We’re all well-acquainted with the world of franchise horror villains – Freddie, Jason, Michael, Tobin Bell wearing a funny hat – but not all brilliant horror bad guys (or gals) actually get a franchise to explore their fabulousness. Let’s talk about the best one-shot horror villains – and whether or not they deserve a full franchise of their own to delve into their delightfully nasty monstrousness. To the list!
- Doom-Head – 31
It’s not secret on this blog that I have a bigger soft spot for Rob Zombie than perhaps any right-thinking person should, and a big part of that is the actors he has in his regular rotation – especially Richard Brake, and especially Richard Brake as Doom-Head in 31. The movie itself isn’t up to much – it’s probably my least favourite of his works overall – but God, talk about a genuinely outstanding villain carrying this whole piece. Brake, not a stranger to the horror movie villain world, brings an incredibly unique physicality, sexuality, and performativity that’s downright hypnotic – menacing, entertaining, and totally watchable.
Franchise Potential: I would love to see Richard Brake return in this role, and I think he could feasibly terrorise at least a couple more sets of hapless victims before he gets repetitive. I’m torn between keeping him mysterious or giving him some solid backstory, but with a performer as good as Brake to make it work, I think either would provide decently fallow ground to till.
2. Eli – Let The Right One In
The best cinematic vampires are those that flaunt their style, their otherness, even when they are trying to be discreet. Think Dracula, Lestat, and even Blade – their danger comes off them in waves. Then there is the night predator of Let the Right One In, Eli. Eli is an immortal bloodsucker trapped in the body of a child who forms a relationship with bullied Oskar while also using her diminutive frame and innocent looks to feed on the residents of a small Swedish town. All of this makes Eli the most terrifying and most compelling vampire in cinema, and a great one off monster.
Franchise Potential: Thankfully, none. Because Eli is a child that doesn’t age, and movies take quite a bit of time to make, there is no way to freeze whoever plays her in time.
3. Bob – Vicious Fun
A character as huge, over-the-top, and ridiculous as this should be irritating, by any measure, but somehow, Ari Millen in Vicious Fun as the sociopathic serial killer Bob manages to turn it into a cocky, showy, and totally captivating performance. There’s not a lot of nuance here, but there doesn’t have to be, and it’s a ridiculous amount of fun to see Millen just let go of serious acting and throw himself into the self-assured slashery of this bad guy.
Franchise Potential: For me, it’s a no, because the character is so overboard I could see him getting annoying really quickly – but for God’s sake, cast Ari Millen in more stuff, please.
4. Princess- The Loved Ones
A firm favourite on this site, The Loved Ones’ Princess is one of the greatest horror villains of all time. Think Gone Girl’s Amy Dunne but for the weird little girls, Princess is a perfect encapsulation of toxic love, desire, and yes, even fandom. Her power comes from her assurance that she deserve to have everything she wants, and doesn’t give a flying fuckaroo about taboos or cultural norms.
Franchise potential: High, even though it’s thirteen years since the film came out, there is nothing to say that Princess couldn’t come back in some form. Maybe a pen with a fluffy pink top clutched in a fist that breaks through her grave? They’ve brought Jason back with less.
5. Ma – Ma
I’ve touched briefly on Octavia Spencer’s Ma before, but honestly, I don’t have enough good things to say about this insane and truly, genuinely batshit villain. Part of the appeal comes from how unlikely the role seems for Spencer, who generally plays characters entirely on the side of good, but beyond that, she’s a fucking great actress who knows how to bring out the gleeful evil in the vengeful, ball-snipping Ma to great effect. It’s old-school throwback exploitation nightmare as performed by a woman with a well-deserved Oscar, for goodness sake – it just doesn’t get much more entertaining than this.
Franchise Potential: Fuck, yes. There’s no real justification for it, but I would live to see Octavia Spencer turning in one full-blown villain performance every three-five years just for the fun of it.
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By Kevin Boyle and Lou MacGregor
(header image via Paste)