The horror genre is one where the protagonists and victims often have very little depth (particularly slasher films). They can be stupid and stubborn, and this means that often the audience does not relate to them. They are little more than fresh meat for the villain to hunt down. Seeing as they are often irritating characters, fans will sometimes justifiably cheer on the villain as he creatively takes them down, one by one. The villain in a horror is the character that has the most depth and can even evoke sympathy, and there have been dozens of celebrated horror villains throughout the genre’s long history.
10. Leatherface (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre has remained one of the most unsettling horror films of all-time, and it is therefore a film that is widely celebrated. It is also an influential film that originated many horror clichés, including the masked villain. Leatherface is the main villain in the films, and his presence mean that he becomes a fan favorite who the audience will cheer on. Leatherface wears a mask made of human skin, has thick black hair, wears a suit and of course wields a chainsaw wherever he goes. Although he is a villain (and a scary one), he also has an air of innocence, as he is only following orders from his (inbred) family and he shows fear when people enter his home (he is often described as a “big baby”). He may be disturbing and terrifying, but Leatherface is a classic villain and an audience favorite.
9. Victor Crowley (Hatchet)
Hatchet, and the sequels, were created with an old-school ethos. They are supposed to be fun, over-the-top, gory films. The characters are deliberately annoying — extreme personalities — and the audience is not meant to relate to them so they can cheer the villain, Victor Crowley. While Crowley is violent and feared, he is also a character that the audience can get behind, since he is a tormented soul. He was born deformed and kept hidden by his father, but one Halloween a group of kids tried to scare him by throwing fireworks into the house. This set the house on fire, and Victor’s father then tried to break the door down with a hatchet which accidentally hit Victor in the face and (supposedly) killed him. The fun, over-the-top nature of the film, the irritating characters, and neglect that Crowley suffered ensure that he is the one that the audience is cheering for.
8. Ghostface (Scream)
Whilst Ghostface is an identity used by many different villains in each Scream film, the audience still find themselves cheering on this iconic horror villain. The films are self aware and satirical of the horror genre, and this adds an air of comedy to them, while remaining tense and scary throughout. Ghostface is known to toy with his victims, but he is also at times clumsy as he hunts them down. This can bring humor, as typically in slasher films the villain is fast and ruthlessly efficient. Even though the hero throughout the franchise, Sidney Prescott, is likable and a character that the audience sympathizes with, the audience will still cheer on Ghostface as he takes down the other characters in the film using classic horror clichés. The comedy element of these films also aid in making the antagonist a character that the audience can cheer for.
7. Mike Myers (Halloween)
Halloween is often considered to be the best and most influential horror film of all-time, and it features perhaps the most iconic slasher villain – Mike Myers. He is described as “pure evil” and has a terrifying on-screen presence through his size, his big jumpsuit, and his creepy expressionless mask. Plus the large kitchen knife he wields. He also does not speak in the original films and possesses super-human strength, making him an unstoppable force. The films centre around Myers escaping from a psychiatric hospital and going on a killing rampage with the intention of killing his remaining family. While he is a frightening presence and fans don’t want him to kill his sister, Laurie Stroder, he is still cheered on as he dispatches all the other irritating characters in the films. Also, being a horror classic, Mike Myers is a iconic figure in the genre.
6. Freddy Krueger (A Nightmare on Elm Street)
The horror villain that has made kids afraid of falling asleep since the mid 80s, Freddy Krueger is one of the scariest and most twisted villains of all-time. Freddy Krueger claims his victims in their dreams, where they cannot be protected. Even though that is a terrifying thought, he is still a celebrated villain and one that horror fans cheer on as his kill list soars. Like many slasher films, the victims are usually idiotic and stubborn, with little depth (unlike Freddy). Fans of the genre cheer on Freddy as he is such a brilliantly designed character. He has an iconic appearance with his red and green striped sweater, a brown fedora, a bladed glove, and burnt face. His unsettling voice has also become an important part of the franchise and even the horror genre, fantastically acted by Robert Englund.
5. Jason Voorhees (Friday the 13th)
Jason is one of the most iconic horror villains of all-time and is the only character linking all eleven of the Friday the 13th films. This means that there is no repeat hero to root for (unlike the Scream and Halloween franchises), and instead the audience will find themselves cheering for Jason as he dispatches countless irritating teenagers in some of the most creative ways possible. Jason is exacting revenge after he supposedly drowned at Camp Crystal Lake whilst the counselors were preoccupied with sex and drugs. It turns out he did not die and instead turned into a huge killing machine, with a machete as his weapon of choice. The Friday the 13th films are good fun and some of the most famous slasher films of all-time. They are also films where the audience doesn’t really sympathize with any of the characters standing in Jason’s way.
4. Lubdan (Leprechaun)
The Leprechaun films are horror-comedy films, and therefore the audience is supposed to cheer on the comical yet evil villain, Lubdan the Leprechaun. He is a sadistic leprechaun who is hell-bent on getting back his beloved pot of gold, but he is also a humorous character who plays hide-and-seek, rides skateboards, and even performs a rap in one of the films. Lubdan also has many great one-liners and has a fantastic evil laugh that he does as he hunts down each hapless victim. Due to his size, and the fact that Leprechaun’s are generally not the most intimidating mythical creature, Lubdan is the character that is cheered on throughout each film. All the other characters have little-to-no depth at all. Lubdan is brilliantly portrayed by Warwick Davis in the first six films, and the first installment actually features Jennifer Aniston (of Friends fame) in her debut film.
3. Hannibal Lecter (The Silence of the Lambs & Hannibal)
Whilst Hannibal Lecter is not the primary villain in these films, he is still a character that is designed to strike fear into the audience. This is easily achieved, as he is a cannibalistic serial killer and alarmingly intelligent. But he is also a fascinating character that is charming, cultured, and sophisticated. He is described as a “pure psychopath” in The Silence of the Lambs, and the tension in the scenes between himself and protagonist Clarice Starling is palpable and chilling to the bone (this is also thanks to the phenomenal performances by Anthony Hopkins). Despite the fear and tension that he causes on-screen, the audience find themselves cheering him on, since he is such an interesting character and assists in the protagonist’s mission. Despite this, he maintains a villain status through killing numerous characters throughout the films.
2. Carrie White (Carrie)
Unlike most horror films, the role of Carrie is ambiguous and she could be described as both protagonist and antagonist. She possesses supernatural powers (telekinesis) and uses this to kill numerous characters in the story (villainous behavior), but she is also a character that the audience is supposed to sympathize with. She is abused at home by her mother, and is also teased, bullied and humiliated at school. This is something that many people can relate to. Even if they haven’t, they will still feel sorry for Carrie. Due to the audience empathizing with Carrie, and her tormentors being so cruel and unlikable, those watching the film will actively cheer Carrie on as she exacts her revenge after discovering she has telekinesis. She may not fit into the typical villain (or hero) role, but she is still a fan favorite.
1. Frankenstein’s Monster (Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein)
The most misunderstood horror character of all-time, Frankenstein’s Monster was kind but became hate-filled after being treated like a monster. Frankenstein’s Monster is what is known as a sympathetic villain, despite the fact that he kills many in his path. This is because he has been mistreated and he wants nothing more than to be loved. The story of Frankenstein is a classic and has been adapted dozens of times over the years. Frankenstein’s Monster is as iconic in the horror genre as Dracula or werewolves. He is a misunderstood character, however, and was never instinctively evil. He was turned into a monster by humanity’s reaction to him. This means that the audience will often cheer on the Monster, but it is equally a heartbreaking tale as much as it is a timeless horror classic.