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The Top 10 Scariest Horror Movie Villains and What Makes Them Scary

Horror movie fans love a great villain, and the best horror movie villains are listed below. These villains range from human to supernatural and leave a trail of bodies behind. Hands down, my favorite horror movie villain is Freddy Krueger because he was the very first horror movie villain that I saw and instantly became obsessed with him and the actor Robert Englund who to me, no other actor can compare to his portrayal of the nightmare demon. Some of the movie villains listed below were played by different actors, but I will also include the most memorable actors who portrayed the character and the very first film that I enjoyed the character and decided that this was a worthy horror movie icon.


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  1. Freddy Krueger

    A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
    Freddy Krueger was the very first horror movie icon I ever saw, and the actor Robert Englund portrayed him very well. "Freddy" had his trademark glove with sharpened knives as fingertips and the maniacal and sinister persona of Freddy Kreuger set him apart from the other movie villains. I was too young to catch this New Line Cinema horror movie gem in the movie theaters, but there were cable and movie rentals. The Boogeyman that kills you in your dreams was such a scary concept of "getting you" at your most vulnerable that writer/director Wes Craven nailed it and A Nightmare on Elm Street set him as a Master of Horror. There was a remake that shall not be mentioned, and a few of the movies towards the ending of the franchise were misses, but the franchise as a whole was awesome.

    A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

    Directed by Wes Craven


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    Official Synopsis: On Elm Street, Nancy Thompson and a group of her friends (comprising Tina Gray, Rod Lane and Glen Lantz) are being tormented by a clawed killer in their dreams named Fred Krueger. Nancy must think quickly, as Fred tries to pick them off one by one. When he has you in your sleep, who is there to save you?
    Cast: Johnny Depp, Lin Shaye, Robert Englund, Robert Shaye, Heather Langenkamp, Joe Unger, David Andrews, John Saxon, Jsu Garcia, Joseph Whipp,…
    Genres: Horror

  2. Jason Voorhees

    Friday the 13th (1980)
    Jason Voorhees was played by many actors, but Kane Hodder was always the main actor I associated with the role of the quiet machete cleaving unrelenting horror movie villain that could not die. Fun Fact, Jason Voorhees as the killer in the Friday the 13th franchise did not become the villain until Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981), but I thought it would be fun to see who caught it haha.

    Friday the 13th (1980)

    Directed by Sean S. Cunningham


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    Official Synopsis: One summer at Camp Crystal Lake, a group of young counselors begin to get ready to lead campers. Unfortunately for the former, someone isn't happy about what's going on in the camp and enjoys playing kill the counselor. As bodies fall to the ground in the camp, no one is safe.
    Cast: Tom Savini, Kevin Bacon, Adrienne King, Walt Gorney, Betsy Palmer, Ronn Carroll, Rex Everhart, Peter Brouwer, Ari Lehman, Ron Millkie,…
    Genres: Horror, Thriller, Mystery

  3. Michael Myers

    Halloween (1978)
    Michael Myers is another horror movie villain who does not talk, but Nick Castle was my favorite actor. Michael Myers wears the iconic bleached out William Shatner mask, his weapon of choice is a kitchen knife, and he does not like the babysitters. Jamie Lee Curtis became a horror icon playing the "final girl" in this franchise.

    Halloween (1978)

    Directed by John Carpenter


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    Official Synopsis: The year is 1963, the night: Halloween. Police are called to 43 Lampkin Ln. only to discover that 15 year old Judith Myers has been stabbed to death, by her 6 year-old brother, Michael. After being institutionalized for 15 years, Myers breaks out on the night before Halloween. No one knows, nor wants to find out, what will happen on October 31st 1978 besides Myers' psychiatrist, Dr. Loomis. He knows Michael is coming back to Haddonfield, but by the time the town realizes it, it'll be too late for many people.
    Cast: Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis, John Carpenter, P.J. Soles, Nancy Stephens, Nancy Kyes, Charles Cyphers, Tommy Lee Wallace, Mickey Yablans,…
    Genres: Horror, Thriller

  4. Pennywise the Clown

    It (1990) and It (2017)
    I first saw Pennywise the Clown from It (1990) when I was about ten years old, and he scared the daylights out of me. I had already seen Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, Pinhead, and Michael Myers but Tim Curry and the makeup artist Bart Mixon delivered on one of the top scariest horror movie icons of all time that will scare children for many more generations to come.
    When you thought that no one could top Tim Curry’s Pennywise the Clown performance, actor Bill Skarsgard delivered his brand of terrifying in It (2017) and complimented the original performance.

