As I put together this list, it occurred to me that the classics do it best. The newest of these villains started playing his scary self 25 years ago. Sure, there have been some pretty intense baddies in horror recently, but these guys just give me the shivers like no one else.
5. Pinhead from Hellraiser
Just the look of this guy freaks me out. And it’s no wonder since one of his creators was Clive Barker, one of the best horror writers I’ve had the pleasure of reading. Part of Pinhead’s fearsome aspect is that he’s so reasonable and intelligent. Arguing with this cold, calculated cenobite as you try to keep your soul will always be a losing battle.
4. Freddie from A Nightmare on Elm Street
Who doesn’t love Freddie? He’s so unrepentantly evil, you just have to give him his due. I’m not usually a fan of the slasher movie, which tends to rely too heavily on blood and gore, but watching Freddie stalk his victims with such glee makes him a definite shoe-in for the list.
3. Bela Lugosi’s Dracula
Bela is the original and definitive Dracula. His methodical pacing, like that of a living corpse, is markedly different from the recent offerings of angst-ridden bloodsuckers. He is a predator with no conscience, no feeling for his victims. Even when he’s not speaking, he’s a riveting presence on the screen.
2. Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein’s Monster
In turns poignant and terrible, the monster (his creator was Frankenstein, this was not the creature’s name) became one of the most enduring faces of horror since its debut in 1931. Watching the creature reach for a beam of sunlight and happily toss flowers in the pond with a little girl only underscored his monstrous attacks on others. Without speaking a word, Boris Karloff created an iconic character.
Jack Nicholson – The Shining
“Heeeere’s Johnny!” With demented grin and ax in hand, Jack Nicholson’s delivery made that line one of the most heartstopping in horror. While I’m usually a purist when it comes to movies based on books (especially Stephen King books), Nicholson’s portrayal of Jack Torrence was wonderful in its over-the-top performance. He looked insane from the moment he showed up on the screen, and he only looked crazier with each passing frame. My husband and I always watch The Shining on Halloween, and the main reason has to do with wacky Jacky.