Every hero needs a villain. Whether it’s a movie or TV show, it’s the villains and monsters who really put in the elbow grease when it comes to creating a dramatic arc. After all, what would Batman or the MCU be without its rogues’ gallery? Who would scare us during horror movies without the monsters? And any Harry Potter or Disney character would just be able to enjoy their happy childhoods unencumbered. Baloney! As recent examples like Joker attest, sometimes it’s the villains and monsters who are the most fascinating characters of all. From Michael Myers to the Joker, these are the most memorable villains and monsters to ever appear on screen.
1. Turn Back Time
In order to make Samara’s walk even creepier, The Ring filmmakers shot the actor walking backward, and then reversed the shot.
2. Bite the Hand That Feeds You Movie Roles
While rehearsing the scene in Home Alone where Harry threatens to bite off Kevin’s fingers, Joe Pesci went “method actor” and actually bit Macaulay Culkin hard enough to break skin. Did we mention Culkin was 10 years old at the time?
3. First Word
The first character to actually speak in a full-length Disney cartoon was the Evil Queen in Snow White. Not first villain, or first female character: first voice ever. Her first wicked words were “Slave in the magic mirror, come from the farthest space, through wind and darkness I summon thee. Speak! Let me see thy face.”
4. Bleeding Hearts
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s Leatherface may be a deranged, cannibalistic murderer, but writer and director Tobe Hooper has come to Leatherface’s defense. Leatherface, he insists, only kills out of fear. Later films in the franchise have expanded on this idea. After all, maybe Hooper has a point: have you tried asking him nicely not to murder you with a chainsaw?
Have you? Think about that.
5. Inspired by the Law
Steven Spielberg named the famous shark from Jaws “Bruce” after his own lawyer, Bruce Ramer. Ramer represented famous clients such as Clint Eastwood, George Clooney, and Robert Zemeckis.
6. Game Changers
Some Tolkien fans prefer The Hobbit to Lord of the Rings specifically because of its featured villains. Unlike in Lord of the Rings, where many of the villains are merely subservient subjects of Sauron, The Hobbit‘s villainous roster features a variety of motivations—and a dragon.
7. Aye-aye, Captain
Michael Myers’ mask was actually a William Shatner mask, painted white. Production designers didn’t realize the mask was supposed to be William Shatner until it was time to order more masks for the sequel. Shatner later repaid the favor by dressing up as Michael Myers for Halloween.
8. Dental Artistry
In Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Lucille LaVerne voiced both the Evil Queen and the Evil Witch. To achieve this versatile performance, LaVerne removed her false teeth as she voiced the latter.
9. Twisted Symmetry
The Marvel films have drawn some criticism for a slate of villains that are mirror-images of the heroes like Antman and Yellowjacket or Iron Man and Iron Monger. Kevin Feige has said the mirror-image villains make the plot less convoluted since the villains’ origins are tied with the heroes. Since the villains’ powers and motivations are tied to the hero, there is no need for another plot thread to flesh the villain out.
The interconnectedness is most useful for the origin film since the film already has to introduce the hero to the audience.
10. Beware The Legal Squad
Some of history’s most famous movie monsters teamed up to take over the world in 1987’s The Monster Squad. With a werewolf, a mummy, Dracula, and Frankenstein’s monster in the mix, the group looked suspiciously like the line-up of the 1930s and 40s Universal horror movies. To avoid confusion (i.e. lawsuits), filmmaker Fred Dekker made some subtle changes to his monsters, like removing Dracula’s widow’s peak, and moving Frankenstein’s neck bolts up to his forehead.
See? Totally different!
11. Tony Montana’s Little Friend Bites Back
As he rehearsed for Scarface, Al Pacino got his hand stuck in the hot barrel of a freshly-fired prop rifle. The burns were serious; Pacino couldn’t work again for two weeks.
12. What’s a Good Henchman For?
In The Lion King, Scar’s iconic number “Be Prepared” is actually sung by… Ed the Hyena. Or rather, Ed’s voice actor (Jim Cummings) stepped in to do the singing voice for Jeremy Irons for part of the song. Irons had blown out his vocal chords while trying his best, so that’s Cummings doing his best Irons impression for the song’s final third.
13. A Particular Set of Skills
The role of Dracula in The Monster Squad almost went to a young Liam Neeson.
14. A Most Malicious Makeover
In the novel Psycho, Norman Bates was a short-sighted, balding, plump man in his 40s—quite the contrast to the un-bespectacled, thick-haired, and lithe Bates, played Anthony Perkins, in Alfred Hitchcock’s film adaptation of the same name.
15. Leaving an Impression
If you have seen the Lord of the Rings films but not read the book, you may have a very different impression of the villain Saruman. In the novel, a scene known as the “Scouring of the Shire” takes place toward the end, in which the Shire is found in a ruined and enslaved state thanks to the dark Saruman.
