It’s that time of year again, the Season of the Witch.
As the air cools and the shadows lengthen, the creaks and thuds you hear in the middle of the night take on a sinister tone. They’re not just the sounds of a settling house, they are the footsteps of a deranged killer, creeping through your house intent on killing you!
I’m a big fan of horror movies, and the films from the 70s, 80s, and 90s are some of my favorites. The villains in those movies are iconic and absolutely terrifying. Monsters that keep you up at night, wishing for the sun to rise. Unfortunately they aren’t deterred by the sun.
Let’s take a look at some of the most terrifying horror villains that haunt your dreams…
Let’s start with a few honorable mentions.
The first honorable mention is The Creeper, from Jeepers Creepers. The Creeper is a demon who feeds on human organs. He scars his victims and uses the fear to determine what organs to feed on.
The Creeper looks like the Swamp Thing’s evil twin; algae green skin, disgusting fangs and old weathered wings. The Creeper is scary, but he only hunts every 23 years. If you survive his attack you can rest easy for a long time.
The second honorable mention is Candyman.
Candyman, created by Clive Barker, is a man murdered in the 19th century for a forbidden interracial affair. You can summon Candyman by saying his name five times in front of a mirror. Kind of like the ol’ Bloody Mary urban legend.
What’s that? You’ve never summoned Bloody Mary? Go do it now, it’s easy. Go into the bathroom, turn all the lights out, stare into the mirror and repeat the name Bloody Mary, over and over again. She will soon appear in front of you!
Ok, now that you have an evil spirit attached to your soul, let’s move on to the horror villains that will relentlessly stalk you, day or night until you are dead.
10. GhostFace (Scream, 1996)
Scream always seemed one step above a parody movie. The only saving grace for the franchise is it was created by Wes Craven. I’m not a fan of the franchise but the villain, Ghostface is frightening.
Despite not liking the Scream movies, I like Ghostface. He is a formidable character that strikes when you least except it. He is also a savage killer, killing his victims in brutal and gruesome ways. If you’re home alone don’t answer the phone.
9. The Tall Man (Phantasm, 1979)
Jebediah Morningside was a 19th century mortician who had a fascination with the world of the dead. He built a machine which enabled him to cross over into the world of the dead and when he returned to the land of the living he was The Tall Man.
The Tall Man is the tall, creepy leader of the Order of the Gash, a cult that kidnaps children and drags them to the other dimension. He has superhuman strength and controls flying spheres with his mind. Oh and the spheres have blades to impale you and drain your blood.
The Tall Man also controls an army of Zombie Dwarves who do his bidding in the world of the dead.
8. Damien Thorn (The Omen, 1976)
What makes Damien so scary? For starters, he’s the Antichrist, the son of Satan. He was born on June 6 at 6 o’clock in the morning. 6-6-6 do you get it, he’s the devil! He has supernatural powers, can control animals, like hell-hounds and causes people to hallucinate.
Not to mention he is a child, a cute unassuming child. Who would ever think a child is the spawn of Satan? He uses his charm and innocence to lure in his victims. Underneath his innocent demeanor he is a cruel, sadistic creature. There are little clues sprinkled throughout letting you know the evil nature of Damien.
As they are driving to church Damien gets uneasy to the point of having a complete meltdown as they arrive. It’s so bad his parents decide to go home. When Damien’s mother takes him to the zoo the animals run from him as he approaches and the baboons attack their car.
When the new nanny arrives you just know something is off. She looks more like a servant of Satan than Damien. In reality she’s the babysitter for the Antichrist.
Despite looking like an innocent child, Damien is evil.
7. Leatherface (Texas Chainsaw Massacre, 1974)
Leatherface is a hulking, cannibalistic, chainsaw-wielding killer driven by madness. Oh and he wears the skin of his victims as a mask.
Leatherface is a merciless killer who takes joy in the entire killing and skinning process. The movie is unsettling from beginning to end. Scene to scene it keeps you on edge and makes you wonder why you don’t turn it off.
