There are so many great horror villains and scary characters in movie, television and popular culture. Tomorrow is Halloween and I’m making a list with my 50 favorite horror villains. It also includes some plain old scary characters that haven’t made it to villain status… yet. Actually I left #50 blank as a readers choice so you can let me know who your favorite horror villain or scary character is.
Check out these scary villains below and get some good ideas about what to watch this Halloween.
Be sure to check out our Top 10 Evil Clown List for the best clown villains.
From: Friday the Thirteenth Films
Jason Voorhees is from The Friday the Thirteenth franchise and is one of the most recognizable horror villains out there.
Jason is often seen in a hockey mask stalking camp counselors with a machete in hand. He is one of my favorite scary characters from film and I love to decorate with Jason memorabilia at Halloween. I grew up watching him and have always enjoyed his slow walk killing style when chasing down camp counselors.
From: Halloween Franchise
Michael Myers, aka The Shape, has remained one of the top terrifying horror villains throughout time. The Halloween franchise is famous for struggling with mask consistency during filming, but The Shape is always a force to be reckoned with.
Rob Zombie reshaped the origin story of Michael Myers with his versions of Halloween and Halloween 2. However, in 2018 Jon Carpenter became involved in the franchise again with the release of another Halloween sequel, set 40 years after the original Halloween film.
From: Nightmare on Elm Street Films
One of the most famous villains from slasher films is Freddy Krueger. He is one of the scarier characters found in film because of his cruelty, his burned flesh and the way he kills. Freddy Krueger finds you when you sleep, which means there is no way to escape him. Eventually, you will fall asleep and be at his mercy.
From: Child’s Play Movies
You may think a scary little doll can’t make a great horror villain, but Chucky actually contains the soul of notorious serial killer Charles Lee Ray. There is something exceptionally creepy about a murderous doll with the perseverance and intent of a serial killer. The Child’s Play movies are well known and have turned into a huge Child’s Play Franchise with all sorts of Chucky memorabilia.
From: Pumpkinhead Movie
This film makes a great Halloween movie. The Pumkinhead movie is a classic revenge tale with a taste of redemption. Pumpkinhead makes a terrifying horror villain because he is a demon summoned to get revenge and won’t stop until his task is complete. Also, the visual effects are pretty good for the time and it has a good story.
From: Insidious Franchise
The Lipstick Face Demon is also known as the Man with Fire in his Face, the Red Faced Demon and the Insidious red face demon. The important thing is that he is not a spirit, but an actual demon which makes this guy much more dangerous than other scary characters in the Insidious movies.
The Lipstick Face Demon is a horror villain that doesn’t disappoint and reappears throughout the Insidious films. He lives in the further and his presence in the films is always frightening to witness.
Check out the video below and get a look at the Lipstick Face Demon at the 2:26 mark.
From: American Horror Story (AHS) TV Show
Bloody Face is one of many characters from the AHS Asylum season. He is a known serial killer that wears a mask of grotesque stitched together human skin. Bloody Face is a scary character that develops into a terrifying horror villain over the course of the AHS Asylum season.
From: Silent Hill Movies and Games
The Silent Hill Pyramid Head monster is a terrifyingly large figure carrying the biggest weapons you’ve ever seen. Pyramid Head is also known by the name Red Pyramid. Red Pyramid debuted in Silent Hill 2 and quickly became a fan favorite.
His role is a bit different depending on whether you’re playing the Silent Hill games or watching the movies, but punisher or protector, Red Pyramid is always one of the most scary characters around.
From: Hellraiser Franchise
Don’t let the silly name fool you. Pinhead is a serious horror villain and when he speaks you should listen. This is one of the scary characters that speaks eloquently and doesn’t waste words. When Pinhead arrives with his Cenobites, all hell is about to break lose.
This horror villain is famous for using meathooks to rip humans apart while teaching them about pleasure and pain.
Pinhead has some fantastic quotes like – “Your suffering will be legendary, even in Hell.” One aspect I’ve always enjoyed about the Pinhead character is his logic and willingness to listen to reason. He will probably still kill you, but at least he’s reasonable.
From: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Franchise
There have been a string of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Leatherface movies over the decades. Leatherface is only one member of a seriously disturbed Texas family that participates in killing, cannibalism and the routine torture of anyone who happens to wander by.
The reason Leatherface stands out is because he has a large imposing figure, wears a mask made out of the skin of his victims and he frequently kills with a chainsaw. It’s rumored the character was based on the real life serial killer Ed Gein. However, Leatherface is not held in high esteem by members of his family.
