I am a big lover of the horror genre, which you probably already guessed if you read this blog regularly. I like that it’s a more broad genre than people often give it credit for, from slasher trash, to physiological horror, to revenge flicks, to sci-fi, there are a lot of places to go with it and a lot of different results. One thing that stands true with most horror is that a great villain can really make the experience. Whether it’s somebody, who is taking advantage of a situation (see the bad guys in zombie movies), to the main killer in a slasher flick, to a seemingly innocent guy who ends up being a killer. A good villain will stick with you. Now for this particular piece I left off “monsters”, so things like say the Xenomorph, who have a different motive than actual killers. With that being noted here are some of my favorite horror villains.
Freddy Krueger, Nightmare on Elm Street Franchise
Freddy to me is pretty spot on for the franchise and is the perfect vehicle to deliver Wes Craven’s odd blend of horror meets comedy. He’s creepy, he’s evil, and he’s full of puns. Nightmare on Elm Street had a great mix of making you laugh at things you shouldn’t but was still terrifying, and that balance is achieved thanks to the brilliant Freddy. As the series got more ridiculous, Freddy went along with it and kept the series lovable in my opinion.
Michael Myers, Halloween
Probably a bit of a controversial entry, seeing as of right now I only really like Michael in one Halloween movie. In the original Halloween Michael represents, to me, the perfect killer. He starts young, killing his older sister possibly for having sex, probably just because he wanted to, and doesn’t seem to be affected by the event at all. Dr. Loomis later describes him and being a being of complete evil with nothing behind his eyes and only wanting to kill. Laurie Strode, our final girl, just happens to run into Michael at the right time and he becomes obsessed, stalking her and her friends, killing all of them before trying to kill her. In the later movies, it’s revealed she is his sister, and I was kind of lost. There is something perfect about Michael just being a killer, no real motivation, he sort of seems obsessed with the sister he killed, but for the most part, he just wants to kill. He is as Doctor Loomis said, pure evil, and I loved it. There was something scary and convincing about Michael just being an obsessive killer that I appreciated.
Juno, The Descent
So I guess Juno is a mixed bag as far as a villain goes. While it’s actually the creatures that kill the group it is Juno that puts them in the situation, so it kind of counts. Favorite is also a stretch because I, like many people, sort of hate her, but I also feel sort of bad for her. Juno is a perfect example of how good intentions can go horribly wrong. I believe we were supposed to get the message that Juno honestly felt terrible for having a relationship with Sarah’s husband and was genuinely trying to do what she thought was right by her friend when she took them to the cave. The problem is Juno was looking for redemption and not considering whether or not she really deserved it, or if Sarah would want to give it. Everything she did was from her perspective of how she could fix it, and it only made things worse, including getting them all killed. So why do I feel bad for her when her actions had such terrible results and were kind of selfish? Because I think she really did care for Sarah and really did want to make it right. In the end, she even goes so far as to scream to attract the creatures to her to give Sarah a chance to escape. I include her on this list because I have mixed feelings about her, and she always makes me think, which I like in characters.
Herbert West, Re-Animator
You could make the argument that Dr. Halsey is the real villain of the movie, and you’d probably be right, but Herbert West fills a lot of villainous criteria in my opinion. He is obsessed with this experiments to re-give life, he has no feelings towards those that he’s experimented on, or the results, and the only reason he ends up fighting Dr. Halsey is not out of a sense of duty but because Halsey was in his way. It is easy enough to watch the movie and believe that if Halsey had attempted to partner up with Herbert that he would have gone along with it. He is not a good guy in the least, but there is an entertaining quality to him, most of which is wrapped up in the fact that he just doesn’t care. He challenges authority because he knows he’s better than them, he is not socially awkward as much as he can’t be bothered with pretending to put forth the effort, and when compared to Dr. Halsey he comes off like a damn peach. Herbert West is the star for a reason.
The Monster, Frankenstein
Let me make this perfectly clear, so there is no confusion on my opinion. The Monster is NOT the villain, not even close. Still, he was considered such when Universal made the first movie (and many of the follow-ups) primarily due to the production code, so we are working with it. I don’t think I have to explain to many people why I have a soft spot for this character, he truly is the perfect example of the sympathetic monster. Boris Karloff nails the role and everything about the experience of The Monster is heartbreaking and beautiful. Even the death he accidentally caused, and his reaction to it is sad. He is much less a villain than the abusive Fritz, and so much less of one than the obsessed, and also abusive, Henry. The Monster will forever have a special place in my heart.
Norman Bates, Psycho
Much like our last entry Norman sort of fits the “sympathetic monster” bill, but to a slightly lesser extent considering he is still, in fact, a killer. Psycho is a great movie, and Norman is the reason for it. He is definitely sad, surprisingly handsome, slightly awkward, but gosh darn creepy. You never know exactly how to feel about him, especially not after the big reveal. He seems to be just as much a victim of his mother as a perpetrator of his crimes. Anthony Perkins did a fantastic job, and there is a reason why this is one of Hitchcock’s most beloved films. I gotta hand it to Norman Bates.
Mark Lewis, Peeping Tom
So there seems to be a theme going with these three. Mark Lewis is once again a killer, but his tormented and tortured past appears to be a large part of the why. Lewis was abused by his father who was doing experiments on his own son about fear. When Mark grows up he is broken, but also continues his fathers work, just with an added step. He is not exactly a cruel man, and he never seems overly comfortable with what he is doing. Yet, at the end of the day, he is still a pretty brutal killer with a messed up MO. It’s hard not to feel some sympathy to Mark when you find out exactly what he went through, but also hard not to think his ending is kind of perfect.
Jason Voorhees, Friday the 13th Franchise
I debated whether or not to include Jason because as much as I love the Friday the 13th movies Jason just really isn’t much of a character. Yet that is sort of the brilliance of the franchise, at least as far as the later movies go. Jason’s development from the victim of neglectful camp counselors, to being brought back from the dead with supernatural powers hellbent on killing, kind of follows the franchise itself from compelling slasher, to dumb but fun slasher trash. He is little more than a hockey mask, and a lot of damn fun kills, but you know what, that’s alright if it’s what you are in the mood for. If it weren’t for the fact that the movies are part of the franchise I just don’t think I would look on them as kindly so we are giving it up for Jason.
The Candyman, Candyman
I am going to level with you, at least part of my love for The Candyman is based on Tony Todd and my slight obsession with attractive voices. The rest of the reasoning behind including him is he’s just a damn good villain. My track record with saying that Candyman is criminally underrated can be well noted, and I continue with that theme. The Candyman is creepy as hell. From the hook hand, to being covered with bees, to the fact that he can basically control Helen’s mind, it’s all just so effective and pretty terrifying. I first watched Candyman when I was way too young, and I had reoccurring nightmares about him. He is everything a good horror villain needs to be, and then again, the voice.
These are some of my favorite villains. Do you agree? Who are some villains that you love?