Happy Halloween! (almost)
Halloween is just around the corner! Time for some more annual Halloween rankings. A staple of horror movies is the antagonist. Without a great villain, it's hard to have a great horror movie. They scare the audience. They kill the characters. They jump out at really random and convenient times to make your heart skip a beat. Some of the greatest villains of all time are horror villains. Are they on my list? Find out below.
15. Art the Clown (Terrifier)
Kicking things off with the scariest on this list, Art the Clown is a newer horror icon that is receiving media attention for his pure, uncensored brutality in Terrifier 2 (which I am seeing on Halloween). I haven't seen Terrifier all the way through, but, from what I have seen, Art is a fantastic, fantastic villain. He's scary as all hell. Just the look of the character is so disturbing, alongside his tendency to torture and mutilate his victims to an extreme level. Part of what makes him great is that he can also be really, really funny. David Howard Thorton does a great job of making this clown scary and creating a new horror icon that is causing people to faint and vomit in the theaters.
14. Jack Torrance (The Shining)
Jack Torrance is a great villain. Jack Nicholson's performance is so iconic and easily the best part of The Shining. His slow descent into madness is just so amazing to watch. You unfold with him as he just collapses under the isolation and loneliness of the Overlook Hotel. I love how they put the pieces in place for him to go nuts. There are so many memorable moments and quotes from him that have become iconic parts of the horror genre.
13. Count Dracula (Dracula)
Count Dracula is one of the most recognizable characters in all of pop culture, and it all started here with Bela Lugosi's perfect performance. From the voice to the look to the quotes...everything. He created the stereotype of a vampire. He introduced everything iconic about the count himself. The horror genre and Halloween owe so much to Lugosi's Dracula. He's so good.
12. Frankenstein's Monster (Frankenstein)
Right above Dracula is Frankenstein's monster, commonly and incorrectly referred to as Frankenstein. Another staple of the genre, Karloff's iconic Halloween monster is just as iconic as Lugosi's charming vampire. The simple black garb with the massive forehead, the deadpan look, and the screw in the neck have become this incredibly famous and iconic part of horror films. Frankenstein's monster is another character that just screams Halloween and horror movies, so he has to be on this list.
11. The Thing (The Thing)
The Thing is one of the coolest horror villains ever. Better than both the Xenomorph and the Predator, this extraterrestrial horror is absolutely disgusting. Some of the things that this...well, thing turns into are nasty. They will make your stomach move in all kinds of directions. The concept of an alien that can perfectly imitate life forms is terrifying, so it makes for one of my favorite movies that's filled with paranoia, suspicion, mystery, and lots and lots of tension. And, at the center of that fantastic film is the Thing itself.
10. Jigsaw (Saw)
John Kramer (who is now confirmed to be in Saw X) is another really cool horror villain. What I think makes Jigsaw so cool is his twisted philosophy. He truly believes that he isn't the villain. He's putting people in these traps where they can choose to live or die, and their personality and set of morals will allow them to decide their ultimate fate. That's an interesting idea for a character, and he's played to perfection by Tobin Bell. Great, great villain.
9. Rose the Hat (Doctor Sleep)
Rose the Hat is TERRIFYING. My goodness. She is, by far, the most underrated villain on this list. I think Doctor Sleep is one of the best horror films ever made, and Rose is a gigantic part of that. Rebecca Ferguson is charming, but boy, can she turn up the psychopath dials in the blink of an eye. Rose is almost like an alpha leading a pack of hungry wolves throughout this film. She is ruthless and brutal, and will stop at nothing to find and kill Abra. She is responsible for the worst child murder scene in the history of film (that's a good thing). She's just a fantastic and criminally overlooked villain.
8. Ghostface (Scream)
This is kind of a weird one, because Ghostface isn't a character. Ghostface is a persona adopted by the killers in each of the Scream movies. However, I think that's super cool. One of my favorite parts of the Scream film series is the mystery of every film. Who's behind the mask? Beyond that, Roger L. Jackson's creepy, soothing voice that you hear over the phone in every Scream movie is just awesome. The look of the character is great. I love the Scream franchise, and Ghostface is one of the main reasons for that.