16. Beyond the Pale
One of the scariest monsters in modern-day cinema was the Pale Man in Pan’s Labyrinth. Nose-less, blind (mostly…), and draped in loose, white skin, the fairy-eating monster dwells underground, guarding a feast that no visitor must eat from—or else. The Pale Man scene takes less than five minutes and has little bearing on the plot of the film itself, but it remains one of the most memorable and frightening scenes of the whole movie.
Del Toro has said that the Pale Man represents “institutional evil feeding on the helpless.”
17. Master of Monsters
The Pale Man was played by a true modern-day Lon Chaney, Doug Jones. You may not recognize his face, but you’ve almost certainly seen him in something: He also played the Faun in Pan’s Labyrinth, as well as Abe Sapien in the Hellboy franchise, The Silver Surfer in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, and the amphibian man in the Oscar-winning The Shape of Water.
18. High Praise
Stan Lee’s favorite superhero is Spider-Man but from the villain side, he holds Dr. Doom closest to his heart.
19. Choose Your Villain
Adam Driver was one of the top choices to player Lex Luthor in Batman v. Superman, but he gave that up to be another baddie: Kylo Ren of the Star Wars sequels.
20. Dual Role
John Krasinski both directs and stars in A Quiet Place, a film about a family of survivors beset by monsters who use their extremely sensitive hearing to hunt humans. For the sake of not spoiling anything, we’ll stop there. Luckily, one of the most interesting things about the film isn’t a spoiler at all: Krasinski actually donned the monster suit for a few scenes. Talk about an overachiever!
21. Silent Partner
101 Dalmatians was based on Dodie Smith’s novel, The Hundred and One Dalmatians. In this written version, Cruella de Vil is not living the sweet single life, as in the movie, but has a henpecked husband. His clearly didn’t matter that much though, because the novel doesn’t even give him a name—he’s never referred to as anything but “Mr. De Vil.” We can guess who wore the pants in that relationship.
22. Together They Make One Happy Cannibal
Anthony Hopkins based his portrayal of Hannibal Lecter on the unholy combination of Katharine Hepburn, Truman Capote and HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey.
23. Loose Lips Sink Ships
Lon Chaney, a silent film star famous for his portrayals of grotesque villains and anti-heroes, was also a pioneer of movie makeup. No Chaney creation was more terrifying to his audiences than the Phantom from 1925’s The Phantom of the Opera. The Phantom’s face was a closely guarded secret all through shooting—not even co-star Mary Philbin had seen it.
This mystery was a major part of the advertising campaign.
24. Hobbit of the Streets
The inspiration for Andy Serkis’ performance as Gollum in The Lord of the Rings films was heroin addicts, whom Serkis felt Gollum’s obsessive desire for the ring was reminiscent of.
25. A Frightening Face
Chaney achieved the skull-like effect of the Phantom’s face through a combination of spirit gum, fish skin, mascara, cotton, and a pair of ground-down false teeth. When Chaney’s grim visage was finally revealed, many theatergoers fainted.
26. A New Nightmare
Chaney’s role as the Phantom was taken up in a 1989 remake by no less than Freddy Krueger himself, Robert Englund.
27. That’s Subtle
Maleficent means “evil-doing” in Latin.
28. Son of 1000 Faces
Lon Chaney Jr. followed his old man into the family business, taking the lead role in The Wolf Man (1941) and its four sequels.
29. Godfather, Who?
The Queen from Snow White was ranked #10 on the “villains” portion of the AFI’s 100 Greatest Heroes & Villains list. To give you a sense of how wicked that is, she beat Michael Corleone from The Godfather by one spot. The #1 villain? Hannibal Lecter from The Silence of the Lambs.
30. Wolf or Man?
The Wolf Man was likely the most influential depiction of the werewolf on screen, but it’s far from the only one—it’s not even the earliest. In 1935, Universal Pictures released Werewolf of London. Although makeup artist Jack Pierce had planned a look almost identical to the one he would use for The Wolf Man, star Henry Hull refused any look that obscured his face. Perhaps Hull’s more human wolfman just wasn’t scary enough, because the movie was a flop.
31. From the Mouths of Babes
The original script for Blue Velvet specified that it was helium in Frank Booth’s aerosol canister. This was so that Booth’s voice would resemble that of an infant, even as he was committing sexual depravity.
32. I’ve Always Been Here!
It turns out that Gellert Grindelwald was name-dropped in the very first Harry Potter book. While it’s just a brief mention, he is named when Harry Potter has a Chocolate Frog and reads the card that comes attached to it. The card, describing Albus Dumbledore, hints at Dumbledore’s legendary duel with Grindelwald, which wasn’t dealt with more completely until six books later.
