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Horror Movie Villains Who Clearly Have Low Self-Esteem

Updated December 6, 2019 672 votes 122 voters 4.9k views12 items

List RulesVote up the horror villains who clearly have low self-esteem.

Most horror movie villains have that BVE - Big Villain Energy. They are terrifying, disgusting, creepy, and leave a lasting impression on audiences.

But not all horror movie monsters and slayers actually have the swagger and confidence their sinister personalities and uncompromising ideologies suggest. Loads of horror movie villains are riddled with low self-esteem - and often, it's what drives them to stalk, hunt, haunt, or torment their prey.

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  • Pennywise
    Photo: It Chapter Two / Warner Bros.

    Backstory: In It Chapter Two, Mike Hanlon briefly delves into Pennywise's origin story after dosing Bill with an ancient root. In their resulting hallucinogenic trip, Mike explains the Native ritual needed to finally destroy It - and how It got here at an undetermined point in the past via an asteroid. Pennywise the Dancing Clown is actually an ancient, god-like alien from the depths of deep space, and with all of his omnipotence, he has decided to target one of the easiest targets in the universe: human kids. 

    How He's Overcompensating: It doesn't usually take much to scare children, but Pennywise likes to take it above and beyond with the theatrics. Instead of simply snatching and eating children, he makes it a whole cat and mouse game. He desperately needs the townspeople of Derry to find him scary, because otherwise, he's a goner. For being an otherworldly entity that can manipulate matter and reality, his ego seems pretty fragile. 

    Most Vulnerable Moment: It seems like all hope is lost for the remaining adults of the Losers' Club in It Chapter Two, but then they figure out how insecure their decades-long tormentor is. They taunt him and "make him feel small" until Pennywise actually becomes very, very small. Pennywise goes from being a monstrous half-clown, half-spider waking nightmare into a deflated and disfigured clown, thanks to the power of words. He is so helpless that the Losers are able to eliminate him with ease.

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  • Freddy Krueger
    Photo: Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master / New Line Cinema

    Backstory: When he was alive, Fred Krueger dragged kids to a boiler room and slaughtered them with razor-tipped gloves. He got caught - but was let off on a technicality - so the parents of the targets hunted him down, locked him up, and burned him alive. In the afterlife, he became an invincible menace who slays teenagers in their dreams.

    How He's Overcompensating: Freddy Krueger was the literal stuff of nightmares in the first installment of the franchise. But as of the second installment, Freddy's Revenge , he's clearly been a little shaken that some teens almost got him. He starts accompanying his targets with campy catchphrases, like "Welcome to primetime, b*tch!" Misogynistic language AND he's always wearing a fedora? Freddy Krueger is beyond insecure.

    Most Vulnerable Moment: In Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, Freddy is accidentally resurrected and quickly gets back to his old teen-dream-slaying antics. He's able to pick them off one by one - except for Alison, who inherited dream powers from her friend Kristin just before Freddy took her out. As the two face off, Alison remembers (thanks to her newfound abilities) a nursery rhyme called "The Dream Master." She recites it, finds a shard of mirror, and holds it up to Freddy's face. Freddy's self-esteem is so low that he can't even look at himself without a thousand souls bursting from his body, ending poor Fred once again.

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  • Jigsaw Killer
    Photo: Saw / Lionsgate

    Backstory: Like most franchises that have gone on too long, Saw's Jigsaw has a convoluted, somewhat retconned history. The gist of Jigsaw's M.O. is pretty simple: Before he was Jigsaw, he was a man named John Kramer. Kramer had colon cancer and an inoperable brain tumor and decided to take his own life. When he failed, he decided to create sadistic puzzles for people who don't appreciate life the way he thinks they should.

    How He's Overcompensating: Anyone who thinks they are the end-all, be-all of moral compasses clearly has some narcissistic tendencies. While narcissists come off as confident and charming, for the most part, they severely lack healthy self-esteem. Jigsaw thinks everyone should be on the same page as him, and that those who aren't need his help.

    Most Vulnerable Moment: Jigsaw's at his most open when others finally come around to his way of thinking. When Amanda narrowly escapes from one of Jigsaw's puzzles (off-screen), she has a newfound appreciation for life, just as Jigsaw intended. Even though they both have warped vigilante views of themselves, this is one of the few times Jigsaw lets down his holier-than-thou guard. He invites her into the fold as an accomplice.

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  • Count Dracula
    Photo: Bram Stoker's Dracula / Columbia Pictures

    Backstory: Some iterations of Bram Stoker's Dracula, like in Francis Ford Coppola's 1992 film, give Dracula a sympathetic backstory. In this version, Dracula's wife takes her own life after she is falsely told of her husband's passing. Dracula renounces God, swears to save his wife's soul - which is in hell - and condemns himself to an isolated, immortal life. 

    How He's Overcompensating: Dracula may come off as confident, but in reality, all he wants is to have someone to depend on him. He has to be the one in control, the one who calls the shots - because if someone realizes he's not all that omnipotent, he's going to lose it. He's also always seen as "other" and because of that, he often represses certain desires and impulses, which only further fuels a simmering self-loathing.

    Most Vulnerable Moment: When Dracula allows Mina to feed off his blood, it's a vulnerable moment. With a stake, Mina could quickly end this otherwise immortal being's life. Still, he would rather risk his existence than continue without finding someone who was not considered "other" to love.

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