As horror fans, in more ways than one, our villains eventually become our heroes. We grow up rooting for the final girls, but as we age, the killers themselves occupy an equal amount of space in our hearts. Today, we’re taking a look at the 10 greatest killers in horror and ranking them by a combination of scares, iconic status, their kill count, and the impressiveness of said kills. It’s a scream, baby!
Sneaking onto our list is Predator from the 1987 film of the same name. Though the villain eventually loses his battle with Arnold Schwarzenegger (let’s face it, he was fighting an uphill battle there), the extraterrestrial puts together quite an impressive kill-streak prior to the defeat. While several of the killers neglected by this list are noted as being scarier and having more kills, the quality of Predator’s kills against a plethora of special forces badasses surely makes the iconic villain one of the greatest killers in horror.
Candyman’s backstory is tragic and heartbreaking, but that doesn’t make the villain any less horrifying. Born to a slave, Daniel Robitaille was an artist who grew up at the end of the 19th century. After falling in love and having a son with a white woman, Robitaille was put to death by a racist mob, who replaced his painting hand with a hook, smeared him with honey, and left him to be stung to death by bees before burning his corpse. Under the name “Candyman”, Daniel seeks revenge on everyone who speaks his name five times into a mirror. Tony Todd‘s iconic portrayal of the character is both terrifying and intimate, certainly making Candyman one of the 10 greatest killers in horror.
Leprechaun is legitimately one of the greatest killers in horror. Never one to leave the little green bastard off a list, his inclusion is actually warranted this time. A greed-driven monster, Leprechaun will stomp on your lungs with a pogo stick and have fun doing so if you so much as lay a finger on his gold. The villain has racked up a ton of kills throughout a series that has taken him to both space and “the hood,” but perhaps more impressive is that he’s never lost his sense of humor along the way.
07.) Hannibal Lecter
Some will argue that the vastly intelligent Dr. Hannibal Lecter should be ranked higher. While not being the central antagonist of his most famous adaptation (1991’s The Silence of the Lambs) doesn’t nullify his merit as one of the greatest killers in horror, when coupled with his lower kill count, it’s tough to place the baddie any higher than this. Perhaps the most terrifying thing about Lecter is that, throughout his killing and flesh-feasting, he remains charming and entirely likable, no matter which actor portrays the character.
06.) Chucky/Charles Lee Ray
Chucky is somewhat of an anomaly. When notorious serial killer Charles Lee Ray places his soul inside of a Good Guy doll while dying, the killer continuously attempts to transfer his soul from the doll to a human body – most notably that of Andy Barclay. With 40+ kills in a franchise that’s still spawning sequels nearly 30 years later, Chucky has become an icon alongside the biggest names in horror. Not bad for a doll.
Inspired by real-life killer Ed Gein, Leatherface is one of the scariest horror villains ever conceived. Wearing masks made of human skin, the killer engages in murder and cannibalism alongside his inbred Texan family. With the first film of his series widely being considered one of the scariest and most disturbing films of all time, Leatherface would be a no-brainer for this list, even had he not terrorized victims and audiences in a string of never-ending sequels.
While Ghostface may actually be portrayed by multiple killers throughout the Scream series, the legacy left behind by the killer(s) is something to behold. Starting with Billy Loomis and Stu Macher in the original film, the Ghostface character butchered several people in the fictional town of Woodsboro, with the intent of killing Sidney Prescott as their final victim. Throughout the sequels, different personalities take on the mask and attempt to kill Sidney, though each of them have failed to do so (which is a testament to the strength of Sid as a final girl rather than the weakness of he killers; they killed Randy for Christ’s sake!). We can’t quite call the villain one of the top 3 greatest killers in horror, but Ghostface is damn close.
03.) Freddy Krueger
1… 2… Freddy’s coming for YOU! One of the most iconic movie villains regardless of genre, Freddy Krueger has terrorized the dreams of his victims to the tune of 40+ kills. While certainly not the highest on this list, the combination of the kills, the unique nature in which they’re carried out, the supernatural element of the killer, and his iconic status within the horror genre, easily makes Robert Englund’s nightmare one of the top 3 greatest killers in horror.
02.) Michael Myers
My personal favorite horror villain, Michael Myers has surpassed 100 victims throughout his long, revered horror franchise. First appearing in 1978’s Halloween, one of the greatest horror films ever made, Michael has been behind his victims every step of the way, making sure their Fall season is quite fucking terrible. Though not appearing in the franchise’s third installment (other than a TV cameo), The Shape has been in enough films (though I’d like to forget about one of them) to merit the #2 spot on our list.
01.) Jason Voorhees
And so we’ve reached the top spot on our list! While I don’t agree that Friday the 13th is the greatest horror franchise, it’s hard to argue against the iconic status of the central antagonist. Becoming quite the hero of the horror genre (you know you were rooting for him in that god-awful Freddy vs. Jason movie), the killer has fans ultra excited for the upcoming Friday the 13th video game, which you can see all about in the video below. Closing in on 200 kills, there’s no denying that the approach of Jason Voorhees is effective, be it in outer space or at Camp Crystal Lake. He’s not only one of the greatest killers in horror, he is the greatest killer in horror.
There you have it! Our ranking of the all-time greatest killers in horror. Do you agree with our list? How would yours be different? We’d love to hear from you!