Now that’s what we call foreshadowing.
33. Magic Is Might
Grindelwald’s duel with Dumbledore took place in 1945, and, according to Rowling, that is no coincidence. Grindelwald’s ideas were intentionally designed to be similar to Adolf Hitler’s visions.
34. Unlikely Passions
When J.K. Rowling hosted a book reading in Carnegie Hall in 2007, she revealed that Dumbledore hadn’t just been convinced by Grindelwald’s ideology when they were teenagers, he’d fallen completely in love with Grindelwald. Rowling even compared Dumbledore’s feelings for Grindelwald with Bellatrix Lestrange’s feelings for Lord Voldemort.
35. Missed Opportunity
Sadly, for those of us who would love to see this kind of relationship, Rowling has maintained that Dumbledore’s passion for Grindelwald was one-way. Grindelwald never reciprocated Dumbledore’s feelings, dooming their possibly complex and interesting relationship to fanfiction stories.
36. It’s Alive!!
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein terrified readers when it was published in 1818 and became an instant horror classic. It’s not surprising, then, that filmmakers were eager to bring Frankenstein’s monster to life, and they did so almost immediately. No less a figure than Thomas Edison—a man who knew his science—released the first adaptation of Frankenstein in 1910.
Boris Karloff, who played the most famous version of Frankenstein’s monster for the 1931 film, was only 5’11″ tall. Makeup artist Jack Pierce did everything he could to create the sensation that Karloff was a massive, lumbering ghoul. In addition to wearing a jacket which was several sizes too small and a high headpiece, Karloff was given a pair of platform boots that weighed thirteen pounds—each!
38. Swan the Big Screen
While Frankenstein’s monster was a lumbering menace, the monster from Bride of Frankenstein needed to be something quite different. When it came her time to don the neck bolts, actress Elsa Lanchester took inspiration from an unlikely place: the hissing and awkward, jolting walk of swans she had seen at Regent Park.
39. Down for the Count
The role of Frankenstein’s monster, made famous by Boris Karloff, was first offered to Bela Lugosi—Dracula himself. Lugosi dismissed it as a job for “a half-wit extra,” but did end up playing the monster in 1943’s Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man.
40. Boys First
Gaston is the first male Disney villain in any Disney Princess feature—it had been all evil queens, sea witches and stepmothers before that. We can’t believe it took until 1995 for Disney to admit guys can Be Like That.
41. Ain’t Got No Aunt
Gaston was not originally supposed to be the lead villain in Beauty and the Beast. Instead, Belle’s evil Aunt Marguerite was meant to have occupied that dastardly role. Unfortunately for her, Maggie did not have what it takes to make the film’s final cut, and so it’s Gaston that we all remember hating so much.
42. Third Choice Haircutters
Louise Fletcher, who played the terrifying Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, described her character’s angular haircut as a symbol “that life had stopped for her a long time ago.”
43. Wolf This Down
In the original draft for Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Gaston was supposed to survive his fall from the Beast’s castle—only to be torn apart by wolves. This death was left out of the final cut, but it was recycled for Scar’s death in The Lion King.
44. Big, Bad, Baby-Blues
While directing Batman Begins, Christopher Nolan was reportedly so fascinated by Cillian Murphy’s wide blue eyes that the director kept coming up with reasons why Scarecrow/Dr. Jonathan Crane should take off his glasses.
45. That Sucks!
Has anyone ever dressed up as Dracula without proclaiming “I VANT TO SUCK YOUR BLOOD”? Probably not, but Bela Lugosi actually never says that phrase in Dracula. Nor does it appear in the novel. In fact, no one is sure just where the phrase comes from.
46. Funny, but True
Though he is synonymous with the role, Lugosi only played Dracula twice: the classic 1931 film for which he’s famous, and the 1948 comedy Abbot and Costello Meet Dracula. In Universal’s sequels to Dracula, the Count was played John Carradine or Lon Chaney Jr.
47. You Can’t Sit With Us
The werewolf Fenrir Greyback is a particularly unsettling character in Harry Potter and the total opposite of mild-mannered Remus Lupin. Greyback positions himself near humans during the full moon in order to do maximum harm, and even attacks when he is not in werewolf form. He naturally sides with Voldemort and does his bidding, but he isn’t allowed to become a full Death Eater.
Why? His werewolf blood makes him “impure” in the group’s eyes—but that doesn’t stop them from using him as an agent of violence and terror.
48. Star-Worthy Regrets
Bette Midler famously turned down the role of Annie Wilkes in Misery (the iconic No. 1 Fan role later went to Kathy Bates). It was a decision that Midler later called herself “stupid” for making.
