Choosing the right horror flick to watch can be a daunting task, what with the overabundance of slasher flicks bleeding out from the Hollywood machine over the years. It doesn't help that these types of movies mostly follow a similar formula, where innocent people are targeted by bloodthirsty monsters. But what if we've been reading that dynamic wrong all this time?
In most slasher films, the victims are terrible human beings who deserve everything that happens to them (well, maybe not everything), but we're so frightened of their ghoulish stalkers that we can't see the true monsters. It's with that spirit that we invite you to indulge your sadistic side by rooting for these horror movie villains, who were completely and unquestionably in the right.
NOTE: This list is not a countdown, but rather a "hell-ebration" of some truly justified horror kills.
17 Pamela and Jason Voorhees (Friday the 13th)
A good slasher movie will have you rooting for the bad guy just a little bit, and there’s a reason "Friday the 13th" has had so many sequels over the years. Yes, they steadily got worse with each entry after part four, but there’s still something satisfying about watching Jason (Pamela in the first one) stalk and kill stupid kids. Why? Partly because they totally had it coming, especially in the first two.
Jason Voorhees was an outcast. Born deformed, he was constantly bullied by other kids at Camp Crystal Lake. When he tried to fend off the teasing by proving he could swim, he drowned. No wonder Pamela doesn’t want the camp to reopen. She sends her son there, hoping that for a few short weeks he can be a normal kid, but he’s treated like dirt and dies because he’s being looked after by history’s worst counselors. And Jason, who’s been dormant for years, returns to Crystal Lake to find that, not only have the counselors not gotten any better in 30 years, but one of them decapitated his mother. These kids deserve to eat the business end of a machete.
16 Candyman (Candyman)
Those unfamiliar with Clive Barker’s work would be forgiven for writing off Candyman as just another slasher flick. The premise sounds cliché: Say the name “Candyman” five times in a mirror and his spirit shows up to kill you with a hook. The film itself is far more psychological and complex than that, as is its villain.
The Candyman was the son of a former slave who came into money, allowing him to grow up in luxury. He became a famous artist and eventually fell in love, having a child with a white woman. This didn’t sit well with the woman’s father, who sent a lynch mob after him. They cut off his hand and covered him with honey (hence the name) and he was stung to death by bees. As if being hunted and killed by bigots wasn’t bad enough, he now only survives as a legend. The only way he can continue to exist is if people believe in him. And here comes this know-it-all grad student (the reincarnation of his wife, by the way) debunking his myth. To survive, he has to make people fear him again. If there’s any lesson we can take away from this movie, it’s that it’s best to let urban legends be. Also, grad school is never worth it.
15 Angela (Sleepaway Camp)
For the purposes of this list, let’s stick to the original and try to forget the sequels ever happened. If you haven’t seen the end of "Sleepaway Camp," Angela, like many of the villains on this list, suffered through a traumatic experience. Peter, as we later find out, saw his father and sister die in a boat accident and goes to live with his unhinged aunt. Seeing that the boy survived, which just “will not do,” the aunt decides to raise him as a girl: Angela.
Once she gets to camp, Angela is tormented by the older girls and even a counselor. Much more of a direct killer than Jason, Angela goes after the source of her problems. Every person Angela kills in this movie has it coming. The head cook tries to molest her? Scalded with boiling water. Fellow camper picks on her? He gets trapped in a beehive and stung to death. Her summer boyfriend cheats on her? Angela has a surprise for him down by the water. "Sleepaway Camp" adds a useful addendum to the golden rule that might help it stick for some people: Treat others the way you want to be treated… or else.
14 Christine (Christine)
Based on the novel by Stephen King, John Carpenter’s "Christine" revolves around a sentient Plymouth Fury, which is the detail you have to remember here. Christine is a living thing. It’s not its fault people become obsessed with it. Have you looked at a Plymouth Fury? It’s a sweet car. Who wouldn’t want to spend their free time restoring it?
