Six for Sunday – The Scariest Film Characters
Six Scary Film Characters
As my ‘Six for Sunday’ post featuring my favourite literary villains was so popular I thought I would share the top six film characters that have scared me over the years. It is true that I am a bit of a wimp! There are even characters in this list that come from PG rated films! I think childhood film villains can really stick with you because even though you are no longer scared of them as an adult, it is easy to recall how frightening you used to find them. Both as children and adults though, I am sure that most of us remember nights where we have turned the light on and crept back under the duvet with only our eyes peeking out of the top after watching a film that captured our imaginations. When I lived by myself I may have had to call my best friend to come over a couple of times (I did tell you that I am a wimp) after watching a film that I definitely should not have watched before bed time! Has anyone else had those moments too?!
The Evil Queen – Snow White
Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is that child hiding behind the sofa? I was very young when Disney’s Snow White was re-released. The 1937 film was restored and screened in cinemas in 1993. I remember arriving at the cinema with my family to discover queues out of the front doors and ‘sold out’ scrolling across every single viewing. It turns out that missing out on the big screen was a blessing as when I finally saw the film, at the birthday party of a child from my primary school, I was terrified. Instead of sitting with the other children, I hid behind the sofa and stayed there until it was time for cake. When I was a little bit older I went to Disneyland Paris with my family. My mother soon realised that those early memories of Snow White still haunted me after jumping on the Snow White ride with me and coming away with child-sized nail marks all over her arms.
Ghostface – Scream
I am probably showing my age when I say that Scream was the horror movie whilst I was growing up. There are plenty of scenes in Scream that make you jump and surprise is a big part of the film. Ghostface may not seem particularly scary in how he looks these days as we are so used to seeing that mask by now. At the time is was much more impactful. The really scary part about the character of Ghostface isn’t the costume itself but rather that we don’t know who is lurking under the mask…
The Wicked Witch of the West – The Wizard of Oz
My childhood nightmares were often filled with Margaret Hamilton’s interpretation of the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz. She is the primary antagonist in the 1939 film version, unlike in the original novel, making numerous appearances throughout the film. I found the scene where she appears on the top of a roof in front of Dorothy absolutely terrifying. It wasn’t even the green skin nor the long, black robes that sent shivers up my spine but rather her long, pointed fingers that I was sure could grab me whilst I slept. Margaret Hamilton’s acting is fantastic, from her facial expressions and hand gestures through to her evil cackle. I cannot be the only one whose childhood was haunted by her green face though as her character ranks at number four in the ’50 Best Movie Villains of All Time’ list created by the American Film Institute. I also feared for Toto too, which always makes it worse. Take Dorothy but please don’t hurt the dog!
Hannibal Lecter – Hannibal & The Silence of the Lambs
Ok, we are officially out of the PG-rated villains now! Hannibal is terrifying in both literary and film form. I admit getting about ten minutes into The Silence of the Lambs and having to turn it off because Hannibal was already rampaging back through my mind. Unsurprisingly, the film won five Oscars including best actor. Anthony Hopkin’s performances are outstanding and his improvisations not only scare his audience but also the cast! His acting counterparts did not expect some of the lines he came out with such as his slurping sounds after describing his meal of human flesh, fava beans and a nice Chianti. There is no supernatural element to the character of Hannibal and that makes it all the more horrifying. Definitely the stuff of adult nightmares!
Winifred Sanderson – Hocus Pocus
By now you may see a theme! Witches were definitely my childhood kryptonite. I guess it was because I always found them a much more realistic concept than other supernatural beings. They often represent the darker side of human emotions such as jealousy, hatred, anger and they have an uncanny taste for revenge. As a kid I had a love – hate relationship with Hocus Pocus. The first time I saw Winifred Sanderson, I did not see the whole film and my imagination ran wild. She definitely ticked all of the evil witch boxes: murder, satanism, black magic…. Eventually I watched the whole film and found it much more enjoyable, although Winifred definitely still creeped me out!
Annie Wilkes – Misery
Not quite as well known as some of the characters listed above but still very popular amongst horror fans. Annie Wilkes Dugan is a creation of Stephen King. The book was adapted to a film in 1990 and the role of Annie was taken on by actress Kathy Bates, winning her the Academy Award for best actress. She also ranked 17th in the American Film Institutes list of “100 Heroes and Villains”. Annie Wilkes’ single-minded obsessiveness is what makes her so creepy. She hides her devious and psychotic ways behind a cheery facade. So why wouldn’t you want to spend time with Annie? Other than the constant paranoia, the maiming and her flying off in to fits of rage over the smallest thing… she considers herself to be a perfectly reasonable woman. Now that is self-delusion on a grand scale.
Horror is not my genre. I get far too involved in films, like I do with books and they really stick with me. I scare myself far too easily! I hope you enjoyed my list of scary characters. Which film characters do you find the scariest? I hope I am not the only one who puts childhood villains on their list!