    It (1990)

    Directed by Tommy Lee Wallace


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    Official Synopsis: In 1960, a group of social outcasts who are bullied by a gang of greasers led by Henry Bowers are also tormented by an evil demon who can shape-shift into a clown and feed on children's fears and kill them. After defeating the demonic clown as kids, it resurfaces 30 years later and they must finish it off as adults once again.
    Cast: Garry Chalk, Tim Curry, Seth Green, Chelan Simmons, Emily Perkins, Jay Brazeau, Frank C. Turner, Bill Croft, Michael Ryan, Michael…
    Genres: Horror, Thriller, Drama, Mystery, Fantasy


    It (2017)

    Directed by Andrés Muschietti, Andy Muschietti


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    Official Synopsis: In the Town of Derry, the local kids are disappearing one by one. In a place known as 'The Barrens', a group of seven kids are united by their horrifying and strange encounters with an evil clown and their determination to kill It.
    Cast: Javier Botet, Steven Williams, Megan Charpentier, Neil Crone, Stephen Bogaert, Isabelle Nélisse, Isabelle Nélisse, Edie Inksetter, Wyatt Oleff, Nicholas Hamilton,…
    Genres: Horror, Thriller, Drama

  5. Dr. Hannibal Lecter

    The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
    Actor Anthony Hopkins brought such eerieness to the portrayal of Dr. Hannibal Lecter that the few scenes that his character had in The Silence of the Lambs (1991), he took the attention of the audience watching. Dr. Lecter is a highly educated and cunning cannibal that can become very animalistic if he wanted.

    The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

    Directed by Jonathan Demme


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    Official Synopsis: FBI trainee Clarice Starling works hard to advance her career, while trying to hide/put behind her West Virginia roots, of which if some knew, would automatically classify her as being backward or white trash. After graduation, she aspires to work in the agency's Behavioral Science Unit under the leadership of Jack Crawford. While she is still a trainee, Crawford asks her to question Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a psychiatrist imprisoned, thus far, for eight years in maximum security isolation for being a serial killer who cannibalized his victims. Clarice is able to figure out the assignment is to pick Lecter's brains to help them solve another serial murder case, that of someone coined by the media as Buffalo Bill, who has so far killed five victims, all located in the eastern US, all young women who are slightly overweight (especially around the hips), all who were drowned in natural bodies of water, and all who were stripped of large swaths of skin. She also figures that Crawford chose her, as a woman, to be able to trigger some emotional response from Lecter. After speaking to Lecter for the first time, she realizes that everything with him will be a psychological game, with her often having to read between the very cryptic lines he provides. She has to decide how much she will play along, as his request in return for talking to him is to expose herself emotionally to him. The case takes a more dire turn when a sixth victim is discovered, this one from who they are able to retrieve a key piece of evidence, if Lecter is being forthright as to its meaning. A potential seventh victim is high profile Catherine Martin, the daughter of Senator Ruth Martin, which places greater scrutiny on the case as they search for a hopefully still alive Catherine. Who may factor into what happens is Dr. Frederick Chilton, the warden at the prison, an opportunist who sees the higher profile with Catherine, meaning a higher profile for himself if he can insert himself successfully into the proceedings.
    Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Frankie Faison, John W. Iwanonkiw, Ted Levine, Tracey Walter, George A. Romero, David Early, Don Brockett, Daniel von…
    Genres: Thriller, Drama, Crime

  6. Norman Bates

    Psycho (1960)
    The Norman Bates character was played by Anthony Perkins and directed by Master of Horror Alfred Hitchcock. The Norman Bates character was influenced heavily by a real serial killer named Ed Gein who also had "mother issues." Ed Gein did many more gruesome and grotesque things than Norman Bates would have dreamed to do on screen.

    Psycho (1960)

    Directed by Alfred Hitchcock


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    Official Synopsis: Phoenix officeworker Marion Crane is fed up with the way life has treated her. She has to meet her lover Sam in lunch breaks and they cannot get married because Sam has to give most of his money away in alimony. One Friday Marion is trusted to bank $40,000 by her employer. Seeing the opportunity to take the money and start a new life, Marion leaves town and heads towards Sam's California store. Tired after the long drive and caught in a storm, she gets off the main highway and pulls into The Bates Motel. The motel is managed by a quiet young man called Norman who seems to be dominated by his mother.
    Cast: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Virginia Gregg, Vera Miles, Martin Balsam, Walter Bacon, Francis De Sales, Hans Moebus, George Dockstader, Robert…
    Genres: Horror, Thriller, Mystery

  7. Leatherface

    The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
    Leatherface is a chainsaw-wielding madman who likes to wear his victims’ skin as a makeshift mask. This character too was inspired by the ghoulish serial killer Ed Gein who made a complete body suit out of human skin and had an entire room made of furniture and other trinkets made from human remains. When I think of Leatherface it is hard to not imagine actor Gunnar Hansen in the role especially with the iconic scene where Leatherface goes crazy swinging the chainsaw all around, a real chainsaw. Director Tobe Hooper and everyone on set recounted the fear they felt when they saw the actor get lost in the role of Leatherface for a minute or two.

