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Top 10 Horror Movie Characters
by Andy York

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You want a cliché? How about a month full of columns about horror movies in October? Well, it's never been against the policy of Out of the Past to be cliché. Alright, I'm going to tell you the ultra-mega horror movie fans out there that I don't qualify as one of your own. I enjoy the horror movie genre, but don't ask me about my opinion on Japanese horror flicks. I don't have one. I still enjoy the occasional horror flick and it's always fun to watch the classics this time of the year. So, I decided to write my two columns for this month on the horror movie genre. For the first column, the top 10 horror movie characters from a modest horror fan -

10. Laurie Strode, Halloween (1978)

At the number 10 spot I decided go with the ultimate horror movie heroine in the character of Laurie Strode(played by Jamie Lee Curtis) from the classic, Halloween. Jamie Lee Curtis' portrayal of Laurie Strode as the intelligent and strong female who fights back at the psychotic killer chasing her set the standard for every female lead in horror movies ever since. Whenever we see a horror movie with a female lead she's almost always taken from the character of Laurie Strode. Audiences don't want to root the high school slut. They root for Laurie Strode, the bookworm good girl.

9. Damien, The Omen (1976)

There's no other child role as infamous as that of Damien from The Omen. In the original 1976 movie the role was played by Harvey Stephens. I even had to look that up on IMDB. From the movie there's not really anything there for the character as far screen time is concerned. It's the build up of the other characters putting forth the question that "Is this little boy the anti-christ?" that makes the character so compelling. Everyone who seeks the answer to the question meets brutal and strange deaths. All of the horror is centered around the idea that a supposedly innocent child is of the devil. The role itself is virtually nothing, but the character is brilliantly haunting. Is Damien a little boy or pure evil?

8. Norman Bates, Psycho (1960)

The one and only true Psycho is praised as the crowning achievement of Alfred Hitchcock's career. Now, if you've read my past columns you will know that I consider Vertigo to be Hitchcock's masterpiece, but there's no disagreeing with the fact that in Psycho, with the character of Norman Bates, Hitchcock laid the foundation for all the slashers to follow. The way that Hitchcock filmed Bates' murder scenes with the audience only seeing an outline of a person as to create a certain question of the killer's indenity has been used in countless horror flicks. In what was his career role, Anthony Perkins is pathetically perfect for the little hotel clerk with multiple personalities and a psychotic rage. The character of Norman Bates in Psycho started it all!

7. Jason Voorhees,
Friday the 13th Part III (1982)

Some of you may wonder why I listed the third in the Friday the 13th series as the film from which Jason is chosen. Well, in the first one the killer was his mom and in the second he wore a hood. In Friday the 13th Part III, Jason Voorhees acquires his iconic hockey mask. I just wanted it to be clear that I wasn't picking Part III as the best of the series. In fact, I wouldn't really say any of the Friday the 13th series are "good". They almost represent what makes the horror movie genre the least respected. Yet, the character of Jason is so iconic and is as identifiable with the horror movie genre as any character has ever been. As bad as the movies where, Jason creates one hell of an image of horror.

6. Jack Torrance, The Shining (1980)

Out of all of Stephen King's books that have been adapted to film one of the best is the one that was supposedly one of the most altered. Oh well, you can't ask Stanley Kubrick to play the rules. The Shining is a story of a husband, wife and their child who take care of a vacation resort in it's off months during the winter. The husband, Jack Torrance(played by Jack Nicholson) after many months of solitude starts to develop cabin fever. With each day he goes further and further into his derangement and terrorizes his wife and child. Jack Nicholson playing an insane person with an axe, need I say more?

5. Leatherface, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

In real life there was a serial killer named Ed Gein in 1950's that apparently killed people and then with the help of chainsaw deprived the victims of their skin. Well, with the character that was loosely based on Gein, Leatherface, it's the other way around. Leatherface goes after his victims with a chainsaw while they're still alive. I don't think any horror movie villain has ever chosen such a brutal weapon. All the while he's chasing his victims, Leatherface wears a mask made from someone else's face. Leatherface is by far the most brutal and morbid character to make the list. There's been 6 films made with the idea of the chainsaw wielding psycho, but it's his first incarnation in 1974 that is by far the scariest.

