Horror films are curious things. By their very design, they are intended to plague our lives with dread whilst disrupting our sleeping patterns- and yet we still invite them into our minds as we hide under blankets and clutch onto our loved ones for safety. However, it seems these days we are bombarded with nothing but cheap jump scares and rehashed monsters until our senses have been dulled and our antiheroes have become nothing, but comedic parodies of themselves (another Freddy Kruger flick, anyone?). With that in mind, here are 10 evil creepers which have stood the test of time, and are as frightening now as they were ever.
10. Xenomorph (first appearance: Alien, 1979)
With six dubious films in its arsenal, the Alien franchise has already run the risk of featuring one of the most overused extraterrestrials in the horror genre. But from an entirely design perspective, you never need to look further than the detailed hand of H. R. Giger to produce something truly frightening. How about that mouth within a mouth? Or its tendency to implant its larvae inside the stomach of humans? Or the fact that there are multiple versions of this horrific creature running all over the place? It’s enough to put anyone off their dreams of one day becoming a spaceman.
09. Pale Man (first appearance: Pan’s Labyrinth, 2006)
As impractical as it would be to have removable eyes that only fit into the palms of your hands, the nightmarish imagery of Pale Man will always stand as this film’s signature beast, despite the abundance of eerie characters Pan’s Labyrinth offered. His attacks are sluggish, his moans are incoherent, and his sole purpose is to protect a bountiful feast of food, which is just the type of simple creativity we have to appreciate writer/director Guillermo del Toro for. Nobody knows for sure whether the cancelled sequel would have reintroduced the Pale Man or not, but no matter what the future holds, his freaky factor remains anxiously intact.
08. The Thing (first appearance: The Thing, 1982)
Perhaps the 1951 film The Thing from Another World predated John Carpenter’s masterpiece, but it was this 1982 incarnation that is revered as the best interpretation of the novella Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell, Jr. The true genius of this film was that it recognized the substandard quality of CGI graphics at that point, and rather than risk a product that would date so rapidly, it opted to hardly reveal the grotesque alien whatsoever. Instead, this movie was essentially an intense guessing game of who may be infected, never trusting any character or feeling safe no matter what was currently on the screen. A prequel for this film did eventually come out in 2011, but nobody liked it, so we’ll just move on.
07. The Shark (first appearance: Jaws, 1975)
As anyone will tell you, the scariest type of monsters are the ones that genuinely exist, which is why Steven Spielberg’s 1975 thriller is still praised as one of the greatest films ever made. Its success was based on provoking a very fundamental human fear: being stranded in the middle of the ocean, miles away from any reachable land, unable to see anything below the murky surface … and then something brushes your leg. Nobody wants that. In fact, the suspense of this cinematic masterpiece was so persuasive, that it single handedly managed to tarnish the reputation of an entire species. Marine conservation’s were quick to remind us that sharks kill less people on a yearly basis than your average cow, but for most of us, we still felt much safer from sharks by remaining on land. Unless, of course… a tornado comes along…
06. Chatterer (first appearance: Hellraiser, 1987)
Clive Barker’s imaginative Hellraiser franchise is generally remembered by its iconic Pinhead character, but as much as that demon’s unique method of acupuncture was unsettling, it was the lesser appreciated Chatterer who always appeared to be the most uncomfortable. With eight hooks buried into his cheeks which stretched his lips wide open, one can only imagine the severe case of dry mouth he endured on a daily basis. This also may or may not have been the reason why Chatterer’s only method of communication was by clicking his teeth together, which is absolutely terrifying, and definitely not something you want to hear alone at night. I’m just trying to sleep here, shut up!
05. Samara Morgan (first appearance: The Ring, 2002)
Creepy kids, man! You just can’t beat ‘em! And even if this cliché Hollywood horror technique has been done to death by now, very few hit the panic button as ferociously as The Ring did. Conceived as a remake of the 1998 Japanese horror film Ringu, the hidden trick to Samara Morgan’s sinister appeal was her ability to instill fear with everyday objects. Phone rings? Don’t answer it. Watching The Ring on your TV and you see a girl climbing out of a TV? Nope, turn it off, thanks. There have been two mediocre sequels since then, but since original is one of the only decent horror films released from the last 20 years, let’s just try to remember the good times.
04. Cujo (first appearance: Cujo, 1983)
Cujo may not be the scariest horror film ever made, but much like the aforementioned Jaws adversary, the distress of this plot-line was all too real. Born from the infamously warped imagination of Stephen King, we all witnessed in dismay as this once lovable dog deteriorated from rabies into a mess of bloodthirsty aggression. Such a concept was particularly cruel because it corrupted people’s views towards their own furry friends, and we suddenly grew wary of our household pets, watching them cautiously from the corner of our eyes. Because these are animals at the end of the day, and you can’t reason with animals. I mean, they can’t even talk for goodness sake.
03. The Blair Witch (first appearance: The Blair Witch Project, 1999)
The reason why campfire ghost stories are so scary, is because our imaginations become the playing field. Instead of allowing us to rationalize any external stimulation, our minds run away into the woods, and then beat us with tools specifically designed by our own personal brand of terror. It was this exact ploy which made The Blair Witch Project such a frightening ordeal- as you never saw the witch. She was only as ghastly as you could possibly imagine, hidden within a found footage sub-genre, producing an experience that was far too genuine to enjoy. Inferior sequels may have attempted to cash in on the original’s success (one of the highest grossing independent films of all time, by the way), but thankfully, none of them betrayed this original tactic, and the dread of The Blair Witch lives on, in each one of us.
02. Pennywise the Dancing Clown (first appearance: It, 1990)
Without question, the remake of this 1990 miniseries is unchallenged as the hottest horror film of 2017. But while herds of new fans foolishly open themselves up to the torment of this highly stylized version of Pennywise, we must still pay our respects to the Tim Curry interpretation, which may be a vastly different type of performance, but is still just as traumatic. As one could have guessed, only Stephen King would ruin a children’s entertainer by turning him into vicious sewer-dwelling alien who lures minors into his lair and then feeds on them, thriving on their fear. Luckily for Pennywise, fear was never far off even in the real world, as coulrophobia (fear of clowns) reportedly rose in direct correlation to this story’s popularity, and many peaceful professional clowns have been complaining of loss of work ever since.
01. Regan MacNeil (first appearance: The Exorcist, 1973)
If you’ve ever wanted to see a 12 year old girl spin her head 360 degrees, vomit piles of green sludge, and repeatedly stab her crotch with a crucifix, then you’ve come to the right place! For there has never been a horror article written in existence that doesn’t mention The Exorcist by name, as arguably the scariest film ever made. What makes this tale of demonic possession even more disturbing, is that it’s based on the true story of a boy nicknamed Roland Doe, who was exorcised in the late 1940’s. Keep that in mind next time you decide to play Ouija board, will you? Of course, Regan is the true victim here, as it’s the insufferable Pazuzu who forces her do all those immoral things, and I blame him for the mediocre sequels and prequels that followed also. Just leave the franchise alone, Pazuzu! You’ve passed your prime already.
Contributed By Jared Woods