Top 10 Horror Villains of All-Time

The first horror film arrived on the scene in the 1890s and movie goers have enjoyed the scary ride for 125 years with no stop in sight. But, who has scared you the most?

Here is my take on the top 10 best horror villains of all time. You might not agree with list or the order, but you CANNOT deny the worthiness of those who made the cut. They are all scary in their own way, and will creep you out to the core.

10. The Candyman: The Candyman

The Candyman

The Candyman makes this list because he must! It is a rare occurrence when a horror film features an African-American character as its lead villain AND it not sound a comedic note a la Tales from the Hood. This terror is real and he will have his pound of flesh. The story centers around the ghost of slave who was chased down, captured, tied to a tree, drenched with honey, and then stung to death by bees while a lynch mob stood by and a laughed and taunted him as he died, all the while chanting, “Candyman.” This character, not unlike the loveable and up-to-no-good Beetlejuice (Beetleguise for you sticklers), can only be conjured by looking in a mirror and saying his name five times. Most people believe he is a legend used to control the masses, but we soon find out that you shouldn’t tempt fate OR his hook! Candyman, Candyman, Candyman, Candyman…

9. The Creeper: Jeepers Creepers

The Creeper

No one really knows what it is, we only that it scares the bejesus out of you. The Creeper awakens every 23 summers to hunt and feed for 23 days on human bodies, often taking trophies of his victims as a part of his own body (Gina Philips and Justin Long found that out firsthand). The next time you’re thinking about taking a road trip down a lonely country highway, and you see a strange old rusted-out truck moving along the highway, beware of what could be lurking inside the cab. Keep your head down and don’t catch his attention because he just might want to add you as a trophy. Jeepers, creepers…where’d you get those peepers?

8. John Ryder: The Hitcher

The Hitcher John Ryder

To call this “man” sinister is to go mild on his character. A more accurate description would be sadistic. A lone hitchhiker is picked up by a road-weary kid driving a car from Chicago to San Diego. He just needed a little company to pass the time and to keep him awake. He soon realizes that he has made the worst decision of his life and that he will be the next victim in this murderous game of cat and mouse. Rutger Hauer turns in a sinister performance as deadly hitcher. Didn’t your mother ever tell you not talk to stranger AND to NEVER pick-up hitchhikers? You have been warned!

7. Christine: John Carpenter’s Christine

Christine Fury

Who knew an inanimate object could be so damned scary? Stephen King, that’s who. The tale of Christine, the possessed 1958 Plymouth Fury (aptly named) that wants to be the only girl in her owner Arnold’s life. This bullied, awkward teen lovingly restores the car to her former glory. While he restores the Fury he gains confidence and a girlfriend to boot, but Christine doesn’t like this and neither does his tormentors who vandalize his car. They should never have done that because now Christine wants revenge and she will have her due. To fully have Arnold to herself, she is not opposed to a little murder. Talk about hell on wheels.

6. Pennywise, or Pennywise the Dancing Clown, or IT: Stephen King’s IT

Pennywise the Clown

IT can appear to you as a clown, or spider, or whatever waking nightmare you may have lying in the darkest, deepest recesses of your mind. IT can also inhabit the form of your loved ones to ensnare you in it’s trap. One of it’s favorite forms is that of a clown. For you Coulrophobics out there, you know who you are, all I need mention is a clown for your skin to crawl and the willies to set in. Pennywise will strike the fear in you (it doesn’t hurt to have Tim Curry’s creepy melodious voice behind him). This inter-dimensional entity is a waiting to terrorize you. He preys on you loners, so you better go out there and make yourself some friends. Don’t look into IT’s eyes or you will lose your grip on sanity.

5. Pinhead the Hell Priest: Hellraiser


The next time you decided to pick up a puzzle box in a foreign land half-way across the world, think again. Some puzzles, like some mysteries, are not meant to be solved. But if you’re feeling adventurous and enjoy torture ad pain for an eternity, give it a whirl. And if you escape eternal damnation, Pinhead and the Cenobites WILL find you and show you the time of your life. Pleasure and pain can be subjective you know. They’ll “tear your soul apart.”

4. Jigsaw (a.k.a., the Jigsaw Killer): Saw


What would happen if you woke up in an old, abandoned, filthy bathroom, chained to the wall with no idea how you got there, a bloody corpse on the floor in front of you, and another man across from you in the same predicament? You then find a cassette tape (yes a cassette tape and for those of you who don’t know what it is, GOOGLE it!) in your pocket that instructs you to kill or be killed. What’s the value of a life? That’s what the puzzle master Jigsaw sought to find out once he set his series of pieces in motion. This villain forces those he controls to participate in self-mutilation and murder just to accomplish his own brand of revenge; and it all comes wrapped up in a creepy mask. This “puzzle man” is more of a puppet master than anything else. What would you do stay alive? How much is your life worth to you?

3. Jason Voorhees: Friday the 13th Part 2

Jason Voorhees

Friday the 13th used to be another date on the calendar, that was until this killer hacked his way on the screen. Jason Voorhees died from an accidental drowning while at summer camp in his childhood. He emerged from the depths of that lake as a full-grown, machete-toting killing machine. Who knew that below the surface of the beautiful Crystal Lake lies the body and spirit of a boy hell-bent on revenge against all teenagers because their irresponsibility led to his death? Camp counselors and scandalous teenagers everywhere, BEWARE.

2. Freddy Krueger: Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street

Freddy Krueger

What’s creepier than a child molester/child murderer? One that has been hunted down by a lynch mob of angry parents after escaping prosecution for his crimes on a technicality, then trapped in a building and burned alive; then returning as a vengeful ghost who is determined to seek his revenge on the children of those who murdered him by any means necessary. He comes to them while they sleep, clad in his dirty red and green sweater, with a claw made of razor-sharp blades ready to slash them to pieces. And don’t forget the rhyme. “One, two Freddy’s looking for you. Three, four better lock your door. Five, six grab your crucifix. Seven, eight better stay up late. Nine, ten never sleep again.”

1. Michael Meyers: Halloween

Michael Myers

Did you know that a Captain Kirk Halloween mask turned inside out could be so scary? John Carpenter and Debra Hill weave the tale of Michael Meyers the one man death machine. He is out to erase his family line and anyone that stands in his path. Meyers started killing when he was a just a boy, starting with his older, bitchier sister, and will never stop until he has wiped out the remainder of his familial line. It would that not even a mental hospital can hold him or stamp out his need to kill. He never utters a sound, never runs, but eventually you will fall victim to his VERY large butcher knife. Promiscuous teenagers on Halloween should be on the look-out for this boogeyman.

Honorable mentions:

Chucky: Child’s Play

Samara: the Ring
Samara the Ring

Zombie: from any great zombie film

Xenomorph, (a.k.a., the Alien): the Alien franchise
The Alien

Khuwailah Beyah
Khuwailah Beyah
Khuwailah "Cookie" Beyah hails from North Carolina. She is a pop culture nut and loves all things Nathan Fillion. Ms. Beyah has a passion for the macabre and the horror genre. She serves on the "Nevermore Film Festival" selection committee in Durham, NC and attends several comic and horror conventions each year. She holds an MA from Duke University, but is a dyed in the wool North Carolina Tar Heel fan! She also enjoys writing and reading creative non-fiction.