Why do we watch horror movies? To take our minds off our ho-hum lives for 90 minutes? To feel something other than the soul-crushing sameness that greets each and every one of us when we wake up in the morning? Or is it to watch a masked maniac rip up some sexy teens with a machete? Great bad guys are the best part of any movie, but they can make a lackluster horror movie into a fan favorite with one or two scenes.
You don’t have to search hard to find likable horror villains; thanks to the franchising of films like A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th, fans have had decades to spend with Freddy and Jason, and that kind of familiarity breeds a sense of fondness that fans don’t feel for the random sexy teens that play one and done roles in horror movies.
In the early '80s, horror movies with insufferable good guys turned into a normal thing. People began rooting for the kids to get killed, and for the villains to triumph. That style of writing has since permeated the entire world of horror, making it a structural impossibility for viewers to feel anything but malice for the protagonists. Even though you could argue that the villains are the best part about most horror films, there are a few movies where audiences actively cheer on the villain and turn the entire notion of a horror film on its head.
For decades, horror fans were begging for Jason and Freddy to go at it to decide who was the scariest scary man in all the land, and even though the movie is kind of blah, the fight scenes between to the two horror juggernauts are genuinely fun. Both of the main monsters dispatch their teen body count with aplomb, but Freddy just has a certain flair about him in this movie that Jason can't match.
Yes, it's terrible that there's a secret cabal of scientists and army men who are trying to kill a bunch of sexy college students with monsters - but they're doing it to save the world! And how can you not fall in love with Bradley Whitford any time he appears onscreen?
Unfriended might be the least scary but most inventive found-footage horror film that's ever been made - but its teen protagonists are the human equivalent of an old burrito that you left in the back of your refrigerator. There isn't one likeable character in this movie beyond the angry ghost of a girl that was cyberbullied to death.
If we're being honest, most of the characters in the Hellraiser films deserve whatever chain-draped punishment they get, but the jerks in Hellraiser III are reallllly sh*tty. In fact, until Pinhead and the rest of his rubber-clad minions pop out of a spooky sex statue early in the second act, viewers are left to wonder if they popped in the right VHS.