Christine also never makes the first move. Assuming it’s just a car, some bullies vandalize Christine, causing major damage. If someone did that to your car, wouldn’t you want to run them down, preferably into an exploding gas station? Now imagine you’re the car. Then, after you finally restore yourself to pristine condition, someone scratches up your hood and tries to lure you to a junkyard, all because they don’t like the improvements you made to your new owner. Christine is just trying to thrive in a world that doesn’t appreciate it, is that so wrong?
13 Asami Yamazaki (Audition)
In Takashi Miike’s disturbing 1999 thriller, a widower named Aoyama is urged by his son to look for a new wife. Rather than do the sensible thing and try to meet someone at a bar or singles event, he has a film producer friend set up a casting call where women audition to be his new wife. He also has an oddly specific list of traits his bride-to-be must have. Yeah, Aoyama is kind of a jerk.
Cue Asami Yamaziaki, a beautiful young woman who appears to be Aoyama’s ideal. She immediately catches his eye and waits by the phone for four days for his call. OK, Asami isn’t perfect. She has a sack in her apartment containing a man missing several limbs, and by the end of the movie she’s done some pretty horrific things to Aoyama involving needles. But are we going to pretend he didn’t deserve it just a little? Who holds fake auditions to find potential dates? That’s just creepy. Asami has been mistreated, abused and objectified all her life and stopped putting up with it a long time ago.
12 Jigsaw (Saw)
John Kramer was denied life in more ways than one. He and his wife Jill lost their unborn child when a drug addict at her rehab clinic slammed a door into her stomach. Later, John was diagnosed with inoperable cancer. When John survived a suicide attempt, he gained a new appreciation for life that the rest of the world didn’t share. He saw everyone taking life for granted and decided he could use his considerable civil engineering skills to change them.
Jigsaw himself never actually killed anyone. He set up elaborate puzzles for them to find their way out of, usually confronting a serious character flaw in the process. If they made it out alive, it was because they’d learned to be better people. The important thing about a true Jigsaw trap is that it was always escapable. There was always a way out, providing the victim could muster the strength to find it. More often than not, those who survived emerged grateful for the experience and went on to learn from Jigsaw, bringing his unique brand of instant rehabilitation to more people.
11 Death (Final Destination)
Part of what makes the Final Destination series so fun is that the “villain” can’t be seen or defeated. From the very first scene of each movie, you know that one-by-one, each of these kids will be slowly picked off in increasingly bizarre and complex ways. Why? Because they cheated Death. For whatever reason, one of them gets a vision of a future horrific accident and is able to save themselves and a few friends from it.
Death isn’t something that only happens to other people. Death will get all of us eventually. There’s no escaping it. When it’s your time to go, you don’t get to negotiate. So when a bunch of stupid high school/college students mess with the grand plan, Death has to do whatever it can to put things back in balance. It doesn’t help that every survivor creates a ripple effect that delays Death’s plan even further. It’s no wonder these accidents start to resemble Rube Goldberg machines. Death is pulling out all the stops to make sure these kids die before they do any more damage.
10 Sadako/Samara (Ringu/The Ring)
Here’s the thing about vengeful spirits: They usually have a really good reason to be vengeful. In the original "Ringu," Sadako was the daughter of a psychic, driven to suicide by accusations of fraud. Her father then murders her by imprisoning her in a well. Samara, in the 2003 American remake, was adopted by a woman that feared her psychic powers. As Samara couldn’t control the images she projected into other people’s brains, her adoptive mother kept her in a barn and eventually threw her down a well.
In both versions, the girl has the same reason for creating the VHS tape that kills people. It’s the only way she can survive. Being a spirit, Sadako/Samara is unable to reproduce. The only way she can survive is to have other people take care of that for her by making a copy of the tape. Sadako and Samara had terrible childhoods and were ultimately killed by someone who was supposed to protect them. Now she’s surviving the only way she can. Killing is not her objective, it’s an incentive. All you have to do is make a copy and no one comes crawling out of your TV.
