For generations, classic storytelling has used the convention of the gruesome villain to incite the excitement and anticipation that comes with following the protagonist into the grips of danger. While not exclusive to the horror genre, it plays to the cathartic and escapist nature of the scary or thrilling narrative. The villain can work on various levels: juxtaposing the hero to create a clear distinction of good and evil, mirroring the hero to blur the lines between right and wrong, cautioning against giving into the darker aspects of human nature, and reflecting that which we might fear about human nature and ourselves.
Film theorist Robin Wood explains that the monsters we create for our stories are really just manifestations of that which we have repressed most in our civilized society – people who look different, or act different, or who can otherwise be considered outside of the norm. It’s fair to say then that the monster represents our own fears of being out-casted. However, it is also fair to say that in this golden age of violent narratives, the monster is not just to be feared, it is to be admired. There is something utterly captivating about a charismatic villain. They can make our skin crawl, shock us, scare us; and yet, we can’t seem to look away. Here are 15 gruesome villains of which we just can’t get enough.
image via: Screencrush