Since before the beginning of modern cinema, they have filled our hearts with fear and our pants with something altogether different. Vile, fearsome and yet we can't stay away from them! The Greatest Horror Characters!
From the earliest days of our society, people told stories to one another that would scare the crap out of each other, as cautionary tales, to pass the time, or to be real a-holes to one another. These scary stories usually involved fearful creatures that loomed in the darkness and unlike the plagues and illness of the early times, most of these creatures at least gave some warning before killing you.
Hanging out in Europe's Carpathian Mountains in his bitchin' castle, Dracula studied the dark arts in his coffin by day and would visit with the local townsfolk at night. Not looking to borrow a cup of sugar or last week's TV Guide, Drac was in need of blood to survive and with people's usual reaction to run for the fucking hills, Dracula had to use those dark arts to change his shape and sneak up on those wiley villagers.
So why am I dressing up in a tuxedo if I'm just going to change into a bat? It's called style. Look it up.
Not content with Transylvanian blood anymore, Drac unfurled his plans to spread out across Europe and make his mark by making marks in unsuspecting necks. Things were going well until an octagenarian by the name of Abraham Van Helsing came along and decided to stop the blood sucking party cold.
Totally ruining your world domination plans. You hate me, I know.
Though killed a number of different times in a number of different ways, the father of many a vampire offspring manages to come back to life and terrorize both the eastern and western worlds, his vampiric influence still felt to this day.
Not so much with the neck biting anymore, but still the chicks dig 'em. The legend continues...
Built by Victor Frankenstein, the creature who was never given a name was abandoned by its creator who was actually trying to just trying to develop an extremely crude form of microwave cooking. Failing to reheat his bratwurst, Frankenstein sees the reanimated corpse and imitates a German track star, quickly leaving the monster to wander the countrysides and just waiting to give the local villagers a chance to try out their brand new torches and pitchforks they got at the mall.
"You call this a mob?! This is a SHAM! That Lithuanian village is laughing at us. LAUGHING at us! Come on!"
As the monster finally tracks Frankenstein down, a promise of ripping off Frankenstein's head and urinating down his throat prompts the mad doctor to create a female version that will lessen the monster's pent up frustrations.
FRANKENSTEIN: "So any prefrences for this woman I'll be building, creature?"
MONSTER: "Well, I'm gonna say leave out fire."
FRANKENSTEIN: "Fire bad, got it."
MONSTER: "...don't patronize me."
But things went south when Frankenstein reneged on his promise and gave the monster the scientific middle finger, the monster flipped out at Frankenstein's wedding and not only killed his best bro but killed his wife as well. Frankenstein quickly canceled the rest of his plans and decided to go and kill some monster ass, tracking him to the Arctic Circle where Frankentstein accidentaly falls into some icy water and dies of pneumonia. The monster actually finds Frankenstein, prepared to apologize for "losing it" at his wedding when he finds the dead mad scientist and is left with regret being truly left without any "family" in a world that hates him...and having blown $20 dollars on a "Sorry I Went Nuts" bouquet from FTD.
I could try doing comedy...
So I go into a bar and the bartender says:
"HOLY SHIT! WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU?!!! RUN, RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!"
...so what's the deal with the bubonic plague, anyway?
When Larry Talbot goes back to the "old country" to settle some family issues with his dad and make a few Gypsy booty calls, he does the samaritan gig saving a woman from being attacked by a wolf but gets bit. Not fearful of rabies (cause he's American, damnit!), he soon learns from one of the aforementioned Gypsies that he was bitten by a werewolf. Now, when the wolfbane blooms, he will no longer be a man who should've stayed in Yonkers, working at the local bowling alley resetting the pins.
In all fairness, Larry's dates usually end like this except he uses roofies but he's never been this hairy...
Stalking the British highlands as the Werewolf, he tries to find the werewolf that actually bit him to break the curse. He even tries to turn to his father for some assistance but forgets that his extra facial hair is kind of off putting as his father briskly beats him to death with a walking stick.
...and the cat's in the cradle with a walking stick, here comes a wolf, gotta beat him down quick...
Of course, in the light of the full moon, Larry's corpse returned to life and tried to find a cure in a time when lycanthropy (werewolf's disease) was spreading all over Europe. All different kinds of werewolves would be developing over the next few decades, from dudes who looked like they were wearing fright wigs and plastic fangs to full blown, expensive ass werewolf costumes...all of them bone chillingly frightening.