From: The Scream Series
The first Scream movie introduced the Woodsboro Killer, who is more commonly known as Ghostface. This killer was a big change from past horror villains and the entire film was a more modern slasher flick. Ghostface made the scary characters list because he enjoyed taunting his victims with phone calls prior to attacking them.
The Ghostface horror villain was a fan of the horror genre himself and would occasionally ask victims scary movie trivia. Without spoiling the films, I will just say that Ghostface seemed to really enjoy the role of serial killer, like a super fan enjoys finally getting to go on the T.V. show Survivor.
From: Satan’s Little Helper
There is a scary character in the Satan’s Little Helper film that is dressed as Satan Man, a popular video game character. A boy in the film, named Douglas, loves the video game and joins with Satan Man for the day and even brings Satan Man home to the family.
The movie isn’t classically scary, but the Satan Man character has a creepy grinning mask and is a killer walking freely in the community while causing trouble on Halloween. He is a good horror villain because the viewer knows his true identity while all the movie characters are in the dark about this twisted killer.
From: American Horror Story TV Show
Rubber Man is one of the most memorable American Horror Story (AHS) characters, which says a lot. Debuting in the first season: American Horror Story Murder House, Rubber Man appears as a stark figure wearing a skin tight shiny black latex BDSM outfit.
Rubber Man is a terrifying and cruel intruder in AHS Murder House and he will reappear in a later season. Throughout the season viewers wonder who the true identity of this monster in a latex suit is.
From: Pan’s Labyrinth
The Pale Man only has a small quick role in Pan’s Labyrinth, but he makes a great horror villain. Not only does he have an iconic horror look with the hanging skin and eyeballs in his hands, but his movements are jerky and terrifying too.
Pan’s Labyrinth Pale Man is a disturbing and threatening creature who feeds off the innocent and can terrify any horror fan.
From: Wolfman Movie and Many More
The werewolf is one of the classic horror villains that has been around for centuries. Folklore all over the world involves different versions of lore involving werewolves and lycanthropy. Literature and film has created numerous stories of the werewolf.
The Wolf Man 1941 film was a famous demonstration of the torments a man must endure after being bitten by the werewolf. Werewolves have been depicted as terrifying animals that will rip you to pieces and romanticized creatures suffering due to no fault of their own.
However, they are frequently in horror movies for a reason: The werewolf out in the wild is a terrifying creature to behold!
From: Candyman Movies
The Candyman character is an urban legend type of horror villain similar to Bloody Mary. Once summoned he is hypnotizing and draws your attention whenever he is on-screen.
Somehow Candyman manages to be a terrifying horror movie villain while simultaneously playing in a romantic storyline. His story is filled with injustice, trajedy and vengeance, but that doesn’t mean he won’t kill you in a heartbeat.
From: Nightmare Before Christmas Franchise
Oogie Boogie is essentially the bogey man in physical form which makes him both a scary character and a main villain in The Nightmare Before Christmas. After all, what’s not scary about a burlap sack filled with thousands of bugs.
Oogie Boogie enjoys gambling with the lives of other people and is basically the most evil thing in Halloween town.
Stripe is the scary villain in the Gremlins movie. There is a bit of controversy about whether he is known as Gremlin’s Stripe or the Gremlin Spike. To learn more about this strange theory check out the Gremlins Mandela Effect article.
Spike, or Stripe, is a great villain and manages to be really scary which isn’t easy when you’re a little green guy. He isn’t a scary character like Chucky, but is more in line with the Ghostbusters villains which is why he made it on The Lightweights section of the Top 50 Horror Villains List.
Zuul from the original Ghostbuster’s was creepy and scary, especially when it was in the dog-like form. When compared with the Ghostbuster green ghost Slimer and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, Zuul was downright terrifying.
The Ghostbuster’s dog in the refrigerator scene really creeped out audiences back in the day. Another famous scene that it still frequently searched online is the “There is no Dana, only Zuul” twenty second scary clip.
From: Ghostbusters Franchise
The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man isn’t much of a horror villain, but he’s definitely a scary character. The Ghostbusters marshmallow man scared a generation with his giant body and subtle facial expressions.
There’s something so creepy about Stay Puft’s angry face. He doesn’t illicit the kind of fear you get when Freddy Krueger appears on screen, but there is a slow insidious fear that creeps up on you in the night. I still remember the first nightmare I had where Stay Puft made an appearance.
