From the classic movie monsters like Frankenstein and Dracula to the popular slasher villains like Michal Myers and Freddy Krueger, villains always stand out stronger when there in a horror film. So for this October, I’ll be counting down my personal favorite horror movie villains. Now in order to make this list, they have to be characters from Horror movies, so don’t expect Darth Vader or the Wicked Witch of the West. Plus I’m not going strictly for the scariest villains I’ve ever seen, these are just my person favorites.
10. Mrs. Voorhees (Friday the 13th 1980)
When it comes to “Friday the 13th”, most people think of that big guy with the hockey mask, but for my money, the villain who steals the show is this small, unassuming and psychologically ill mother. Let’s face it, if you saw a big guy with a creepy mask covering his face and weapon in his hand, you’d know it’s time to run for your life. But with Mrs. Voorhees, you’d never expect it until it’s too late. As the movie plays out, we never see who the killer is and when it’s finally reviled to be this ordinary looking woman, it just makes the experience all the more effective. Plus, she definitely sends a cold chill down your spine when she starts talking to her desist son as if he’s still alive and telling her to do his dirty work.
9. Norman Bates (Psycho1960)
The best thing about this 1960 classic is the character study of our lead antagonist Norman Bates. Without spoiling too much, this is a character that always keeps you guessing, you can never tell if he’s an innocent victim or an ingenious mastermind, is there a good man deep inside or is he just a time bomb waiting to go off. All this mystery surrounding the character just builds and builds to a nail-biting climax. I dare not spoil the ending, so I’ll just say that just about every movie with a twist ending owes something to this film and to Anthony Perkins intense performance as Norman Bates. In the end where given a chilling back story from a psychiatrist about our tormented lead character which always leaves me with an eerie feeling that something like this could be happening out there in the world.
8. John Gray (The Body Snatcher 1945)
Boris Karloff has grown a well deserved reputation for being one of the greatest horror movie actors of all time and has played some legendary film monsters including Frankenstein and the Mummy. Most of his villain performances are outstanding and if I had to choose just one of his characters for my list, it would have to be John Gray from the 1945 movie “The Body Snatcher”. In this film he’s not inherently evil and he isn’t a mindless monster, instead he’s just a dirty rat and no one else is more deliciously wicked in this kind of role then Karloff. Just look at that nasty grin of his, its priceless and the way he toy’s with the main characters in this film is equally sinister but delightfully slimy all at the same time.
7. Annie Wilkes (Misery 1990)
Holly crap was this woman ever scary, when you wake up from an intentness nightmare, it’s not Freddy Krueger you fear hanging over your bed, instead it’s this psychotic, fan obsessed nut-ball. In this spectacular, Stephen King adapted horror flick, Annie Wilkes rescues her favorite author in the world from a car accident. But her obsession of him suddenly turns this into a hostage situation as she refuses to let him leave her house and dose every cruel thing you could do to keep him their indefinitely. She straps him to a bed, breaks his legs, shoots down police officers investigating the aria and all while claiming that she loves him more than life itself. Plus, Kathy Bates is downright chilling in the part, winning her an academy award for best actress in a leading role. What really makes her so scary is her constant changing mood, at one point she can seem like the kindest lady on the planet, then before you know it, she’s the most unstable and threatening person that you’d never want to be left alone with. That’s the formula that makes this character so captivating, she keeps you on the edge of your seat with every scene because you never know how she’s going to react or what she’ll do to see things her way.
6. Pennywise (Stephen king's It 1990)
Lots of people find clowns scary but Pennywise is more than just a creepy clown with razor sharp teeth, he’s a supernatural monster that can bring a child’s worst fears to life. Despite the frightening concept of a killer clown that stocks a group of kids, Pennywise is actually one of the funniest villains I ever seen in a horror film. Actor Tim Curry is clearly having a blast in the role and half the time I don’t even feel like I’m watching a character, it’s just Tim Curry having fun in a clown costume. That’s what makes this one of the best Horror villains ever, he’s creepy, he has magical powers that allow him to do all kinds of creative things and best of all, he’s livened up by an enjoyably hammy performance from Tim Curry.