Frighteningly horrible, but still frightening.
Years ago, in ancient Egypt, workaholic / temple priest Imhotep was trying to deal with loss of his main squeeze Ankh-es-en-amon but one totally bogus Valentine's Day, he decided to throw caution to the wind and resurrect her from the land of the dead. Because that was a no no in Egyptian society, Imhotep was mummified for his trouble and stuck in a sarcophagus to think about what he did for the next few centuries. Awoken in the 30's by a bunch of unaware archaeologists, Imhotep decides to try that whole "resurrect my dead girlfriend" thing again and is lucky enough to find a woman that both looks just like her and is trusting enough to let him anywhere near her.
No amount of lotion is going to help you out, pal. Might as well resort to evil...
Using that voodoo that he...do so well, Imhotep convinced a modern 30's woman to be killed so hus girlfriend's spirit could wear her corpse like a brand new petticoat but when that woman came to her senses (she wasn't really into being dead), she read from an old scroll that transformed Imhotep into a big pile of ash. The story of The Mummy would be revived again many years later with the lovable horny priest trying to resurrect his long dead love again in the body of a modern day woman.
Dude...nice f-ing choice!
And this time, a forthright hero would emerge to defend her virtue and fight the evil sorceror.
SPOILER ALERT: This guy won. I can't believe it either.
As time passed on, writers kept the fearful ideas of the "forefathers of horror" in mind as they crafted their gruesome horror characters and as times changed, the horror characters changed with them and despite their differences in appearance, they could still incite screams of terror from even the most masculine of individuals.
This average looking guy was the proprietor of a sleepy motel off of the highway, a place to come in and rest your head after a long night on the road. Rooms always clean, free of the riff raff you would find at your local Howard Johnsons', Norman would always greet you with a kind smile that he remarked was similar to his mother's.
Yeah, see? A smile just like hers. His just isn't decomposing and rotting. Yeah. Damn,
Along with running the fairly sizeable motel, Norman pulls triple duty by following his dead mother's orders and masquerading as her to slaughter the unfortunate clientele that decide to stay at the motel. While a horrible idea for return business, Norman follows his mom's directives and ends up institutionalized, serving out his days along with his mother, tucked away forever in his subconcious mind.
"A name for my memoirs? Hmm..."Throw Momma From My Brain"! Up top! Hey...high five me or you die..."
NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, DAWN OF THE DEAD, DAY OF THE DEAD AKA THOSE CRAZY ZOMBIES
When you die, most believe that your soul leaves your body and that fleshy husk left behind is either incinerated into ash or placed inside of a box in the ground for relatives to rarely visit. If you live in George Romero's reality however, it SO sucks to be you.
MR. COOPER: "You know, when they get full, they'll probably just take a nap and then we can get out of here."
MRS. COOPER: "If we went to Detroit like I suggested, this never would've happened."
BEN: "...you know, I'm going to outlive all of you, right?"
Legions of the undead sprout up from graves all over the world and walk among the living, and of course if you get bit, you join them. Running and barracading yourself in somewhere with weapons of all different varieties, your reality is now living with several other non zombies that just might manage to get you infected when you go for a food and Tab run. Quite the horrific vision of our world:
Zombies in corduroy pants and leisure suits? This guy is a master of horror. Holy crap.
The good news is that both Norman Bates and zombies can't swim, so if you moved to a beach around this time, you stand a good chance of....damnit, Jaws!
Everybody loves to go to the beach and everyone certainly loves to go splashing around in the water and back in time before you had to be concerned about medical waste killing you, you had to contend with this great white son of a bitch. When he showed up on Roy Scheider's beach, Roy did the ballsy thing and decided to go hunt this gigantic shark with Mr. Holland (minus the Opus, so boo) and a bat shit crazy guy rambling on about ""doll's eyes". Like an underwater ninja, Jaws chewed himself up several unsuspecting swimmers and finishing off crazy guy until Roy went all sniper with his trusty rifle, blowing up an air tank wedged in Jaws' mouth and sending Satan's guppy back to hell.
"El Dorado Cigarettes. Smoking isn't half as dangerous as what I'm doing RIGHT NOW. El Dorado...Cigarettes."
