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With Halloween on the horizon, it’s time to gear up and list the very scariest of the scary movie characters. These are the characters who haunt our dreams, who make us scared to walk down that long, dark hallway and who make it impossible to sleep with the lights off at night. These are the characters that really get under our skin and make it crawl.
There is a reason why we remember the scary movies by their scary characters rather than by the frightened protagonists and the spooky atmosphere. We love being scared and we love putting a face on our fear. Not all of the scariest characters have to be human to scare the living daylights out of us, which makes the possibilities endless for being scared.
Get ready to get scared as we count down the top 10 scariest characters ever seen on the big screen. May your night be filled with nightmares of the following 10 characters, and for many nights to come.
10. Samara Morgan
Samara Morgan, from The Ring series, is one of those horror film characters that the protagonists just couldn’t seem to get rid of. We all know the gist; you watch the dreaded video and you die in seven days. There’s really nothing much scarier than watching Samara crawl out of the TV, bent on killing you.
9. Jack Torrance
Jack Torrance is a writer who succumbed to the ultimate case of cabin fever in Stephen King’s The Shining. While watching a secluded hotel with his wife and son, Torrance began to lose a grip on reality and he ultimately descended into madness. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, indeed.
It’s not easy to make an animatronic shark scare people so badly that they don’t even want to sit in a bathtub, but Steven Spielberg was successful at frightening generations with his character Jaws, the man-eating Great White Shark. You didn’t need to see much of the shark in Spielberg’s film to be truly afraid of it, especially when you hear that scary theme song.
7. Damien Thorn
There’s nothing like young Damien to prove just how creepy children can be. Damien, the devil’s son, covers up the evil within by putting on an innocent face, which makes him an even scarier antagonist.
Yes, this is a general sort of character, but you have to admit that zombies are really scary. Maybe not so much in older films when the makeup was cheap, but in films like 28 Days Later where the zombies can run at full speed towards their targets, zombies are the true stuff of nightmares. Are you ready for the zombie apocalypse?
5. Jason Voorhees
We all know Jason as the murderer from the Friday the 13th series who wears the hockey mask and wields a machete as his weapon of choice. Don’t get caught having sex if you’re a teenager because Jason will come after you. Oh, and he can’t be killed, which is always a plus.
4. Freddy Krueger
Freddy is the character who made people afraid to fall asleep at night. He appears in your dreams and kills you while you are sleeping, which was pretty unlucky for anyone who happened to doze off in any of the Nightmare on Elm Street. Freddy’s appearance only made him scarier: scarred face, tattered striped shirt, sharp shears on his hands, and that always-scary fedora.
3. Michael Myers
Michael Myers of the Halloween series is truly one of the scariest characters of all time. He murdered his sister when he was a child and was sent to a mental institution for 15 years—until he broke out on Halloween. Meyers is the boogeyman. He can’t be killed and he always comes back, thirsty for more blood, which makes him more than just evil and 10 times scarier, especially with that mask of his.
Leatherface is one of the original slashers, plain and simple. What sets him above any of the others on this list? He’s based off of real life serial killer Ed Gein, for one thing. He wears a mask made of human skin and chases people around with a chainsaw. He also never talks, which only heightens his scariness. Just hope that your car never breaks down if you’re ever on a road trip through Texas.
1. Hannibal Lecter
While he isn’t quite like the Freddies or Jasons of the horror film world, there is no denying that Dr. Hannibal Lecter is the scariest, for one simple reason. We would never expect someone as charming and charismatic as him to be someone who enjoys killing and eating people with fava beans and Chianti. Anthony Hopkins, who played Lecter, also designed the character to be someone who never blinks, which adds a whole other level of creepiness. You almost want to trust Lecter and root for him... because he only eats people who deserve it, right? Lecter just goes to show that you don’t need to be a slasher to be a truly terrifying character.