Friday, 4 May 2012

Who is the Greatest Horror Movie Villain?

Michael, Jason, Freddy? Who’s your favourite? The best bad guy as a sentence almost sounds wrong but it’s a question I pose to you now. I will of course give you a brief overview and add my own little opinion but who is the greatest Horror movie villain?

For as long as there have been horror movies, there have been antagonists, a focal point in stark contrast to the hero, whether that is a man of earthly origins or something much worse. I say worse but when we dissect the list, the vast majority of the really evil ones are human! Male or female, mutant or freak in one way or another humanoid.

Going back to early films, characters like The Golum along with countless vampires and werewolves were very prominent. The Golum being an ancient Jewish legend that depicts a clay statue which was brought to life by a rabbi. With this film being made originally in 1915, very limited footage remains but there were two more Golum films between 1915 and 1920 both of which have survived quite well and are available on DVD. Depending on where you look, you can usually get The Golum: How he came into the world for a bargain price!

Vampires and werewolves have been talked about previously in Horror Part 2: Fangs, Claws, Tentacles and Jaws but Count Dracula certainly falls into the category of Evil Villains! Played by so many different actors it
would be hard to pick just one. Schreck, Lugosi, Langella, Lee, Oldman. All have played the caped Count so well and memorably! Although Bela Lugosi is a personal favourite of mine, I think the sinister portrayal by Gary Oldman in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 effort, Bram Stoker’s Dracula deserves a special mention. More early examples that have stood the test of time and indeed penetrated our consciousness through multiple generations are Frankenstein’s monster(s) and The Mummy. Both have been big players in the film industry from its early Hollywood days to modern retellings.

Before I move on, another which would fit into a similar category to the above is the Zombie. A human risen from the dead with a thirst for human flesh and little to no conscience. Although these monsters were seen in early Hollywood films like White Zombie and Revolt of the Zombies, they were popularised with the release of 1968’s independent film, Night of the Living Dead. Directed by the Zombie King George A. Romero, his
zombie saga spanning 40 years and consisting of Night of The Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, Land of the Dead, Diary of the Dead and most recently Survival of the Dead. With the early ones having all been remade and all have inspired countless Zombie films through time. This saga pretty much serves as the Bible for any Zombie movie fan! It was his original however which gave us the image of the lurching, lumbering zombie which chases you down with a clumsy but unstoppable relenting chill! Bill Hinzman as the cemetery Zombie was our first glimpse of this on screen and as such became one of only
 a handful of iconic zombies along with another Romero classic, Sherman Howard as Bub the Zombie from 1985’s Day of the Dead. We must not forget Big Daddy though, a recent entry seen in Land of the Dead!


Once we hit the 1960’s and 1970’s we are bombarded with exploitative slasher films which above all else have given rise to the masked serial killer! Films like Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Halloween have presented us with Leather-face and Michael Myers respectively. Both homicidal maniacs, along with their weapons of choice they soon rack up the kill counts! From the same genre, Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees certainly deserve
mention, my wife recently said to me that Freddy must be the scariest Horror movie villain... He has knives for fingers and gets you in your sleep! Thats fucking scary! Other villains like The Miner from My Bloody Valentine and Reno Miller from The Driller Killer have not caught the imagination as much as some others but all serve to form part of the history of this immense genre. The world seemed to spin relentlessly with very little change as the 80’s and 90’s gave little in the way of originality, instead opting to spawn sequel after sequel eventually
 leaving us as a limp, salivating stump with arms full of no less than 7 Nightmare on Elm Street films, 8

 Halloween films and 9 Friday the 13th’s! The latter eventually providing us with a tenth instalment in 2002,
 followed by a cross over with Nightmare on Elm Street as an age old question was finally answered in Freddy Vs. Jason! To top it all off, in the new “Re-Make” age, all three have received twenty First Century unimaginative makeovers with Rob Zombie’s Halloween (2007), Friday the 13th (2009) and most recently in 2010, A Nightmare on Elm Street (without the legendary Robert Englund!) None of which have
provided us with anything more than light entertainment. Further to this, Wes Craven who originally gave us Freddy, rejuvenated the slasher genre with Scream and along with it, Ghostface!

Although there was very little to get our teeth into through all the aforementioned slasher icons, a few have permeated the consciousness. A 1986 novel by Steven King entitled IT provided plenty of scares but it was in 1990 when a television film version was first seen that we got to witness just one of the incarnations of IT, Pennywise the Clown. Played by Tim Curry, Pennywise epitomised everything that people fear in clowns! A scene in which a young George Denbrough pleads with
 Pennywise through a drain for his paper boat back is one that stands out. Pennywise’s wry smile as he holds a red balloon eventually uttering the words, “They all float down here!” brings back all those emotions first felt when reading the book! Another was brought to us by the imagination of Clive Barker, Hellraiser introduced the world to the Cenobites but specifically, Pinhead as he is affectionately known!
As we are including humanoid creatures, a small mention to those bipedal aliens with a humanoid appearance. Predator, being one of the more famous entries, looks bad ass with his mask on and looks as alien as they come without it. He was first
seen stalking Arnie through the jungles of Central America in 1987, with the ability to cloak himself in invisibility and a massive canon attached to his shoulder, he was literally the ultimate hunter. Ironically, the film’s early title was Hunter.