In the 70's, it was pretty obvious to most people that if you had to get lost somewhere, remotely wooded areas were the last place you would want that happening. Unlike fairy tales of old, the woods of middle America weren't filled with elves that baked cookies in trees. These woods were jam packed with backwoods cousins that have been procreating with one another since the South lost the war. These charming individuals didn't venture into society when they needed to get a meal. They simply hunted and killed whatever was wandering through the woods.
They view this picture like a menu at McDonalds. If you move too slow, you become part of the Not So Happy Meal
Processing the unfortunate hiker or nature enthusiasts body into chili or barbecue for his family, L.F. did it all beneath several different masks that hid a fairly deformed face. If it isn't frightening enough to be chased around by an enormous squealing man brandishing a chainsaw, noticing him wearing a mask made of human skin should be enough (hopefully) to make a mad dash through the woods to avoid him.
...how in the hell does he keep his shirts so white? I'm jealous, I admit it.
So we've covered not hanging out at the beach, in the major cities, or the Ozarks if you wanted to survive in the 70's...how about a nice, quiet hotel in the mountains? I defy a monster, cannibal, or natural predator to make the trip up there. Jack Torrance, a frustrated writer takes a job of caretaker at this particular hotel in the winter season when it shuts down to guests so he, his wife, and his ESP having son will spend a lot of quality time together.
Over the course of our lives, we learn that seemingly harmless stuff like this is a precursor to REALLY bad things ahead
One of Jack's major problems is that he's suffering from writer's block, which is surpassed by being a recovering alcoholic that's trying to stay off the "sauce" and then that is surpassed by a bunch of ghosts that are pulling his "wagon of sanity" down "Cuckoo Blvd & Screwball Lane". The ghosts of dead folk that haunt the hotel are trying to convince Jack that family life isn't all it's cracked up to be and getting into the movies would be cheaper if it were just him, so kill your wife and son. He tries to maintain his resolve, seeing some of the most bizarre things throughout the hotel and twisting up his mind but the ghosts eventually manage to push him over the edge and has him hunting his family down.
JACK: "...you swear that their heads are full of finely aged brandy?"
LLOYD: "Cross my heart and hope to d...there's an axe in the corner, you've already got a cup. Have a ball."
Whitney Houston believes that our children are the future. In the early 70's, Satan believed that one child inparticular was a place to party, scaring the hell out of the child's mother and a whole lot of people in a darkened movie theater. Calling on an aging priest with experience in the field of exorcism and a young turk priest with "something to prove", the two men of the cloth descend on Regan's home and attempt to get the demon out of the little girl.
But it's just a little girl, you say. How frightening could that be?
Seriously? If I came into the house and saw that, I'd bypass the cab and just run to the airport to catch a plane as far away from where this place was.
Young Michael Myers was obviously a lover of that oh so famous October 31st holiday but not so much of his older sister as he butchered her when he was only six and was sent away to a saniturium without any candy. Many years later, as the security is finally lax enough, Michael checks out and decides to return to what he loved doing most but what screaming teen girls weren't too fond of.
MICHAEL: "It's called "shiatzu". It's going to be huge in another few years. Relieves a LOT of tension, right?"
MICHAEL: "I know, right? Total stress eliminator!"
They would kill him, or at least they would knock him out of a second floor window or blow him up and assume that he was dead, breathing a sigh of relief and limping away, only to have the seemingly unstoppable killing machine show up at your local mall without a scratch. What the hell could be scarier than that?
Remember that video in "The Ring"...?
Done with dealing with the horrors on Earth, an intrepid group of astronauts head out into space because there can't be anything frightening out there, right? Fear be damned, the astronauts respond to a distress call and find an actual alien spaceship and a bunch of weird looking eggs. Not realizing the danger that a five year old would in this situation, one of the crew contemplates bringing back a specimen until the specimen decides for him.
KANE: (muffled) "We should name it? You like "face hugger"? I'm leaning towards "painful, intrusive thing, get off of my face". Well it is on MY face, so I should have the majority vote."
Running all over the ship for their lives from a number of different sized aliens, once again, you think you kill them but then you realize that this is an alien race...and their planet is out there somewhere. A world full of these things, not to mention how many have managed to get off of the planet and made their way onto interstellar ships in secret.
You won't even know that they're there until...well...
During play period...no one can hear you scream...
The 80's brought a myriad of new horror icons that had us leaping around in the theaters, causing popcorn showers into several rows all around us, and really screwing up the make out time as every time the movie got really quiet, someone was getting mutilated.