49. Sorry Texas Barflies of 1979
Anton Chigurh, played by Javier Bardem in No Country For Old Men, got his memorable contract-killer hairdo when the movie’s art department found an archived picture from 1979, featuring a man in a Texas bar with what co-director Ethan Cohen called “that alarming haircut,” which made them think “Well, he looks like a sociopath.”
50. Cousin of the Count
In 1921, German filmmakers tried their own take on the iconic vampire with Nosferatu. But where Dracula was suave and charismatic, Count Orlok looked like horrifying a cross between a rat and a spider. While the unauthorized adaptation borrowed heavily from Bram Stoker’s novel, the inspiration for Orlok came from producer Enrico Dieckmann’s interaction with a Serbian man who claimed his father was really a vampire.
51. The Stars Just Didn’t Line Up
Patrick Stewart had to turn down the role of Jafar in Aladdin because he was too busy filming Star Trek: The Next Generation.
52. Beneath the Bandages
In 1932, Boris Karloff played the titular Mummy in Universal Pictures’ The Mummy. The design of the undead Egyptian king was based on the look of the actual mummy of Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses III.
53. Wrapped Up Research
Though his make up rendered Karloff virtually unable to speak, his few lines were well researched, and based on legitimate Ancient Egyptian phrases taken from the Book of the Dead, as was his character’s name, Imhotep.
54. Skeletons in The Pink and Fluffy Closet
One of the cruelest villains in Harry Potter, Dolores Umbridge, is a half-blooded witch. After her parents split, her Muggle mother took her Squib brother back to the non-magical world and Dolores never spoke of that side of her family again.
55. Build Your Own Family Tree
Dolores Umbridge went to extreme lengths to hide her “lowly” heritage. As her career in the Ministry of Magic rose, she paid her father, who was a low-level employee in the Department of Magical Maintenance (he was a janitor), to stay away from public life. She would claim her father was dead and also a member of the esteemed Wizengamot court.
56. Getting What’s Hers
In the original ending for Fatal Attraction, the memorably jilted Alex (played by Glenn Close) had a redemptive turn. At great expense, this ending was changed to Alex being shot by her lover’s wife—all because test audiences hated Alex so much, they demanded to see her die by someone else’s hand.
57. Scorchin’ Evil
Margaret Hamilton played the green-skinned Wicked Witch of the West in 1939’s The Wizard of Oz. She was also hospitalized for severe burns as a result of a explosion gone awry in the memorable scene where she disappears in a cloud of magic smoke (and down a trap door).
58. A Scare Too Far
Tim Curry auditioned to play Judge Doom in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, but the former Dr. Frankenfurter was considered just too terrifying for Disney. This was just two years before he played Pennywise the Clown on It, so clearly it was a frightening time for Curry.
59. Wunderkind Baddie
Hans from Frozen is canonically 23 years old. This makes him the youngest ever Disney villain (If you don’t count Sid from Toy Story. I personally don’t; he was just a kid, and no one told him that toys were alive…).
60. Family to the Bone
Skeletor is instantly recognizable for his bare-faced villainy and for his status as He-Man’s arch nemesis. He’s also He-Man’s uncle, a fact unveiled in the 2002 He-Man cartoon.
61. The Creature from Citizen Kane
Citizen Kane is widely considered one of the best movies ever made, so it’s funny that it should have played a hand in the creation of The Creature from the Black Lagoon which is, well, not. Black Lagoon producer William Alland was an actor on Citizen Kane. While working on the film, he met Gabriel Figueroa, a cinematographer who terrified Alland with legends about a race of half-man, half-amphibian monsters who dwelled in the Amazon River.
The rest, as they say, is history.
62. We’d Like to Thank the Academy
The costume for the titular Creature from the Black Lagoon—or, the Gillman, as he’s lovingly known—is based, in part, on the Oscar statue. The sleek, streamlined shape struck director Jack Arnold as the sort of shape an amphibious lagoon monster might have. Needless to say, this was the closest this film got to one of the little gold statues.
63. Just Like Bart
In the world of Harry Potter, the Crouch family was one of the oldest pureblood lineages in Great Britain, but their status took a slide because of their involvement with Voldemort in the First Wizarding War. Barty Crouch Sr. was the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement until he gave his son, Barty Jr., a life sentence for his Death Eater crimes.
Eventually, Jr. would kill his father, and received the Dementor’s Kiss as a result, meaning the family went completely extinct in 1996.
64. Darth Vader: Silent, But Deadly
James Earl Jones asked not to be credited for his voice work as Darth Vader. As an up-and-coming actor, Jones feared being typecast, and so he originally distanced himself from the series.
65. Realistically Wretched
Lady Tremaine, AKA Cinderella’s stepmother, was deliberately drawn to be more realistic than the film’s other antagonists. Filmmakers wanted her to embody a more chilling and “out of this world” demeanor by drawing, ironically, from our world.
