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Scariest characters of all time

DoubleExposedScreamingMan.jpgWe're fast approaching Halloween and with a name like Filmstalker we just have to mark the occasion with a scarily themed feature. We've already looked at The most haunting film scenes, now though it's the turn of the scariest characters on film.

What film characters do you think are by far the scariest, the ones that just chill you to the bone and you just couldn't bear to know existed in real life, or if they do or did, don't even want to think about them being real.

Which characters scare the living hell out of you even though they're on the big screen?

I have a few in my personal list, and as usual I'll try not to race off and cover all the ground before you get a chance to wade in. So, in no particular order:

The original Leatherface from the original The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
I've said this before, but this was the first real horror film I remember seeing and I was freaked. I remember lying in my bed next to my sliding door cupboards expecting a chainsaw to run through the doors and Leatherface leap out to chop me up. For a good few nights I just couldn't sleep, and for about a week I had troubled nightmares. This character is one of the scariest because he has no remorse, no sympathy or empathy with any human being. He would just tear through you and treat you like an animal, just a piece of meat. Now that is scary.

Damien from any of the first three Omen films.
Although as a child and as a man Damien is very scary, but there's something that's incredibly intense and chilling about Damien as a teenager in Damien: Omen II. Whether it was the deaths he was involved in, the fact that he was an extremely adult acting teenager, or perhaps just the way he looked, but for me that Damien was the most menacing and threatening of them all on screen. He would look right at you through the screen and you would know something incredibly bad was about to happen. Surely that poor boy grew up without a single nice school photo.

The possessed Father Karras in The Exorcist III
There may be a spoiler in this paragraph if you haven't seen the first Exorcist film and want to, so skip past if you don't want to know. I think what really made the appearance of Father Karras in Exorcist III particularly scary was that he was dead, and not just that but to be brought forth by the demon he would have had to have been where the demon was, and that isn't heaven. The thought that made this worse was that he was killed at the end of the first film just as he found his faith and true vocation, and for all this time he has spent his time with the demon. That not only made me totally creep out at his appearance, but it also tells you just how evil that demon truly is and made you realise what the torment of eternity might just be like.

Sadako in the original Ringu
She made the The most haunting film scenes but her appearance at the end of the film and her broken walk towards the victim is extremely creepy and unnerving. Again one of the things that makes this character so scary for me, and perhaps does for many of the characters in this list, is their total disregard for human life. Child, Mother, Innocent, it doesn't matter, she'll just keep going and keep going after anyone without stopping, and after all there is no way to stop her at all, is there? It wouldn't be so bad if she was just human, but another trait that is shared with many of the names on this list is that they are not of this world and possess powers that we cannot understand or halt.

Christopher Lee in the original The Wicker Man
Thank the lord for a human, or perhaps not. This is perhaps a man who is slightly different from the rest on this list, for he does care about human life although only a select few. He has an unswerving belief in two things, his religion and his people, and he will stop at nothing to satisfy and sustain them. A cult leader with no moralistic view of the world apart from his own, religion fuelled one is just as dangerous as a psychopathic killer. In fact in this case there is perhaps no difference apart from the group aspect and the religious belief. Lee provides an utterly chilling performance in the film, and even when he appears in his ritual robes looking as though he's wearing a dress he doesn't look any less menacing. Those final moments and the people's reactions are some of the most chilling scenes for it's there that you realise people are capable of anything.

Lead Vampire and human helper in the original Salem's Lot
Unstoppable and as powerful as the Terminator, the lead vampire in Salem's Lot was the scariest thing I'd ever seen, and modelled so perfectly on that first Nosferatu film which created the vampire for the scariest of visuals. There's a particular scene in the film which I always remember, when the cape comes crashing through the window and slowly rises to the full size of the creature and then reveals his face. He is then faced with one of the only weapons that can defeat him, religion, and it fails miserably. Why does it fail? It fails because of the fragility of human belief, we see us failing before a much stronger power, and we can hardly believe that anything can destroy this creature. He simply crushes the cross in his hands and destroys the priest.

Another creature I found incredibly scary in this film was Richard K. Straker played wonderfully, and quite surprisingly, by James Mason. He was not vampire but had the power and the allegiance with the creature, and that was equally as terrifying. A human that was no different to us but had the strength and desire to see us all in the hands of the vampires. Another terrible human quality, betrayal.

The original The Hitcher
When you watch the Hitcher for a second time the opening sequences where Jim Halsy picks him up and gives him a short ride take on a slightly different meaning. You can see him measuring up Jim and checking to see if he is someone who he would kill there and then or play with some more. It's like a bird of prey circling a creature in a field and taking the cold, calculating decision. Again it's the lack of emotion and empathy with anything human, and in this film it swings the opposite way, it's almost the negativity against these human traits. Watching the Hitcher toy with him, as a powerful bird of prey would with a field mouse, you start to wonder what you would do to get out of a such a situation, and slowly the filmmakers take each of those options away from you until you too are at the mercy of the Hitcher. That character is terrifying, and although he is human, he will stop at nothing and doesn't give a second thought as he wades through bodies towards the end.

The old Reverend in Poltergeist II: The Other Side
That scrawny old character in Poltergeist is just horribly creepy, and although he looks so frail you could kill him with a finger, the actor and filmmakers convey an incredible sense of power and menace that is superbly effective. I found that as he walked after the child and stood outside the house I was probably as scared then as at any other moment in the film. They really managed to capture the feeling of this character being the pinnacle of the evil from throughout the film.

