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Top 50 Most Popular Horror Movie Characters Of All Time
Shivam-Posted Jan 7, 2023
A good scary movie is not only remembered for its jump scares and mysterious plot twists, but also for its compelling characters that have enough distinct personality traits to keep the viewers engaged.
Indeed, a lot many scary movie fans across the globe share the opinion that a horror feature is only as interesting as its characters.
While some of these characters are serial killers and supernatural forces, others can take the shape of something deeper as they offer explorations of fear, grief, loss, and death.
It is not surprising then that most successful horror credits over the years have managed to attain cult status solely because they are remembered for their characters.
Also, while there's always something inexplicably fascinating about kickass villains, there wouldn't be a point in their existence if they are not matched by a conventional hero or by exciting supporting characters.
Thus, we have taken the onus upon ourselves to compile a list of the most memorable and iconic characters from horror movies, dating right back to the earliest days of the genre.
These supremely entertaining, deep, and intriguing characters have managed to stand the test of time and will continue to enthrall viewers for decades to come.
50. Damien Thorn's Dog (The Omen)
One of the most underrated horror film characters of all time has to be Hellhound - Damien Thorn's pet dog who happens to live at his estate with him.
His name, Hellhound, is a reference to the canine that serves Satan. While facing the cursed kid in The Omen is frightening as it is, we are introduced to his loyal companion, who is sent on various missions to kill people.
Many would argue that being at the will of the dog is scarier than facing the devil in the kid itself.
However, together, they make you believe that you're being cornered by something beyond comprehension and far more powerful than you.
Worse still, it means that your demise is imminent.
49. Death (Final Destination)
When your killer is a classified serial killer or an angry spirit, there is at least a possibility of survival.
However, what must one do to survive when they are being chased by Death itself? The makers of the famous Final Destination franchise have used the aforementioned premise to churn out one exciting movie after another, wherein survival isn't only about running out the clock until you're the last one standing.
We are introduced to several characters in the series who do everything they can to avoid their imminent demise.
However, Death throws all their plans out of the window and ensures that fate unfolds as it's written. Needless to say, the series has shown some truly elaborate and over-the-top death scenes that have gone on to become its one true calling card.
48. Poltergeist (Poltergeist)
A major critical and commercial success upon its theatrical release, Poltergeist introduces us to disembodied spirits that go on to terrorize a hapless family.
These spirits, who are not your usual physical monsters, are led by a dominating force called 'The Beast' that attempts to draw young Carol Ann Freeling into the realm of the dead through the family's TV set.
Ultimately, it is revealed that these restless spirits are angry about the fact that a house has been built atop a burial ground.
While the sequels failed to impress viewers and critics alike, the original Poltergeist movie and its titular spirits continue to force us to revisit them.
47. Chatterer (Hellraiser)
Chatterer may be one of the key members of the main villain Pinhead's circle, but he is far more frightening all by himself.
Before having become a Cenobite, he was named Jim and was living a terrible and tragic life. Therefore, now, we catch him enjoying causing pain to others for he seems to have experienced a lot of it himself.
His only means of communication is the constant clicking of his teeth, which goes on to explain how he must have gotten his name in the first place.
One of the most dreadful Cenobites, Chatterer has a fear-inducing appearance to go with his killing skills. Not only does he lack eyes but his blood-filled mouth, which is held open with wire, makes even come across as even more menacing, and we are only being polite with words here.
46. Jigsaw (Saw)
Make way for the mysterious man in Saw who abducts people who he thinks take their lives for granted.
The prolific killer has a method to his madness, and to ensure that his victims start appreciating the true meaning of life, he compels them to fight to stay alive.
His elaborate death traps, which are a bit too difficult to behold, push his victims to test their level of perseverance and sanity.
When Jigsaw's backstory is revealed, we get to know that he is a terminal cancer patient, who goes to extreme lengths to remind his victims to be grateful for the life that they have, no matter how satisfying or bad.
However, the only problem here is that he allows his madness to take center stage and, thus, believes that torturing people who do not realize the significance of living might just end up making the world a better place.
The series of gruesome tests that he puts his victims through is symbolic of what he perceives as a flaw in each person's character.
45. The Candyman (Candyman)
If you and your friends were young adults during the beginning of the '90s, you may have dared each other to whisper this villain's name in a mirror.
