In the spirit of Halloween and fans of horror films, here is a list of 10 characters who have given us the chills and a good scare over the years. Some of these characters made their debut on film long before many of us were born and some are more recent. I’m sure you will find some more obvious and some you may agree with or some you may not agree with. However, everyone may find their favorite in there somewhere. Well, get your popcorn ready and get ready for the 10 best horror film characters of all time.
10) Frankenstein’s Monster: Often called Frankenstein, Frankenstein’s Monster is the actual green skinned monster with the bolts and flat head. Played most famously by Boris Karloff in the 1931 version, his character was remade in 1991 with modern film legend Robert De Nero playing the role of the monster. Based on Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel, he has been entrenched in the minds of many folks for almost 200 years.
9) Predator: Although he is mainly the villain in the 1987 action film staring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Predator made many people jump with his horrific killing methods. The original was killed in that 1987 film but there were more predators that came to earth in a 1990 sequel and a third film due in 2010. He also was teamed up with another action/horror creature Alien in the Alien vs. Predator film and comic series.
8) Alien: First seen in 1979 battling Warrant Officer Ellen Ripley after killing the rest of the crew, Alien was killed but his friends and family decided to enact revenge in sequels and novels. He fought with Predator in comic books and films.
7) Jaws: The Great White Sharks of the Jaws film franchise have caused many people to be afraid to go to the beach since the first film came out in 1975. Based on Peter Benchley’s novel, the original was so successful that it spawned three sequels. The sharks were very indiscriminant in who their prey was. The franchise was able to spawn an interest in sharks among many people. The third Jaws film was filmed in 3D which made people jump even higher out of their seats.
6) Count Dracula: The most famous portrayal of Count Vladimir Dracula was done by Bela Lugosi. Lugosi’s portrayal of the most famous vampire set the standard of how Dracula looks. Based on Bram Stoker’s novel of the same name, Dracula was based on Vlad the Impaler who was a brutal ruler in an area that is part of modern day Romania. Dracula was remade in 1991 and there have been many other films spawned using the Dracula character. Though the Lugosi style is not as scary as it originally was, costume shops often sell many capes, tuxedos, teeth, and make up so people can become that image of Dracula. Dracula is the standard by which other vampire films go from.
5) Hannibal Lecter: Nicknamed “Hannibal the Cannibal”, Dr. Lecter was a brutal cannibal who was captured by the FBI and would offer assistance in solving many crimes that were similar in the amount of gruesomeness that he committed. After Silence of the Lambs, Lecter escaped and then was searched by his favorite agent Clarice Starling. Lecter was most famously portrayed by Anthony Hopkins, who won an Oscar for his portrayal in Silence of The Lambs, yet was originally played in film by Scottish actor Brian Cox in 1986’s “Manhunter”.
4) Jigsaw: One of the newest and most successful horror franchises is the Saw franchise. 2009 will see the sixth film to come out f this franchise. The main character in these films is John Kramer also known as the “Jigsaw Killer” or Jigsaw for short. He uses psychological torture to kills his victims instead of outright killing them. The franchise is successful enough that many people are looking forward to the next film. He is still relatively new compared to the next three but in a few years this list can be revisited and possibly changed.
3) Leatherface: The “face” of the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” series, Leatherface is always seen chasing his victims down with a chainsaw. He and his family would then carve up the victims in order to use their flesh for food and other items. Made with human skin, Leatherface’s mask is rarely seen off of his head. If there is a rip in the mask or any other repairs needed to make, human skin of his victims is used. Since 1974, Leatherface is a popular horror film character.
2) Freddy Krueger: The main character in the “Nightmare on Elm Street” franchise, Freddy Krueger will attack teen agers through their dreams. Wearing a burned fedora, burned sweater, and a glove that has razor sharp blades, Freddy inflicts fear on these teens and then brutally kills them. After being accused as being a child predator, Krueger was killed in a house fire that was set by highly enraged parents who formed a mob. In the first film, Freddy was enacting his revenge on the children of these parents. He apparently did not receive satisfaction because he appeared in many other films and then eventually got in a battle with Jason Voorhees in “Freddy vs. Jason”. The original is being remade for a 2010 release with Jackie Earl Hailey taking the role that was made famous by Robert Englund.
1) Jason Voorhees: The Friday the 13th franchise was one of the first and one of the most successful of the horror franchises. He was not present until the end of the first film in a dream sequence but he did show up in the second film and then returned in all but one of the sequels. The one sequel he did not appear in was the fifth film in which a man who was distraught over his son’s death he pretended to be Jason and killed. Jason made the old version of the Hockey Goalie’s mask famous as a horror item. The famous mask did not appear until the third film and he continued to wear it for most of the rest of the series. In his first appearance he actually wore a burlap sack over his face. Jason was very creative in his killing methods and most of his victims were young people who were being intimate. His favorite weapon of choice was a machete.
I know that there are many characters who I have left off, I did not leave these people off intentionally but I will include a bonus (My appologies to Pinhead of Hellraiser and Pumpkinhead) :
Michael Myers: You didn’t think I’d forget him did you? Michael Myers is the star of the “Halloween” film franchise. An escapee from a mental institution, Myers would find victims and kill them. One of his earliest pursuits was a young woman named Laurie Strode. Laurie was later discovered to be his sister. Myers was locked in a mental institution since his youth due to him murdering his older sister. His main fashion statement was a blue jumpsuit and a rubber mask. The original 1978 film helped make Jamie Lee Curtis a star and created a horror franchise that is often seen with regularity in the month of October. The success spawned sequels and a remake in 2007 which was written, produced, and directed by Rob Zombie. There may be even more films featuring Michael Myers in the future but I doubt he will do any new Austin Powers films (That is a joke to those who did not catch that).
There will be many more horror films to come out, some will be great and have memorable characters and some will fall flat, the main thing to take from this is that the horror genre is one of the most successful ones and has helped keep studios in business since the beginnings of film. I may revisit this list and add more in the future so stay tuned.