Top 10 Horror Movie Villains (By Kill Count)
In preparation for Halloween, we’re counting down the best movie killers of all time. Of course, none of these movie characters have killed more people on-screen than, say, Mulan, but each one still boasts an impressive and imposing record. For the quick rundown on our Top 10 Horror Movie Villains, click below to see and share our infographic. Otherwise, keep on scrolling for the long read.
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Pennywise the Dancing Clown, It
Coulrophobia is the fear of clowns, and it’s right up there with arachnophobia as one of the most commonly exploited fears on Halloween. It never gets old, either. Scary clown pranks like the “Wasco Clown” of 2014 (and its many imitators), are bigger than ever, thanks in part to shows like American Horror Story. Steven King’s It was really where it all started, though. Plenty of clowns have followed in It’s footsteps, but Tim Curry’s performance as Pennywise is the quintessential creepy clown.
Of course, if we want to be really technical, the movie monster known as It is really a shape-shifting being that can take any form it chooses. TVTropes’ page on monster clowns is a great source for discovering more messed up clowns, from Captain Spaulding of House of 1000 Corpses, to Kefka Palazzo from Final Fantasy VI.
Candyman, Candyman series
If you’re unfamiliar with Candyman and its two sequels, Farewell to the Flesh and Day of the Dead, the basic premise is that the Candyman is a demonic being that, according to urban legend, can be summoned by saying his name to a mirror five times. If you’ve ever heard of the “Bloody Mary” folk tale/copy-pasta, it’s the same thing.
Spoiler alert, Candyman turns out to be actually real and starts murdering the heck out of people! Bet you didn’t see that one coming. His signature weapon is the huge hook he has in place of a left hand – unfortunately there is very little literal candy involved. Oh well. Maybe someone will make a montage of all of Candyman’s kills with that song from Willy Wonka.
Chucky, Child’s Play series
In the Child’s Play movies, the spirit of the fictional serial killer Charles Lee Ray is infused into an inanimate doll by way of a voodoo ritual. The idea of a possessed doll originates from Robert the Doll, a hundred-plus-years-old doll that is said to be cursed. Robert was given to American author Robert Eugene Otto when he was a child in the early 1900s. The servant who made the doll was said to have knowledge of black magic and Bahamian voodoo, and multiple eyewitness account report the doll moving on its own and screaming in the night. Whenever the doll is moved to the Key West Museum of Art and History, where it is part of an annual Halloween exhibit, paranormal activities are reported in the museum, too.
Leatherface, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre series
Leatherface’s real name is Jedidiah Sawyer. That is pretty creepy in itself (in a “paddle faster, I hear banjos” sort of way), but it just doesn’t roll off the tongue quite like “Leatherface.”
As he wears a mask of human skin (or human “leather,” we guess), one of the big inspirations for the Leatherface character was the infamous real-life serial killer and corpse robber Ed Gein. In the same vein are Norman “mommy issues” Bates from Psycho and Buffalo “put the lotion in the basket” Bill from Silence of the Lambs.
Pinhead, Hellraiser series
Cenobite and acupuncture enthusiast Pinhead from Hellraiser is next on our list. As the leader of the extra-dimensional race of semi-human Cenobites, his main method of torture involves massive hooked chains. They’re first seen when the Lament Configuration puzzle box, which acts as a key to the Cenobite realm, is solved.
Interestingly, Pinhead’s actor, Doug Bradley, is actually listed as one of his own assistant makeup artists in a few of the Hellraiser films. His makeup and costume were so elaborate, that he became quite good at applying it himself – we suppose nine films will do that to you.
Jigsaw, Saw series
One of the creepiest killers we ever Saw!
If you haven’t seen every installment of the series, it’s really not much of spoiler to say that different people take on the Jigsaw persona in different movies. But, the creepy puppet avatar always persists. Besides, Saw really isn’t the kind of series you watch for the plot, anyway. You just want to see people get killed with convoluted death traps in horrifically grotesque and painful ways, you sick puppy, you. Also, half the fun is coming up with better ways to defeat Jigsaw’s traps. (Seriously – we think most people would exhaust themselves of bodily fluids and clothing before resorting to using pieces of their flesh to weigh down the scale trap from Saw VI. )
Freddy Krueger, Nightmare on Elm Street series
He’s everyone’s favorite (?) dream-invading killer. Die in the dream and die in real life. It’s like The Matrix, only slightly more believable.
It’s a misconception sometimes that Freddy’s hands are actually made of knives, Edward Scisssorhands-style, but it’s just a glove with blades. The Freddy Krueger costume has also always included a fedora – he liked them before they were cool, hipsters.
Lubdan, Leprechaun series
Even though he’s not necessarily in the top tier of horror villain name recognition, the evil Leprechaun Lubdan boasts a body count of 45 victims across seven films, making him one of the top movie killers of all time. In the original 1993 movie, his reign of terror begins when a tourist steals his stash of gold. After following him back to America, Lubdan makes use of a huge variety of weapons to reclaim it, even crushing a man’s chest with a pogo stick along the way. The first Leprechaun was also the first starring role in a feature film by Jennifer Aniston.
Michael Myers, Halloween series
Don’t get Michael Myers costumes confused with Michael Myers costumes. Michael’s stark white mask with empty eyes is one of the creepiest things about the whole movie (along with that spooky theme song) but the only reason the well-known look exists is because of budget constraints on the production team. Quite literally, they could only afford the cheapest mask they could find, which was a Star Trek Captain Kirk mask. They painted it white, added some hair, and voila! Instant serial killer. Years after the film’s release, William Shatner said he was “honored” to have his image used in the movie that way.
Jason Voorhees, Friday the 13th series
Over thirteen movies (appropriate!), more than three hundred people have met their demise at the blade of a machete… or one of the many other instruments of death featured in the films.
Jason, armed with his mask and machete, is possibly the most iconic symbols in all of horror – but, those unfamiliar with the series might not be aware that neither Jason nor his hockey mask appeared in the first film, Friday the 13th, in 1980. Jason, as a child, drowns while staying at Camp Crystal Lake, and his mother, Pamela, murders the camp counselors out of revenge. Plenty of machete kills followed in future films.
Who is your favorite movie killer of all time? Have you ever dressed up like them for Halloween? If you liked this post and want to see more like it, then let us know! Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter @BuyCostumes, or send us a quick email. Be sure to take a look at our Pinterest boards, too, for more Halloween costume ideas.