Greatest ghouls: In honor of Halloween, ranking best in horror genre

Sellers’ personal Mount Rushmore of Horror would include Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers, Chucky and Jason Voorhees. Graphic by Thomas Sellers Jr.

Halloween is less than a week away and there will be so many costumes on display.

Adults will hit their closets to create a unique look, while others will piece together a classic getup to post online for the world to see.

Meanwhile children will adorn some update characters and even a few will sport retro trends like Popeye, Superman, a Power Ranger, Barbie or Wonder Woman. Whatever the gear for the grownups or kiddies, the most main objective will be to get candy or have a great time.

But some respect the dark side of Halloween and treat the holiday like a day to embrace evil, meanness and those figures who brought destruction to the forefront.

There have been some classic horror movies made over the past 60 years. From Count Dracula to Samara, the face of evil has changed several times.

Full disclosure, I hate scary movies. Not because of the fear factor but the predictability; I don’t really enjoy the genre.

Despite my personal feelings, I still do recognize why others flock to these films. I understand why some icons of evil have multiple installments and a franchise.

So to honor the horror, I will list my top 10 scary movie villains of all time. First, my honorable mentions are Leatherface, Ghostface, Pinhead, Norman Bates, Samara, Jigsaw, Candyman, Cujo, Count Dracula, The Creeper, It, The Werewolf/David Kessler, Christine, Pamela Voorhees, The Mummy and Frankenstein’s Monster.

10. Annie Wilkes (from “Misery,” 1990)

OK, Stephen King must be a brilliant writer in order to get me to read his books and watch such films as “Pet Cemetery,” “Cujo,” “Sleepwalkers” and “Christine.” King’s evil genius was on display yet again with the film “Misery.” Actress Kathy Bates brings to life Annie Wilkes. That sweet and innocent face transformed into pure evil. Throughout the film her character displays vicious anger but you have moments you feel sorry for her. She’s witty and funny because she’s well read. Of course she is because the protagonist in the movie is James Caan’s Paul Sheldon. The novelist didn’t realize his No. 1 fan would become his worst nightmare. That remote cabin became a den of pain and … misery.

ICONIC EVIL MOMENT: At the end of her wits, Annie stands over a helpless Sheldon with a sledgehammer in her hands. She places the wooden beam between is ankles. Annie performs the operation called hobbling. “God, I love her.”

9. Hannibal Lecter (from “Silence of the Lambs,” 1991)

Over four novels by Thomas Harris, psychiatrist Dr. Hannibal Lecter came to life in order to take away life in some of the most evil ways. Through the excellent acting of Anthony Hopkins and movies like “The Silence of the Lambs,” Dr. Lecter’s serial killing became entertainment for the masses.

Hopkins had the challenge of bringing to life a cannibalistic serial killer. He did so well that he won the Academy Award in 1991. Lecter is one of the greatest villains in cinema history.

ICONIC EVIL MOMENT: Reflecting on one of his kills to Jodie Foster’s character, Dr. Lecter dropped this classic quote, “I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.” I can’t spell the sliver sound. But you all know it. Now I’ll fly away back to the rest of this column.

8. Michael Myers (“Halloween,” series)

The Austin Powers movies are some of my favorites. Throughout the three installments, Mike Myers does a great job spoofing the James Bond genre … wait a minute. This is not a comedy or “Saturday Night Live” retrospective. Let me write about the first well known Michael Myers. From the “Halloween” movies, the latest just hit theaters this past Friday, I reflect on the stone-faced killer Michael Myers.

It’s been 40 years since a William Shatner mask painted white gave birth to one of the scariest dudes in horror movie history.

Along with Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode, their chemistry made this slasher film iconic. The 1978 classic led to various sequels. In the original John Carpenter’s “Halloween,” Strode survived a vicious attack from crazed killer Michael Myers on Halloween night. Locked up in an institution, Myers manages to escape when his bus transfer goes horribly wrong. Laurie had to have another showdown when the masked madman returns to Haddonfield, Ill. The showdown still continues. Beware because Michael kills with drowning, choking, pure strength and his trademark long knife.