5. Jack (The Shining 1980)
If you thought Mrs. Voorhees was one scary and disturbed mother, she’s nothing compared to Jack, a screw-loose father that’s bent on killing off his own family. This character comes from the 1980 masterpiece “The Shining” and what can possibly be more disturbing than a loving father that gradually loses his sanity. Throughout the whole movie, he’s a ticking time bomb and the suspense is just riveting. But the big reason this guy makes my list is actor Jack Nicolson in the role. He is so demented and crazy that you can’t take your eyes off of him, no one else has as much psychotic energy as him.
4. Dracula (Hammers Dracula series 1958-1973)
There have been some stellar interpretations of Count Dracula ranging from Bela Lugosi’s iconic performance in the 1931 “Dracula” classic too Gary Oldman’s portrayal in the 1992 motion picture “Bram Stoker’s Dracula”. Either one of them is worth putting on my list, but if I had to choose just one favorite Dracula performance, it would have to be Christopher Lee’s portrayal of the count from “Hammer’s Dracula” series. He’s played Dracula in more movies than any other actor and is so commanding in the role that he just can’t be toped. No-one else looks as awesome in that red Dracula cape, nor does anyone else have that same deep and imposing voice. Even though he’s not as iconic as Bela Lugosi, Christopher Lee is faster, deadlier and 100% bad ass in the role, making him the definitive Dracula and a perfect fit for my list.
3. Freddy Krueger (The Nightmare on Elm street series 1984-2003)
Freddy Kruger is often bagged with other popular “slasher villains” but there’s a lot more to this character then just a one note killer in a mask killing random people. This guy has as a personal vendetta combined with an ingenious concept of interring an individual’s dreams. In a dream, he can manipulate his surroundings and himself, which can lead to some awesome visuals. Rather than killing his victims right away, Freddy takes his time feeding on his victims fears, and he savers every second of it. Robert Englund’s charismatic performance in the role gives the character a darkly comedic personality, which results in a villain that’s wild, over the top and when he’s not giving you nightmares, he’s playing for deliberate laughs. This is another perfect example of a villain who’s both freighting yet funny at the same time, however, unlike Pennywise clown, this isn’t just an actor having fun in a silly costume, this time all the silly antics complement the character, making him one of the most well-constructed and entertaining villains in the horror genera.
2. Imhotep A.K.A The Mummy (The Mummy 1999)
I know most people prefer the classic Mummy from 1932 played by Boris Karloff, however, I’ve been watching the 1999 version ever sense I was in first grade and it’s always been a favorite of mine. This Mummy played by Arnold Vosloo may not have the same commanding screen presence that Karloff had but he’s still very good in the role, far more memorable and I’ve come to regard him as a classic modern day villain in his own right, on par with the T-1000 from “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” and Agent Smith from “The Matrix”. I especially love this guy’s concept of regenerating, he begins as a decayed corps, then slowly becomes more and more human after killing a select group of victims, one by one. Usually, the villain gets more and more monstrous as the film plays out but here it’s in reverse. It’s a great concept that I felt Karloff’s Mummy lacked and this Mummy’s plans for getting reunited with his long lost bride are far more thrilling then what the Imhotep of the 1932 classic did. If you prefer Boris Karloff’s Mummy, that’s fine, I like that Mummy a lot too, I just prefer this modern day Mummy instead.
1. The Invisible Man (The Invisible Man 1933)
Naturally my favorite horror movie villain of all time is one of Universals classic golden age monsters, but it’s not Frankenstein, Dracula or The Wolf Man making the number one spot, instead it’s the Invisible Man. This is a villain that goes beyond your stereotypical horror movie bad guy, in fact he feels more like someone that belongs in a Shakespeare play, and the performance is just as operatic. Of all the talented actors who’ve brought these classic monsters to life, no one excites me as much as Claude Rains in this role. Not only is his voice chillingly sinister but his personality is outstanding, he perfectly balances the line between being intimidating, sympathetic, ruthless, heartless and hilarious. He also has one of the most spectacular evil laughs I ever heard. You can never tell what this guys going to do next, sometimes he’ll flip out and let lose his all his anger, then he’ll do something sadistically funny or more often than not, he’ll be delivering an ominous monologue that’ll send chills down your spine. For his charismatic performance, chilling voice and dominating screen presence, the Invisible Man still stands as my favorite horror movie villain of all time.