CHARLES LEE RAY AKA CHUCKY
Wanted killer Charles Lee Ray is running from the cops, already having been shot by one of the cops and he happens into a department store, knowing that he was finished. Luckily for him, Charles was a practitioner of the mystic art of voodoo and wanting revenge on those that abandon him to die, he needed to transfer his soul into something that would be magically animated to help him take revenge.
You can feel the evil, can't you? Don't sleep on 'em. You'll regret it.
Too far from any mannequins, Charles came across "The Good Guy" dolls, the answer to Cabbage Patch Kids and he transfers his soul into one of them, proceeding to wreak havoc on the calf muscles and ankles of his victims and surprisingly murdering a number of people through a plethora of his films. In the theme of a number of horror movie monsters, you think you kill him but he just manages to return and find a new way to kill you.
Dear Mattel, I'm not one to normally complain but when a toy I bought for my son slices my Achilles tendon and threatens my grandfather's life, I speak up...
What's scarier than having an alien chase you around on a spaceship that you can't escape from? Well, what if you were in the middle of the Arctic, where temperatures dropped so low, you could die from being outside in a matter of minutes AND the alien this time can look like your best pal.
You can't pick your friends, but you CAN scream uncontrolably when they come around
Slowly being assimilated by the alien, the brave Arctic team tries to fight back, attempting to uncover who the alien is in their midst but that also leads to dissention and mistrust, which works for the alien who's picking our frosty heroes off left and right. Think about it: would you give your "friend" a blowtorch to barbecue a deadly alien being if you couldn't tell that was actually your friend?
MacReady: "If either of you want to assimilate my body, just to let you know, I have a really bad case of the crabs so...just FYI."
Not afraid of clowns? Well, you are part of a shrinking group of people who can still find some humor from a being that paints their face to hide their appearance from others. These beings aren't always the kind to pile out of a clown car and act all wacky with toy balloons to delight the youth. One inparticular lures unsuspecting children to their doom.
Not exactly the same kind of doom, but obesity can lead to death. Subtle link here.
The fear inspiring clown is a demonic being that haunts the children of a little town called Derry, luring them away with balloons and processed chicken nuggets and polishing them off but the scarier thing is Pennywise is only a mental representation of what the demon really looks like, a far more frightening visage that is usually only seen before it claims its victims. You really have to thank Stephen King for taking an icon linked so closely to children and transforming it into years of therapy bills for millions of people.
...I've got X-Box 360 down here. Yes, in a sewer. I'm using an extension cord. No, the warranty won't be voided...
Elliot Spenser was once a captain in the British Expeditionary who saw the horrors of World War I first hand, greatly effecting his sanity and after returning to civilivian life, he found himself believing in nothing and forsaking God. He turned his attentions to questing after forbidden pleasures that could satisfy his new carefree attitude and eventually, Spenser located a very special box that once opened unleashed a dark force that changed him forever.
A big fan of Pinhead's. She possesses a box of her own that when opened is rumored to cause great suffering.
The Lament Configuration, what looked like a mere puzzle box was a link to Hell where individuals known as Cenobites lived, beings who are totally into the extreme levels of pain and torture. Spenser became their new leader, waiting for unsuspecting individuals to attempt to open the puzzle box and unleash them into the world. Unlike other horror characters, "Pinhead" wasn't simply out for the kill. His basic theme in life was to sample the various ways that a human being could suffer and Tivo it for enjoymnent later. No revenge motives, no psychopathic intentions, he was just the leader of a group of other worldly beings that would go around stabbing people in their spleens for kicks.
Pinhead: "After we are done eviscerating these nuns and showing them the true meaning of life...what do you say we go to Red Lobster? We can get some of those delightful cheddar biscuits and cleave the server if they're cold..."
Born with a physical deformity and kept away from other children by his overprotective mother, Pamela Vorhees sheltered her "differently abled" son from a number of life's challenges, such as learning how to swim. Never figuring he'd need it, Pamela got a job as a cook at a summer camp named Crystal Lake, not seeing a bit of forboding in her earlier decision. Ridiculed for his inability to swim, young Jason decided he'd show them and took a late night swim while the counselors that should've been watching him were:
* Getting high
* Getting high and screwing
* Solving Rubik's Cubes
Jason's body was never found and Pamela blamed the well rested counselors at the camp for not keeping an eye on him but in true 80's fashion, Pamela Vorhees would take a bold step in forgoing litigation in matters like these.
