It has been a long time since I have done one of these lists, but this week’s Top 10 Show with John Rocha and Matt Knost had a topic that interested me, and I had a spare moment to throw together a list. The topic was Top 10 Scariest Movie Horror Characters.
#10. Giant Ants (Empire of the Ants). Okay, so this one I left here despite it being a terrible movie that is not really scary. Thing is… I saw this as a very young boy. I demanded that my parents take me to this film and I spent most of the runtime hiding beneath my seat or crying to my mom. I have a distinct memory of that moment, even if I do not have much of a memory of the movie.
#9. The Thing (The Thing). One of the best horror films and it is very scary, mainly because of the practical effects. The fact that you could ever tell which of the people in that station was The Thing… adding to the claustrophobic aspects of the film… well, it is just a psychological horror.
#8. Buffalo Bill (Silence of the Lambs). I almost put Hannibal Lecter in this spot, but when thinking about it, Buffalo Bill was way scarier because he was so crazy and so sick. It also felt real. There are serial killers who do terrible things like Buffalo Bill did and that reality overcomes the, let’s be honest, coolness factor of Dr. Lecter. It always blows my mind when I realize that Buffalo Bill is also Captain Leland Stottlemeyer from Monk, Ted Levine.
#7. Jack Torrance (Shining). One of Jack Nicholson’s most iconic roles. When he is chasing after his family with that ax and follows little Danny into the outside maze, it is one of the frighteningly intense scenes. The Shining is filled with horrible moments. The rolling blood. The woman from room 234. The murder of Scatman Crothers. All of it is based around Jack’s decent into madness.
#6. Annie Wilks (Misery). The Stephen King adaptation brought the superfan into focus in a horrific way. There may not be any scene on this list more frightening than the scene with the sledgehammer. Kathy Bates won an Oscar for her performance in this role, and it is because she portrayed the crazy in such a perfect way.
#5. Xenomorph (Alien, Aliens). What a great design of a character. These monstrous creature bring the terror to two of the best movies. The first Alien film was more f the horror film while Aliens 2 brought more action. Either way, every time we would see the Xenomorph, you could feel the fear deep inside your heart. One of the most iconic movie aliens around.
#4. Pennywise (It). I considered this for number one, but clowns do not really scare me. There are some terrifying moments in It, though fewer in It Chapter Two. The scene with the Losers Club in the garage watching the slides and having Pennywise come out of the screen… whoa… no way. Just a horribly scary shock. Bill Skarsgård does a fantastic job filling the shoes of the iconic EYG Hall of Famer Tim Curry.
#3. Regan MacNeil (The Exorcist). The Exorcist is one of the scariest of all horror movies and it is mainly because of the efforts of the possessed young girl Regan MacNeil. Played brilliantly by Linda Blair, Regan defined several of the classic horror genre tropes including the scary kid, the possession, the Devil as an adversary. The Exorcist is a frightful film thanks to this performance.
#2. Killer alligators (Crawl). This is the reason I am never going to Florida. I am not sure if I have ever been as scared by a film as I was in Crawl. I was uneasy and every time one of those killer alligators appeared, killing some innocent bystander, I was all the more scared. It was an intense film that seriously brought me chills. I almost made this number one, but the alligators did not have their own distinct personalities, so I bowed to another giant man-eating creature.
#1. Jaws (Jaws). The scene where the shark devours Quint really scared me as a younger person. I can remember watching with horror not believing what I was seeing. The way the shark is barely seen in the early part of the film is awesome and builds such tension for the later reveals. The famous story was that the mechanical shark Bruce was not working well and this was something they had to do out of necessity. What a lucky break. Jaws is one of my favorite movies of all time and the shark deserves its spot atop this list.
Honorable mentions: There are a few extras that were considered. I already mentioned Hannibal Lecter, who was as close to being on the list as you get. Michael Meyers was a character that I tried to squeeze in, but just fell short. Leatherface was scary. Freddy Krueger had some moments but slipped back when he became more of a comedy character. The Babadook is a sleeper pick that I considered for the list to.