Horror movie villains take many frightening forms — from brilliant sociopaths, sadists and cannibals (Hannibal Lecter, Leatherface, Jigsaw, The Shining's Jack Torrance, Misery's Annie Wilkes) to outright otherworldly beings (Alien, Pennywise, Dracula, The Exorcist demon, the Babadook) — and we love (and love to hate) them all. But picking the single greatest terrorizer is no easy task, which is why we posed the question to you. See which character scares you the most in the ranked list below.
There's been a bevy of clown-painted maniacs in horror movies, but few have elicited such a visceral reaction from viewers as Captain Spaulding in Rob Zombie's House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects. In his very first introduction, when two robbers try to get the best of him at his Museum of Murder and Maniacs, he laughs at their attempts, catches them off guard ... and murders the hell out of them. The clown makeup is unmistakable (and unmistakably vile), but under it he's just as gruesome. A product of a cruel upbringing, his brain is warped by Americana and its history of murderers, which fuels in his own brutal bloodlust.
Forget the skinless man, the shady Julia, or anyone else in Hellraiser, the real stars of the show are the Cenobites, the keepers of the puzzlebox and quite possibly the most terrifying group of horror villains ever created. Pinhead and crew possess a darkness that is unmatched, conjuring (severely disfiguring) pleasure and pain on a whim all without breaking their icy demeanor. Did we mention how utterly terrifying they look too?
Musically speaking, we have 'ol Mikey (and director-composer John Carpenter) to thank for an entire genre of synth fetishists creating a new wave of music based on the first film's soundtrack. Cinematically speaking, Michael Myers is the archetype for all of the slashers, and just like the soundtrack, Halloween created a genre of its own in the film world (yes that includes Freddy and Jason who ranked higher). There is very little in this world that can compare to the terror that you feel when you see Michael Myers' cold grey mask, jumpsuit and empty eyes as he stares you down with butcher's knife in hand. Side note: did you know that Michael Myers' mask was based on William Shatner?
Freddy Krueger has remained a horror icon over the thirty-plus years since his introduction, thanks to how malleable, creative and flat-out funny his character can get in the Nightmare on Elm Street series. Over the years he's gone from an otherworldly serial killer that takes vengeance on the children of those responsible for his death, to a jokester that delivers a perfectly thought out punchline after murdering someone. Taking people's deep-seated fears and making them truly deadly, Krueger remains a slasher villain that pushes the limit of what could be done in the genre.
The iconic vengeful antihero fans have come to know and love has taken on many roles (and been taken on by many role-seekers) since his inception in 1980 slasher classic Friday the 13th. With over 300 kills throughout the span of 13 films, the hockey-masked horror king has drained the life from his victims from Manhattan all the way to space. While Camp Crystal Lake may be his spirit's eternal resting place, he's carved a deep hole in which to live forever in the hearts of horror fanatics everywhere.