Based on Clive Barker’s story "The Forbidden", Candyman is a cult horror feature that is best remembered for its commentary on race, class, and, of course, its supernatural baddie.
The Candyman appealed to anyone who ever stood in a washroom and whispered his name five times in front of a mirror to check if he really does appear.
While his voice is recognizable enough, he can be distinguished by his tattered cloak and the hook that rests where his hand should ideally be.
However, what makes the Candyman strike a chord with the viewers is the fact that the makers have been thoughtful enough to lend him a tragic backstory.
44. Fog (The Fog)
Fog, scientifically, may mean a visible aerosol consisting of tiny water droplets suspended in the air, but in John Carpenter's cult horror movie, The Fog, it proves to be a true-blue antagonist; thus, making it arguably the most unique "character" to feature on our compilation.
Deemed to be the most underrated natural occurrence, the fog gets its due credit in the motion picture as it is seen carrying a band of bloodthirsty ghost-mariner-pirate-demon-people with it.
Director John Carpenter deserves appreciation for being able to create a setting in which an unusually overcast morning and a strange, glowing fog have been villainized like never before, or ever since.
43. Esther (Orphan)
Esther has managed to captivate the minds of the viewers ever since she was first seen on the big screen in 2009's Orphan.
One of the most interesting horror movie villains to date, she is a 33-year-old woman who masquerades herself as a nine-year-old girl and gets adopted by a couple mourning the unfortunate death of their unborn child.
She may come across as subtle, gentle, and polite, but there is more to her than what meets the eye.
Minutes into Orphan and Orphan: First Kill, we find Esther using her wit to kill whoever comes in the way of what she wants.
42. Kevin Wendell Crumb (Split)
After a string of critical and commercial duds in the '00s, horror movie master M. Night Shyamalan roared back into top form with the theatrical release of Split in 2016.
All thanks to one of the most astonishing performances by James McAvoy, the film was able to scare most people in the cinema halls.
The actor plays the terrifying Kevin Wendell Crumb; a seemingly unassuming zoo employee whose mind is home to 23 other alternate personalities.
However, among those personalities, the one that stands out and does, indeed, reigns over all the others is "The Beast"; a superhuman monster who devours human flesh.
While Kevin and his other selves were given another opportunity to return in 2019's Glass, it was not exactly the sating conclusion that most of us were looking forward to.
41. Summerisle Pagans (The Wicker Man)
Widely recognized as one of the most important British feature films of the 1970s, and a defining example of the folk horror genre, The Wicker Man is a highly ambiguous project that manages to keep the viewers on the edge of their seats even today.
However, it is difficult to gauge who the actual villain in this cult film is. We catch a conservative Christian cop stepping into Summerisle and instructing the pagans about what to believe and how to live.
Sure, he is as intrusive as they come, which is perhaps why the villagers lure him there to kill him as a sacrifice to their pagan gods, hoping to receive a bountiful harvest in return.
Needless to mention, while some would argue that the cop is the hero, there certainly is a section of viewers that thinks that the pagans were right in what they did. But then again, who are we to judge what's right or wrong?
40. The Babadook (The Babadook)
Pop-culture LGBTQ heroes come in all shapes and sizes, but rarely have they not been humans. However, the titular villain from 2014's The Babadook has gone on to become an unlikely LGBTQ+ icon, despite having haunted a single mother and her aggressively annoying child in the popular movie.
While the mother and son already seem to be dealing with a children's book that just won't go away and a terrifying phone call, it is the Babadook who makes his presence felt and, in the process, ends up claiming a spot on the list of the memorable and frightening horror villains of the bygone decade.
39. Giant Ants (Them!)
When Gordon Douglas released his unique black-and-white science fiction monster film back in 1954, it made a lot of viewers believe that the gigantic irradiated ants shown in it might just be the beginning of what may be the end of humanity.
One of the first "nuclear monster" films, and certainly the first "big bug" feature film to use insects as the monster, Them! managed to scare the viewers to the very core by demonstrating the sheer size of the ants alone.
Not only did the creatures amplify the horror in the movie but they also went on to exemplify the horror maxim that is: bigger is definitely scarier.
38. Black Phillip (The Witch)
The devil comes in all shapes and sizes and will do anything to disrupt your home and peace of mind.
That's precisely what happens in the Robert Eggers-helmed folk horror film, The Witch. While one might not expect the antagonist in any mainstream feature to be a huge black goat, trust Eggers to do the unthinkable.