4. The Thing, The Thing (1982)

In your humble narrator's opinion, John Carpenter's The Thing is one of the greatest alien movies ever made. In Aliens or Predator we saw the evil creature up close several times, but in The Thing we don't truly see what's infesting the humans until the end. Even then it's just a mutation of it's victims. What makes John Carpenter's classic so great is just how creepy it is. You have a trapped group of scientists at the South Pole being killed and duplicated by an unseen alien creature. It's the old theory that sometimes what you can't see is more scary than what you can.

3. Freddy Krueger, A Nightmare on Elm Street

Freddy Krueger was never a physically imposing killer as in the way Jason or Leatherface was. Freddy didn't come at you with a machete or chainsaw, but rather he attacked you in your dreams. It's a perfect cinematic ploy, right? When is a person more vulnerable than when they're asleep? You take the fear of nightmares and add a burnt killer with a hand full of knives and that's a scary monster. Well, scary and occasionally funny with the one liners Freddy always seems to have an abundance of. Every other killer on the list attacked their prey with the psychical world. Freddy was nowhere near that barbaric. He'd just slaughter you in your nightmares.

2. Ash, Army of Darkness (1992)

For a list full of psycho killers, why not a psychotic hero? After all, I don't think a sane person would cut off their hand and replace it with a chainsaw. Then again, you have to make some sacrifices when you're fighting the undead. I had to pick Ash and his boomstick from Army of Darkness over his first true incarnation in Evil Dead II. Pound for pound, Evil Dead II might just be the better movie, but Army of Darkness is the movie where Ash truly became Ash. All of the great lines come from Army of Darkness. Hail to the king, baby!

1. Michael Myers, Halloween (1978)

Okay, this is the obvious #1. There's no brilliant character development with Michael Myers. He's a strong and fierce killer that never runs because he's always sure he'll get his prey. All you ever see is man in a black workmen's uniform and an emotionless white mask. His weapon of choice is a simple kitchen knife. Michael Myers never speaks or shows any emotion other than rage. It's his simplicity that makes Michael Myers the greatest horror movie character of all time. With the first and best film of the Halloween series you never know why he's killing teenagers. He's just been driven to do so since childhood. It's very simple and extremely scary.


Like I said, I'm not a horror movie junkie. I know it's a pretty standard list, but I don't think any of the selections don't deserve to be mentioned as some of the best in the horror genre, or any genre for that matter. Matchflick is seemingly very popular for it's top 10 lists, and you'll see a lot more from columnists here in the future. So in keeping with being unoriginal, next month in November I will be giving you a few top 10 lists. If you liked this one, please stop back by and check those out. If you didn't like this column I promise those lists will be better. Not to jump ahead of myself, I still have one more column for October, and as I said, it will be about horror movies. Actually, one horror movie to specific. The next Out of the Past will be dedicated to John Carpenter's Halloween. I can't wait to write that, and I know you can't wait to read it. Till then.....

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Bobby B
Dec 23, 2011 7:37 PM
[X] delete
Andyyyy....your other lists are so good and then this. You don't have to be a horror movie buff but dude. Unlike your other top tens, this one shows a definite bias towards your youth. Jason, Michael and Leatherface are all of a piece and barely characters at all.

But how about Bela Lugosi's Dracula? People are STILL imitating his bizarre delivery eighty years later.

For that matter, Boris Karloff's Frankenstein? Not just Karloff's poetically soulful performance but Jack Pierce's iconic make-up.

Hannibal Lecter! C'mon Andy, work a little harder, bro. Hannibal had more character in his pinky than half this list combined.

Carrie White in Carrie. Heartbreaking character.

There are others I just have to think about it more. Love the choices of Ash and Laurie Strode though. I'll forgive you the others because your other top tens have been pretty good.

Apr 2, 2015 10:57 AM
[X] delete
how about ANGELA BAKER in the SLEEPAWAY CAMP movies.

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Out of the Past
Every other Tuesday

Discussing classic films from City Lights to Apocalypse Now and everything in between and beyond.

Other Columns
Other columns by Andy York:

Top 10 Coolest Movie Characters

Stewart-Mann Western Connection

Academy of Irrelevance

Ride of Terror Showdown

A Guide to the Fiercely Divine

All Columns

Andy York
Andy is a life long movie fanatic. The first movie he saw in the theater was Back to the Future, Part 2 at the age of 3 and he has loved movies ever since.

If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Andy York by clicking here.

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