Horror movies need great villains. They’re the real stars of the show. Most scary movies feature killers or demons that are, while scary, still defeatable. There’s always some secret to bringing them down. Whether it’s garlic, silver bullets or putting on their mother’s sweater (Jason Voorhees), there’s always a trick. Once the heroes figure it out, they’ve got a chance. Sometimes, filmmakers take a different route. The scariest movies aren’t about serial killers or ghosts. They’re about humanity’s true place in the universe: at the bottom. The true masters make humans look as small and insignificant as ants.
Humans are nothing compared to the horrors that exist outside of time and space. These entities can never truly be defeated, because they’re eternal. Whether they exist in the void of space or another realm of existence, they transcend humanity in every way. Their victims may be able to escape, but they’ll never truly be safe. These horror movie gods bring about a different type of terror. Their mere existence proves that humanity is doomed. For these villains, the torment they cause is just for their amusement. These are the 15 most haunting horror movie gods. Just hope that they’re never the ones that answer your prayers.
It, taking the form of Pennywise the Clown in It (2017), haunts the town of Derry, mostly targeting the children. At first, it seems like Pennywise is a typical demon that feeds on the fear of its victims. As the film progresses, however, it appears that Pennywise has more of an effect on the town than anyone realizes. It causes the adults to look past and ignore the horrors happening around them, while their children slowly disappear.
When one of the kids, Ben Hanscom, looks into the town’s history, he discovers that Pennywise has been with the town for centuries, surfacing every 27 years. While the book eventually reveals Pennywise to be an external entity that predates our own universe, the movie has so far left his origins more vague, although he is shown keeping the souls of children he’s “consumed.”
The Hellraiser movies don’t reveal much about Leviathan, the lord of the labyrinth. It first appears in Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1989), and it isn’t a character in the traditional sense. When Dr. Channard enters the cenobites’ lair, he comes across a giant geometric shape, then shines a dark light across the landscape. It appears to be connected to the infamous puzzle boxes from the series.
Leviathan never speaks, instead simply booming out a monstrous tone. The scariest part of Leviathan is its work, which can be seen on the bodies of the cenobites. Being the god of flesh, hunger and desire, Leviathan and its followers claim to be exploring the far reaches of physical experience. The result is the constant physical torture and maiming of countless victims, even including the cenobites themselves. That’s the scariest part of Leviathan, if you fall within its grasp, your torment is eternal.
13. THE OLD GODS
Initially, Cabin in the Woods (2012) appears to be a typical horror movie about a group of college students taking a trip to the woods for a weekend of sex, drugs and alcohol. It’s eventually revealed, however, that the entire thing is a setup by a secret organization. They plan elaborate human sacrifices to monsters from old folklore in order to appease the old gods.
Not much is known about the old gods, other than that they are immensely powerful and terrifying in ways that man can’t even conceive. They don’t just want sacrifices, they want a show to be put on. They want the victims to be punished, just for being young. The movie ends with the gods waking up, and it’s implied that this means the age of man is over.
12. “FREDDY KRUEGER”
While Freddy Krueger was always terrifying, he was just a dream demon. While the dreamworld was his dominion, his power still had limits. If someone wasn’t dreaming, then he didn’t have any power of them. The character that appears in Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994) isn’t actually Freddy Krueger though. It’s actually an ancient, mysterious entity that inhabits stories. It decided that it liked Freddy, and when the Freddy movies died, it decided to bring “Freddy” into the real world.
While it took the form of Freddy, it was much more powerful. It’s able to manipulate reality, and affect things in the real world. Several characters are killed when they’re wide awake, which is something Freddy couldn’t do (unless he was pulled out of a dream). Also, it doesn’t have Freddy’s sense of humor. Not only is it terrifying, it doesn’t even look like it’s having fun!
11. SUTTER KANE
John Carpenter’s In the Mouth of Madness (1995) is an underrated classic. The film is about a horror novelist named Sutter Kane and the release of his new book. Kane has gone missing, and it seems like his books are having an effect on his fans. When an insurance agent goes looking for him, he finds Kane in a town that previously only existed in his books.
Kane reveals that he’s been in touch with entities older than time, and that he’s been transformed into a god. His works have become reality, and he’s no longer sure if he created his monsters or if they already existed. The film ends with Kane’s book ending the rule of man and the return of older, darker creatures.
10. THE OLD LADY
There’s nothing worse than being stuck on an elevator, especially if the devil is one of the passengers. Devil (2010) is a simple, yet effective horror movie. When an elevator gets stuck between floors, the inhabitants think they just have to wait it out. It turns out, however, they each have a dark secret. People start mysteriously dying, revealing that something much more sinister is going on.
One of the passengers, an old woman, is revealed to be the devil. As long as there are sinners present, she seems to have complete power over the situation. It isn’t until the last survivor confesses his sins that she loses control. The ironic part is that his sin was the worst of all, considering that he killed a mother and child in a hit and run accident.
Initially, Michael Myers was just a kid that snapped and became pure evil. He was an emotionless killing machine, but his early appearances didn’t suggest any sort of supernatural power. It wasn’t until Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989) that it was suggested that Michael’s powers were linked to a cult, which was revealed to be the Cult of Thorn in Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995).
Not much is known about the cult, or the entity (or entities) that they worship, but what’s known is horrifying. They placed a curse on young Michael Myers, turning him into a murderer. It’s believed that the Myers family was intended as a sacrifice, and when Michael killed off his entire bloodline, the curse was to be passed down to another child, Michael’s last surviving nephew Danny.
