Everybody loves a good horror villain. A well-crafted horror villain is cunning, vicious and terrifying. In this debate, we’ll compare three vastly different horror villains: Xenomorph from the ‘Alien’ franchise, Leatherface from ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ and The Blair Witch from the popular cult-favorite ‘How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.’ Using a scientific scoring system, we will judge our villains based on: death toll, fear factor, craftiness, wardrobe and backstory. The villains can earn up to five points in each category, bringing the highest possible score to a solid 25 points. Which villain wins the most important debate of 2012? You won’t find out unless you read, so you better get to it.
Name: Xenomorph (from the Alien franchise)
Occupation: Caretaker, world traveler, hunter
Weapons: Giant mouth
Death Toll: Unknown
Craftiness: Two words — alien impregnation
Wardrobe: Dark exoskeleton, and sometimes humans
How do you know you are the king of horror? Simple, just give yourself a good looking over. Are you as black as night, can see in the dark, climb onto ceilings, and remain undetected till you strike? Check. If somehow your pathetic prey manages to even wound you, does your blood melt through even the strongest of substances? Of course it does. Were you created by the architect of humanity itself to be the harbingers of that species’ utter doom, down to the last man, woman, and child? All in a days work.
The Alien franchise is not horror you say? Wrong. It is perhaps the finest example of a horror series ever made, right down to the last pulpy trope. Heck, even the movies start out grand, raise the stakes, and then devolve into a mess of bad plots and bad acting (we are looking at you Ron Perlman). If a series starts out with one of the best sci-fi horror films ever made and ends with something called Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem, you know you have a classic horror series.
Besides, the Xenomorph has something far grander going for it than any other horror villain. It’s alien. Bad joke? Well consider this: If you want to avoid Freddy, just stay off Elm Street. If Jason has you down, just don’t swim in Crystal Lake. Where are you going to avoid a Xenomorph? No where. Why, imagine, there could be Xenomorph residing in one of your loved ones right now, at any time, and you would have no clue. It’s not like Michael Myers or Ghostface would just flat out jump out of your chest in the middle of dinner or anything.
Oh did we mention the horrible, painful alien impregnation? Yeah, you get that too. If you somehow manage to avoid the chest-bursting and the screaming and all, though, who are you going to call for help? A girl that can control her dreams? An intrepid film crew searching through the woods? Good luck pal. Good gravy, if a nuclear weapon couldn’t scrape xenomorphs off a planet, you think a few priests with holy water could?
What other horror villain compels the greatest hunters in the universe to match wits with its cunning? It’s not some clown on a tricycle with an asthma problem, I guarantee you that. Blow up a billion dollar ship to kill it. It lives on. Bring in the space marines for a bug hunt. It lives on. Melt it in hot lava and it lives on in your freaking DNA (and ruins David Fincher films). Bring in that druggie guy from CSI with dreads and it turns a Joss Whedon script into a Muppet-shaped pumpkin. It can’t be stopped. It won’t be stopped. It is truly horror incarnate. — Bradford Harrison
Image courtesy 20th Century Fox
Death toll: 2
Fear factor: 5
The Xenomorph definitely earns high marks in the craftiness category. Any creature that can plant itself into a human body is one sly devil. Wearing a human also makes for a great costume and totally escalates the fear factor. Next time you have a stomach ache, rest assured that it might possibly be a terrifying alien using your intestines as a hammock. As for the backstory, the whole “alien” thing isn’t too interesting or refreshing. Yeah, the aliens are mad because the humans have been all up in their business. Meh, tell me something I don’t know. The death toll isn’t insane, but since the Xenomorph has appeared in multiple films, it deserves a middle-of-the-pack rating. Xenomorph puts up an impressive total score of 19/25.