[Aside - Isn't it sad how often I have to say "the original" now? That's just two films on this list I haven't had to point to the first and original films.]

So there's my list and some reasons why. What characters have totally scared you in the films and why? Who chills you to the bone and what makes that character scare you so much? Come on, spill your guts for Halloween!



I would have to go for Christopher Walken in The Wicker Man as well. Very creepy, yet looks normal. I also just watched The Hitcher the other night, I couldn't sleep and it was on Film Four. Another guy who looks normal but is anything but.

Another one would be Tony Todd in the first Candyman. God that film scard me. His voice made it even worse, I seem to remember the scene in the car park when he was calling her name particuarly gave me the wiggins.

And finally the clown in the film of IT. But that's mostly cos clowns scare me in general, and I had the book in mind when I was watching it as well.

I would have to go with leather face. After watching Texas ChainSAw Massacre The Beginning the other nite it would have to be him. He is just so scary. Plus he loves that chain-saw way to much. Even more then Ash in evil dead does.
Oh by the by great site, my b/f recommended this site.

Great list Richard, another one could be the psychopath Santa Clause guy in Silent Night, Deadly Night. I just had the pleasure of watching this movie and it was twisted. I'll never look at Santa the same way again.

Dude, Mick from Wolf Creek. I cannot stress how creepy that film is, and he is 100% of it.

Pinhead from Hellraiser
Michael Myers from Halloween

the snow leopard hit it on the head for me. though the recent stories aren't as scary as the first, michael meyers still gives me chills. Why? Because all the other big single named bad guys have reasons for coming back from the dead. Jason's a demon. Freddy made a deal with one.
Michael, on the other hand, is just a normal guy. So the fact that he won't stop, keeps coming back, seems to teleport from one place to another when he physically couldn't be...is somehow freakish.

I'm with Louise on Pennyfine there.

"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy". And as he breaks through the door, salivating, "Heeeeere's Johnny".

Many great spooky choices have already been pointed out, so my list this time will be brief:

-Norman Bates in Psycho. He is sometimes funny, but so unexpectedly, he changes his mood. We are afraid of what is not under control, and he is absolutely umpredictable, which makes him really, really scary.

-Tommy DeVito in Goodfellas. Again, he is utterly umpredictable. He can be joking and then kill you in a snap. A friend like this makes your life exciting and frightening at the same time.

-The Devil in "Tobby Dammitt", the Federico Fellini piece in Histoires Extraordinaires. Chilling is not enough. Watching the Devil as a blonde child girl with a big balloon and eerie eyes makes me want to do numbers one and two at the same time.

-The two boys of Funny Games: This is another kind of horror, deeper, more disturbing. There is no sense or sensibility in any act they do. Or maybe there is and we don´t want to know.

-Bob, in Twin Peaks: What a great cast decision. Every single appearance of him is just so scary and unexpected. His mad eyes, grey hair, overall look. He is incredibly menacing.

I wanna cover under my sheets. Happy Halloween everyone!

Tim Curry as "Pennywise the Clown" from "IT".

Oh yeah Louise, the clown from IT, played superbly by Tim Curry. Very creepy.

Thanks Kate, great to see you here and to have new names. Your boyfriend has great tastes.

Never seen Silent Night Jon, but the idea (like IT) of taking characters associated with childhood and making them evil is quite a common and effective thing.

Oh Dave, how could I forget Wolf Creek (review), that guy shares so many traits of the others above, the total disregard for human life. He is scary, and because there's reality in there too.

Keep them coming!

Peter, those are some great choices too, Bob's a fantasticly scary onscreen character. I'm dying to see Funny Games before the remake, and I've heard they are creepy.

Oh, that reminds me, Ils (review) has some incredibly scary characters in it. Again because the story is based on reality, who the characters are (can't tell you for fear of spoiling it), and why they do it.

Ah T, Pennywise! I thought Lee was slightly wrong there...

Freddy - He visited my dreams one too many times while growing up.

Michael Myers - with his slow lumber how he always behind you???

The Reverend from Poltergiest II, holy crap was he creepy. I'm in complete agreement with you Richard!

The Candyman - the first movie creeped me out beyond belief. My best friend for a week loved to call me and whisper "Candyman" over the line. I still get chills!

Oh Meli, I would now and again freak my friends and I out by saying "Candyman" three times in the mirror, and each time it would give us all a fair scare!

Richard you fiend! LoL! It's simply not right to play on those timid feelings! hehe

Tonight a theater near my home is playing Halloween on the big screen and I'm catching the showing with my brother and his wife. I'm so excited!

Bob - "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me"


Sadako in the original Ringu, is one of the few characters and films for that matter that have really creeped me out, other films might make me jump a bit, but watching that for the first time late at night on my own made me want to sleep with the light on.

"Damien from any of the first three Omen films", scared the hell out of me as a kid.

Amitiville Horror for me, Richard. Imagine, a house you live in bleeds blood. Ooh-eee...

The Woman in Black from... The Woman in Black.

The Child Catcher (Sir Robert Helpman) from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!

I'd have to go with Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight or Jack Nicholson in The Shining.


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