9 Frankenstein’s Monster (Frankenstein)
The tale of Frankenstein’s Monster is pure tragedy. He didn’t ask to be created. He certainly didn’t ask to be stitched together from pieces of dead bodies by a madman. Dr. Victor Frankenstein was trying to play God and create a superhuman specimen. Brought into the world with little knowledge of his surroundings and strength he has no idea how to control, the deck was stacked against the "monster" from the beginning.
He goes out into the world and is immediately feared by almost everyone he meets. If your first interaction with people involved getting chained up in the basement and tormented by torches, you probably wouldn’t react very well either. Adding to that, the first person the Monster meets who is genuinely nice to him is a little girl he accidentally kills. It’s not his fault nobody told him humans don’t float like flower petals. Frankenstein’s Monster is misunderstood and afraid. Maybe if his creator treated him with compassion, things would have turned out differently.
8 Gary Sitterson, Steve Hadley, The Director (Cabin in the Woods)
In Drew Goddard’s clever twist on the slasher genre, the zombies aren’t the real villains of the story. That honor goes to two office workers and their mysterious director, who manipulate the hapless teenagers into making all the poor decisions horror movie protagonists are known to make. The movie explores the question of why slasher movies have so much in common. Why is sex a death sentence? Why is it always the celibate girl that survives to the very end?
The answer: It’s a ritual. Gary, Steve and their director are sending these kids to their deaths to prevent the end of the world. It’s an ancient sacrificial rite that’s been updated with the times. Unlike most other horror movies where a group of kids runs up against a sacrificial cult, the apocalyptic threat is real. When The Director is forced to step in herself and try to convince Dana, the Final Girl, to fulfill the ritual, she refuses. The movie ends with the destruction of existence. Great job kids. Way to take one for the team.
7 The Shark (Jaws)
Stephen Spielberg's classic thriller had 1975 beachgoers afraid to go into the water. Why wouldn't they be? Few things are scarier than a gigantic bloodthirsty shark. Especially because unlike most of the other monsters on this list, sharks actually exist. Are they unrelenting killing machines as "Jaws" would have you believe? No, of course not. But there is a non-zero chance that, under certain circumstances, you could get eaten by a shark.
As to why the shark in "Jaws" is totally in the right: the humans are in its water. Humans don't live in the ocean, sharks do. But the residents of Amity Island insist on continuing to encroach on its territory. The shark isn't evil. It's not doing anything wrong. It's just doing what nature has programmed it to do. It's hungry and there's a veritable buffet of slow-moving, tender food splashing around in its living room. Even when it becomes clear that a shark has made this particular beach its home, the mayor tries to keep it quiet so it doesn't disrupt the town's income. Now who's the monster?
6 Xenomorphs (Aliens)
In the first "Alien" film, it's debatable whether or not the Xenomorph was in the right. On the one hand, it didn't ask to be born on a mining ship full of people. On the other, the crew of the Nostromo didn't intend to bring it aboard in the first place. (Whether Weyland-Yutani did is another matter entirely.)
In the sequel, however, the Xenomorphs are the ones being invaded. Weyland-Yutani set up a terraforming colony on their home planet. They did what any sensible species would in this situation: they attacked the alien threat. Yes, they also used the alien threat as egg incubators, but that's just their biology. Then another group of invaders arrives; this one carrying flame-throwers and machine guns. If the roles were reversed and the movie was about an alien species trying to terra-form earth, humans would certainly be the heroes, no? The Xenomorphs, despite their grotesque appearance and parasitic reproductive cycle, are clearly the victims here.
5 The Ghosts (Poltergeist)
This is yet another case of the humans in a horror movie encroaching on something else's territory. In this case, it's not the fault of the Freeling family. For all they know at first, the ghosts they share a home with are friendly and just like to move objects around. And to their credit, once the ghosts prove malicious, they move out. Why they decide to stay in the house for one more night after that is another question, but it wouldn't be a horror flick without at least one really bad decision.