66. Siri, Sing Me a Lullaby
Remember when HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey sung “Daisy Bell” to his own death? That scene, taken from the book, was inspired by author Arthur C. Clarke’s visit to Bell Labs, where an IBM 704 treated Clarke to the very same tune.
67. King of the Monsters
Godzilla, the 400-foot tall lizard that terrorized Tokyo, is a pop culture icon in Japan, and one of the first things Westerners associate with Japanese culture. But Godzilla actually has its roots in American cinema; the original Godzilla took major cues from the American film The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, which was released the year earlier, and likewise features a giant reptilian monster.
68. Battle of the Beasts
Godzilla inspired a whole genre of films in Japan. Kaiju (or, “strange beast”) films feature massive, usually atomic-powered monsters who take out their anger on large cities. These monsters included King Ghidorah, Mothra, and Megalon—all of whom Godzilla has fought on screen.
69. Shame! Shame! Shame!
When Tywin became Warden of the West, one of the first things that he had to deal with was his father’s former mistress. Tytos had turned to a common-born woman for comfort in his final years. While Tywin was in King’s Landing, Tytos would defer to his mistress on matters of state within the Westerlands and let her go through Tywin’s dead mother’s clothing and jewelry. As soon as Tywin was in charge, however, he had the mistress stripped naked and paraded in shame for two weeks through Lannisport.
70. What Goes Around Comes Around
If the above point sounds familiar to you, know that this was more than intentional on George R.R. Martin’s part. Tywin’s daughter Cersei being forced to go on a penance walk of her own in the series is meant as a bit of irony or poetic justice, depending on how much you hate Tywin.
71. Slam Dunk
Godzilla faced many foes, but only one was truly a match for the King of the Monsters: Phoenix Suns power forward Charles Barkley, who defeated Godzilla in a game of one-on-one for a 1992 Nike commercial.
72. Pain Begets Pain
Severus Snape’s tragic story is painfully similar to that of many real-life bullies. When he arrived at Hogwarts, he was almost instantly singled out for torment by James Potter and Sirius Black. His victimization led him to fall in with similarly cruel Slytherin students, and he became a terrible bully himself—eventually ending up as a Death Eater.
73. One, Two, DIE
Speaking of Alan Rickman, to get a realistic reaction from the actor during Hans Gruber’s death scene, the Die Hard crew dropped him from 20 feet onto an airbag… on the count of “two,” when they had originally said they’d drop him on “three.”
74. Dastardly Daycare
In the live-action Maleficent movie, three of Angelina Jolie’s children (Pax, Zahara, and Vivienne) make cameo appearances.
75. Deep-Fried Cameo
Giancarlo Esposito revived his role of Gus Fring from Breaking Bad—in a real-life version of a Los Pollos Hermanos restaurant while promoting the spin-off Better Caul Saul.
According to a family tree drawn up by The Simpsons creator Matt Groening, Homer Simpson and the dastardly Mr. Burns are distant relations.
When Alan Rickman first took the role of Severus Snape in Harry Potter, the ending of the book series had not yet been revealed. So, to make sure that he could best portray the complicated character, J.K. Rowling revealed a key piece of information about the character to him. Rickman died never revealing what that piece of information was, but Rowling eventually let fans in on the secret.
She told him what lies behind the word “Always.” That Snape would always love Lily Potter. That he would always protect Harry. That nothing in the world, no amount of torment or danger, could change that. So while audiences were left guessing as to Snape’s allegiances until the final film, the actor himself knew all along.
78. The Unstoppable Blob
The eponymous monster from 1958 B-horror classic The Blob was made of silicone and red dye. The dye was added continuously as shooting progressed to give the impression that the Blob had consumed more and more blood and flesh. 60 years later, the original model is still intact and has yet to dry out.
79. Eye Spy
The monster from The Crawling Eye might have only had one eye, but if you look closely, you can see it in two horror classics. Not only did it appear in The Crawling Eye in 1958, but the creepy, crawling cyclops makes a brief cameo in Stephen King’s novel It, while the Losers Club are running around in the sewers.
80. Killing Machines
Three mechanical sharks were built to serve as the villain of Jaws, costing close to a million dollars apiece. Real great whites cannot survive in captivity and were never an option for the filmmakers. Probably for the best anyway.
81. Grim Name
The Evil Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves actually has a name: She goes by “Grimhilde.”
82. Andy Serkis, Who?
In another universe, John Lennon would have played Gollum. At peak of The Beatles’ popularity, Paul McCartney once pitched a Hobbit film to director Stanley Kubrick that would have starred Lennon as Frodo’s legendary travel buddy from hell.
