We would probably need a psychologist to explain to us why people like horror movies so much. The idea of deliberately paying money to watch something that we already know is going to make us jump, frighten us, and possibly cause us to have a sleepless night is bizarre when you think about it, but it doesn’t stop millions of us doing it on a regular basis. Perhaps we enjoy it because it gets our adrenaline flowing, or perhaps we like the comfort of ‘safe’ scares to distract us from the prospect of real ones. Whatever the reason is, horror films are big business.
No horror movie is complete without a compelling and fear-inducing villain, and we’ve seen no shortage of them over the years. From otherworldly-monsters to extremely creepy human serial killers, the ghoulish writers of Hollywood’s most successful horror flicks have created characters that have stalked us from the screens to our nightmares. Even though they scare us, we always come back for more, and over the years, we’ve developed something of an affection for them. Who is the scariest of them all, though? Which horror movie creations are the most likely to force you to sleep with the lights on?
We’ve put a lot of thought into that question, and we think we’ve been able to put together a definitive all-time top five of the scariest horror movie bad guys ever to grace (or should that be ‘disgrace?’) the big screen. We’re sure you’ll have your own opinions, though, so let us know if you disagree!
Fifth: Pinhead (Hellraiser)
The effectiveness of the ‘Hellraiser’ movie series dwindled away over time, eventually becoming nothing more than a straight-to-DVD embarrassment. That shouldn’t take away from the effectiveness and the sheer horror of Clive Barker’s first ‘Hellraiser’ film, though, and most of that horror was created by Pinhead. If a character is willing to insert a seemingly endless number of needles into his own face and skull, what might he do to you if he gets hold of you? Body horror was the core of the scares in ‘Hellraiser,’ with several sadistic torture scenes and some hideous disfigured villains. Pinhead, as the leader of the gang, is a character that’s become immortal in his own right. It’s no wonder that there are rumors of a ‘Hellraiser’ remake almost every year.
Fourth: Hannibal Lecter (Silence of the Lambs)
The reassuring thing about ‘otherworldly’ villains like Pinhead is that you’re never going to bump into them in the real world. There’s something far more chilling about a horrific character who, in many ways, appears to be normal. Anthony Hopkins’ iconic character of Hannibal Lecter is eloquent, polite, and even charming in many ways, but he’d still kill you and eat you with no more thought than most of us would give to microwaving a meal. Lecter is fiercely intelligent and capable of psychologically dissecting you long before he touches you. He knows what you’re thinking, and he can predict your next move. With a character like that, there can be no escape, and he’s so good at what he does that he might never be caught. Any psychologist could turn out to be Hannibal Lecter. There’s something pleasant to think about before your next appointment with a therapist.
Third: Freddy Krueger (Nightmare on Elm Street)
Sleep is supposed to be peaceful. The purpose of sleep is that it allows our bodies to regenerate and rest in preparation for the day ahead. How are any of us supposed to get any peaceful sleep when Freddy Krueger might march into our dreams at any moment? Never mind the sheer unrelenting terror that he brings along with him, because it gets even worse; as anyone who’s watched ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ knows, if you die in your dreams, you die for real! The character of Freddy, with his horrific distorted features, has had a long career in movie theaters that started in the 1980s and continued into the 21st century, making a cult star of actor Robert Englund. He claims to be retired from the role now, but you never know for sure. Just when you think you’re safe, Freddy might creep out from the shadows.
Second: Pennywise The Clown (IT)
We’ll admit to a little bias on this; we’re terrified of clowns. Clowns scare us at the best of times, so a murderous clown who also happens to be a gigantic spider is very close to being the worst thing we can imagine. It doesn’t matter if you’re more familiar with the Tim Curry version of Pennywise from Stephen King’s ‘IT’ or the more recent Bill Skarsgard version, both will make your blood run cold for different reasons. The character of Pennywise has become so recognizable that there’s even an online slots game named in his honor available at new slots site. He’s not the only horror creation to make it there, but he is the only one to make it in his own right. There are other online slots devoted to horror movie franchises, including ‘Halloween’ as an example, but Pennywise is the only one to have a slots game based on him and not the franchise he comes from. We might never know how anybody ever works up the courage to play it.
We know that we’re going to upset quite a lot of horror movie fans by including Jason Voorhees and not Michael Myers, but hear us out. They’re both essentially the same character – a masked, unkillable lunatic who can’t be stopped or reasoned with, and exists only to murder you. They both have a distinctive plodding approach to their killing sprees, they both have family issues, and they’re both silent. If it weren’t for the differently-designed masks, you could swap one character for another, and nobody would notice. Faced with a choice between the two, we’ve gone for Jason because he appears to be even more immortal than Michael Myers is. The man has been ejected into the frozen loneliness of outer space, and even that didn’t finish him off. If Jason Voorhees decides to come for you, your life is over. It’s as simple as that, and after starring in more than ten movies, we think he’s earned his place as the most terrifying horror movie villain in history.