10 scariest villains in horror fiction

Dolly Dy-Zulueta - Philstar.com
10 scariest villains in horror fiction
These are among the scariest creatures that hounded every imagination of book and movie lovers alike.
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MANILA, Philippines — It's almost Halloween — that one single time of the year when spooks, ghosts, monsters, goblins and other scary creatures bask in the spotlight.

Kids wear costumes to look like them and then go around the neighborhood trick-or-treating. As for adults, they also get to celebrate the darker side of things by sharing ghost stories with friends, watching horror films and reading horror fiction.

What better way to amp up the fear factor this spooky season than to get reacquainted with some of the most terrifying literary villains of all time?

Here’s a list of 10 villains who have made horror novels certified page turners and hair-raising reads, as gathered by Fully Booked. The “countdown” starts with the least scary at No. 10 and escalates to the most terrifying villain at No. 1.

From psychopaths to witches and monsters to extraterrestrials and ancient shape-shifters… From a house with a sinister appetite, a demonic clown, a mad scientist and a vengeful baby, to a creature that resembles your mother (except that she’s not) and a secret institution that kidnaps and extracts children, there’s something for everyone’s kind of nightmare on this list. 

Prepare to be horrified beyond words!

10. Patrick Bateman ('American Psycho' by Bret Easton Ellis)

Meet the undisputed villain of Wall Street. Mild-mannered, gold-trim business card-wielding investment banker by day, psychopath, sexual predator and murderer by night. Patrick Bateman goes on to commit the most depraved acts known to man. 

Of course, the book’s ending leaves readers guessing if everything just took place in his unhinged mind, but does it matter? He’s still a psychopath, so in he goes to this list.

The book’s author, Bret Easton Ellis, just released a new book, "The Shards," after a 12-year hiatus. 

9. Aunt Lydia ('The Handmaid's Tale' by Margaret Atwood)

In Margaret Atwood’s dystopian future where a repressive government called the Republic of Gilead forces fertile women to produce children, Aunt Lydia is the brutal religious teacher slash handmaid wrangler.

With forcible cruelty, she manipulates, tortures and brainwashes the handmaids under the auspices of “saving” them. Among her favorite methods of punishment are whipping via cattle prod, tongue and eye mutilation, and death by stoning. 

8. The Institute ('The Institute' by Stephen King)

In Stephen King’s 2019 novel, "The Institute" is a secret organization that specializes in kidnapping children, particularly those gifted with the powers of telepathy and telekinesis.

Led by Mrs. Sigby the director, The Institute subjects children to excruciating tests and torture methods and will stop at nothing to extract their gifts in their delusions of saving the world.

7. Griffin ('The Invisible Man' by H.G. Wells)

Now you see him, now you die!

Written in 1897 by H.G. Wells, one of the fathers of science fiction, "The Invisible Man" tells the story of Griffin, a scientist who creates a serum to render himself invisible.

Unable to reverse the effects of the procedure, he begins his descent into madness, hurting anyone who gets in his way. It is now a Netflix movie starring Elizabeth Moss. 

6. Beloved ('Beloved' by Toni Morrison)

Beloved is the malevolent spirit that haunts the home of former slave Sethe and her dysfunctional family.

When Sethe’s fellow slave Paul D visits and exorcises the ghost, they think Beloved is gone for good. But, one day, a mysterious stranger appears – she is 20 years old, strangely unmarked, with skin as smooth and supple as a baby’s, and smells like milk.

Could she be Sethe’s daughter who was killed as a baby 20 years ago? More than a ghost story, this Pulitzer Prize-winning book is an examination of the horrors of racism and slavery.

5. The Cannibals ('Tender Is the Flesh' by Agustin Bazterrica)

What could be more gruesome than humans eating human meat for sustenance?

In this dystopian novel, a virus has contaminated all animal meat, and turned cannibalism into the “new normal.” As he grapples with this new reality, the inheritor of a meat-turned-human processing plant struggles with his own demons – a sick father, a wife who left him and a child who passed away. Then one day, he’s given a gift: a live specimen of the finest quality. The real horror begins. 

4. The Hill House ('The Haunting of Hill House' by Shirley Jackson)

Welcome to the Hill House, a sprawling 80-year-old mansion surrounded by hills built upon an unspecified countryside. Come for the splendid view, and admire the antiques and trimmings, but please, by all means, leave before the dark comes.

But of course, the book’s four main characters do exactly the opposite, renting it out for the summer to investigate the supernatural. What happens? Let’s just say the house spares no effort to make them feel welcome, especially one of the guests it particularly fancies.

3. The Other Mother ('Coraline' by Neil Gaiman)

The Other Mother is the creepy villain in Neil Gaiman’s dark fantasy horror for children. She looks like Coraline’s real mother, except that she’s taller and thinner, her fingernails are curved and sharp, and she has dark buttons for eyes.

At first, Coraline is in heaven. Unlike her own mother, the Other Mother is sweet and attentive, and gives in to all her whims. Little by little, though, the red flags appear, the worst of which is attempting to sew buttons into Coraline’s eyes, which will trap her in the Other World “forever and always.”

2. The Grand High Witch ('The Witches' by Roald Dahl)

Roald Dahl’s witches are hideous monsters concealing themselves as nice little ladies, who wear gloves (to hide their claws), pointy shoes (to hide their ghastly toes) and wigs (to hide their bald heads).

But the worst of their bunch is their leader, The Grand High Witch, whose idea of fun is turning children into mice and crushing them with her heels. When one of her witch minions speaks out of turn, she kills her swiftly without batting an eyelash.

1.  Pennywise ('IT' by Stephen King)

Among all the monsters Stephen King has unleashed in his books, Pennywise takes the top spot as the scariest and purest manifestation of evil, so evil it doesn’t even have a name.

An extraterrestrial and ancient shape-shifter, It prefers taking the form of Pennywise the Dancing Clown to lure children, because, according to it, when humans get scared, "all the chemicals of fear flooded the body and salted the meat.”

In short, children are tasty. No worries, though, It only appears every 27 years! Plenty of time to sleep with your lights out.

RELATED: 'True Philippine Ghost Stories' marking comeback, accepting submissions

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