7. Norman Bates (Psycho)
Norman Bates is one of the creepiest characters in film. You barely ever see him doing anything bad, which makes it even worse. Whenever he kills someone, you just see the mother costume without the face. The only sign of evil that we see in him is that insanely creepy smile at the end of Psycho that leaves you terrified. Beyond that, he's just a great, classic horror villain. He's crazy, unpredictable, and scary. That's all you need. He's the archetype for every slasher antagonist that came after him.
6. Candyman (Candyman)
Candyman may not be my favorite villain on this list, but he makes an argument for the coolest. Candyman is one of the very few movies that actually scares me, and part of that is Tony Todd's imposing figure. His performance as the titular hooked slasher is so iconic and so amazing. I love that they make him a tragic figure. It's very hard to feel for someone that kills without mercy, but you understand why he's a vengeful spirit and has to enact justice upon the world. The social commentary tied to his character is extremely powerful and poignant. I love this character. He's fantastic.
5. Freddy Krueger (A Nightmare on Elm Street)
One of the quintessential slasher villains, Krueger first sliced his way onto the silver screen in 1984 and instantly became a pop culture icon. Robert Englund's quippy performance is a perfect balance of fun and scary. Krueger's look is amazing. The bladed glove is the single best murder weapon in film history. The ugly sweater and fedora are so recognizable. The concept of Krueger himself is so cool. Dreams are a safe place...but what if they weren't? That's a terrific concept for a terrifying character.
4. Pennywise the Dancing Clown (It)
What would be your worst nightmare? How about a shape-shifting, child-eating clown that transforms into your ACTUAL worst nightmare? Pennywise has taken the world by storm since 2017's It. Bill Skarsgård's terror-inducing portrayal of everyone's favorite dancing clown is amazing. The voice. The look. The pure dread that you feel anytime he pops up on screen. He's a perfect monster. He's a perfect force of evil. He's just amazing. And he's easily the best modern horror villain there is.
3. Patrick Bateman (American Psycho)
Pure insanity. That's what Patrick Bateman is. There's an argument to be made as to whether or not he counts, but I think he does. I love Christian Bale's performance. It elevates this character to a whole new level. He's this violent, violent psychopath, but he's extremely likable and charming at the same time. He's a horrible person, but such a fun character to follow throughout American Psycho. The black comedy with him is hilarious. He's just a different type of horror villain, but one that works.
2. Hannibal Lecter (The Silence of the Lambs)
Hannibal Lecter is sometimes incorrectly labeled as an antagonist. He's a villain, for sure, but he's not an antagonist. He's helpful in The Silence of the Lambs. He assists Clarice in her investigation with Buffalo Bill. You, as the audience member, are rooting for him, despite the fact that he's a complete psychopathic cannibal. He's such a great character that when he escapes prison and murders multiple innocent people near the end, you want him to get out. You are happy that he's escaping. That's how you know you have a great character. He's so evil, but so likable and so charming. He's easily one of the best villains of all time. He's only number two behind another one of the best villains of all time.
1. Leprechaun (Leprechaun)
How can you not love this guy? Warwick Davis's insane performance and his clever, beautiful limericks paired with a series of horrific murders makes this character great.
1. Michael Myers (Halloween)
Michael Myers IS the horror genre. Without Halloween, horror movies aren't nearly as popular as they are now. Without Michael, there's no Jason. There's no Freddy. No Chucky. No Candyman. He is the quintessential horror antagonist: this shape, this personification of emotionless, blank evil. There's no motive. There's no reason. He just kills because he IS evil. The mask is perfect. The walk is perfect. The little head tilt is perfect. Everything about Michael is perfect. He's the first slasher villain and the best horror villain. There's no debate.