A roundup like this is not complete without mentioning Charles Lee Ray, a.k.a The Lakeshore Strangler but I am sure everyone will know him better as Chucky! After a dying crazed killer performs a voodoo ritual his soul is transported into the body of a “good-guys” doll, a seemingly innocent looking, talking child’s toy. No child would ever want one of these things after watching this film (other than maybe me!) as Chucky goes on a murderous
 spree! Chucky fits perfectly in this category as a half human half something else villain but with the added bonus that he looks creepy as fuck! Despite Chucky losing much of his fear factor through multiple comedic remakes, the original still serves as a great example of the reincarnated spirit villain.

In recent years much more elaborate and let’s say evil antagonists have stolen the show. With films like Hostel and Saw, the killers have become much more calculated and far less hidden.
 For example,
[Spoiler Alert] **** John Kramer or Jigsaw was hidden in plain sight in the first Saw film. This was followed by a string of sequels, some even following on his work after his own death. As such Tobin Bell is
credited with starring in all seven Saw films to date.

Hostel on the other hand puts any rich or curious person in the hot seat as people pay for the thrill of killing. A businessman entices young travellers to the location where they are subsequently bound and killed by rich thrill seekers and other types of fat cats. So the killers are not quite as available as with others because anyone could be the killer!

Possibly one of the most outrageous films of recent times comes in the shape of a centipede. The Human Centipede was unleashed upon this world in 2009 and puts three unlucky souls in one of the most disgusting situations as they are arranged and attached in the form of a centipede with the second persons mouth being surgically attached the anus of the person in front! Dr. Heiter is a retired German surgeon who strides to create a new pet for himself! The casting of Dieter Laser is inspired. Just his overall appearance
and on screen persona are enough to send chills down your spine!

So, fairly brief but I have covered a fair amount here. Obviously there are hundreds of characters which have been missed but I have also compiled my personal list of the top 20 greatest Horror Movie Villains below. For the purposes of this article, villain also includes antagonists and any other incarnation of evil but only those of human or humanoid origins because, let’s face it. A Xenomorph is the scariest looking mother fucker out there and would easily be top of the list! Firstly, a few notable exclusions:

Samara Morgan (The Ring)
Blade (Puppet Master)
Pinhead (Puppet Master)
Mayor George W. Buckman (2001 Maniacs)
The Juggernaut (Thirteen Ghosts)
Victor Crowley (Hatchet)
John Doe (Seven)
Jacob Goodnight (See No Evil)
Harry Warden A.K.A The Miner (My Bloody Valentine)
Elly Kedward (The Blair Witch Project)
Lizard (The Hills have Eyes)
Father Meiks (Frailty)
Pumpkinhead (Pumpkinhead)
Bo & Vincent Sinclair (House of Wax)
Pamela Voorhees (Friday the 13th Part 1)
Matilda Dixon (Darkness Falls)
Alistair ‘The Doctor’ Pratt (Fear Dot Com)
Mary Shaw (Dead Silence)

Now, the Top 20 Horror Movie Villains:

20. The Wolfman [Lon Chaney Jr.] (The Wolf-Man)

19. Leprechaun [Warwick Davis] (Leprechaun Franchise)

18. Big Daddy [Eugene Clark] (Land of the Dead)

17. Dracula (Various)

16. The Creeper [Jonathan Breck] (Jeepers Creepers/Jeepers Creepers 2)

15. Candyman [Tony Todd] (Candyman Franchise)

14. Pennywise the Clown [Tim Curry] (IT)

13. Frankenstein’s Monster (Various)

12. Dr. Vannacutt [Jeffrey Combs] (House on Haunted Hill/Return to House on Haunted Hill)

11. Ghostface (Scream Franchise)

10. Hannibal Lecter [Brian Cox/Anthony Hopkins/Gaspard Ulliel] (Manhunter/Red Dragon/Silence of the Lambs/Hannibal/Hannibal Rising)

9. Chucky [Brad Dourif-Voice] (Childs Play Franchise)

8. Norman Bates [Anthony Perkins] (Psycho)

7. Dr. Heiter [Dieter Laser] (The Human Centipede)

6. Jigsaw/John Kramer [Tobin Bell] (Saw Franchise)

5. Leatherface [Gunnar Hanson] (Texas Chainsaw Massacre Franchise)

4. Pinhead A.K.A Captain Elliot Spenser [Doug Bradley] (Hellraiser Franchise)

3. Freddy Krueger [Robert Englund] (Nightmare on Elm Street Franchise)

2. Jason Voorhees (Friday the 13th Franchise)

1. Michael Myers (Halloween Franchise)








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