This time it's for horror novel blogging. Last time it was for fantasy novel blogging. Because I've won two of them now, it really makes me wonder just what the criteria are for this award!
Still, now I feel like I have to prove myself worthy as an award-winning horror blogger, so here's my take on Entertainment Weekly's top 20 best and worst horror movie villains. (Yes, I know it's movies and not novels, but movies are the new mythology now, not novels, and besides, this is fun. Also, many of their choices were in novels first, so there.)
1) Freddy Kreuger - A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) Not a bad choice to start off with, though I would hesitate to give Freddy #1 ranking. Still, the original Nightmare on Elm Street is a good, scary fright film, and Freddy actually came off as threatening, as opposed to the wisecracking clown he became in the sequels.
2) Pinhead - Hellraiser (1987) Time for some serious neepery here. In the first movie, Pinhead isn't the villain, Uncle Frank is. Pinhead is little more than a force of nature. He's like a bear, dangerous but basically morally neutral. You summon him and his Cenobite buddies and they give you the ultimate S&M experience you're looking for. He doesn't kill people. Sure, it's kind of a trap, but not to Pinhead. He thinks he's doing you a favor. It's only in the progressively worsening sequels that he becomes villainous and tries to trick people into falling into his web. Still, neepery aside, Pinhead is awesome, as is Hellraiser (and, for the most part, Hellraiser 2, even though it takes the ridiculous step of saying the Cenobites come from Hell -- yawn!).
3) Michael Myers - Halloween (1978) Oh my goodness, yes. One of the few times it was actually scary to feature a villain whose motivations are unknowable, instead of just lazy. Also, he made William Shatner's face scary to a whole generation of kids, and that's something special!
4) Jason Voorhees - Friday the 13th (1980) Strangely, EW recognizes its own mistake by admitting that Jason isn't even in the 1980 Friday the 13th! But still, even though I find Jason a lazy creation, he became an instant icon when he debuted in Friday the 13th Part 2 in 1981, and was cemented into the collective unconscious when he first picked up the hockey mask in Friday the 13th Part 3 in 1982. So while he wouldn't necessarily be on my list of the best, you can't fight City Hall.
5) Count Orlok - Nosferatu (1922) Yes, yes, yes! Still one of my favorite movies of all time, and the wonderfully named Max Schreck turns in a great performance as the vampire they were legally prevented from calling Dracula. Now if only there weren't so many anti-Semitic undertones to the movie. Does Count Orlok really need to wear a suspiciously yarmulke-like skullcap? Especially in conjunction with his honking big nose?
6) Leatherface - The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) Definitely. Leatherface is brilliant in this movie, as much the comic relief as the villain. He's scary, but not the scariest part of the film. At least, not by himself. It's the entire Sawyer (har har) family that's so frightening. That dinner scene toward the end remains a fine cinematic example of grand guignol theater, and also a cautionary tale about what happens when the lone source of employment in town shuts down. Often dismissed as a gore film by people who haven't seen it, or who misremember it, Chainsaw is actually a sometimes-funny, mostly gore-free satire -- and genius from start to finish. Unlike the villains in other horror movies, Leatherface is only part of what makes Chainsaw work.
7) Jigsaw - Saw (2004) Look, I like Saw a lot. I think it's a good movie despite Danny Glover's questionable acting choices. But is Jigsaw one of the best movie villains ever? No. Not by a long shot. Even his motivation is silly.
8) Candyman - Candyman (1992) One of the best Clive Barker adaptations from one of his best stories. A favorite horror film of mine. Tony Todd delivers a fine performance, and no one who sees the movie can stand in front of a mirror and say "Candyman" five times. The Candyman is awesome, but is he as iconic as Freddy, Jason, Michael and Pinhead have become? I don't know. No one dresses as Candyman on Halloween. I'm glad he's on the list, though.
9) Annie Wilkes - Misery (1990) Scared the hell out of me, so yeah, good choice!
10) The Tall Man - Phantasm (1979) Hells yeah! Phantasm remains one of my favorite horror movies of all time, and Angus Scrimm's Tall Man is wonderfully creeptastic throughout. Sure, the movie can be kind of cheesy (what's with the giant fake bug?) and suffers slightly from an "it was all a dream...or was it?" ending, but it's beautifully produced (those funeral home interiors are marvelous) and scary as hell when you're 11 and catch it on late night TV for the first time!
11) Hannibal Lecter - The Silence of the Lambs (1991) He belongs much, much higher on the list! He was one of the few human monsters who actually frightened me the way non-human ones do. Also, Anthony Hopkins' performance in the role is top notch.
12) Norman Bates - Psycho (1960) Another of my favorite movies of all time. I even wrote a high school paper analyzing the movie through a Freudian lens. Bates also deserves to be higher on the list, in my opinion. And Anthony Perkins was so perfect in the role that the first time I saw a poster for The Silence of the Lambs, I misread it and thought it starred Anthony Perkins, not Anthony Hopkins, and got really fucking exciting!
13) Sylvia Ganush - Drag Me to Hell I haven't seen it yet (I know!) but something tells me it's a bit premature to add her to a best of all time list.
14) Minnie Castevet - Rosemary's Baby (1968) The perfect example of a forgotten horror movie villain. Ruth Gordon is genius personified as the doddering old lady who lives in the same building as Mia Farrow's Rosemary, and evil as hell. Literally. Kudos to EW for remembering to put her on the list, even if they did put her after the Drag Me to Hell lady.
15) Chucky - Child's Play (1988) Uh, moving on...
16) Pumpkinhead - Pumpkinhead (1988) Wait a minute, you consider Chucky one of the best and Pumpkinhead one of the worst? You're dead to me, EW! Dead!
17) Dr. Giggles - Dr. Giggles (1992) The less said about this movie the better. It's so bad the villain doesn't even belong on a list at all. He should be ranked below the worst villains of all time!
18) Gingerdead Man - Gingerdead Man (2005) You probably have to be high to even consider watching this movie about Gary Busey turning into a killer gingerbread man, let alone enjoying it.
19) The Leprechaun - Leprechaun (1993) I saw this one in the theater! It was a different time back then, when movie tickets cost a much more disposable $5 and no one knew who the Leprechaun's costar Jennifer Aniston was yet. Ah, nostalgia!
20) Audrey II - Little Shop of Horrors (1986) You are dead to me, EW! DEAD TO ME!