8 Badass Horror Monsters That Get No Love

We’ve all heard of Jason, Freddy, Michael, Chucky, and many more innocently named murderers that have haunted the living shit out of our nightmares for many, many years. Generally, when people think “horror villain”, it’s Freddy Krueger’s pizza face that comes to mind. Or maybe you think of Jason Voorhees, the monstrous killer with the iconic and frankly ultra badass hockey mask (and often a chainsaw, even though Jason, in 12 movies, has never once killed someone with a chainsaw).

But there are so many other huge badasses that never make it out of the horror nerd niche even when they’re a million times more deserving than many villains who are a million times more popular and far more boring (*cough*MichaelMyers*cough*). I want to talk about some of them. Now, as a quick disclaimer, if you are a horror nerd, you’re not going to find in here anyone you’re not familiar with. Bugger you.

Let’s go.

Torch (Puppetmaster series).
The “Puppetmaster” series might be the most mediocre long-running franchise in horror (right up there with “Witchcraft”). I have to admit that I haven’t seen half of them—and I don’t really intend to—because even the ‘good’ ones are pretty lame. However, the concept itself is very cool. In the 30’s, sweet old puppet master Andre Toulon finds a method to give life to inanimate objects through ancient Egyptian magic. He uses it to give life to a group of tiny puppets whom he uses as companions (yet are all equipped with deadly weapons for some reason). Of course the Nazis (those guys just won’t learn) find out about him and chase him around the world to learn his secrets, eventually driving him to shoot himself for his troubles.

The idea of the puppets being in general nice dudes unless controlled by a maniac is awesome, and the later movies in the franchise actually don’t have them as villains at all. Hell, at the beginning of 1, you get to see just how harmless and nice these puppets can be. This is particularly awesome because, even if most puppets are butt-ugly, they’re always the coolest thing in the movies. Each has a distinct personality despite having no dialogue whatsoever. Among the coolest is Blade, a goth looking motherfucker with white skin and dead-black eyes armed with a knife and a hook. He can be considered the leader of the puppets, and one of the most brutal and one of the few to make an appearance in all ten movies.

"Aw shit nigga, that was brutal!"
The real badass though is built by a zombiefied Andre Toulon in “Puppet Master II: His Unholy Creations”—a nifty little number that’s, for me, the best one in the series and also has the most badass subtitle ever. This guy is called Torch, and he’s got it all. Physically, he’s the most imposing 2-foot-tall thing you’ve seen: picture a skinless T-800 in Nazi uniform and sporting a bullet grill. Oh, he also comes with a high-powered flamethrower for a right arm, and he fucking likes using it. He’s not only the most badass looking puppet, but I particularly liked his attitude—he might be one of the most brutal puppets (see pictured; even Blade’s taken aback after Torch roasts a victim), but he’s chill. My favorite scene involves an 8 year old who thinks it’s a good idea to bully Torch. The puppet had no intention of hurting the kid, but when the little shit brings out a whip and tries it on Torch, well—if you play with fire . . .

He also looked weirdly adorable sitting in the passenger’s seat of the van at the end of the second movie. There’s a reason why Mannequin Clown Bitch (I think that’s what the character was called) doesn’t keep him in the box with the others—she knows Torch is the shit. If he had been in more movies and not just parts 2 and 5, I would’ve actually finished this sad franchise.

The Djinn (Wishmaster)
Here’s the thing about the Djinn: after “Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies”, Andrew Divoff, the badass who played the character in question, left the series, and the movies turned into weird softcore porn fantasies and weren’t worth watching. This means I’m strictly talking about evil joker Djinn from parts 1 and 2, and not weird pervert Djinn from 3 and 4.

Physically, he’s a memorable fucker. I remember always thinking that I wanted a “Djinn” costume for Halloween. He’s the perfectly idealized demon: padded in fleshy muscle armor, sporting red eyes, horns, evil voice, pointy teeth, the whole she-bang. Being borderline omnipotent, the Djinn often takes the human form of Andrew Divoff to roam around town and fuck shit up without being so conspicuously demonic.

Now, the Djinn has a pretty simple dynamic: he’s Aladdin’s Genie sans Robin Williams, plus Satan. With a sense of humor. You find his gem and unleash him, at which point he’s free to grant wishes to his poor unsuspecting victims. As you probably imagined, these wishes are often purposefully taken in literal and ironic ways, causing the wisher’s death in a very grisly way.