The way Leatherface paws at his victims skin and hair as he mocks them. The sheer terror in their eyes knowing what’s coming. It’s a fantastic movie and expertly directed. One of the scariest aspects of the movie is the Urban Legend behind it. At the time, late 70’s, early 80’s, the legend claimed the story was true. A man in Texas was killing people and wearing their skin!
As time passed and the Internet grew it turned out to be false, kind of. There was a killer in Texas who made trinkets from the skin of his victims. Director Tobe Hooper found his inspiration for Leatherface partly from the Texas murderer.
The scene with Leatherface swinging his chainsaw, dancing around in the middle of the road was creepy then and it’s still creepy today.
6. Count Dracula
Dracula is one of the OG horror monsters. He first appeared in Bram Stokers novel, Dracula in 1897. Since then he has terrorized the innocent in thousands of movies.
Dracula is, of course, a vampire who drinks the blood of the living to sustain his own life and remain young. But there is more to his evil ways than being a simple bloodsucker. He has the strength of 20 men, can shapeshift in to various animals like a bat or wolf and he can even turn into mist.
I’ve been frightened and fascinated with vampires from an early age. When I was a kid re-runs of Dark Shadows aired on PBS late Friday nights. My sister and I would sit in the dark and watch it. It’s really a soap opera about a creepy vampire, Barnabas. He freaked me out.
There are any number of vampires to include on this list but Dracula is the original and can’t be left off.
Throughout the 80s and 90s Dracula made a few appearances in movies. Monster Squad in 1987 and Bram Stoker’s Dracula in 1992. Bram Stoker’s Dracula is directed by Francis Ford Coppola and stars Winona Ryder, Anthony Hopkins, Keanu Reeves and Gary Oldman as Dracula.
5. Chucky (Child’s Play, 1988)
Do you remember My Buddy, the friendly, lovable doll for boys? Chucky is a
My Buddy Good Guy doll possessed by the spirit of a serial killer. I’m guessing the makers of My Buddy didn’t want to be associated with a horror movie.
I hate all horror movies with dolls in them. And by hate I mean I’ll watch them, they just scare the hell out of me. Not sure why but dolls are plain creepy. I couldn’t make it through the trailer of Annabelle, the trailer! I didn’t try to watch the movie.
In the beginning of the movie we see serial killer, Charles Lee Ray, perform a voodoo ritual to transfer his soul to a “Good Guy” doll before he dies.
Single mother, Karen can’t afford the full price of a Good Guy doll for her son and buys one cheap, from a homeless guy. She gives it to her six-year-old son, Andy and he has a new friend, Chucky.
Shortly after, Andy’s babysitter dies and Andy is a murder suspect. He claims Chucky killed the babysitter. Then Charles’ former partner is murdered and Andy is the main suspect and thrown into a psychiatric hospital for claiming Chucky is the killer.
Distraught, Karen takes Chucky home and discovers the doll doesn’t have any batteries, it’s moving and talking on its own!
Chucky freaks me out and the original movie is fantastic. The subsequent movies add too much silliness that takes away from the horror aspect for my liking. The Chucky TV series from 2021 is a good addition to the film series. At least the first season, it’s the only season I watched.
4. Pinhead (Hellraiser, 1987)
Do you like puzzles? If you’re ever giving the Lament Configuration puzzle box run away, far away.
Solving the Lament Configuration opens a gateway to Hell and summons the Cenobites, a group of demons who harvest human souls and torture them in the worst possible ways.
The leader of the Cenobites is the Hell Priest, Pinhead. His appearance alone is enough to scare you, his bald head is covered in nails and he wears a long robe made of black leather.
Pinhead and all the Cenobites are sadistic demons who thrive on the pain and suffering of others. What makes Pinhead most frightening is his ability to take on any form and read your mind.
Once he sets his sights on you there is no escape. He will drag you to the pits of Hell and torture your soul for eternity.