The man gives your traditional horror movie villain a horrifying twist by showcasing a devil-possessed goat, who is hunting a puritanic Christian family.
The horned star of this critically acclaimed motion picture is the assumed mortal form of Satan himself. What's even more startling about this creature is that its real-life trainer went on to assert that he had never seen horns so big on a goat ever before.
37. Samara Morgan (The Ring)
Evil entities have always been known for masquerading as innocent people, and, unsurprisingly, we have all shared an affinity for this trademark horror movie concept.
That is perhaps why we were all so eager to catch Samara Morgan, the demonic poster child for the Ring series, on the big screen.
Samara may appear shy and quiet at first, but the young girl goes on to shock one and all when her true side comes to the fore with the progress of both the original film and the franchise.
The restless and creepy villainess introduces herself to her victims exactly seven days after they have watched a cursed videotape, which, ultimately, brings them the unwanted gift of death.
Imagine watching a video on your television set and then seeing Samara crawl out of the screen right into your living room. Yeah, that'll be the day!
36. Frank (Donnie Darko)
Frank is a smartly penned character, who, aside from being Donnie Darko's large, probably imaginary, costumed bunny acquaintance, is also pretty much the buried corner of our very own psyche.
He is a member of the Manipulated Dead, whose primary motive is to guide Donnie on his path to rectifying the timeline of the primary universe by returning the jet engine to its accurate universe.
Even though he possesses noble goals, Frank's methods of achieving them not only torment but also go on to corrupt the titular protagonist.
In fact, the terrifying but equally amusing demonic bunny even makes him believe that he can get away with anything and that the world is ending in less than a month.
35. The Entity (Smile)
Nobody ever thought that a smile could be dangerous until Parker Finn's critically and commercially successful psychological horror feature, Smile, hit the screens in 2022.
In the movie, we notice an unseen supernatural entity taking the form of smiling people, following which they commit suicide.
The events take place in the presence of another individual who is then seen carrying forward the dreadful pattern.
Smile is not about cheap thrills or jump scares but it is primarily about unsettling imagery and the fine line drawn between sanity and insanity.
The film allows its familiar horror tropes to come to the fore to confront the deeply unsettling and, yet, equally critical issue of mental illness.
Its concept and title serve as a metaphor for the people who've been battling trauma with a smile on their faces for the longest time.
34. Frankenstein's Monster (Frankenstein)
When author Mary Shelley introduced Frankenstein in her classic horror novel, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, little did she know that the book will be considered to be the dawn of science fiction shortly.
It's not surprising then that Dr. Victor Frankenstein and his signature creation have been a part of several on-screen adaptations of the acclaimed book.
While motion pictures featuring the two aforementioned characters have been produced ever since the beginning of the 20th century, it is Universal's 1931 feature that remains the most iconic.
Props to Boris Karloff for having defined the look of this spooky monster and for making him one of the most enduring horror characters in popular culture.
33. Zombies (Night of the Living Dead)
In George Romero's seminal 1968 horror film Night of the Living Dead, we are introduced to an enlarging group of flesh-eating, undead ghouls, who seek the living to use as food.
There is no denying the fact that "the walking dead" have supplanted vampires as the most common horror movie antagonists these days.
However, it is imperative to mention that the contemporary idea of what constitutes a zombie was first introduced by Romero in his cult horror feature.
The zombies depicted in the motion picture were the reanimated bodies of the dead that craved human flesh, with a special preference for brains.
Therefore, they could only be eliminated when their head was destroyed.
32. Pinhead (Hellraiser)
Among the most visually exceptional horror villains of all time, Pinhead happens to be the undisputed leader of a group of bondage enthusiasts/demons known as the Cenobites in the various Hellraiser motion pictures.
Even though Hellraiser is not the most popular horror movie series out there, it certainly has managed to grab eyeballs, all thanks to the regal charm of Pinhead.
The villain thrives on his Dracula-esque nobility, which makes him different from his '80s contemporaries such as Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger.
While the increasingly underwhelming Hellraiser sequels led to a drop in Pinhead's stock, the character got a boost of sorts courtesy of the 2022 Hulu reboot.
31. Chucky (Child's Play)
There is no denying that some dolls are indeed creepy and that there's something about their large and glossy eyes and distinct hairdo that continues to rub people the wrong way.
