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Terrible Horror Movies With Great Villains

March 3, 2020 5.7k votes 1.0k voters 39.0k views14 items

List RulesVote up the terrible horror movies whose villains still scared you.

There is a reason why there tend to be so many bad horror movies. Genre films typically cost less to make, and lower budgets lead to less money for talent and development. It also allows filmmakers to take some risks with films - some that just don't quite pay off, as these good villains in bad movies prove. Some of these amazing villains come from "good bad" horror films - box office bombs that became cult classics over the years. These horror movie villains may not have been part of the most engaging storylines, but their tenacity outshines the glaring issues with the films in which they act as antagonists.

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  • Ridley Scott's Legend was a failure of epic proportions when it was first released in 1985. The dark, grownup fairytale follows Jack O'Greene (Tom Cruise) as he tries to protect unicorns - the only creatures that keep evil from taking over the world - from the Lord of Darkness, a 13-foot-tall, hooven demon played by Tim Curry. He is determined to cloak the world in eternal darkness and take Jack's love, Princess Lili (Mia Sara), as his underworld bride. 

    The entire film feels like a strange fever dream, but that doesn't take away from Curry's mesmerizing performance as the charming, complicated Darkness. Even with the film's various plot holes and inconsistencies, the villain manages to leave an impression on viewers.

    • Actors: Tom Cruise, Tim Curry, Mia Sara, Billy Barty, Robert Picardo
    • Released: 1985
    • Directed by: Ridley Scott
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  • The Nun first started exciting horror fans when the trailer was pulled from YouTube in August 2018 for "being too scary." Part of The Conjuring universe, the film promised to delve deeper into the malicious entity plaguing Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) throughout the franchise. This shape-shifting demon, known as Valak, lurks in the nuns' home. The evil spirit escapes and takes the form of a nun, causing one young nun to take her own life.

    Father Burke (Demián Bichir) and Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) investigate the mysterious event, and naturally, the demonic entity intervenes. While this seemingly omniscient spirit plays some mind games with his victims, like when he takes the form of nuns and feeds Sister Irene misinformation, the rest of the scares in this horror film are tired. The "real" Valak is manipulative and cunning, using his innocent appearances to trick his victims. The Nun's jump scares, loud screeches, and melodramatic character backstories take a horror villain with a lot of potential and turn it into a caricature. 

    • Actors: Anita Briem, Paulina Gálvez, Belen Blanco, Cristina Piaget, Manu Fullola
    • Released: 2005
    • Directed by: Luis de la Madrid
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  • Needful Things might be a fan-favorite Stephen King novel, but the film adaptation leaves a lot to be desired. The film's antagonist, Leland Gaunt (Max von Sydow), wanders into the sleepy town of Castle Rock, Maine, and sets up a shop where he sells supernatural trinkets that cost more than money. His shop inexplicably has an item that each townie desperately desires, and he gives it to them in exchange for money and favors. Gaunt refers to his favors as "pranks," and he manipulates the entire town into distrusting and despising one another. Town Sheriff Alan J. Pangborn (Ed Harris) feels like something is off, and he discovers that Gaunt is the devil incarnate, hellbent on driving everyone in Castle Rock to each others' throats. 

    Gaunt's tactics are impressive, as each seemingly innocuous prank is a deliberate move towards the endgame. Von Sydow's portrayal of Satan is just enough, but everyone else in the film oscillates between melodramatic and campy, dampening Gaunt's true sinister power. 

    • Released: 1993
    • Directed by: Fraser Clarke Heston
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  • Before House of Wax was known as the movie in which Paris Hilton gets a pole through the head, it was a 3D horror film starring Vincent Price. The original 1953 film follows Professor Henry Jarrod (Vincent Price), a talented wax sculptor who co-owns a wax museum with his business partner Matthew Burke (Roy Roberts). Burke voices interest in getting out of the business. Burke grows impatient and torches the wax museum for the insurance money, unaware that Jarrod is still inside. Determined to recreate his wax museum, Jarrod starts using cadavers - and begins to slay people around him - to make realistic wax sculptures of historical figures.

    Jarrod has an intensity that makes him an intriguing horror movie villain - and it doesn't hurt that he is played by one of the genre's most iconic leads. Unfortunately, Price's performance is overshadowed by the gimmicky camera angles and shots designed for the film's original 3D release

    • Actors: Vincent Price, Charles Bronson, Carolyn Jones, Frank Lovejoy, Phyllis Kirk
    • Released: 1953
    • Directed by: André de Toth
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