From: Stephen King’s Misery
Annie Wilkes is one of the best female horror villains and Kathy Bates really brought this character to life in the film Misery. Annie Wilkes, a former nurse, rescues a famous author from a car crash and then helps him recover in her home.
Unfortunately, the author soon realizes Annie Wilkes is obsessive, controlling, aggressive and possibly a psychopath who may have a history of killing. Annie Wilkes is a great horror villain because she seems to sneak up on you as pieces of her personality leak out in explosive bursts.
One minute she is a nurse caring for a patient and the next she is a captor holding a prisoner hostage.
From: Creep (2014) & Creep 2
Josef from the Creep (2014) film is one of the scary characters in horror because he blends into society so well. I’m not talking about blending in with charisma and charm like Hannibal. Josef is more of the passive aggressive, make you question yourself and repeatedly make excuses for his behavior type of person in society. He manages to be inappropriate and push boundaries, but not enough to send people running.
Josef also lacks empathy but has a talent for playing off the empathy of others to put them at ease. One of the more creepy things Josef does is put on a mask and refer to himself as Peach Fuzz. Peach Fuzz is a disturbing character that reinforces how scary a person Josef is.
Check out the Creep trailer below:
John Doe is not your average serial killer. He has a purpose, a message and the patience of a madman. All of these things make him an amazing horror villain in the Se7en Movie. Add to this the seven deadly sins, a gritty setting and the amazing performances of Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman and you have a compelling horror film.
John Doe is a scary character with persistence and cruelty who is able to keep you guessing all the way until the last scenes of the film.
From: American Psycho
American Psycho is not a normal horror movie. It’s more of a satirical comedy making a commentary about scary movies. However, that doesn’t mean American Psycho isn’t also a great horror film too. Part of the reason the Patrick Bateman character is such a scary character and ultimately a horror villain, is because of the awesome performance by Christian Bale.
Another actor in this role could have botched the entire film, but Christian Bale played Bateman to perfection. He is able to personify the hyper-masculinity, materialism, and yuppie culture of the eighties to perfection while navigating the world as a complete psychopath.
One reason Patrick Bateman is interesting to watch is because he’s a reflection of the dangers of privilege and power in a world that lacks empathy.
From: Phantom of the Opera
There have been many versions of Phantom of the Opera, including the amazing live performances of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Phantom. Surprisingly, the most striking Phantom is probably also the oldest. Lon Chaney played a truly scary version of the Phantom in the 1925 silent horror film. His performance was memorable and audiences still remember this iconic horror figure playing the piano.
From: The Shining
It’s hard to talk about Jack Torrance as a scary character without considering both The Shining movie and The Shining novel separately.
Stephen King’s Jack Torrance is a terrifying horror character because he is the stereotypical abusive, alcoholic father who starts off the story sober and begins to deteriorate while his wife and child watch in fear.
Did I mention that they are all isolated in the Overlook Hotel during snow season with no way to escape the madness of Jack Torrance? Stephen King has an amazing ability to write relatable family dysfunction and his Wendy Torrance is not the passive little mouse seen in The Shining movie.
The Shining movie excels at presenting a terrifying Jack Torrance with the fantastic performance of Jack Nicholson. He stole the show at the Overlook Hotel. The movie also had that creepy Redrum scene which Danny Torrance sold so well.
From: Pyscho Series
Norman Bates appears to be the boy next door, but inside lurks the madness seen in other horror villains. Norman appears harmless until you see the relationship he has with his mom. Once that is revealed, it’s easy to see Norman as the mentally ill scary character that he is.
From: Hannibal Lecter Franchise
Hannibal Lecter, aka Hannibal the Cannibal, is a scary horror villain because of his intelligence, charisma and savagery. Anthony Hopkin’s performance made Hannibal a memorable character for horror movie fans everywhere. Fans love Hannibal the Cannibal because he wears a mask of normalcy, politeness and intelligence.
What makes him one of the more scary characters is his ability to manipulate the mentally weak, punish the rude and subtly get in your head. Don’t be charmed, his crimes are horrific. If you doubt how terrible Hannibal can be, just ask Mason Verger.
From: Saw Franchise
John Kramer, aka the Jigsaw Killer, is the human horror villain in the Saw franchise. John Kramer was a family man who went through personal tragedy and injustice only to realize his strength of will. He became the Jigsaw Killer in a search for justice and to test the will to live in others.
However, his victims often found themselves trapped between two seemingly impossible choices which frequently led to their deaths. During his “games” the Jigsaw Killer is known to use a creepy clown puppet on a tricycle, named Billy to deliver messages to his victims. Billy is often mistakenly called the Jigsaw Killer by casual fans.
