
"We've Really Tamed Vampires"
6. Michael Myers from "Halloween"
With the exception of Leatherface, slasher film serial killers are absent from this list, and for good reason. The idea of the self-regenerating humanoid who murders out of either revenge of for the sheer enjoyment of it is a horror stereotype so overused it has been effectively stripped of all fearfulness. In most cases, we're not even giving a valid reason for the killer's seeming invincibility, or their ability to suddenly appear out of nowhere, even though just one scene ago we saw them slowly walking towards the victim over half a mile away, in the woods, in the dark. After a while, it just gets ridiculous, boring, and old. Granted, Michael Myers and the Halloween series did indeed walk down this path of predictability and absurdity, but his appearances in Halloween 1 and 2 were original, creative, groundbreaking, and really scary.
The best part about Michael Myers, which was merely alluded to throughout the first two movies, is that his murderous intentions, his superhuman abilities, and his robotic, calculating nature are the products of an ancient curse that had been passed through his bloodline- the curse of the Thorn. Described as "a switch" by Dr. Sam Loomis, this curse first kicked in when Myers was just a child. After murdering his older sister on Halloween night, Michael was committed to a sanitarium, and there he waited for fifteen years, growing in strength and stature, all the while patiently planning his escape and the murder of all remaining members of his family.
(Oh, and just to be clear, I'm not even remotely referring to Rob Zombie's ridiculously pointless remake. For one, why? And two, he removed the coolest part of the Michael Myers- he supernatural- and instead made him some genetic freak who was just ticked off at his parents! So LAME).
The Official Website of Mr. Michael Myers
5. Papa Justify from "The Skeleton Key"
"The Skeleton Key," I believe, is one of those movies that sort of fell through the cracks. I've yet to meet anyone who has seen it, let alone heard of it, but for all its inconspicuousness, this is one hair-bender of a horror flick. Set in the deep South (see, it's already scary), the movie relates the story of a young hospice worker hired to take care of an ill and elderly man living within a mansion located on an isolated plantation. As things begin to get stranger and stranger, the young nurse discovers the plantation's extremely dark past, and is increasingly intrigued by the mystery surrounding the now-deceased "Papa Justify," a cult leader and practitioner of a sort of black magic known as "Hoodoo."
Long story short, "Papa Justify" was one freaky dude, and when our heroine plays his vinyl recording "Conjure of Sacrifice" on a turntable, men such as Jim Jones and Charles Manson will inevitably come to mind. The idea of voodoo magic is a frightening one, and when cults, brainwashed followers, bodily possession and revenge are thrown in the mix, you've got the equation for one successfully terrifying horror movie villain.
"The Skeleton Key" Trailer
4. Hannibal Lecter from "The Silence of the Lambs"
Brilliant, calculating, and cannibalistic, Hannibal Lecter is one of the few villains on this list grounded wholly in reality, and yet just as terrifying as a cursed super-human or a mist-enshrouded tentacle. The truly unsettling thing about Dr. Lecter is his ability to remain completely unpredictable. Whether brushing up on his Epicurean philosophy or relaxing to the soothing sounds of Saint-Saens' Danse Macabre, you can rest assured that Lecter is devising a plan to escape from prison and/or murder and eat someone. Despite all that education, the one thing that makes Hannibal truly happy is to consume another human's flesh.
Three Delightful Hannibal Movies in One Package!
3. Dagon from "Dagon"
Admittedly, this villain choice is rooted in bias, as H.P. Lovecraft, the writer whose story this movie is based off of, is one of my very favorites. But still, this is a really creepy and bizarre movie that makes you wonder just what may be living, and possibly thriving, at the bottom of the ocean. Dagon, the title creature, is a fish-like entity who lives in a massive underwater city and who happens to love religious adoration and human sacrifice. The Deep Ones are the inhabitants of this ocean-bottom mecca, and begin to cohabitate with the human villagers of a coastal town in Spain, resulting in extremely gross-looking fish/human offsrping who wear drab, woolen coats and whose amphibious appendages prevent them from land movement that doesn't appear clumsy, stilted, and painful.
While Dagon never technically makes an appearance (we merely see his tentacles reach up and snatch a sacrificial young woman), the mere idea of some malignant, oceanic demigod residing miles below the surface in an extremely ancient and undiscovered city is a fairly distressing notion. Furthermore, Dagon requires human sacrifice, and rewards the villagers who worship him with the option of becoming immortal frog-looking sea dwellers. I don't know about you, but that is a storyline that flat-out disturbs me. The most disturbing part of all, however, is the way in which both Lovecraft and the director of Dagon make living under the ocean with these things seem strangely appealing. There is an undercurrent of compelling, hypnotic beauty in this movie that will make you angry at yourself for rooting for the girl with tentacles for legs, and that will leave you shaking your head for feeling the slightest tinge of allegiance to Dagon and his bloodthirsty cohorts. And that, dear reader, is the sign of a creepy, and effective, villain.
You Think Dagon is Scary? That's Nothing!
- The Family Sarnath: H.P. Lovecraft meets Family Cir...
A comedic, yet horrific story of the complications that can occur when a middle-class, suburban family finds itself in league with an underwater demigod named Dagon and his numerous fish-like cohorts.
The Story from which the Movie is Based
2. Any Fast-Moving Zombie
Zombies have always been scary. I still remember watching the original black-and-white "Night of the Living Dead" as a child, and wow, when that old farmhouse gets surrounded by scores of the undead, you can't blame the humans for getting a little "cranky" with each other. But as was noted by one of the terrified defenders of that quaint country home, the zombies were, "so slow," and while reanimated corpses are horrific, a brisk walk is all it would take to effectively escape them all.
Today, the rules have changed, and in movies like "28 Days Later" and 2004's brilliant remake of "Dawn of the Dead," not only can zombies run, but they can probably run faster than you. What more needs to be said? In any given modern zombie movie, a horde of mindless, dead humanoids who want to eat humans are running at full clip in their victim's direction and screaming gutturally while covered in blood and guts. Yikes.
Best Intro to a Zombie Movie EVER!
1. The Demon from "Paranormal Activity"
I don't care what you believe, seeing a screaming woman being dragged out of bed by an invisible entity is absolutely mortifying, and so is this entire movie. Like "The Blair Witch Project," "Paranormal Activity" greatly increases it's realism by relying wholly on "found" footage shot by a now missing, presumably dead victim. Fortunately, and unlike "The Blair Witch Project," the camera isn't jerking around giving you headaches as the victims run around screaming. Rather, a good portion of the movie takes place in the main character's bedroom, being shot from a camera atop a steady, stable, tripod.
The genius of this movie lay in it's ability to slowly build the suspense, and to slowly unveil just how dangerous the "entity" really is. While the "activity" begins innocently enough -doors opening and closing, footsteps and odd sounds- it soon increases in both frequency and violence. The demon in this movie has evidently taken quite a fancy to the female lead, and as her idiotically curious boyfriend feeds it more and more power through general interest and Ouija board experimentation, it becomes increasingly brash, and psychologically tortures both the tormented couple, and the viewer. This was quite possibly the creepiest movie I've ever seen in my life. If you value a good night's sleep, you may want to skip this one.
The Scariest Part of this Video is the Fact that Someone would Actually Wear Sunglasses in a Dark Movie Theater (1:10).
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