Even if you don’t watch or like horror movies you still know who Freddy Kruger is. Same goes for Michael Myers, Ghostface, Leatherface and Jason Voorhees. Yet while these demons and madmen figure greatly into horror mythology there are a whole slew of worthy villains that, either because they starred in lackluster movies or failed to ensure a box-office franchise, have not been given their due. This list will attempt to right those wrongs and shine a spotlight on the unsung monsters, those that give us nightmares and elicit a fear of the dark that Freddy and Jason just can’t do.
1o. Dr. Giggles
Appeared in Dr. Giggles (1992)
Don’t let the name of the movie throw you off, Dr. Giggles is no sequel to Patch Addams but a deeply disturbing, if a bit cheesy, little slice of medical horror. Its titular villain is the crazed son of a small town doctor who helped his daddy rip out his patient’s hearts in hopes of bringing his dead mother back to life. He was given the nickname “Dr. Giggles” because he would manically chuckle as he performed “surgical procedures”. At his disposal were countless sharp medical instruments that he used to great effect on his victims including one horrendous looking probe that he promptly shoved into an old lady’s nose and into her brain. As Dr. Giggles says, “Laughter is the best medicine”.
Appears in Pumpkinhead (1988) and three sequels
A “demon of vengeance”, a Pumpkinhead is summoned when a person who has been wronged seeks to enact bloody retribution. There is no stopping the creature once it has been tasked to dispatch the offenders, whom it kills in horrible and painful ways. The person who summons the Pumpkinhead then becomes bound to it and, in the process, starts to become a demon themselves. When the creature has done its duty and justice has been cruelly served, the person dies and becomes the next Pumpkinhead , waiting for some fool with vengeance in his heart to come along and summon it. And then the cycle begins anew…
8. Mick Taylor
Appeared in Wolf Creek (2005)
An ordinary bloke living in the Australian outback, Taylor is a man with a pleasant Steve-Irwin-meets-Crocodile-Dundee demeanor who loves to down a couple of beers while regaling visitors with humorous tales of life in the wilderness. Yet once that veneer shatters and the visitors are rendered unconscious from the spiked alcohol, the true Mick Taylor comes out to play. You see, Taylor fancies himself a hunter yet he doesn’t go after wild boar or baby eating dingoes, instead he chooses to poach the most dangerous game of all: humans. Always the true sportsman, Taylor lets his victims get a running start before he goes and hunts them down in cold blood all the while keeping his jovial attitude front and center.
7. Killer Klowns
Appeared in Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)
The oversized red nose, that hideous painted-on grin, those ridiculously colorful jump suits that look like a fruit roll-up vomited all over them. Clowns already look scary enough by themselves, but when an alien race of Killer Klowns land in a small town and begin to capture its citizens, a Coulrophobists’ fear doesn’t seem so irrational after all. These giant misshapen bozos lure children and their unsuspecting parents into their big-top spaceship where they are soon cocooned in cotton candy. A giant straw is then inserted into the poor soul’s body and the Klown sucks out their insides like a spider does to its prey. Also they have popcorn ray guns. Who wouldn’t want one of those?!?
6. Dr. Jack Griffin (The Invisible Man)
First Appears in The Invisible Man (1933)
Frankenstein’s Monster, Count Dracula, Gill Man, Wolfman, Priest Imhotep. The Universal Monsters are a frightful bunch but there is one influential monster that everyone seemingly forgets to mention, the Invisible Man. While not as frightening as his other brethren or as well outlined (if you know what I mean), the Invisible Man still deserves to be remembered, if not for his creepy bandaged-up face then for Claude Rains’ maniacally off-kilter performance. He truly brings out the mad scientist in Dr. Griffin, from having him shout at the “foolish” policemen as he unwraps the bandages on his head to reveal nothing there to running through the British forest singing “Here We Go Gathering Nuts in May” as he chuckles wildly to himself.
Appears in Candyman (1992 ) and two sequels
Candyman is a myth, an urban legend that is said to haunt the ghettos of Chicago. He can be summoned by chanting his name five times in front of a mirror, though no one has lived to tell the tale as Candyman promptly guts you with his hook hand; the buzzing of the thousands of bees adorning his body is the last sound his victims hear. The true wonder of Candyman though, is Tony Todd’s performance. Instead of going the obvious route of overplaying the character with the knowing wink and nod that say Robert Englund brings to Freddy Kruger, Todd downplays Candyman making him more sinister and a demon you wouldn’t want to fuck with.
4. Dr. Phibes
Appears in The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971) and Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972)
One of the more outlandish characters portrayed by Vincent Price throughout his career, Dr. Phibes was once a respected medical genius who was thought to have died in a car crash. Very much alive, yet grotesquely scarred from the accident, Phibes goes on a murderous rampage targeting the doctors and nurses whom he blames for the death of his wife on the operating table. The doctors are slain one by one in ingenious set-pieces evoking the ten plagues of Egypt (a nurse is eaten alive by locusts; an unlucky doctor has all his blood drained out).
3. Buffalo Bill
Appears in The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
While most of the attention goes to Anthony Hopkins’ Hannibal Lecter (which is perfectly reasonable), the real villain of Silence was Ted Levine’s Ed-Gein-Like Buffalo Bill. After abducting his unsuspecting female victims by playing the helpless stranger card, Bill throws them to rot inside a deep and dank well located in his basement. There they sit, helpless as Bill makes them lather lotion onto their skin and perform degrading acts until he grows tired of them and then…well, let’s just say it doesn’t end well. Bill also has a predilection for dressing up like a woman, even going to the extremes of tucking his penis in between his legs in what has to be one the most disturbing scenes ever filmed. It has to be seen to be fully appreciated…
2. Judas Breed Cockroach
Appears in Mimic (1997) and two sequels
While not as fantastical as some of director Guillermo Del Toro’s other creations, the Judas Breed still packs his trademark penchant for making his monsters as organically real as possible. Originally created by a team of scientists to help combat an epidemic that was befalling the children of New York, these genetically altered cockroaches were supposed to die two weeks after eradicating the carriers of the virus. Yet these bugs took a page out of Darwin’s playbook and instead began to evolve at an exponential rate. Like the praying mantis before them, the Judas Breed were able to develop the ability to mimic their primary predator (us). Growing to the size of an adult human and utilizing various tactics of camouflage (wrapping its long wings around its body to resemble a coat, developing a carapace that resembles a human face) enabled the Judas to walk freely through our world almost without detection.
1. The Creeper
Appears in Jeepers Creepers (2001) and Jeepers Creepers 2 (2003)
“Every 23rd spring, for 23 days it gets to… eat”. No one knows why it does what it does or where it came from, but one fact is known: the Creeper is one hungry fella. It chooses its victims based on their level of fear, which it tests by running them off the road with its large weather-beaten truck. After selecting its victim, the Creeper won’t stop at nothing to get what it wants from a specific person. When it finally manages to capture its prey, it dines on the body parts it likes and “needs” (eyeballs, hearts, tongues, even a whole head) which help the creature regenerate its own organs. When finished with its buffet, the Creeper sews the bodies back up and hangs them around the walls of his lair creating a “House of Pain”.