Through the years there have been many horror icons that have scared us. Although a lot of them are faceless and silent, they get the job done. That’s mainly because of their costumes and make-up. I don’t think anyone can wear a red and green striped sweater in public anymore as casual fashion. unless you’re attending a horror-con.
Below are some of the most recognized movie monsters in recent history. We’ve ranked them by originality of costume, scariness, and make-up. We have also included the year on which we score. Of course, all of these things are subjective, and we aren’t you, so make your own list and send it to us. We’d love to know your rankings.
10. Chucky (1988)
Making the bottom of our list is the Good Guy Doll, specifically from the movie Child’s Play from 1988. This little guy, dressed in a rainbow sweater and bib overalls gets more frightening over time, but even then he’s only three feet tall. Director Don Mancini designed this original doll. And just because Chucky comes in at number 10 doesn’t mean he’s any less iconic.
9. Ghostface (1996)
Scream gets huge marks for gore and self-awareness. The late Wes Craven gave horror fans an opus for the ages. But when it comes to the killer’s costume it’s just not that scary. In fact, it’s sad eyeholes almost elicit sympathy. It’s the person underneath who’s terrifying.
Costume designer Sleiertin has even said his creation gives off three different emotions: “It’s a horrible look, it’s a sorry look, it’s a frantic look.”
8. Michael Myers (1978)
The modern slasher that started it all. Michael Myers was clad in white hospital duds before he donned the mechanic’s onesie. As we know he stole his signature mask from Nichol’s Hardware Store.
The movie’s production team actually had two masks they were considering. One was a creepy clown, the other was a Captain Kirk mask with the eyebrows removed. They chose the latter because it appeared emotionless.
They made the right decision, but in subsequent years the mask has gone through some changes. Most notably that best value number in Halloween 4: The Revenge of Michael Myers. As for the total look it’s nondescript enough to fade into the background which warrants the nickname The Shape. With that in mind it takes number 8 on our list.
7. Jason Voorhees (1982)
One wonders why Jason felt the need to cover his face whether it be with a burlap sack or a hockey mask. It shows a bit of humanity which isn’t really his strong point.
Whether he’s narcissistic or not, Jason’s golum like stature and Frankenstein feet make him pretty formidable in the dark. He’s fashion forward even though his utility jacket and work shirt have been drowned, electrocuted, stabbed and buried. The hockey mask, although simplistic, adds to his sociopathic tendencies. Extra points for the cool chrome makeover in Jason X.
6. Art the Clown (2016)
Art is fairly new to the genre. Like a demonic mime he’s dressed in black and white and emotes without speaking a word. Actor David Howard Thornton isn’t recognizable behind the make up. His wide mouthed painted grin over large teeth looks like he could swallow you whole. High arched eyebrows, a white bald cap and tiny bowler finish the look and it’s truly disturbing.
5. Pinhead (1987)
Clive Barker has many wierd creatures in his arsenal, Pinhead is probably his most recognizable, an intimidating demon who wants to have sex with you. Unfortunatly the Lead Cenobite doesn’t know the difference between pleasure and pain. So, your call.
The great Doug Bradley plays Pinhead, nee The Priest, the leader of the cenobite clan. It’s been reported that the make up process was so precise he helped the FX team apply it, which earned him an assistant make up artist credit. Described as a former human with no recollection of his earthly past, Pinhead is in emotional limbo, “where neither pain nor pleasure could touch him,” as Bradley said in an interview.
4. ChromeSkull (2011)
ChromeSkull is a badass tour de force. He’s a serial killer with a penchant for high tech. Even his car is hard wired. This costume is basically self explanatory and even then it’s just a mask. But the sinister grin and hollow eyes set in polished chrome are just sleek enough to be novel. This design is not only modern but it’s cool. Director and special effects champion Robert Hall wanted to make a third movie, but sadly he passed away in 2021.
3. Leatherface (1974)
This classic horror face changes from time to time, but it never limits the creepy. In the original film he’s got three faces, one for each task. This makes him the most diverse of everyone on this list. Whether he’s sporting his classic stitched human flesh face faja for killing or invoking an old woman or applying makeup to a younger unit, Leatherface is comfortable in weaponizing his schizophrenia. With a butchers apron and shirt and tie, this icon is one of the scariest ever put on film.
2. Pennywise (1986 & 2017)
Talk about extreme, Pennywise is the second clown on this list, he’s more colorful and more manipulative, less of a slasher and more supernatural, Pennywise uses your fears against you. The legendary actor Tim Curry was first to play this evil clown and it is one of the most terrifying depictions to ever grace the small screen. Bill Skarsgård took it further in the 2017 update. His Pennywise was even more sinister, a monster so terrifying his evil painted grin drew a fine line between comical and pure evil.
1. Freddy Krueger (1984)
Whereas the previous selections are mostly masks, A Nightmare on Elm Street really torqued the movie monster character. Burned and scarred, Freddy is a menace. He’s terrifying to look at and can transform into your darkest nightmares. His signature red and green sweater is iconic on its own, but add the fedora and the razor glove and you have one helluva iconic movie monster.