From: Conjuring 2 & The Nun
This evil nun is actually the demon Valak taking the form of a nun to defile a holy image and insult the protagonist Lorraine Warren’s faith. The Conjuring 2 nun is remembered most for the scary painting on the wall scene, but now the nun has an entire movie to terrorize fans with.
This evil nun is a terrifying horror villain even if you don’t know about its demonic origins. There is just something scary about pure evil dressed as an undead looking nun.
From: Paranormal Activity Movies
Throughout the Paranormal Activity movies there is a terrifying presence which is eventually identified as a demon. The characters in the film eventually call the demon by the name Toby and he is such a scary villain.
Toby is one of the scariest horror villains out there because we don’t know a lot about his abilities, motivations or limitations. Not knowing makes Paranormal Activity’s Toby seem even more powerful and scary. When you add in the fact that Toby is a demon, he is a terrifying force to deal with.
From: Insidious Movies
Parker Crane is also known as the Old Woman, the Bride in Black and the Dark Bride depending on which film you’re watching. This horror villain seems like a background character, but proves to have a consistent and important presence throughout the Insidious films.
Parker Crane was a serial killer while alive and hasn’t changed much in death.
Parker Crane as the the Old Woman is a parasitic being who has it out for the main antagonist of the Insidious films. It’s revealed early on that Parker Crane, dressed as the Bride in Black, will have a significant impact on Elise Rainier’s life later on in the series.
From: Jeepers Creepers Films
There is something haunting about the Creeper. The Creeper is one of those scary characters that sticks with you long after you watch the Jeepers Creepers films. He is a creature of unknown origin that wakes up every 23 years and then feeds for 23 days on specific body parts of human beings.
The Creeper is often seen wearing a hat and using weaponry, but can’t pass as a human up close due to his hideous appearance. He chooses his victims by smell and then basically hunts them down which makes him even more terrifying.
From: The Babadook
If you haven’t heard of The Babadook movie, you’re probably thinking what is The Babadook? Mister Babadook is a creature from a pop up book that appears as a towering figure with a pale face and claw like fingers. He wears a long black coat and a black top hat while haunting a mother and son who are grieving a family death. The Babadook is a dark and haunting modern day horror villain.
Check out the Babadook trailer below:
From: Thir13en Ghosts
The Juggernaut from Thir13een Ghosts is the twelfth ghost in the zodiac and arguably the scariest character in the film. He was a 7-foot tall serial killer in life, who killed victims with his bare hands. This giant of a man was cruel and sadistic when alive and a violent death has made him an aggressive and terrifying ghost.
From: Saw Franchise
Billy the Puppet is a creepy clown ventriloquist dummy that is often used during the Saw films. Jigsaw’s doll is used by the killer to deliver tape recorded messages to the people inside his “traps”. Billy the Puppet often rides on a red tricycle, wears a tuxedo and has distinct red circles painted on his cheeks. One reason he is a scary character is because his terrifying entrance usually indicates bad news for the victims.
From: Thir13en Ghosts
The Jackal from Thir13een Ghosts is the eleventh ghost in the Black Zodiac and one of the most ferocious. He has a destroyed metal cage on his head which gives him a unique and terrifying appearance. The Jackal stands out as a horror villain because of the pure joy he takes in terrorizing people and the savage way he claws at his victims.
Add to this, that you won’t even see what is attacking you because he is an invisible ghost and I can’t think of a worse fate. Overall, in a movie with scary ghosts the Jackal stands out as one of the worst.
From: Sinister Movies
Mr. Boogie is one of the horror villains in the Sinister movies. He is an ancient pagan god that also goes by the names Bagul, Bughuul and The Eater of Children. Bagul makes for a great horror villain because he looks like a devil and a human combined into one being.
With his pale face and dark eyes, it’s easy to see him as pure evil. Bagul is also known to use children as tools of murder as seen in the home videos found in the Sinister films. What could be more evil than making children turn on their own families?
Check out the Sinister trailer below:
From: Creepypasta Character
Laughing Jack is one of Creepypasta’s well known scary characters. He is featured in the Creepypasta stories Laughing Jack and The Origin of Laughing Jack and he typically appears as an imaginary friend to children.
Creepypasta Laughing Jack looks like a clown, but was actually a jack in the box toy created by a Guardian Angel for an abused boy named Isaac Grossman. Due to Isaac’s actions and other circumstances, color and joy drained from Laughing Jack and he eventually became a sadistic killer of children.