3. Jason Voorhees (Friday the 13th, 1980)
Jason is one of the original horror villains of the 1980s. While he was in the first Friday the 13th movie, it was in a limited role. He made his full debut in Friday the 13th Part 2. Jason didn’t start wearing his iconic hockey mask until Friday the 13th Part III.
Jason is a hulking figure with superhuman strength and is virtually invincible. His one vulnerability is the water of Crystal Lake. Trapping him in the waters of Crystal Lake will immobilize him. That’s not helpful when he is rampaging through Manhattan!
He’s able to resist physical pain and has a self healing ability. Perhaps his best (or scariest) trait is the fact he can return from the dead. And each time he does, he is stronger than before. He’s had the ability to resurrect himself since the first Friday the 13th. When you think you killed him, you’re wrong, you only made him stronger.
The next time you’re walking in the woods at night and here a soft, lilting, ‘ch ch ch, ah ah ah’ it’s not the birds singing you a lullaby. It’s Jason. In his mask. Holding a machete. Getting ready to kill you. RUN!
2. Michael Myers (Halloween, 1978)
Michael Myers has issues. When he was six years old he methodically walked through the kitchen, grabbed a chef’s knife, walked up to his 15 year old sisters room and stabbed her to death. Myers spent the next 15 years in a sanitarium, then escapes the night before Halloween. He returns to his hometown and starts a killing spree on Halloween night.
I don’t know what they fed him in the sanitarium but he grew into a massive man, standing over six feet tall and built like a tank. The creepy, expressionless mask he wears adds to terror.
He has a slow lumbering gate, but always catches his prey. It appears he is able to teleport himself at will. There are times he appears and disappears in the blink of an eye. He gets stronger with each victim he kills and nothing seems to stop him. He’s survived fire, being stabbed and being shot over six times. It doesn’t matter how the movie ends, Michael Myers is never dead.
I didn’t see the original Halloween in the theaters, I saw it sometime in the late 70s or early 80s on VHS. I’ve been scared of Micheal Myers ever since. The same sister I watched Dark Shadows with rented this one.
If you see him walking your way, turn around and run. It won’t help though, he’ll still kill you.
As scary as the list is up to this point the number one horror villain will kill you during the day but he prefers to kill you in your sleep. That’s right we’re talking about…
1. Freddy Krueger (A Nightmare on Elm Street, 1984)
A Nightmare on Elm Street was a fresh, imaginative take on the 80s horror slasher movies. Written and directed by Wes Craven, A Nightmare on Elm Street solidified his career as a horror movie director and screenwriter.
I’ve been a fan of Wes Craven long before I knew who he was. His first movie, Last House on the Left (1972) still gives me chills. The Hills Have Eyes (1977) will make you think twice about going in to the desert. And maybe his best movie prior to A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Swamp Thing (1982) is a cult classic and a guilty pleasure of mine. Jason recently watched it for the first time and enjoyed it as well.
A Nightmare on Elm Street uses many of the same tropes as other 80s horror slasher movies but includes a great twist. The monster isn’t some boogeyman that stalks you in the dead of night. No, you can go to sleep whenever you want, but you’ll wake up dead!
Freddy Krueger was a child killing monster who escaped the law on a technicality. The parents couldn’t stand the injustice so they hunted down Krueger, trapped him in a building and burned it down with Krueger inside.
Freddy visits his victims in their dreams, he is a burned, disfigured man wearing a glove made of sharp knives, which he uses to kill his victims. If you die in the dream world, you die in the real world.
In the dream world Freddy has superhuman strength and speed and is almost invincible. No problem, all I have to do is never sleep again. Nope, Freddy can be pulled into the real world too. In the real world he is still powerful but not invincible.
Freddy can kill you in your sleep, he can kill you when you’re awake. How do you escape his wrath? You don’t.
Freddy is so ingrained in the urban legend of his universe he has his own nursery rhyme:
One, Two, Freddy’s Coming For You
Three, Four, Better Lock Your Door
Five, Six, Grab A Crucifix
Nine, Ten, Never Sleep Again
That rounds out my list for the Top 10 Horror Villains. Who frightens you the most? Did I miss your favorite?