Name: Leatherface (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre)
Occupation: Taxidermist, cannibal, serial killer, cross dresser, home decorator
Weapons: Chainsaw, meat hooks, butcher’s hammer, and a whole lotta family baggage
Death Toll: Unknown
Craftiness: Not great since he’s mentally retarded, but his family will help foil you
Wardrobe: Butcher’s apron and a mask made out of human skin
Leatherface is on par with fun slashers like Michael Myers and Jason Voorhies but he transcends them by being disturbingly close to reality. Both Michael Myers and Jason Voorhies (who are great slasher movie villains) are too supernatural to really be frightening. When the movie ends, your fear ends. You know some large, silent killer isn’t going to chase you at a snail’s pace and kill you because you had teen sex. I mean sex when you were a teen. Not sex with a teen — because then Dateline is just going to come after you, and Chris Hansen is much faster than Michael. However, your car could break down on a deserted road and you may encounter a serial killer. In fact, that’s a very real danger: in the past four decades, 459 deaths and 41 attempted homicides are believed to be linked to serial killers who are using the nation’s highways to find and dispose of their victims. And one of the states with the highest risk of highway murder is none other than Texas, where Leatherface and his murderous hillbilly family make their home.
That’s another thing that makes Leatherface more frightening than Jason or Michael — he has an entire family helping him torture and murder you. Not only that, they are inbred hillbillies. I don’t know about you, but nothing scares me more than a hillbilly. An entire family that would vote for Mitt Romney? That gives me the shivers! This family of hillbillies seems to abuse and control Leatherface who, unlike other slasher villains, is genuinely mentally challenged. They encourage him to kill and then they use the human meat in the BBQ they sell at their eerily named business: Last Chance gas station. The creepiness of his backstory of familial abuse and inbreeding surpasses Jason and Michael’s moderate childhood trauma. Leatherface himself has been mentally tortured . . . what does that mean for his victims? This backstory of persistent childhood abuse is more real than a guy coming back and killing people for letting him drown in a lake. This stuff actually happens. It happened to Ed Gein, who Leatherface is based on.
Leatherface wears a hideous get-up that I find much scarier than other villains. You can’t top a mask made out of human skin. Did I mention Leatherface and his family are all cannibals? At least Michael Myers won’t butcher you, eat you, then wear you. In comparison to Leatherface, Michael and Jason seem downright polite. His butcher’s apron is a nod to their profession at a slaughterhouse, and indeed Leatherface sees people as nothing more than animals he must bludgeon and/or chop with a chainsaw, and then process for food and home decor. If that’s not scary enough for you, how about when he dresses in his human skin mask and drag to serve you dinner?
Is there anything more terrifying than just meeting a guy and being forced to meet the family?
If you thought Buffalo Bill was creepy, who do you think inspired him? And, of course, he doesn’t just use a butcher knife like most slasher villains – he carries a freaking chainsaw. And he wields that thing. Just look at his creepy yet graceful dance at the end of the film:
I wouldn’t have been surprised if he did a kick-ball-change. Leatherface can get away with girly dance moves and still be terrifying.
Another thing that makes villains like Michael, Jason, and Leatherface intimidating is their silence. What makes Leatherface scarier than Michael and Jason is sometimes his silence is broken by occasionally grunting and muttering to himself. Those sporadic sounds remind you he’s human under that mask.
As far as his death toll, there is no real way of knowing if his surpasses that of other horror villains, but there is evidence that he does. His entire home is made of human parts. You can’t find that furniture at Ikea. (Though I bet human remains are easier to put together.) They sell human, they wear it, they decorate with it. I’m willing to bet that’s a whole lotta victims.
I . . . uh . . . love what you’ve done with the place. Is that suede? Oh, no that’s caucasian teen.