ICONIC EVIL MOMENT: We have grown used to Michael killing in the dark and in the middle of the night. But my favorite Myers murder came on a sunny afternoon. In “Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers,” Debra is running for her life between fresh linden hanging in the backyard. She trips and falls with her eyeglasses popping off. Once she gathers them and regains her sight, she has a clear view of Myers and an ax coming toward her.

7. Freddy Krueger (“A Nightmare on Elm Street” series)

We go from one legend to another. If there was a Mt. Rushmore for horror villains, Myers and Freddy Krueger will be guaranteed spots. Fred “Freddy” Krueger has so many distinctive characteristics that make him standout. The first time the world saw the burnt man with the gloved razor hand was in Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street in 1984. He would kill his victims in their dreams, causing their deaths in the real world as well. In the dream world, Krueger is superhuman and unstoppable. But whenever Freddy is pulled into the real world, he has normal human vulnerabilities.

Krueger has been portrayed by the talented Robert Englund throughout the years. Freddy made it hard for several people to go asleep becoming our worst nightmare.

ICONIC EVIL MOMENT: As a person who likes to work out, Freddy’s best kill to me came in “A Nightmare on Elm Street 4; Dream Master.” He was the spotter for the character Debby. She yelled, “I don’t believe in you.” But Freddy replies, “I believe in you.” He presses her arms down with the bar snapping them. Then Debby transforms into a cockroach. He traps her into a roach motel and smashes her like a bug.

So whatever you do … don’t fall asleep on the rest of my countdown. Or you’ll see the man in the hat and ugly sweater.

6. Chucky (“Child’s Play” series)

The human being Charles Lee “Chucky” Ray joined the likes of Krueger, Myers, Leatherface and Pennywise as a reoccurring serial killer. But the twist is that Ray’s spirit calls a life-size doll home. The human serial killer used a voodoo ritual to transfer his soul into the Good Guy doll. So the innocent faced, slightly creepy child’s toy became one of the best horror movie villains of the 20th Century.

Anyone who had a child in the 1980s can easily see that Chucky is based off the My Buddy dolls selling at that time. After the movie “Child’s Play” hit theaters in 1988, I’m sure My Buddy saw a decline in sales. “Wanna play?” became a murder cry.

Chucky did manage to keep some cuteness and innocence with his murders. I would even say some of the deaths were adorable and funny.

ICONIC EVIL MOMENT: In Chucky’s debut flick, I enjoyed his destruction of Dr. Ardmore. After stabbing him in the leg to shut down his nervous system, Chucky fits his head with an electroshock therapy device. The doc is fired and is burnt to a crisp.

5. The Blob (from “The Blob,” 1988)

Back in 1958, Steven McQueen starred in the drive-in the classic “The Blob.” For several minutes a strawberry jelly figure tortured a town. But 30 years later the Blob got a updated makeover. Gone was the gelatin look. Now the Blob looked more like slime composed of soft skin and nerves. Shawnee Smith and Kevin Dillon became the protagonists trying to warn the townspeople of the serious piece of mass.

Both films have the same concept of a growth produced from a meteorite that crashed to Earth. It devours and dissolves whatever is in its path. In the 1988 version, you could still see the people inside of the Blob dissolving.

ICONIC EVIL MOMENT: The old man who discovered the Blob. After collecting the slime with his stick, the mini Blog overtakes his arm by eating it up like a virus. The Blob overtakes his body to gain strength and size. Then all horror breaks loose.

4. Jack Torrance (from “The Shining,” 1980)

Welcome back to my countdown, Stephen King. Your creation of John Daniel Edward “Jack” Torrance illustrates a simple man being vulnerable enough to be processed by evil spirits.