As Steven Freeling finds out, though, the ghosts have a very good reason to be angry. When the real estate company built their house, they moved a cemetery to do it. Well, they moved the headstones anyway. The bodies were still underneath the house. It's really hard to rest in peace when bulldozers, construction workers and eventually a family of five are trampling all over your final resting place. And when one of the kids owns the creepiest clown doll ever manufactured, that's just an open invitation to mess with them. Anybody reading this list would do the same thing, and you all know it!
4 Carrie (Carrie)
Stephen King has a way of creating monsters that you feel for and nowhere is that more apparent than in the 1976 movie based on his debut novel, "Carrie." Nobody in the entire movie gives Carrie a break. Her mother is a religious fanatic who has kept her daughter so sheltered and uninformed, she doesn't know basic facts about her own body. Every student her age she comes into contact with teases and bullies her relentlessly.
Even when things start to look up for Carrie, it doesn't last long. Her classmates rig the election so Carrie is voted Prom Queen, only to dump a bucket of pig blood on her. What's a girl with telekinetic powers to do? The same thing we all wanted to do in high school: Make. Them. Suffer. Even after all that, when she runs home seeking comfort, her own mother stabs her in the back. Every single one of Carrie's victims has it coming to them and the world is a better place for their absence.
3 Eli (Let the Right One In)
Eli has been a little girl for a very long time. She is a vampire, protected and kept alive by Hakan, a man who goes out each night to harvest blood for her. When Hakan dies, she has no one. She must kill and feed herself. She forms a close friendship with Oskar, the boy who lives in the apartment next door. Oskar is bullied by the other kids at school and Eli encourages him to stand up for himself.
Eli, as it becomes clear in the movie, is not an "evil" vampire. When Oskar confronts her about her nature, she explains that the pair aren't so different. Oskar wants to kill his tormentors, Eli needs to kill to eat. You can't fault a girl for wanting to survive. Of course, she eventually does kill for a reason other than survival. Oskar's bullies lure him to an empty pool, threaten him with a knife and hold his head underwater. Eli isn't about to let that happen to her only true friend in the world. Leaving one alive, traumatized on a bench, ensures it will never happen again. Don't you wish you had a friend like Eli?
2 Gill-man (The Creature from the Black Lagoon)
Much like Frankenstein's Monster, this is a case of a humans reacting poorly to anything different from them. In this case, it's even worse, because the humans in question are scientists, so they should really know better. The Creature, or Gill-Man as the scientists call him, is just trying to live his life when a scientific expedition lands in his habitat. Naturally curious about these new visitors, he comes out to greet them. The scientists, who apparently can't deal with finding the thing they were looking for, attack the creature, forcing him to defend himself.
Later, when another expedition arrives, the creature falls in love with Kay, the only woman on-board. He even saves her life when she gets caught in one of the ship's lines. What does Gill-man get for his trouble? He gets hunted down and locked in a cage. The only reason this creature is seen as a monster is because humans can't help but be terrible.
1 Hannibal Lecter (The Silence of the Lambs / Hannibal / Hannibal Rising)
As a child, Hannibal and his sister were on the run from Nazis in Lithuania when they were captured by a group of deserters. The deserters killed and ate Hannibal's sister, and as Hannibal later learned, forced him to eat her remains as well. Understandably traumatized, Hannibal grows up obsessing over his sister's death. The first person he kills is a racist who insults his step aunt. He goes on to hunt and torture the deserters who killed his sister. That's just "Hannibal Rising." In "Hannibal," his victims include Mason Verger, a serial pedophile, and two corrupt politicians that help keep Verger in power. Even in "The Silence of the Lambs," he doesn't kill anyone until the police have thoroughly given him the run-around. Besides that, his prison guards were incredibly rude to him for no reason. It's safe to say that all those people are better off in Hannibal's stomach than walking around on Earth.
Which monsters or villains do you think were totally in the right? Let us know in the comments!