A unique Laughing Jack move is to remove the guts of his victim and replace their insides with candy.
From: The Ring Movies
Samara Morgan is one of the scariest female horror villains. You probably remember her as the girl from the well or the girl from the TV. Samara Morgan is known for her distinct look. She appears with long, stringy, wet hair covering her face and moves supernaturally. If Samara comes for you, escape is unlikely and expect to be terrified before getting killed.
From: The Blair Witch Project Film
The Blair Witch legend is a backstory that makes The Blair Witch such a scary character. In fact, even though we never actually see the witch in the movie, there is a constant fear of her that casts a shadow of terror over The Blair Witch Project.
The Blair Witch is so feared by viewers that the film can satisfy us by showing a boy in the corner for a huge payoff. How often can movies get away with not showing the villain and still have a happy audience?
From: Donnie Darko
The infamous Donnie Darko rabbit is not a villain, but he qualifies as one of the films scary characters. Frank the Rabbit has a striking presence and a spooky looking costume. His quiet appearances are creepy and stay with you long after the Donnie Darko film is over. You have to watch the movie to really learn Frank the Rabbit’s purpose and identity in the film.
From: Leprechaun Movies
The evil leprechaun from the horror comedy Leprechaun (1993) is one of the more unique horror villains. He is a greedy scary leprechaun who kills anyone that gets between him and his pot of gold. The first movie and Leprechaun 2 were pretty good with an evil little horror villain, but after that the films were pretty mediocre. Don’t let the silliness distract you, this leprechaun is just as sadistic as any killer on this list.
From: Countless Novels and Films
The vampire used to be a terrifying and merciless creature of the night. However, the scary vampire seems to be a classic theme found in stories like Nosferatu and the Bram Stoker’s Dracula movie.
Many modern vampires are romanticized creatures with extraordinary powers and abilities. The vampire books by Ann Rice created a race of beings that readers looked up to and longed to be. These modern day vampires were stronger, smarter, more capable and more attractive than humans and they fed on human blood to survive.
The Twilight books and movies even offer a story line of “vegetarian” vampires who don’t feed on humans but have all the cool vampire traits.
You can still find modern movies like Daybreakers that use the vampire as actual horror villains, instead of sparkling teen idols. Even though scary vampire popularity is way down, they will always be a viable horror villain.
From: It Follows
Whether this thing is an entity, demon, monster, or creature is unknown. So in It Follows the scary character is only known as “It”. The entity is able to change forms at will and will constantly pursue you until you die. It’s basically a slow walking horror movie monster that can be anyone in the room at anytime.
It is supernatural, merciless, persistent and without a known origin or motive which makes it more horrifying than other horror villains. The villain from It Follows is one of my favorites because after watching the film it’s hard not to start setting up a plan for escaping “It”.
From: Frankenstein movies and more
Frankenstein’s monster is one of the classic scary characters both because of the way he looks and because of what he represents. This monster is a reflection of the horror present in humans and his naivety makes us sympathize with his plight.
Both the book and movies are able to represent Frankenstein as a scary monster and ultimately a villain.
From: Grudge Movies
The Grudge movie is probably most well known for the scary scene with Kayoko crawling down the stairs. There’s nothing scarier than a ghost with a grudge and Kayako proves it. It seems like every scene with Kayako is terrifying to watch, especially when you watch alone in the dark. The actress, also known as the grudge girl has a fun Instagram account here.
From: Jaws Films
The first movie starred Bruce the Shark (not a real shark) and it was a great horror comedy for it’s time. The shark is barely seen for the first hour of the film, but that doesn’t make him any less vicious. Jaws managed to tap into people’s hidden fear of shark attacks and scar an entire generation of children.
Say what you want, but Jaws made us all afraid to go in the water. I still feel a twinge of fear every time I look into water and can’t see the bottom. Also, the Jaws theme song is still famous 40 years later.
From: Trick ‘R Treat
Sam from the Trick ‘R Treat movie is the embodiment of Halloween in a child sized body. The creepy burlap sack Sam wears as a mask covers an even creepier head and skull. Sam may look harmless wandering about on Halloween night, but he takes the rules of Halloween seriously and doles out lethal consequences to anyone who breaks them.
You can find awesome Sam memorabilia at specialty shops and online. There are even rumors of a Trick ‘r Treat sequel coming out.
Who is your favorite horror villain? Is there a scary character not listed here that you really like? Leave your vote for #50 in the comments below. It can be from movies, television, literature or even popular culture like Creepypastas.