Seriously, “Wishmaster” has to be one of the goriest R-Rated horror movies from the 90’s. The opening massacre alone has some gory howlers. The way in which the Djinn chooses to misinterpret your wishes speaks of the character’s evil and creativity, causing some surreal “body horror” death scenes. It also causes a shitload of tension for the viewer because you never know exactly what he’s going to make of the wish. For instance, in part 2, the Djinn finds himself trapped in a jail cell with a couple of schmucks. One of them wishes to be out of jail, so the Djinn proceeds to get him out—through the fucking bars.

Carl Rudolph Stargher (The Cell)
I can imagine people being mad at this guy being mentioned here. “The Cell” is a vulgarly underrated masterpiece. I know, it has J-Lo and Vince Vaughn for some reason, but it still has visual complexity and depth I’m yet to see equaled by any other movie. It also managed to have J-Lo be an endearing, likeable leading lady while making Vince Vaughn tolerable. That’s more than impressive by itself, but the story is nifty as hell, too.

Carl is a weird looking creep played by Vincent D’onofrio who likes to hang himself with hooks and drown women in a crystal cell he slowly fills with water, before turning them into weird dolls. He also owns an awesome albino dog. I know, from the outside he seems like a pretty by-the-numbers serial killer—the cool thing is that the movie lets us see Carl from the inside too.

The story involves a machine that creates a “virtual” world based on a person’s mind. Usually it’s used by psychologist Catherine Deane (the girl from the block) to help his coma patients wake up. However, when a serial killer is captured in a catatonic state, and no one knows where his latest victim is hidden, Catherine is persuaded by the FBI to enter the killer’s mind. Big fucking mistake.

This is where the movie, and the character, shine. You could spend the next few days trying to come up with a way to represent a demented psychopath’s mind as an explorable world, but you will never come anywhere close to making it as perfect and horrifyingly artistic as Tarsem Singh did. Every surreal chamber Catherine visits sheds symbolic light into the killer’s mind—this means memories, thoughts etc. We get to see the horrible and psychologically sound abuse he went through as a kid, and even a fucked up gallery of all his victims. Also, at the center of this twisted kingdom, we have a monstrous version of Carl himself, and he’s a doozy.

Carl comes in the "Cute", "80's Creep" and "JESUS CHRIST WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT GET IT AWAY!" varieties.
Never mind all the messed up torture going on in his world (and here you thought “Intestinal Crank” was just a Cannibal Corpse song), the way the three “sides” of Carl reveal his personality is brilliant. I loved the scenes with frightened child Carl, the ones with depressed gutting-a-girl-in-the-bathtub Carl, and psychotic intestine cranking Carl. He becomes a three-dimensional clusterfuck of creepiness, and the movie is clever enough to reveal it through classic brutality, and also through beautiful symbolism.

Carl might not be the most prolific movie serial killer, but he’s definitely one of the best represented.

Angela Baker (Sleepaway Camp)
The “Sleepaway Camp” series is confusing as hell. There was one original movie that had a serious tone and a total dick of an ending; then, two sequels helmed by some other guy who took a far more playful approach (I’m not going to do the “campy” pun). Then there was some fourth movie that wasn’t finished, then a third sequel (which I didn’t see but hear is unwatchable) that got a release but didn’t follow 2 and 3, and some other stuff that have been in the works for years. I don’t know, who cares. Honestly, the only reason to watch these weirdballs slashers is Angela Baker.

Though we don’t know it in part 1, Angela Baker is the dickish (now this pun I’m not going to drop) camper and eventually counselor who really likes murdering summer campers. For no real reason I could discern. Here’s the thing about Angela: she is mean. Mean as a Tasmanian devil with testicular torsion. Sure, unless you get to the Unrated version of the trilogy, the death scenes themselves aren’t very graphic, but the proceedings are still brutal enough to make you cringe. I’m talking people burned alive, getting their head shredded by a lawnmower, drowned in an outhouse, getting a curling iron shoved in the vajeens, people skinned alive, and so much more.

Angela, as played by Pamela Springsteen in parts 2 and 3, seems to get way too much joy out of killing people. The portrayal is brilliant, and she’s also framed as the main character, so the only thing going on in 2 and 3 is you as an audience following a dick as she just offs camper after camper after camper in gruesome ways. Part 1 is more of a “whodunit” thing (Oh. Spoilers?), but some of the kills are still pretty hardcore.

The Blob
I know, “The Blob” isn’t really an obscure horror character in any way but I just needed to include it because I hate it so fucking much. I was thinking of instead including other similar killers like The Stuff or the garbage bag thing from “Creepshow 2”, and both are responsible for some horrifying deaths, but if there’s one movie that I still have a little trouble watching, is the 1988 remake of “The Blob” starring Kevin Dillon’s mullet. Surreal body horror, incredible practical effects and balls of steel make one of the worst killers in horror movie history.