So, we weren't surprised when the makers of the Child's Play franchise of films used the shared phobia of dolls to offer a crazed murderer trapped in the body of, well, a creepy doll.
Reportedly inspired by Hasbro's My Buddy dolls, Chucky originally debuted as a talking doll, which, to be honest, is creepy as it is.
However, the makers upped the ante when they granted the wicked doll the potential to come to life and murder every adult that crossed his path.
While these movies also have a comedic element to them, that doesn’t make them any less scary; primarily because they thrive on the several jumps scares, and gory sequences to make an impression.
Even though the psychotic Chucky is known to have used a variety of weapons to slay his victims, he seems to be a tad partial to a large butcher knife.
30. Ash Williams (The Evil Dead Franchise)
Ashley Joanna "Ash" Williams has gone on to make a name for himself for being a bonafide horror hero who is flawed and, yet, loco enough to be almost as merciless as his adversaries in the globally popular Evil Dead franchise.
After having been the final survivor in the original Evil Dead, he has managed to deal with one malevolent spirit after another in the subsequent movies; thus, establishing himself as a memorable horror character.
While his presence in the Evil Dead movies is undeniable, Ash's most well-known image of late is from the Ash v. Evil Dead television series; a show in which his right arm is notably replaced with a chainsaw.
29. Damien Thorn (The Omen)
Trust filmmaker Richard Donner and his 1976 classic The Omen to finally make us believe that children can be just as creepy as adult villains and that they cannot be blindly trusted in horror movies.
Damien, who is the central antagonist of the Omen series, happens to be the Anti-Christ. Unfortunately for the adults in his life, they discover the fact a bit too late.
By then, we have already witnessed the young boy sending his enemies plummeting to their deaths with a sinister smile on his face.
Even though his reign of terror and legacy are explored in sequels and remakes, it is the original movie that continues to be as unnerving today as it was when it first hit the screens.
28. Pennywise (The It Franchise)
Watching the dreadful Pennywise scare kids out of their wits in the It film series will help you comprehend why a lot of people have a deep-rooted fear of clowns.
This character is known to have haunted quite a few people in their dreams, and there's something about him that sticks with the viewers after they're done watching the It movies.
While his evil grin and white-painted face are horrifying enough, what makes him far more sinister is the fact that he lures kids down into the sewers of Derry, Maine.
And, as we all know, anyone who preys on the young and innocent can surely not be human. Pennywise, whose perceived form is determined by the minds of the victims he tortures, was brought to life amazingly by actor Bill Skarsgård in the 2017 movie and its much-awaited sequel.
27. Ghostface (Scream)
The extremely popular villain of the horror satire Scream series, Ghostface is characterized by his signature Halloween mask and his affinity for playing games with his victims before killing them.
The twist of the franchise is that Ghostface isn't a single villain. In fact, the Scream movies are so exciting to watch purely because they keep the viewers guessing who the dreaded antagonist might be this time around.
The formulaic features show an insane individual (sometimes two) donning the infamous costume and renewing the process of killing young and dumb people.
Even though Ghostface's appearance may not be traditionally unsettling, his violent demeanor and phone voice are enough to send chills down your spine.
26. The Grabber (The Black Phone)
We have often seen see that filmmakers across the globe have tried to humanize the trademark serial killer by casting a light on their traumatic past.
However, what sets The Black Phone's antagonist apart is that he is deprived of a classic tragic story and, thus, his humanity.
That is perhaps why the Grabber is so scary and tough to relate to. Portrayed ably by Ethan Hawke, the Grabber can be seen wearing a scary mask and is someone who cannot be reasoned with.
However, what makes him appalling is that he comes across as your everyday man who uses common tools to kidnap children and trap them in his basement.
More importantly, the angry and evil serial killer is seen residing in the suburbs undetected. Needless to mention, the Grabber is someone we could cross paths with on the streets without ever realizing that there's a wolf in sheep's clothes, and that is precisely what makes him incredulously scary.
25. Annabelle (Annabelle)
Horror movie fans would be familiar with the fact that The Conjuring universe has several demonic entities and ghosts; each of which stands a chance to make it to our story.
However, we must give the nod to Annabelle, who is, undoubtedly, the most unsettling movie doll to have hit the cinemas, besides Chucky.
Even though she is only seen staring creepily at people and her surroundings from inside her protective glass case, her appearance is more than enough to give you countless nightmares.
