It’s Halloween: you need a costume, otwo needs a filmic countdown. Jake O’Brien lists the ten scariest cinema characters out there
Patrick Bateman – American Psycho (2000)
Christian Bale’s psychologically disturbing portrayal of the deranged Wall Street fat-cat Patrick Bateman indeed reigns supreme as the most terrifying character of all time. Though not technically from a horror film, Bateman’s psychotic normality alongside the twisted instability of his actions secures his place as the terror inside horror.
Freddy Krueger – Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Glove made of blades? Check. Fantastically deranged red and green top? Check. Slick hat? Check. Gruesome facial injuries? Check. Kruger has the whole package. A child murderer killed by vindictive parents, Freddy parades throughout children’s dreams with tenacious violence in mind. His ability to strike brutality within the security of sleep makes him a more than viable contender in this countdown.
Frank Booth – Blue Velvet (1986)
“Let’s fuck! I’ll fuck anything that moves!” Truly, you have to see it to believe it. Director David Lynch creates a holistically believable and contemporary villain in this character. Booth operates as a purveyor of all that is depraved and debauched within a society. His unyielding malevolence, mysterious breathing apparatus, and penchant for rape allow Frank Booth to terrorise you from the safety of your cozy suburb.
Jack Torrance – The Shining (1980)
Considering that Kubrick nearly drove Jack Nicholson to genuine insanity to achieve this outstanding performance, it is indeed evident that the finished product would be viciously horrific. “Here’s Johnny!” Need I say more?
Dr Hannibal Lecter – Silence of the Lambs (1991)
A cannibal that knows his way around the human anatomy? Scary. One that enjoys doing so with a fine bottle of Italian wine? Petrifying. Even while serving to aide the FBI, Lecter manages to strike fear into our hearts through not only his 3” padded cell, but through our screens as well.
Regan – The Exorcist (1973)
Masturbation with a crucifix in the early seventies was bound to strike a chord, whether by a child or not. Certainly, this character holds a particularly honourable mantle when it comes to horror. Combining the suburban mysticism of Catholicism with the curious urban legends which surrounded the production, Regan ultimately began audience’s fascination with ‘The Little Girl’ of horror.
Michael Myers – Halloween (1978)
It is felt that nothing need be said about Halloween’s biggest filmic star. He’s seven foot tall, silent, brandishes a kitchen knife and possesses one of the creepiest masks on the market. Mix this with his massive Oedipus Complex and you have yourself one fine, upstanding serial killer.
Leatherface – The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
Subject to numerous parodies and one too many sequels (something he and Krueger have in common); this giant bound in dead human flesh brings a much needed dose of hillbilly into this countdown. He has a chainsaw and the IQ of a goldfish: terror in simplicity.
Ted Bundy – Bundy (2002)
From a little known film based accurately on the man himself, Ted Bundy is our true life insurrection for this list. Moreover, his atrocious actions throughout the mid-seventies are probably a bit too horrific for the pages of a humble culture supplement. Read his Wikipedia: you won’t sleep for a week.
Harry Powell – The Night of the Hunter (1955)
This self-appointed preacher, played brilliantly by Robert Mitchum, coaxes his way into a widow’s home, secretly searching for her deceased husband’s hidden money. Abusing children and slitting throats are Powell’s game, and he’s damn good at it too.