    The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

    Directed by Tobe Hooper


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    Official Synopsis: En route to visit their grandfather's grave (which has apparently been ritualistically desecrated), five teenagers drive past a slaughterhouse, pick up (and quickly drop) a sinister hitch-hiker, eat some delicious home-cured meat at a roadside gas station, before ending up at the old family home... where they're plunged into a never-ending nightmare as they meet a family of cannibals who more than make up in power tools what they lack in social skills...
    Cast: John Larroquette, Marilyn Burns, William Vail, Gunnar Hansen, Jim Siedow, Paul A. Partain, John Dugan, Perry Lorenz, Levie Isaacks, Edwin…
    Genres: Horror, Thriller

  8. Chucky

    Child’s Play (1988)
    Chucky is the scary doll serial killer I think of the most when I think about scary doll movies. Actor Brad Dourif does the voice acting for the character, and there is such feeling that can be felt through the voice alone. Also responsible for this iconic horror character are writer Don Mancini and director Tom Holland.

    Child's Play (1988)

    Directed by Tom Holland


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    Official Synopsis: When Charles Lee Ray needs to get a quick escape from cop Mike Norris, he takes his soul and buries it into playful, seemingly good guy doll Chucky. Little does he know a little boy by the name of Andy Barclay will be the new owner of him soon-to-come. Charles confides in Andy while he commits numerous murders and once the adults accept Andy's story as truth, it's too late.
    Cast: Brad Dourif, Chris Sarandon, Alex Vincent, Ed Gale, Jeff Dlugolecki, John Franklin, Roslyn Alexander, Neil Giuntoli, Leila Lee Olsen, Edan…
    Genres: Horror, Thriller, Mystery

  9. Jigsaw

    Saw (2004)
    The Saw franchise would never have been able to make another film if it were not for Jigsaw actor Tobin Bell and the combined works of writer Leigh Whannell and writer/director James Wan. Jigsaw made you value your life even though you had to sacrifice something to keep it.

    Saw (2004)

    Directed by James Wan


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    Official Synopsis: Waking up in a undisclosed location in a unknown room two men, adam and gordon are trapped into a single room with a dead body. Given random tools with riddles hidnen around the room. Wondering who could have done this there are clues to who might of done it; the jigsaw killer. The question is not just who but why would a serial killer leave two men in a room. Both adam and gordon hiding secrets they must trust and work together to get out or die...can they survive Jigsaw's game or die trying?
    Cast: Leigh Whannell, Ned Bellamy, Dina Meyer, Shawnee Smith, Ken Leung, Tobin Bell, Cary Elwes, Makenzie Vega, Monica Potter, Hans Raith,…
    Genres: Horror, Thriller, Drama, Mystery

  10. Pinhead

    Hellraiser (1987)
    In the first film Hellraiser (1987), Pinhead played by Doug Bradley did not have a lot of screen time but the time that he did, I could not wait to see another film with more of him. Master of Horror Clive Barker did just that and made the rest of the Hellraiser movies have a lot more Pinhead time before the series self-imploded and became a mess. I will always remember the first few films with Pinhead and that sick and twisted movie villain that was just too surreal for films I thought at that time in my life.

    Hellraiser (1987)

    Directed by Clive Barker


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    Official Synopsis: Clive Barker's feature directing debut graphically depicts the tale of a man and wife who move into an old house and discover a hideous creature - the man's half-brother, who is also the woman's former lover - hiding upstairs. Having lost his earthly body to a trio of S&M demons, the Cenobites, he is brought back into existence by a drop of blood on the floor. He soon forces his former mistress to bring him his necessary human sacrifices to complete his body... but the Cenobites won't be happy about this.
    Cast: Doug Bradley, Ashley Laurence, Michael Cassidy, Nicholas Vince, Simon Bamford, Clare Higgins, Oliver Smith, Robert Hines, Andrew Robinson, Oliver Parker,…
    Genres: Horror, Thriller, Fantasy