8. LORD OF DARKNESS
Tim Curry was born to play evil. Everyone remembers his turn as Pennywise in the It (1990) tv miniseries, he played a much darker character in Legend (1985). He starred as the Lord of Darkness, a giant devilish creature hellbent on destroying the light. He literally plans on casting the Earth under eternal darkness by killing the unicorns, who guard the light.
The Lord of Darkness is a monstrous, yet classic devil. He’s a giant, red skinned beast with gigantic horns and hooved feet. Curry is the perfect actor for the part, and he delivers an overly dramatic, yet still terrifying performance. Even when he’s killed at the end of the movie, he reminds the heroes that as long as there’s evil, he’ll always exist.
One night, young Fenton Meiks’ father burst into his bedroom with a startling announcement: there are demons roaming the Earth, disguised as humans, and God wants them dead. Fenton then watches his father slowly become a serial killer. The father claims God gave him a list of names, and he starts working his way through the list. Worst of all, Fenton’s younger brother, Adam, believes his father and wants to help with the murders.
Initially, Frailty (2001) makes the father seem crazy. It turns out, however, that he’s not. Everyone he kills is guilty of a horrific crime. This wouldn’t be so bad, but God reveals Fenton to be a demon, which causes his father to torture him. That’s what makes this God scary. There’s no redemption, not even for a child.
6. THE DJINN
When the universe was born, creatures known as the djinn were created as well. These ancient entities are basically genies, except their wishes all turn out bad. Also, they gain power for granting wishes, and if one gets powerful enough, it’ll unleash a horde of these monsters across the Earth. Considering how much damage just one djinn can do, swarms of them would likely mean the end of humanity.
In Wishmaster (1997), a djinn is released in modern America, and begins granting wishes. There doesn’t seem to be any limit to its power. The djinn is shown mind controlling, warping and even altering reality completely. The only limitation is that whatever wish is asked has to be granted, even if it hurts or hinders the djinn.
While Damballa, the voodoo god associated with death, may not do much in the Child’s Play movies, it’s still responsible for countless deaths. After being cornered by the police, serial killer Charles Lee Ray decided that he wasn’t going to let himself be caught. In a desperate move, he used an amulet to summon Damballa and transfer his soul into a good guy doll, kicking off the events of Child’s Play (1988). The ploy worked, and Ray escaped (albeit, trapped in the doll).
Since then, Chucky has gone on a killing spree trying to get back into a human body. He often targets children, since it’s easier to get them to trust his doll-like appearance. Whenever Chucky summons Damballa, the god arrives as a gigantic storm cloud, which is capable of destroying whole buildings. It also doesn’t seem to mind being summoned for rituals involving terrified children.
4. THE DEADITES
One of the freakiest villains in horror history doesn’t even have a face. The deadites are people that are possessed by Kandarian demons that first appeared in The Evil Dead (1981). They first surfaced when Ash Williams and his friends find a book bound in human flesh while staying in a cabin for the weekend. The book is revealed to be the Necronomicon, and when they play a tape of an archaeologist reciting incantations from the book, an ancient evil is awakened.
The entity transforms its victims into monstrous beings, but its true form is a mystery. In the first film, it’s only ever shown from a POV perspective. It clearly has some sort of physical presence, since the characters react to it, but it’s never fully shown. If it looks anything like the average deadite, than it can’t be pretty.
3. PRINCE OF DARKNESS
John Carpenter decided to combine science and religion in 1985’s Prince of Darkness. When a priest discovers a cylinder full of a swirling green liquid in a church’s basement, he calls on a group of quantum physics students to help figure out what it is. The students are shocked to discover that the liquid is Satan, a being from an antimatter universe.
An ongoing subplot throughout the film is a dream the characters share, showing a shadowy figure exiting the church. It turns out, the dream is actually a tachyon burst from the future, warning of the apocalypse. The liquid starts possessing the students and opens a doorway to the antimatter universe. The survivors manage to stop Satan from crossing over, but are horrified when the dreams from the future continue to be sent.
2. ROSEMARY’S BABY
Pregnancy is normally a beautiful thing, which is what makes Rosemary’s Baby extra horrifying. When Rosemary and her husband move into a new apartment building, it seems like horrible things keep happening around them. After having a dream where she’s attacked by a demonic entity, Rosemary finds herself pregnant. Not only are the following months physically painful for her, it seems that tragedy befalls many of her old friends.
It turns out, the father of the baby is the devil. Rosemary’s husband offered her to a coven of witches in exchange for wealth and success. While Rosemary initially rejects the devil baby, she seems to come around. It’s not clear if it was maternal instinct or the devil manipulating her, but she does end up caring for the devil spawn.
For what’s ostensibly a comedy, the villain in Ghostbusters (1984) is pretty messed up. Gozer the Gozerian is an ancient entity that used to be worshipped as a god. It’s also known as the destructor. In modern times, a cult attempted to summon it and bring about the end of the world. It took several years, but Gozer eventually made its way to Earth and unleashed the destructor upon New York City.
Luckily, Ray Stantz accidentally chose the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man as the monster’s form. This bought the Ghostbusters enough time to figure out a way to reverse Gozer’s portal. Unfortunately, they had to risk crossing the streams to do so, which could have caused every molecule in their bodies to explode simultaneously.
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