83. Patron Ghost’s Dark Side
Slytherin’s house ghost, the Bloody Baron, has a fittingly bloody backstory. He stabbed himself to death in remorse shortly after he brutally murdered Rowena Ravenclaw’s daughter, Helena. He was in love with her, but after one too many rejections he killed her in a fit of rage, then turned his sword on himself. The two (Helena is the Grey Lady who roams for Ravenclaw House) have haunted Hogwarts ever since. Twisted Romeo and Juliet anyone?
84. Dressed to Depress
One of Sir Ian McKellen’s only regrets about his tenure as Magneto in the X-Men movies was that his outfit could have been more flamboyant. To quote the knighted pretend-villain, “I wasn’t allowed to wear that outfit […] I don’t look like Magneto in the comics—[where he’s] always shot from the crotch level.”
85. Monster Idols
In the world of Pacific Rim, the kaiju are both a force against humanity and a force of fashion. The opening montage of the movie shows how the creatures have captured the imagination of the movie world’s popular culture, inspiring trends in toys, television, and even make-up and clothing.
86. Repeat Offender
Eleanor Audley did the voices for Lady Tremaine in Cinderella, Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty, and even Madame Leota in the famous Disneyland ride, The Haunted Mansion. That’s a pretty good resume!
87. Illegal Alien
H.R. Giger’s original designs for the monster in Alien were so frightening he was held up by customs agents at the Los Angeles airport who thought the violent, grotesque images were photographs, and wouldn’t let them or Giger through until writer Dan O’Bannon showed up to explain.
88. Sick Ideas
The creature from Alien represents some pretty obvious fears—sexuality, pregnancy, transformation—and Giger’s work was perfectly suited for bringing those fears to nightmarish reality. But the Xenomorph had a less obvious—though no less frightening—inspiration as well: O’Bannon’s personal struggle with Crohn’s Disease.
89. An Alien Walks into A Bar
The role of the alien in Alien went to Nigerian graphic arts student Bolaji Badejo, who, because of his lanky 6’10″ frame, was given the job on the spot when producer Ivor Powell spotted him in a London bar.
When it comes to killing off beloved characters, Bellatrix Lestrange is responsible for two of the saddest send-offs in the Harry Potter series. In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, she kills her cousin, Sirius Black, in front of his own godson. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, she throws the knife that kills Dobby, the loyal house-elf.
As if she needed to be more hateable.
91. Evilly Blonde
Will Ferrell dyed his hair platinum blonde (3 times!) to embody Mugatu in Zoolander. He was also filming Saturday Night Live at the time, and had to cover his bleached tresses with a wig for half of the season.
92. Early Career Starts
Pete, the villainous cat who serves as Mickey Mouse’s sometime antagonist, first appeared as “Bootleg Pete” in a 1925 cartoon. He was a peg-legged, bear-like feline who, as his name suggests, makes a living bootlegging alcoholic beverages during the American Prohibition.
93. A Literally Spit-Take
During the filming of Titanic, no one told Billy Zane (who played Cal) that Kate Winslet (who played Rose) would actually spit in his face, so his reaction is real.
Jason, the unkillable stalking murderer of the Friday the 13th franchise, is best known for his vintage hockey mask, but he didn’t actually don the mask until Friday the 13th Part III.
95. Disagreements on Disfigurement
While not the killer in the first Friday the 13th film, Jason does appear as the child whose tragic drowning serves as the impetus for his mother’s killing spree. There were heated debates between creator Victor Miller and effects artist Tom Savini over whether or not Jason should be deformed. In the end, Savini won the argument, and Jason was given an enlarged head and distorted face
96. I Don’t Ship This
“The Madness of King Scar” was a deleted song in The Lion King. With Nala singing, it was centered around a creepy deleted encounter between her and Scar. According to leftover storyboards, Scar was thinking about his need for a mate and cubs to continue his line. He comes across Nala, who spurns his advances. At her rejection, Scar sends his hyenas to chase Nala off.
Although it was eventually reworked and included in Lion King: The Musical with Scar, Zazu, the hyenas and Nala all singing, let’s be thankful, for our childhoods’ sakes, that this cinematic courtship was left on the cutting room floor.
97. The Prop Department Had an Axe to Grind
Jack Nicholson was a volunteer fireman, and was apparently far too efficient at chopping down wooden doors when it came time to film Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. When they shot the terrifying door-chopping scene, the films’s prop department had to keeping remaking doors for Nicholson to break—60 in total.
98. The Trickster God’s Red Herring
Most people associate Loki with Tom Hiddleston’s raven-haired performance in the Thor movies. However, Loki originally had his Marvel comics debut (in 1945’s Venus #6) as a fiery redhead.
According to J.K. Rowling, the T in “Voldemort” is supposed to be silent. Rowling dropped the news back in 2015. There are public examples of her saying the dark lord’s name like everyone else does, but Rowling says she only pronounces the T when engaging with fans.
