Heavyweights of horror

Freddy Krueger. Jason Voorhees. Michael Myers. Leatherface. Pinhead. These are the heavyweights of horror. With 35(!) movies and 6 remakes between them, these iconic characters have hacked, slashed, sliced, and diced their way through cinemas for 25+ years. There are other horror icons, Chucky from the Child’s Play series and Jigsaw from the Saw series for example, but these are the titans.

FreddyFreddy Kreuger
Location: Springwood, IL
Number of Appearances: 8 + 1 remake
Memorable Line: “Welcome to Prime Time, Bitch!”
Best of the Series: A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). No contest there, but Part 3 is pretty good too.
Worst of the Series: Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991)

Former school janitor turned full-time child rapist. Krueger was burned alive by the angry parents of Springwood and returned (for reasons never really explained) to haunt their children, slaughtering them in their dreams. Using his home-made claw-glove (patent pending) and razor sharp wit, Freddy seems to have fun with his terrorizing, by turning teens into human cockroaches, using their veins to control them like a marionette, or controlling them like characters in a macabre Nintendo game. Freddy was finally felled by his daughter in the unfortunate Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991) though he made a return appearance in Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994) and Freddy vs. Jason (2003) and just this year in a disappointing remake from Michael Bay. You just can’t keep a good child rapist down apparently.

JasonJason Voorhees
Location: Crystal Lake, NJ
Number of Appearances: 11 + 1 remake
Memorable Line: Jason has never uttered a word
Best of the series: Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984). Corey Feldman. Crispin Glover. Enough said.
Worst of the Series: Jason X (2002). Go figure, sending Jason to space was a bad idea.

Jason’s mythology has never been truly explained. Apparently he drowned in Crystal Lake in the mid-50’s while teenage camp counselors were off “necking.” His mother flew off into a rage and terrorized the camp until June 1980 when, after killing a dozen or so counselors attempting to re-open Camp Crystal Lake, she lost her head. . . literally. One year later, a full-grown Jason, slaughtered another group of teens and has basically been doing that ever since. The man likes to stay busy I guess. Why Jason survived the drowning and how his mother either didn’t know or was so off-her-rocker didn’t care, is a mystery. Jason slaughtered his way through 11 movies that took him from Camp Crystal Lake, to Manhattan, to Hell, to Space! Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993) attempted to add some back-story to Jason to ridiculous effect. Apparently, “through a Voorhees he was born and only through a Voorhees can he be killed.” Why? Because the movie said so.

Michael MyersMichael Myers
Location: Haddonfield, IL
Number of Appearances: 7 + 2 remakes
Memorable Line: Like Jason, Michael Myers is more the quiet, stoic type.
Best of the Series: Halloween (1978). Can’t beat the original.
Worst of the Series: Halloween: Resurrection (2002). Don’t even get me started on that one.

Michael Myers was an unhappy kid. After catching his teenage sister fooling around, he donned a mask and killed her. After spending the better part of his adolescence and teenage years in a sanitarium, he escaped on Halloween 1978 and returned to Haddonfield to finish what he started. Apparently Michael has a beef with any member of his bloodline. He tried killing his sister—twice&madsh;as well as his niece in subsequent sequels. Myers is another villain with a fuzzy mythology. He’s obviously impervious to bullets and fire but we never find out why. The sixth entry in the series, The Curse of Michael Myers (1995) attempted to lay out a mythology involving Druids and Ruin Stones that was even more confusing and unsatisfying.

Location: Hell
Number of Appearances: 8, with another one in production now
Memorable Line: “Your suffering will be legendary, even in Hell!”
Best of the Series: Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988) has always been a personal favorite of mine
Worst of the Series: Hellraiser: Hellseeker (2002), though I admittedly have not seen the next two entries, Deader and Hellworld.

Pinhead is arguably the most complex of the Heavyweights you’ll see here. Once a soldier in WW2, Pinhead’s human counterpart was sent to hell after solving the “Lament Configuration,” a strange puzzle box that opens the gate to hell and brings forth demons called Cenobites. The original film and its sequel are strange and creepy, though the following sequels took Pinhead into wisecracking horror villain territory. By the time we got to Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (1992), Pinhead was pretty undistinguishable from Freddy, which is a shame since the first two films are genuinely interesting (though disgusting) flicks.

Location: Texas
Number of Appearances: 4 + 2 remakes
Memorable Line: Leatherface likes to grunt and groan but he doesn’t use his words.
Best of the Series: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1973)
Worst of the Series: Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1994)

You’ve got to give Leatherface credit; he’s a family man at heart. Living in the backwoods of Texas with his decidedly unconventional and dysfunctional family, Leatherface trolls around looking for food, i.e. you and me. Leatherface kills for the good of the family and to put food on the table, which make his reasons for killing better than any of the other Heavyweights. Part 2 shows Leatherface and the clan entering Chili cook-offs with their “secret recipe” and living beneath an abandoned amusement park. The following sequels brought Leatherface and the clan back to the woods and doing what they do best.

I’ve always had a soft spot for the Jason and the Friday the 13th series, though he is admittedly the most low-brow of the Heavyweights listed and the films are more one-note than even the usual slasher fare. There’s something about the music, the FX, and the iconography in general that appealed to me as a kid and, nostalgically, still does today. Who’s your favorite?

2 Responses to “Heavyweights of horror”
  1. Kevin Mattison says:

    I’m a Pinhead man, myself. Although I’m a much bigger fan of the original than Hellbound, which I thought was good, but a bit over the top. Still, it gets points for sheer weirdness. Hellraiser III is laughable and Bloodlines is LAUGHABLE. I have a hard time even acknowledging those straight-to-video sequels. Is Pinhead even IN Hellseeker?

    • Adam says:

      I’m pretty sure he is. The one they just shot is called “Hellraiser: Revelations” and they couldn’t even get Doug Bradley to come back as Pinhead so they had to recast the role! I’m sure the inevitable remake is on the way too…

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