Mickey Mouse is the decided mascot of Disney. Despite Winnie the Pooh being potentially superior, the people have spoken. But who is the mascot for horror films?
While John Carpenter’s masterpiece is synonymous with classic horror, Michael Myers’ enigmatic presence and lack of expression makes Halloween terrifying, more for its mystery than for the image or iconic portrayal of “The Shape” himself. A movie relying more on the overall atmosphere and mood, John Carpenter’s Halloween antagonist was excluded from this list. But don’t let that project any idea that Halloween isn’t among the best of the best in horror, as it certainly is.
In the 1930s and ’40s, it would have been Bela Lugosi’s Dracula, with Boris Karloff as Frankenstein’s monster close behind as definitive horror icons. But the 1970s and ’80s introduced horror’s Golden Era, and while Dracula and Frankenstein remain synonymous with the genre, they also seem antiquated when compared to more recent Hollywood horror legends.
Which icon is the Mickey Mouse of the horror world?
5. Jack Torrence in The Shining (1980)
However you felt about the adaptation of Stephen King’s book, The Shining, fans recognize Jack Nicholson in one of his defining roles. Jack Torrence’s face peeking through the destroyed bathroom door still gives audiences a sinister vibe nearly 40 years later.
Defining words: “Here’s to five miserable months on the wagon, and all the irreparable harm that it has caused me.”
4. Candyman in Candyman (1992)
Tony Todd’s portrayal of Candyman is haunting. The depth of his cutting voice is comparable to a doom metal bass line. With an exposed rib cage, mouth full of bees, and hook for a hand, Candyman left audiences scarred for life.
Defining words: “They will say that I’ve shed innocent blood. What’s blood for, if not for shedding?”
3. Leatherface in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
Inspired by real life serial killer Ed Gein, Leatherface’s bizarre appearance was something from a nightmare. He didn’t speak, he didn’t cackle, Leatherface just got down to business. Chainsaws and meathooks were his business and business was booming. Tales from the making of Toby Hooper’s horror classic, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, are a thing of legend in horror circles. Apparently the shoot was completely miserable and a serious endurance test for all actors. Most notably, according to Looper Gunner Hansen, the actor who portrayed Leatherface, got just a little too into his role.
Defining words: The sound of a revving chainsaw.
2. Jason Voorhees in the Friday the 13th franchise
He didn’t technically appear until nearly the final scene of the first film in the series, Friday the 13th. In Friday the 13th Part 2, he donned a burlap sack over his head, fitted with a single eyehole. But in Friday the 13th Part 3, Jason borrowed his trademark hockey mask from a prankster named Shelly. Since then, Jason Voorhees’ identity crisis has ended, and he’s become the second most recognizable face in horror.
Defining words: A man of few words, Jason lets his actions do all the talking.
1. Freddy Krueger in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise
No description is needed. Simply put, no horror icon is as instantly recognizable or beloved as Freddy Krueger. His familiarity among not just horror fans, but with society in general, is more comparable to Santa Claus, than to Dracula or Frankenstein.
Defining Words: “This… is God.”