Oct 2, 2015

13 Underrated Killers

Article By: Tyler Doupe

The world of horror killers is dominated by big guns like Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees. The most celebrated names in horror have made major contributions to the genre film arena but unfortunately that sometimes leaves noteworthy players overlooked. Because we like to see everyone getting a piece of the pie, we are paying homage to some of our favorite underrated and overlooked horror film killers. These are villains that may not get the recognition reserved for the big guns but we still think they deserve a shout out for their willingness and desire to rid the world of fornicating teenagers.

Read on for 13 of our favorite overlooked and underappreciated horror killers.  

1. The Creeper - "Jeepers Creepers"

While the Jeepers Creepers films have a devoted fan base, they can’t seem to catch a break. Director Victor Salva has been trying to add a third installment to the series for years but the all that has actually materialized is a series of false starts. Hopefully the franchise will find its footing and get the threequel off the ground. The Creeper is a well-crafted adversary and should be awarded the chance to continue his reign of bloody terror.

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2. Mrs. Voorhees - "Friday the 13th"

The matriarch of the Voorhees clan is responsible for kicking off a franchise that includes ten feature films, a remake, and a crossover with the Nightmare on Elm Street series. However, as was evidenced in Scream, Mrs. Voorhees is frequently overshadowed in favor of her indestructible offspring. And that is a real shame. Mrs. Voorhees is a rad character and deserves a great deal of credit and respect for beginning a retribution spree that has caused the premature demise of countless camp counselors. 

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3. Mick Taylor - "Wolf Creek"

Mick Taylor is funny, reasonably intelligent, and has a real flare for homicide. Unfortunately, in spite of his charisma and penchant for butchering backpackers, neither of the Wolf Creek films has been granted a wide theatrical release in the states and Mick Taylor remains largely unknown to mainstream theatergoing audiences. Taylor has a lot to offer both horror fans. He just hasn’t been given the opportunity to connect with US audiences in the same grandiose manner as some of his more recognizable peers. 

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4. Angela Baker - "Sleepaway Camp"

While she has a loyal and fierce cult following, Angela Baker has never been given her due. Even though Angela has appeared in four features and a fifth incomplete project, the Sleepaway Camp films have been in and out of print over the years. Further complicating matters, the sequels went direct-to-dvd, and Angela’s name rarely comes up when the conversation turns to noteworthy horror killers. Felissa Rose did a fantastic job popularizing the character and introducing the world to the first (and possibly only) transgender horror film killer. Though she was replaced in several of the sequels, Rose will always be Angela to me.

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5. Damien - "The Omen"

Damien Thorn embodies the utter essence of creepy. He is literally the spawn of Satan and bends the will of others to suit his every evil desire. But despite his evil street cred, Damien is still regularly overlooked when the conversation turns to prolific horror killers. Damien appeared in the first three Omen films and remains one of the most accomplished killer kids in horror cinema. Though several actors have taken on the role, Harvey Stephens’ performance in the original film remains the most memorable.

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6. The Collector - "The Collector"

Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan created a force to be reckoned with when crafting the script for their feature film The Collector. Due to disappointing box office yield for the second picture, the franchise is probably dead in the water. However, The Collector is an inventive and entertaining, if often overlooked, adversary. It would be great to see him get some more screen time and live to kill another day in a third installment. Fans of Dunstan and Melton can look out for the pair’s adaptation of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, which is expected to hit theaters in 2016. 

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7. Dr. Giggles - "Dr. Giggles"

Larry Drake’s onscreen portrayal of Dr. Giggles is both bizarre and surreal. The Dr. Giggles character and the picture itself are acquired tastes but both still deserve a measure of credit. The film came out in the early ‘90s, which was a rough time for horror and the slasher film alike. As such, I have a soft spot for the doctor. A physician who has a psychotic break and discovers that the more he kills, the more he laughs and the more he laughs, the more he kills is a fairly unique premise. And for that, the good doctor deserves a bit of recognition here and there.

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8. Candyman - "Candyman"

The Candyman is one of the most criminally underrated characters in all of horror cinema. The original Candyman film is pure gold. It is a truly exceptional adaptation of Clive Barker’s work. Bernard Rose did a superb job establishing atmosphere and developing the characters while brining Barker’s story to life. The sequels are a different story but in spite of the second and third film being of lesser quality than the first, the Candyman character is still ominous and effective in all three outings.

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9. The Tall Man - "Phantasm"

The Phantasm franchise has achieved cult classic status but the series has never really gotten the mainstream attention it deserves. Don Coscarelli has put together a masterpiece with the Phantasm franchise and The Tall Man is an integral part of what makes the series so captivating and so entertaining to cult audiences. The Tall Man doesn’t have much to say but he definitely makes the most of what little onscreen dialogue he has in the films. Also, he is one of only a handful of horror killers to appear in multiple sequels without ever being exploited for laughs. 

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10. Jerry Blake - "The Stepfather"

It’s a shame that Jerry Blake doesn’t get more credit amongst his peer group. He has appeared in two feature films, a made for television sequel and a remake of The Stepfather. Unfortunately, through all of that, he never found a family that didn’t disappoint him. Terry O’Quinn was onboard for only two of those outings but he remains the quintessential Stepfather. O’Quinn is responsible for giving countless children nightmares and helping to make a bad name for stepparents everywhere.

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11. Victor Crowley - "Hatchet"

Adam Green is a creative force and has been going nonstop since he began making horror films. While his character Victor Crowley isn’t perfect, he certainly deserves a substantial amount of credit. Crowley is a contemporary slasher villain that has been partially responsible for getting a new generation of fans excited about horror. Yet he is rarely given credit for that. 

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12. John Ryder - "The Hitcher"

John Ryder is a horror icon in his own right. Though Rutger Hauer only played the role in one of three outings under the Hitcher franchise (he did not appear in the remake or the sequel) he made a greater impact in one film than a lot of lesser men do in an entire franchise. The Hitcher remains one of Rutger Hauer’s best performances and his turn as John Ryder is as chillingly effective today as it was upon the film’s initial release.

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13. Pumpkinhead - "Pumpkinhead"

It’s difficult to say exactly why Pumpkinhead has never really received mainstream recognition. The first film was a moderate box office success for the era in which it was released and has spawned a series of sequels – none as good as the original. But for whatever reason, the film and the character are often overlooked, even amongst horror enthusiasts. Pumpkinhead is a unique character and has an interesting backstory. A remake has often been talked about but we have yet to see much movement. Hopefully if that gets off the ground it will see Pumpkinhead getting the recognition he deserves. 

Tyler Doupe is a film critic and journalist. He is the managing editor at Wicked Horror and an occasional contributor to Fangoria and Rue Morgue.

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