Arguably the most sought-after doll in the world of horror today, Annabelle was able to make an impression despite having been seen for only a second in The Conjuring.
That said, she has now gone on to headline a successful spinoff series and will probably be making her comeback soon again.
This doll is definitely the toy you wouldn't want your kid to take home.
24. Thing (The Thing)
The protagonists in John Carpenter's 1982 movie The Thing get the shock of their lives when they stumble upon the eponymous "Thing"; a parasitic extraterrestrial life-form that does not only have the power to reproduce but also imitate other organisms.
Needless to say, the horrible-looking alien needs to make sure that it survives by hook or by crook, and that is precisely what makes it even more dangerous.
It is not surprising then that the characters start to fear it even more as they continue to make sense of how exactly it functions.
The Thing is one of the most beloved films about creatures, but not every horror movie fan is too fond of the creature shown in it.
This is primarily because it is too scary and gross to look at.
23. The Great White Shark (Jaws)
The fact that humanity has a primal fear of the ocean has got a lot to do with the presence of the Great White Shark in it.
And, Steven Spielberg was able to capture the terror of both the creature and the endless blue in the most thrilling way possible in his summer blockbuster Jaws.
While the motion picture showed an oversized shark tormenting the inhabitants and tourists of a New England community, it actually went on to terrorize hundreds and thousands of viewers in the cinemas, who later started fearing heading out to beaches as well.
The Great White Shark from Jaws is one of those "characters" that has the power to scare you by leaving things to your vivid imagination.
So, according to us, the iconic creature certainly does deserve a spot on our list.
22. Leatherface (The Texas Chain Saw Massacre)
The villain in The Texas Chain-Saw Massacre franchise is not only impossible to forget but he is also the most startling one of the lot.
Inspired by real-life figure Ed Gein, Leatherface is known for wearing masks made of human skin and wielding a chainsaw, with the help of which he attacks his victims.
While we have often seen terrifying horror movie characters stalking and playing games with their targets, Leatherface pretty much ups the ante with his gruesome appearance alone.
Even though we never truly know what evil is lurking behind closed doors, what we do, however, know is that we must not let our van break down in the Texas wilderness.
21. Jason Voorhees (Friday the 13th)
The iconic killer from the long-running Friday the 13th series is instantly recognizable, all thanks to his deformed face which is hidden behind a hockey mask.
Also, he wields a deadly machete to slaughter people to get revenge for how he has been treated in his life and, of course, for the murder of his beloved mother at the end of the first installment.
What is especially scary about this large and silent killer is that he appears out of nowhere to plague and torture his victims.
And, if that wasn't enough to stir you, make peace with the fact that Jason has superhuman strength and pain resistance, which makes it nearly impossible for him to be killed.
Voorhees may not even have been the central villain in the original film, but his legacy is strong enough to ensure that the franchise carries on.
20. Xenomorph (Alien)
The original Alien movie introduced the viewers to the Xenomorph, who was a bloodthirsty alien carnivore that grew from human host bodies.
The super-smart creature managed to nearly wipe out an entire spaceship crew before being sucked into space. And, since it was shrewd, the main characters in the story found it pretty tough to outsmart them.
The Xenomorphs continued to be a constant threat to the protagonists in various spinoffs of the original feature film.
While the quality of the spinoffs does certainly vary, these creatures have always been the stuff of nightmares that none of us would ever wish to chance upon; whether in an alien land or on planet earth.
19. The Armitage Family (Get Out)
The Armitage Family are the antagonists of the 2017 horror/thriller film Get Out, which is easily among the finest projects in the genre to have hit the screens in the 21st century.
While visiting our better half's family for the very first time is alarming as it is, this racially charged psychological horror film takes the pain to show just how horribly wrong that ordeal can go.
Minutes into the movie, we are introduced to the Armitage Family, who, unbeknownst to the central protagonist, are members of an evil cult organization called the Order of the Coagula.
They entrap, sell, and transfer the consciousness of prospective buyers into the bodies of younger African Americans. As you might have gauged by now, the Armitages are as deadly and inhuman as any chainsaw-wielding villain on our list.
18. The Creature (Creature from the Black Lagoon)
The Creature from Creature from the Black Lagoon is perceived as both a monster and an inevitable threat to people because he is a proto-human, an evolutionary dead-end estranged from his land-based antecedents.