Finally, Leatherface can run. Most other villains you can get away from if you just power walk. Not Leatherface, he’s coming after you and he can sprint. — Snow Bickley
Death toll: 4
Fear factor: 5
Well played, Leatherface, well played. Yes, you kill people, but at least you do it in style. It’s impeccable how you coordinate the faces of your victims with that soiled butcher’s apron. The apron says, “things are going to get messy” while the real human skin mask says, “why yes, I am insane.” High points in both the fear factor and wardrobe category for his appearance alone. Leatherface has an interesting backstory as well. His family is comprised of cannibal hillbillies that abused Leatherface because of his mental handicap. On the bright side, they are small business owners so at least they are doing their part to stimulate the economy. Death toll has to be rather high, since he makes that human furniture. Leatherface receives a mediocre score in the craftiness department because you really just can’t not kill someone when using a chainsaw. Total score for Leatherface: 21/25.
Name: The Blair Witch
Occupation: Resident stalker
Death Toll: Unknown, but spans many years
Craftiness: Incredibly sneaky
Wardrobe: Unknown, but might be disgusting
I love horror movies and the feeling of getting scared. But what’s most impressive in a horror villain is one that can scare us without us ever having to see them. Such is the case of the Blair Witch in The Blair Witch Project.
All the Blair Witch does is scare the hell out of you without ever seeing her or seeing any of her victims. Her backstory is the stuff of New England paranormal legend that spans over 200 years. Back in the late 1800’s, five men were ritualistically murdered at “Coffin Rock.” Each man had his hands tied to another man’s feet and their intestines were sliced out of their bodies. Hours after their discovery, they disappeared. In the 1940’s, a man claimed to be haunted by the Blair Witch, kidnapped and killed several children. During the movie, a woman alleged to have had an encounter with the Blair Witch, described her as being covered in thick, black hair from head to toe. Another account said that her feet never touched the ground.
The other great thing about the Blair Witch is the way she slowly works on her victims like Heather, Mike, and Josh in the movie. On the first night, nothing really happens, but they start hearing things in the distance on the second night and on the third night, the three hear kids outside the tent and are so scared by the tent shaking that they run away.
Eventually Josh disappears and the night he does, the other two can hear him screaming at night. The next night, Heather finds what appears to be his intestines wrapped for her neatly inside a bunch of sticks and his clothing. Ultimately, they stumble upon an abandoned house, where the discovery of the house alone is creepy enough and by the time they actually walk inside, that scared feeling you get just watching can’t be shaken.
The Blair Witch’s tactics are torturous, when you think about it. She drives her victims insane, like slowly rattling an animal in a cage so that it’s stir crazy before you kill it. And you can’t stop it because you can’t see her. You can’t run from her because she always knows where you are.
The Blair Witch was the perfect villain to launch a whole new type of horror film with found footage because, as far as I’m concerned, it’s never been topped and is still one of the scariest movies I’ve ever seen. -– Javi Perez
Image courtesy Haxan Films
Death toll: 2
Fear factor: 4
The fact that you can’t see the Blair Witch definitely amps up her craftiness and fear factor. However, it doesn’t do wonders for her wardrobe. Sure, not being able to see someone is scary, but the invisible thing does create a gaping hole in the costume department. The story about our villain being covered in thick black hair is rather creepy, so she gets two points for potentially being gross. Five points for backstory because “New England paranormal legend” and “Coffin Rock” sound incredibly historically legit. Death toll isn’t too impressive. Our lady Blair here seems to be one of those patient killer types. Enjoys stalking her prey and learning its routines. Once again great examples of why the Blair Witch is terrifying and mischievous. The Blair Witch rounds out our competition with a solid score of 18/25.
And the winner is….
Congratulations, Leatherface! According to this ironclad evaluation, you are the creepiest being ever. Those charming looks that you chainsawed off another person’s head and then delicately draped across your face helped you win this competition. We particularly love the way you grunt while running, proving that you are out of shape just like the rest of us, and we find that comforting. Go ahead and do that happy chainsaw dance you like to do. Xenomorph and the Blair Witch, you two fought the good fight, but weren’t able to defeat the ultimate horror villain. Better luck next sequel.
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