horror movies have often been playful. From the early days of the Universal pictures, where undead ghouls turned into bats and men created monsters in laboratories, suspension of disbelief has always been a key part of our enjoyment of the genre.
As horror movies have evolved, so have the concepts and antagonists that drive them. Some directors have toed the line between the ridiculous and the grotesque, conjuring up some suitably bizarre creations unhindered by logic. Silly doesn’t necessarily mean bad either, and many of the villains on this list pose a very real threat in spite, and sometimes because of, their eccentric nature.
10 The Gingerdead Man
Full Moon Pictures is an innovative company, producing some surprisingly good low-budget horror content. In 2005, they added a killer gingerbread man to their repertoire of nasties, voiced in the first installment by Gary Busey.
The “Gingerdead Man” is actually a reincarnated serial killer, whose ashes were mixed into the baking of some gingerbread man. He’s a rude, crude slasher, out for revenge against the woman who had him executed. The movie wasn’t highly rated, but spawned a host of sequels. Busey, however, did not return to the franchise.
9 Jack Frost
Not to be confused with the Michael Keaton tear-jerker of the same name, 1997’s Jack Frost involves a murderous snowman. Of course!
Frost (another reincarnated serial killer) is after the Sheriff who caught him. He can turn into water at will, and some of his kills from him are suitably festive in their execution (pun intended). In the sequel, Jack Frost is resurrected with some antifreeze, enabling him to carry on his evil spree on a Caribbean island. really.
8 Possessed Shark
Shark Exorcist isn’t a “so bad it’s good film”, it’s just bad. Toeing the line between the strange trend of ever-ridiculous shark movies and something slightly more serious, it’s a confusing mess of a movie with an extremely silly villain.
The Devil is summoned by an evil nun to possess a (badly CGI’d) shark to go on a killing spree. The same animation effect is used every time the shark appears, it does very little apart from flail about and kill people until the end, when it starts to possess the protagonists.
7 The Killer Tomatoes
Thankfully a deliberate spoof, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes and its various sequels casts sentient, man-eating vegetables as its antagonist.
Cheap, trying to be funny on purpose and parodying a host of classic horror films, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes is one of those movies more people have heard of than actually seen. It spawned several sequels (one featuring George Clooney in an early role) and an animated series!
No holiday is sacred to horror moviemakers, and it was only a matter of time before Thanksgiving was given its own punny slasher franchise, in the form of thankskilling.
Naturally, the prime antagonist of these movies is a turkey (called, imaginatively, Turkie). A lewd, crude killer with a foul mouth and more than a little misogyny, Turkie is a cartoonish creation, almost like an X-Rated looney tunes character. In one scene he pops on a pair of glasses…and the movie’s protagonists fail to recognize him. To turkey. The very definition of silly.
5 Eebee (The Evil Bong)
As previously noted, Full Moon Pictures are very open to inspiration from various inanimate objects when it comes to crafting horror villains. In 2006, they added a bong to their repertoire, catering to the stoner crowd.
The Evil Bong (or Eebee for short) takes advantage of all who use her, drawing them into her Bong World where she’s able to kill them. She became a popular member of the Full Moon Rogue’s Gallery, featuring in 7 sequels, and several spin-offs and crossovers.
4 Robert The Tire
Rubber took the horror community by storm when it was released in 2010. A clever spoof, but tense and effective at the same time, it was a surprising success. It’s a deliberately random movie where things don’t necessarily happen for a reason.
The villain of the piece is a tire called Robert. There’s no real explanation as to how Robert came to life, or why he has telekinetic powers. But what powers he has! He is able to cause objects to explode, including human heads. He’s also reincarnated as a tricycle at the end.
3 Gregory Tudor
the Ice Cream Man is a brilliant cult horror from the mid-90’s, inventive and funny, and featuring a surprise cameo from the late, great David Warner. A sequel was kickstarted in 2014, but it sadly fell through.
The villain of the piece is Gregory Tudor, played to perfection by Clint Howard. He’s a deranged ice cream man who delights in dismembering his customers from him, and serving up some truly nasty concoctions in his ice cream van-lab from him. Howard clearly relishes the role, adding a strange complexity to Tudor’s damaged character from him.
Horror long has a tradition of recasting friendly, mystical figures as murderous psychopaths. From genies and fairytale characters to Winnie the Pooh (seriously!), nothing is sacred. It was only a matter of time before macabre attention was paid to Ireland’s mascot of luck.
the Leprechaun Movies are genuinely good, with an excellent central performance from Warwick Davis. A cheeky wisecracker with a genuinely nasty streak and some creative kills up his sleeves, the Leprechaun remains one of the great horror icons of the 90’s.
1 The Killer Clowns
Clowns are scary. It’s no surprise that a group of them is referred to as a “shudder”. Killer Klowns From Outer Space lends a new take on the creepy comedy performers.
The Klowns of the title are aliens with an abundance of amusing (and deadly) abilities, and a penchant for human blood. Indeed, they store people away in candyfloss cocoons and have a slurp whenever they feel pecky. Add to that their balloon-animal guard dogs and a horrific ventriloquist act, and you get a truly iconic shudder of nasties.
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