I'd tell you what's for lunch tomorrow, but you'll be dead and I'll be serving food at your WAKE!
Going down the laundry list of counselors, one eventually manages to stop Pamela's rampage by beheading ol' Pams and moves on with her life...until Jason shows up years later and kills her. He also keeps her body in his shack, kinda like when you make your first dollar in business and heads out to slaughter teenage campers at his alma mater Camp Crystal Lake and other camps as well. Much like his compatriot Michael Myers, Jason has the uncanny ability to move extraordinary distances in a matter of moments, meaning no matter what distance you put between you and him, he will suddenly show up to gut you. Oh, and moreover, Jason can't die. Beating Michael Myers out in the "I thought he was dead...shit!" category quite well, practically everything has been done to this guy but he just keeps coming back for more bodies to slay.
You THOUGHT attacking him with a machete was a good idea. Your bleeding stump says different...
Born to a raped nun in an insane asylum, fueled by the terror that he could instill in those around him and with a hobby of murdering innocent children, Fred Krueger was not a guy bucking for "Springfield, Ohio's Man Of The Year". Working in a boiler room on the bad side of town and acquitted of the murders he had caused, the parents of the remaining children in town decided to have a very special PTA meeting requiring everyone to bring gasoline and matches.
When the local newspaper stopped running Sunday editions, the editor got the same treatment.
But Fredderick doesn't die as a group of entities known as Dream Demons offer him eternal life in the "dream world" and the ability to kill people in their dreams. Accepting their offer and donning his signature "finger bladed glove", Freddy proceeds to slay the remaining children in town, focusing on Elm Street. Despite several setbacks of apparently being killed over several movies, Freddy just keeps coming back in the nightmares of his victims, even showing up in the dreams of one of his psychopathic partners in crime to try and cause all sorts of problems.
FREDDY: "...well, a cool line or two couldn't hurt. Like before you bury an axe in her back, you yell "Time to cut out!""
FREDDY: "You're mute? I just thought you were real deep. Boy is my face red. Red? Get it? Jeez..."
DANIEL ROBITAILLE AKA THE CANDYMAN
Many years ago, the son of a slave was caught having an affair with the white daughter of the plantation owner and the way they handled things in those days was to brutally beat people to near death and then cover them in bees whose stings finish the job. Becoming a ghost of vengeance, if you say the oddly named "Candyman" five times while looking in a mirror, legend has it he will come and kill you.
Candyman, Candyman, Candyman, Candyman.......Candyman
This next song comes straight from my heart to yours. Gonna rip it from your chest, man....cuckoo cat!
With a hook for a hand and a swarm of bees to make some quite lovely honey for midday tea, The Candyman stalks anyone stupid enough to say his name five times into a mirror, as well as the relatives of the people that were responsible for killing him all of those years ago. Unlike your standard horror monster, how do you fight off a six foot something tall dude with a hook hand, bee swarm on his chest, and sporting a fur coat all year round that only you can see?
Quite a sweet talker, right? A bad position to bee in? Can't he just buzz off? Got a million of these...
Some of the heroes or heroines in these stories found a way to outsmart the horrendous villains who try to do them in, but when the villain is a friggin' psychiatrist that can outthink your every move, that doesn't speak very well for your chances, does it? A famed serial killer and aspiring cannibal, the law tries their best to keep Lecter under lock and key, the FBI frequently paying him visits to get help in catching other serial killers, but asking for certain favors in return.
STARLING: "We are NOT giving you some guy's liver to eat with some fava beans and a nice chianti!"
LECTER: "Actually, I want some of that KFC grilled chicken. They run those commercials night and day, you know. I am intrigued."
Killer / cannibal / mad genius actually helps bring several vicious killers to justice but while everyone is celebrating the victory at Applebee's, the minimum security left to watch Lecter gets fooled and the mad doctor makes a daring escape from his holding cell by borrowing a few things from one of the guards.
Flashlight, box of Tic Tacs, car keys, and the guy's face. I know, I know...Certs keep your breath fresh longer.
The undead, malicious aliens seeking to eliminate our race, otherworldly beings out for revenge or just trying to get some jollies before they kill you, the icons of horror cinema exist to take us to a place where we all know we don't want to go and can leave at anytime, but keep going back to just to get a good scream off.
Thank you, you scary friggin' bastards.