A Century of Horror Infographic
A high-resolution version with it’s accompanying article can be found here.
I worked together with writer/researcher Chris Mahar (and many other research contributors) to create a detailed timeline of 100 of film history’s most iconic horror villains. We wanted to get to the bottom of modern monsters and trace their roots back through the twisted family tree to find the earliest known version of a specific category of spookster, ranging from evil geniuses and slashers to sentient objects and the very concept of death itself. When tracked on a timeline, we can see certain trends emerge. We can make inferences on how events in certain eras influence what scares us as a society.
/ / /
A Century of Horror:
Genealogy of Top 100 Horror Movie Villains
by Christopher Mahar
If you were a movie producer looking to schedule a horror film release, there is an obvious sweet spot on the calendar: any day in October. Halloween’s dependable presence every year on the last day of the month has made October a gentle and trustworthy runway for all things macabre, as well as the month with the most horror film releases on record.
But honestly, what is frightening about dependable? What is terrifying in trusty? Like all good horror fans, we here at Groupon Coupons are attracted more towards the unexpected, and that’s why we’re celebrating the cinema production equivalent of a good jump scare today—a Christmas-themed horror film dropped right into the middle of the happiest time of the year!
The Blumhouse-produced Black Christmas—a remake of the 1974 seminal horror film of the same name—hits theaters on Friday the 13th of December, the most cursed date of the literal darkest month of the year. The original movie was one of the earliest examples of a pure slasher flick, with a story that centered on the now-classic premise of a deranged killer, stalking through a sorority house, picking off coeds who are distracted by their Christmas preparations.
Inspired by the potential reboot of Billy—that mysterious and archetypal madman in the attic of the Pi Kappa Sigma house—we committed to combing through a century of horror history to find the most iconic examples of every type of cinematic horror villain. From the cold, methodical evil genius to the misunderstood monster just trying to live his life, we’ve collected and labeled every form of baddie that has terrorized an audience in the last 100 years, and mapped out all their notable ancestors and descendants.
Our preparation for this undertaking was extensive. We started out by gathering as many reputable rankings of horror villains as we could (like this one from Thrillist, this one from Horrorfreak News, this one from IndieWire, etc.), writing out all the candidates, and ruthlessly paring the list down to names that had consensus across multiple publications (and occasionally adding new names into the list based on criteria like personal childhood trauma and holiday spirit).
We then gathered in a conference room to debate the essential characteristic of each villain and tally votes. There were some spirited debates (is Santa Claus a cryptid or a god?) and unexpected outcomes (who would have predicted that Seth Brundle’s misadventures in teleportation would tip him firmly toward the “Animal” category over something like “Shapeshifter” or even “Monster”?). But like the title says all results must be considered definitive. Take a look and let us know what you think. We’ll be…right back.