1000. Kray Kray
The idea behind someone being so feared that no one wanted to utter their name comes from real English history. Rowling used the notorious English gangsters the Kray twins as inspiration for Voldemort, since their reputation allegedly led to people avoiding using their names.
101. Sweating the Details
For A Nightmare on Elm Street, Freddy Krueger’s trademark knife-glove was made of steak knives and brown leather by designer Jim Doyle, and inspired by Wes Craven’s cat. His hat was based on a scary drunk man Craven had seen as a child. Even Freddy’s sweater is meant to terrify: Craven had read that red and green stripes had a disorienting, unsettling effect on viewers.
102. Welcome to My Nightmare
We see a little of Freddy’s origin story in 1991’s Freddy’s Dead. Freddy’s first victim is revealed to be his abusive stepfather, played by the king of shock rock, Alice Cooper.
103. Points for Diversity?
Star Trek baddie Khan Noonien Singh was originally conceived to be an ancient Greek, and then later of Nordic Viking origin. After Ricardo Montalban was cast, the franchise creators settled on Khan being of Indian origin, possibly Sikh. (Note: Montalban was a Mexican actor).
104. Syndication is the Real Bad Guy Here
Freddy Krueger had his own anthology TV series titled Freddy’s Nightmares–A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Series. It ran for only 2 seasons, and one episode ended with Krueger (played by Robert Englund humself) going to his high school reunion and seeking revenge against the woman who stood him up on Prom Night.
105. Identity Crisis
While he’s widely known by his name, Halloween stalker Michael Myers is credited in the original movie as “The Shape.” The Shape is also what Myers is referred to in the original script. The term comes from Minister Cotton Mather, a famous figure from the Salem Witch Trials. Mather used the term to describe spirits who caused harm.
106. Bear With Leo
The bear who terrifies Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant was no bear at all, but a Canadian stuntman named Glenn Ennis, running on all fours in a bear suit.
107. America’s Scary-land
Chainsaw-wielding maniac Leatherface terrorized hippies—and audiences—in the 1974 slasher flick The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. But that movie seems less scary when you consider Leatherface was based on a real-life monster, Wisconsin serial killer Ed Gein. Gein was also famously the inspiration for Norman Bates in Psycho.
108. Not Cool in 2017… or 1990…
Pennywise isn’t the most horrifying part of It, which was re-released as a movie in 2017. Most fans don’t realize that the books contained an utterly twisted scene that was so disturbing that it was omitted from both theatrical releases: a sex scene where the group of kids–known as the Losers’ Club–engage in an orgy. For valid reason, children engaging in intimacy is sure to attract controversy, which is likely why the scene was omitted from both the 1990 and 2017 onscreen adaptations.
Commenting on the scene, Stephen said, “I wasn’t really thinking of the sexual aspect of it. The book dealt with childhood and adulthood –1958 and Grown Ups. The grown-ups don’t remember their childhood. None of us remember what we did as children–we think we do, but we don’t remember it as it really happened. Intuitively, the Losers knew they had to be together again. The sexual act connected childhood and adulthood. It’s another version of the glass tunnel that connects the children’s library and the adult library. Times have changed since I wrote that scene and there is now more sensitivity to those issues.”
He later added, “It’s fascinating to me that there has been so much comment about that single sex scene and so little about the multiple child murders. That must mean something, but I’m not sure what.”
109. He Who Must Not Wear Tights
The tights under Ralph Fiennes’s Voldemort robes kept slipping down his legs while shooting Harry Potter, making it awkward for the actor to walk. In the end, Fiennes opted to wear stockings and garters under his evil wizard smock.
110. A Tale of Two Masks
The infamous Halloween mask was almost a clown mask. They had originally thought about going with a clown mask as a throwback to the night Myers killed his sister Judith while dressed up as a clown for Halloween. They went for the Kirk mask that had been spray-painted because it looked emotionless and they thought that was much creepier than the clown mask.
At that point, the killer clown archetype wasn’t quite what it was today (Stephen King’s It came out eight years later, in 1986). But had they used the clown mask, it would’ve been a chilling omen for the capture of a real-life killer clown, John Wayne Gacy, who was arrested just two months after Halloween was released.
111. Primary Source
James Jude Courtney, who plays Michael in the 2018 Halloween, learned how to kill from a former Mafia hitman. The hitman lived with Courtney after getting out of prison. The hitman later went to see a film Courtney directed, The Hit List, and advised that the kills weren’t realistic. Courtney then learned from the best and put the knowledge to use to play Myers.
112. Bronn Need Not Apply
Ever wonder why the Queen of Schemes (and Westeros) Cersei Lannister has never shared a scene with Bronn in Game of Thrones? That’s because Lena Headey and Jerome Flynn used to date, at least before things got super ugly. How ugly? There are apparently stipulations in both their contracts that forbid Headey and Flynn from even being in the same room as each other.