“The Shining” is about Jack Torrance, played by Jack Nicholson. He is an aspiring writer and recovering alcoholic who accepts a position as the off-season caretaker of the isolated historic Overlook Hotel in the Rocky Mountains. His wife, Wendy, and gifted son, Danny, are at the hotel with him. Danny’s gift is that he possesses “the shining,” which is psychic abilities. The kid writes “redrum” on the wall and is tortured by his ability to see the hotel’s dark past. After a winter storm leaves the Torrances snowbound, Jack’s sanity deteriorates due to the influence of the supernatural forces that inhabit the hotel, placing his wife and son in danger.

ICONIC EVIL MOMENT: Simply, “Here’s Johnny!”

3. Margaret White (from “Carrie,” 1976)

Most evil icons have a driving force or source of pain. For Stephen King’s “Carrie,” it was her wacky mother Margaret White. In the 1976 film, she was portrayed by Piper Laurie.

Laurie did an excellent job of bringing this religious nutcase to life. OK, let me be gentler. Margaret was a Christian woman devoted to her faith. After her past sins overcame her, Margaret dedicated herself to protecting her daughter, Carrie, from that evil way of life. Her relationship with her daughter was abusive because how she was conceived. Margaret’s emotional, mental and physical destruction of Carrie leads her to become the victim of her peers at school.

ICONIC EVIL MOMENT: On Carrie’s prom night, Margaret delivers the line “They’re all going to laugh at you.” The only reason she starts to lighten up on Carrie is because of her daughter’s powers. While waiting for Carrie to come home from the prom, Margaret loses all contact with reality, hiding a butcher knife beneath the folds of her dress. Carrie arrives home, having telekinetically destroyed the high school and everything else in the town after falling victim to a bloody prank. Both women are surprised to find out that they each intend to kill the other. Margaret attempts to stab Carrie in her shoulder. Carrie kills her mother by telekinetically slowing down her heart to a stop while Margaret recites the Lord’s Prayer, ultimately defeating her.

2. Jason Voorhees (“Friday the 13th” series)

Definitely on the horror movie Mt. Rushmore, maybe the centerpiece, is Jason Voorhees. Jason is the main character from the “Friday the 13th” series and is the son of his direct killing role model Mrs. Voorhees. Mrs. Voorhees was the first killer at Camp Crystal Lake, but her son took over with a vengeance.

Jason was created by Victor Miller, with contributions by Ron Kurz, Sean S. Cunningham and Tom Savini. The character has primarily been an antagonist in the films using multiple ways of killing mostly teenagers. Jason went from vicious murders to killing with a comedic element. Since the third installment, I’ve been laughing at most of the hockey-masked killer’s work. Part 3 was made for 3-D, so I guess the director had to get more creative. Jason is the perfect venue for this with his superhuman strength and pure evil passion to kill.

ICONIC EVIL MOMENT: Jason once wrapped up a camper in a sleeping bag like a burrito and swung her into a tree. As the tent filled with blood, in “Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood,” I couldn’t help but admire Jason’s creativity. He stamped his legend in horror movie folklore with that kill.

1. Death (“Final Destination” series)

Since we all will die one day. This horror movie villain really does exist. So it has to top my list because most adults have escaped doom just to borrow a little extra time on this Earth. Death doesn’t need a hockey mask, glove with blades, a butcher’s knife or a chainsaw to be scary. Death just needs an opportunity. And the “Final Destination” movies illustrate that perfectly. They are the only movies that make me shake from the death scenes.

ICONIC EVIL MOMENT: With so many deaths to choose from, I’ll go with the girl getting hit in the eye by an object being projected by a lawnmower. Now when somebody cuts grass, I’m getting out of sight quickly.

THOMAS SELLERS JR. is the editor of The Millington Star and both the sports editor and a weekly personal columnist for Journal West 10 Media LLC. Contact him by phone at (901) 433-9138, by fax to (901) 529-7687 and by email to