Even though the Gill-man's physical strength and his kinship to his surroundings threaten the comfort of the dominant species, it is worth noting that he is possibly the least evil a "monster" has ever been on celluloid.
We say so because never once do we catch this iconic character trying to attack a village or seek out violence.
In fact, he is always on the defensive, acting primarily when is forced to by humans themselves. Over time, the character has become so significant that its modified version was brought back decades later for an acclaimed film called The Shape of Water.
17. Count Orlok (Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror)
One of the most iconic monsters of classic horror, Count Orlok, who is erroneously known as Nosferatu, is a wicked, ruthless, and unforgiving vampire, who takes pleasure in causing chaos by spreading plagues around Europe.
Portrayed with elan by German actor Max Schreck in the silent feature Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror, the character is based on Bram Stoker's renowned character Count Dracula.
Orlok is a withdrawn vampire who operates from a decrepit Romanian castle. One feels like he gains strength by spreading plagues among villages over centuries, which, of course, results in the terrible deaths and transformations of many.
16. Julian Slowik (The Menu)
The Menu is a spectacularly bizarre yet refreshing horror-comedy that serves as an examination of the exorbitant consumer culture.
Its commentary on the class divide and superficiality of the rich is aided by its immanent desire to call out the commercialization of art in all its forms.
Aside from the film's symbolic storytelling, it is Ralph Fiennes and his character projection of Julian Slowik that compel the viewers to ponder.
The actor plays a decorated celebrity chef who is revered by diners. But, he seems to have lost his passion for his craft.
Slowik, who is pretty much a product of the forces that created him, is our modern-day horror movie villain who arrives just in time to break the pride and spirit of his diners until their only thoughts are of survival.
A masterfully sketched character that is brought to life stunningly by the commanding Ralph Fiennes.
15. The Entity (It Follows)
It Follows is a praiseworthy horror movie about a deadly curse that is passed from one terrified victim to another via sexual intercourse.
This allows Death, which serves as a curse STD of sorts, to haunt its victims while being disguised as either a friend or a stranger. 'It', as it is known, moves unhurriedly, or quickly, depending on how early it needs to get the better of its victims.
We notice that once a person has been infected by this supernatural force, they have no option other than to either pass it on to the next unfortunate nincompoop or spend the rest of their life running from an unknown and reckless killer, who will stop at nothing to get your soul.
While the motion picture offers a creepy plot, it does leave its viewer thinking that having sex just for fun may still not be an idea worth keeping, no matter how liberal or "advanced” you are.
So, it doesn't matter whether you enjoy senseless pleasure or not, be smart enough to realize that a sexually transmitted villain might be waiting for you to make that one mistake that ends up leading it to you.
14. Chris Washington (Get Out)
Those who have seen Jordan Peele's Get Out would agree that most of the characters in the critically and commercially successful film have been sketched incredibly well.
While each character has a significant role to play in the movie's analysis of systemic racism in the United States of America, it is Chris Washington who manages to truly stand out.
Played effortlessly by Daniel Kaluuya, Chris is a friendly and quick-witted individual who seems to get along with everyone he chances upon.
Since he is a photographer, he is naturally aware of his surroundings and is far more observant than most characters in the screenplay; something that helps him get out of a cumbersome situation.
His single tear remains a haunting image of horror cinema in the 21st century.
13. Clarice Starling (The Silence of the Lambs)
Played by Jodie Foster with utmost grace and conviction, Clarice Starling is an exceptional woman and one of the finest horror/thriller movie characters of all time.
Presented as an underdog of sorts in the opening sequences of the classic motion picture, she is both a student and a woman trying to get her job done as diligently as possible while working for the male-dominated FBI.
Starling may come across as a quiet and mousey FBI trainee at first, but she goes on to display her prowess as a hero after having been "guided" by Lecter.
Even though she has trust issues with men, we figure that she might have to overcome her past to gather critical information from Lecter; all while trying to solve her first case.
12. Ed and Lorraine Warren (The Conjuring Franchise)
Based on the true stories of exorcist couple Ed and Lorraine Warren, The Conjuring was a well-crafted and gleefully creepy supernatural film whose success led to the birth of multiple successful sequels.
While the franchise has continued to surprise the viewers with its astounding depiction of horror, its true strength lies in the characters of Ed and Lorraine Warren, played amazingly by acclaimed actors Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, respectively.