113. The Bee’s Knees
Tony Todd was unforgettable as the terrifying urban legend come to life in the 1992 film Candyman. At one point, the role required him to be covered in swarms of bees—no easy task at a time before CGI was common. So yes, those bees were real! The filmmakers used younger bees, who would be less likely to sting the stars of the film.
On top of that, Tony Todd was given a bonus every time he was actually stung by one for his troubles. He ended up being stung 23 times. Not bad!
114. Two Sides of the Coin
Most people probably think of The Dark Knight as a movie about Batman and the Joker, but according to Christopher Nolan himself, the movie is mainly about another character: Harvey Dent. The film was really about the rise of Two-Face, and Dent’s descent gave the film the emotional weight that the unsympathetic Joker could not provide. Nolan acknowledged that the title was not only a reference to Batman, but to the fallen “white knight” that was Harvey Dent.
115. Whose Line is it Anyway?
When the Joker pays a visit to Bruce Wayne’s penthouse, Heath Ledger’s performance was so frightening that Michael Caine forgot his lines.
116. Preparation J
To prepare for his role as the Joker, Heath Ledger sequestered himself in a hotel room for six weeks, developing the character’s various tics and the sadistic laugh. He based the Joker’s appearance on the chaos of Sid Vicious with the psychosis of Alex DeLarge from A Clockwork Orange.
117. Winging It
Remember when the Joker walked out of the hospital flipping a detonator switch, but the bomb doesn’t go off for a second? That wasn’t actually intended. The bomb was supposed to detonate right when he hit the switch, but a pyrotechnics error delayed the explosion, so that scene was just a genius improv by Ledger.
Ledger went off-script several times while filming if he thought it was something the Joker would really do, leading to iconic moments like that one. He was also improvising when the Joker gives Commissioner Gordon that eerie slow clap.
118. Smile for the Camera
The distinctive wounds on the Joker’s face in The Dark Knight actually have a specific name. They are called a “Glasgow Smile,” and apparently the film’s prosthetics supervisor, Conor O’Sullivan, took real-life inspiration when making the look. O’Sullivan says that he once encountered a deliveryman with the brutal scars.
When asked about it, the man simply said he got them from a “dogfight.” Doesn’t sound like the guy that you ask too many questions, so we’ll leave it at that.
119. So Long, Farewell
One of the ways Ledger got into character was by putting together a scrapbook filled with inspiration for the Joker, which he made in part during his time isolated in the hotel room. The contents of this journal have been much discussed in the media—but they truly are disturbing. In its pages, Ledger wrote from the perspective of the Joker, who finds humor in geniuses who become mentally handicapped, among other horrific things.
The journal also contained stills from Stanley Kubrick’s eerie thriller A Clockwork Orange, photos of clown makeup, and pictures of hyenas. On the last page of the chilling “Joker diary,” he scrawled the words “BYE BYE.”
120. Silver Medal?
Originally, the character of Bellatrix was meant to be played by actress Helen McCrory when she made her debut in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. However, McCrory became pregnant and had to drop out of the movie. However, she eventually returned to the film franchise when she was cast as Narcissa Malfoy, Bellatrix’s sister.
121. A Clown by Any Other Name
Pennywise, the horrible clown that haunts the kids in It, almost wasn’t a clown at all. Originally, King based the book on the story “Three Billy Goats Gruff,” imagining the Losers Club as the goats, the town of Derry as the bridge, and Pennywise as the troll lurking beneath. Eventually, he decided that kids hated clowns more than trolls, which is probably true, and he made the switch.
122. Pleasant Dreams
Freddy Krueger, A Nightmare on Elm Street’s sleep-stalking maniac, has kept movie audiences awake since his first appearance in 1984, but Freddy’s real-life inspiration will make you think twice before going to bed tonight, too: Wes Craven got the idea from a news story about a group of Khmer refugees to the United States whose nightmares were so intense they died in their sleep.
These survivors of the reign of Pol Pot, who were young and healthy, would have a terrible nightmare and refuse to sleep for days. When exhaustion set in and the young men would finally fall asleep, they would wake up screaming and die shortly after. An obvious cause would have been heart failure, but autopsies revealed that there was no specific cause of death.
123. In the Blood
The Halloween novelization reveals that Michael’s great-grandfather killed a couple at a harvest dance on Halloween. Great-grandpa Myers then identified his victims by name before he was hanged, even though he’d never met them, saying he heard the names in his dreams.
124. The Folly of…
The hunter who killed Bambi’s mom ranks #20 on AFI’s list of Top 50 Villains of All Time. He is simply listed as “Man.”
125. Bambi Killer
In an early draft of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Judge Doom was unveiled as the killer of Bambi’s mother.
Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87