The story revolves around a small town that is terrorized when a strange Gak alien begins eating its inhabitants. Though the fucking thing begins as no bigger than your last poo, it begins growing more the more it eats, and he’s hungrier than the proverbial caterpillar.

The Blob eats people like a 5 year old would kill ants. It doesn’t give a shit. It doesn’t have anywhere to go or any reason to be here. It just wants to eat. The worst thing is that the way it eats someone isn’t like a werewolf eats a person—it doesn’t just gulp down a sorry son-of-a-bitch. It basically corrodes your flesh, melts you down while suffocating and then you just kinda disappear into it.

Yes, the melting scenes are for me the hardest to watch, but that is not the extent of the way the Blob offs people. One girl is eaten from the inside, and you get to see her face being pulled inside out in one surreal image I still can’t get out of my head. Some poor schmuck gets pulled down head first into a 2-inch drain. Some dude gets broken in half, and that’s not the tip of the iceberg. The movie also pulled some big ballsy stuff, including killing off the character it had presented as the lead very early into the movie, and melting the shit out of an annoying little kid (don’t remember another movie where a child died so messily on-screen).

Just thinking about it makes my stomach turn. Fuck The Blob. Fuck this movie and sub-genre.

Old Chief Wood’nhead (Creepshow 2)
There isn’t much to say about Old Chief Wood’nhead, considering he’s the anti-hero of just one short film in the “Creepshow 2” anthology. However, in the short time he had, he was memorable.

The Chief is a large golem made of wood who stands outside a convenience store. When the two owners of the store, an elderly couple, are murdered by three scumbag thugs during a robbery, the Chief magically comes to life, thirsty for revenge. Again, we don’t get to see a whole lot of the mayhem, but there have been few times when I’m so desperately rooting for a monster to murder a bunch of lowlives.

The cool thing also is the design of the Chief, and anyone who ever saw a similar statue as a kid will know how terrifying it would be if it came to life. Seven foot tall, built like a brick shithouse, and completely stoic—it’d suck to have him after your scalp. The effects used for his movements are great, and it never gives the “guy in a suit” impression from which too many movie monsters suffer. There is this cool “unstoppable” vibe about it, where he can just punch through walls á la Jason to get to his victims.

The short ends with someone finding Old Chief Woodn’head back in his regular stance, but holding the lead thug’s scalp. It’s one hell of a rewarding and elegant way to end this short but nifty tale.

The House on Ash Tree Lane (House of Leaves)
This might be a copout, because we’re not really talking about a monster but a house—and hell, we might not even be sure it exists in the story it stars in.

Yeah, this is from a book—my favorite horror book, in fact. It’s called “House of Leaves”, and written by Mark Z. Danielewski. Go read it please.

Anyway, I can’t get into the story of the book itself because it’s crazy, but as far as the house is concerned, it’s about a family that moves in to a new place in Ash Tree Lane somewhere in Virginia. Will Navidson, the father, decides to film everything as they move in (this was way before the “found footage” thing—it’s also a book) and soon discovers that there’s something really strange about the house.

At first it’s simple: a hallway that’s longer on the inside than the outside. But then, a door appears in the hall. This door leads to a pitch-black hallway that goes on for miles and miles. Then turns. Then a door. Then more hallways. Then eventually a colossal hall with a never-ending spiral staircase at its heart. The labyrinth never ends. There’s also some kind of monster—maybe a minotaur—wandering this dark, physically impossible maze.

The story is far more complex than I could hope to describe here—or anywhere—but at the center is the absolute madness of facing the unexplainable. The house is a character itself—a monstrous thing that wants to drive the Navidson family insane, and very much manages to. The scenes when characters explore the maze inside/outside the house are horrifying because of how little happens in there, and the lack of answers; it’s the single most passive aggressive monster since Silent Hill.

There’s one particular bit I will never forget that involves a character, apparently lost thousands of miles into the maze, knocking on the doors as he dies, while the youngest daughter hears the knocks just outside her room. Brrr. It’s a triumph of surreal psychological horror.

Unicorn (The Cabin in the Woods)

He’s a unicorn. And he totally uses his horn as a very non-magical weapon. Did you see him gore that one fucker? Damn, yo. Fuck the Buckners—this would’ve made a movie alone.

"Yous thinks we are goily, huh?"

EDIT: a few hours after posting this I watched "Return to Sleepaway Camp". It's a disaster, but some of the kills are brutal.
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About The Damn Beast

Pre-op trans-minotaur, sci-fi/fantasy/horror author, metal singer, videogame journalist, pop culture blogger. I also lift heavy things and put them down again repeatedly to occupy more space.
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