It's been reported that both Farmiga and Wilson reportedly visited the real-life Lorraine Warren to get as authentic portrayals of her and her husband as possible.
Lorraine's nonjudgmental understanding and motherly protective nature are beautifully complemented by Ed's level-headed demeanor. Needless to say, it is a delight to catch their palpable chemistry unfold on the big screen.
So, trust us when we say that you have little to fear when the Warrens are near. Don't believe us yet? Ask the other protagonists in The Conjuring film franchise!
11. Ellen Ripley (Alien)
The inimitable Sigourney Weaver puts her warrior-like act to the forefront to battle aliens in Ridley Scott's original 1979 masterpiece.
While the slimy, bone-chilling aliens are able to strike fear into viewers, Ellen Ripley puts on quite a show and reminds the creatures that it is them who should, actually, be afraid of her.
Firm, fearless, and responsible, Ripley possesses the rare gift of coming across as assertive while continuing to remain friendly to those around her.
Also, she believes in speaking only when she has something significant to convey. Even though she is not too fond of taking risks, she is willing to do whatever it takes to survive.
10. Laurie Strode (The Halloween Franchise)
Brought to life with great confidence and conviction by actress Jamie Lee Curtis, Laurie Strode is the second most popular character from the horror classic Halloween to make it to our coveted list.
While the brainy, shy, and introverted Laurie may not be too outgoing, she is quite aware of the fact that someone is lurking in the shadows, stalking her.
Her cerebral personality may not make her the life of the party, but it certainly has helped her muster a lot of courage in her life.
Needless to say, she is soon seen putting her survival skills to use while dealing with one of the greatest horror movie antagonists of all time.
I must mention that I was pleasantly surprised at how well Laurie survives the onslaughts of Michael Myers in not only the original Halloween movie but also its many sequels.
9. Annie Wilkes (Misery)
Not a lot of Stephen King novels have been translated very well to the big screen over the years.
However, one could argue that Misery was tailor-made for a film adaptation. The deeply disconcerting, claustrophobic horror movie ends up providing a simple message to authors everywhere: Never meet your biggest fan.
The classic horror feature thrives on Kathy Bates' performance as Annie Wilkes, who becomes so obsessed with her favorite novelist that she ends up breaking his legs and, subsequently, chaining him to a bed.
Bates was so convincing in her character projection that this film went on to launch her decades-long film and television career, and rightfully so.
Not only does her character sketch showcase how the gap between obsession and devotion can be blurred but it also, in several ways, kicks down the barriers between storytellers and fans.
8. Pazuzu/Regan MacNeil (The Exorcist)
This fictional character, who is the main antagonist in The Exorcist horror novel and film franchise, looks like a hybrid of an animal and a human.
Not only does it make him come across as unnatural but also as terrifying as a character could have cinematically appeared back in the '70s.
This demon is shown to be possessing Regan MacNeil in the cult classic horror movie, which scared hundreds of people when it first hit the screens in 1973.
While Pazuzu sure is scary, what makes him even creepier is that Regan can be heard referring to him as "Captain Howdy" for a while.
Expectedly, we are not given much room to feel sorry for the girl, whose life takes a sinister turn following her possession.
In fact, she ends up becoming the face of the demon and starts terrorizing the people around her. Although Pazuzu may not be the most talked about horror movie villain in pop culture today, he is pretty much a significant part of horror history.
7. Count Dracula (Dracula)
Trust us when we say that there is no other horror villain with a Hollywood history longer than that of the inimitable Count Dracula.
Dracula's most enduring film appearance came in 1931 when acting icon Bela Lugosi starred in Universal's Dracula, which received several critical accolades upon its theatrical release.
The movie did not only define the look and mannerisms of the character for decades to follow but it also went on to inspire a ton of mainstream feature films that tried to emulate its ground-breaking success.
Needless to say, this legendary horror movie character has appeared in hundreds of motion pictures throughout the years and has been played by several acclaimed cine stars.
However, it is Bela Lugosi's Count Dracula who continues to remain the most famous bloodsucker of them all.
6. Hannibal Lecter (The Silence of the Lambs)
Intelligence, charm, and charisma are supposed to be traits that make an individual come off as attractive. However, our beloved antagonist Hannibal Lecter has used these very attributes to disturb and alarm fans of The Silence of the Lambs and its spinoffs.
Smart as Jodie Foster's Clarice Starling might be, it is Oscar-winner Anthony Hopkins who goes on to steal the thunder in this cult classic motion picture; all while elevating Hannibal to a movie icon through his outstanding character play.
One of the most recognizable horror characters of all time, Hannibal Lecter, shockingly, derives his strength from being a cannibal.
Therefore, even non-horror fans are familiar with him and his habits, thus, allowing him a place in popular culture.
That Hannibal is a serial killer who is fond of cooking and eating his victims may be off-putting, but trust Hopkins and his acting prowess to still seduce viewers into wanting to get into the character's mind and figure out the way he thinks.
5. Freddy Krueger (A Nightmare on Elm Street)
Unlike most horror villains on our list, Freddy Krueger happens to be a loquacious character who has had an extended and robust career of tormenting innocent people in their nightmares.
He made his feature film debut in 1984's A Nightmare on Elm Street and has since been on the top of the minds of horror fans; especially the ones who enjoyed the movie immensely.
Freddy, who cracks jokes and speaks to his victims, has a striking visual design: a burned face, razor-sharp shears, a tattered sweater, and a fedora.
He seems impossible to stop and part of his strength lies in the fact that he can kill people while they're having nightmares.
We don't know about you, but we are certain of the fact Freddy Krueger is a man to be feared, doesn't matter if we are wide awake or dreaming.
4. Michael Myers (The Halloween Franchise)
Unquestionably the most popular and enduring slasher movie villain, Michael Myers is credited with practically birthing the genre as we know it with the release of the spine-chilling 1978 feature film, Halloween.
No matter what murder weapon the character or those against him are shown to be using, Myers simply comes across as indomitable and, sometimes, even immortal.
From the very first night when he terrorizes Laurie Strode, she understands that she may never be able to escape him for as long as she lives.
What makes Michael the strongest character on our list, besides his sturdy appearance, is that he doesn't stop until he gets what he wants.
Needless to say, he kills anyone he likes, whenever he wants. Also, the fact that the character doesn't speak and takes his time to move from one place to another makes him even scarier.
All thanks to the enigmatic Michael Myers, Halloween continues to be one of the most revisited horror/slasher motion pictures in the history of cinema.
3. Carrie White (Carrie)
We'd like to start by saying that Carrie White isn't evil. In fact, she is a reserved and submissive young girl who has been constantly assaulted by mean classmates, rude teachers, and her abusive mother.
While this certainly does drive her away from the people in her life, it also compels her to go on a path of murder and destruction.
One of the finest on-screen adaptations of a Stephen King novel, Carrie is a mind-blowing horror movie in which "the villain" is the actual hero.
Needless to say, seeing the titular character get perturbed by most people in her vicinity makes you want to root for her.
All thanks to the outstanding portrayal of actress Sissy Spacek, this horror movie character continues to be as layered and relatable today as she was when she first appeared on the big screen in Brian De Palma's 1976 masterpiece Carrie.
2. Norman Bates (Psycho)
Alfred Hitchcock and his cult classic creation, Psycho, are credited with revolutionizing cinema and changing the horror genre forever.
In the movie, the great director introduces us to Norman Bates, who is the proprietor of a seemingly innocent little inn called Bates Motel.
Bates' severe psychological problems make him prone to spying on guests, and that is, surprisingly, the least of our concerns.
Soon after, we catch him stabbing one of his guests in the shower and dressing up like his dead mother.
Anthony Perkins' original performance as the motel killer continues to be iconic and has, therefore, stood the test of time; pretty much like the infamous shower scene from the movie.
Having said that, it is imperative to mention that Freddie Highmore's character projection of Norman Bates in the very successful TV series, Bates Motel, is amazing as well.
1. Jack Torrance (The Shining)
One of the greatest horror movies of all time, The Shining is host to numerous scary sequences. But, it is Jack Nicholson's phenomenal portrayal of Jack Torrance that truly elevates the storytelling to a different level.
After having seen the classic film, most of us would agree that Nicholson's character suffered from the world's worst case of cabin fever.
More importantly, the Stanley Kubrick directorial venture centered on the idea that even a reasonable man can become a depraved killer once he's pushed far enough.
Consequently, we witness the spirits of the notorious hotel feeding off of Torrance's delicate psychology and his son's psychic talents, and, in the process, growing stronger and far more dangerous throughout the winter.
The iconic "Here’s Johnny" scene remains one of the best and most emulated horror movie moments in history.
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