The U.S. is obsessed with serial killers. We read about them, we develop TV shows about them. And we make movies about them. Here is our list of the greatest (most popular and well-known) cinematic slashers of all time.
The Child Molester and Dream Demon
First Appearance: Nightmare on
No. of Film Appearances: 8
Created By: Wes Craven
Actor: Robert Englund
Description: Freddy’s face is a mutilated, fire ravaged visage covered by smooth, bumpy scars. His teeth are rotting and jagged. He’s fond of wearing a dark fedora and a red-and-black striped shirt. He rarely goes anywhere without his clawed glove.
Backstory: Freddy’s mother was a nun who was tortured and raped by more than 100 pyschos while she was trapped in a prison for the criminally insane. His mother nearly died in childbirth and Freddy found a home with a violent alcoholic who abused him both physically and mentally. Freddy later murdered his adoptive father. Freddy grew up, got married, and fathered a daughter. He worked at a power plant and developed a fondness for kidnapping and murdering children. The police called him the Springwood Slasher. After Freddy was captured, law enforcement bungling forced them to release him. The parents of Freddy’s victims hunted him down and burned him to death. But before death took him, Freddy was approached by three evil dream demons who gave him the power to turn dreams into reality. Now Freddy returns to hunt victims in the night.
Method of Murder: Freddy wears a metallic glove with razor sharp claws at the end. He likes to torture his teenage victims, by manipulating their dreams. He generally kills them while they sleep – the wounds materializing in real-life after he slays them in slumber land.
Killer Quote: “One, two, Freddy's coming for you/ Three, four, better lock your door/ Five, six, grab your crucifix/ Seven, eight, gonna stay up late/ Nine, ten, never sleep again.”
Random Pop Reference: Freddy has appeared in three episodes of “The Simpsons” Halloween specials.
Honors: AFI ranked Freddy number 40 on its list of greatest Heroes and Villains list.
The Hockey Mask and Machette-welding Mass Murderer
First Appearance: Friday the 13th (1980)
No. of Film Appearances: 12
Created By: Victor Miller, Ron Kurtz, Sean S. Cunningham, Tom Savini
Actors: Many actors have portrayed Jason including Ari Lehman, Warrington Gillette, Steve Daskewisz, Richard Booker, Ted White, Tom Morga, C.J. Graham, Dan Bradley, Kane Hodder, and Ken Kirzinger
Description: A gigantic, mammoth man with a distorted, ugly face usually clad tattered dark clothes. Jason rarely speaks. He wears an old 1950s style Detroit Red Wings goalie mask and carries a machete.
Backstory: Jason was not the primary killer in the first “Friday the 13th” movie – his mother was. Jason was the motivation behind her murders – because he died from a drowning while camp counselors at
Method of Murder: Jason is quite fond of using sharp object to poke, dismember, and slaughter his victims. That’s why he really enjoys using his rusty, blood-splattered machete.
Killer Quote: “He (Jason) doesn't have any personality. He's like a great white shark. You can't really defeat him. All you can hope for is to survive.”
Random Pop Reference: Jason has become a cultural icon – from comic books to parodies to appearances in pop songs. Musicians from Alice Cooper to Tupac Shakur have sang about him.
Honors: Jason received a lifetime achievement award from MTV in 1992 – one of only three fictional characters to ever get the award.
The Supernatural Babysitter Butcher of
First Appearance: Halloween (1978)
No. of Film Appearances: 9
Created By: John Carpenter and Debra Hill
Actors: Many actors have played Michael including Nick Castle, Tony Moran, Will Sandin, Dick Warlock, George P. Wilbur, Don Shanks, Chris Durand, Brad Loree, Tyler Mane, and Daeg Faerch
Description: A hulking man in soiled gray overalls wearing a rubber William Shatner mask backwards and often carrying a butcher knife. He is obsessed with teenage girls and often follows them around before murdering them and their friends.
Backstory: The character, according to creator John Carpenter, was based on Yul Brenner’s killer robot in the film “Westword.” At six years old, Michael murders his sister with a butcher knife on Halloween night. The boy was sent to a hospital for the criminally insane. He escapes as an adult and returns to his hometown of
Method of Murder: Michael enjoys killing with knives – but he’s very resourceful when he needs to be.
Killer Quote: “(I wanted to) raise this Michael Myers character up to a mythic status; make him human, yes, but almost like a force. A force that will never stop, that can't be denied."
Random Pop Reference: Michael made his debut in video games in a 1983 Halloween game released by Atari. He’s been the subject of novels, comic books, toys, dolls, etc. Another icon of the horror movie slasher genre.
Honors: The Halloween series has grossed more than $328 million worldwide.
First Appearance: The
No. of Film Appearances: 6
Created By: Tobe Hooper
Actors: Leatherface has been portrayed by actors Gunnar Hansen, Bill Johnson, R.A. Mihailoff, Robert Jacks, and Andrew Bryniarski
Description: A big, chubby man who is mentally retarded. He wears old clothes and likes to stalk around wearing the peeled off facial skin of his victims. He enjoys lugging around a gas-powered chainsaw.
Backstory: Leatherface’s real name is Bubba Sawyer. He is one of four brothers who live with their grandparents and great-grandmother in an old house in
Method of Murder: Leatherface uses a chainsaw to dismember his victims and then carves up the meat for storage in a meat locker – so his family can dine on the remains later. He’s also been known to use a sledgehammer.
Killer Quote: “Leatherface is completely under the control of his family. He'll do whatever they tell him to do. He's a little bit afraid of them.”
Random Pop Reference: Leatherface has been the main character is a series by Wildstorm Comics.
Psychiatrist and Cannibalistic Serial Murderer
First Appearance: Manhunter (1986)
No. of Film Appearances: 5
Created By: Thomas Harris
Actors: Brian Cox, Anthony Hopkins, Gaspard Ulliel and Aaran Thomas
Description: A short, thin man with great physical strength for his size. He has a sixth digit on his left hand (two middle fingers). He had wispy black hair which he slicks back over his head and small than average teeth. He also has a calm, creepy demeanor and an uncomfortable stare. He’s extremely sophisticated and quite an elegant talker.
Backstory: Lecter is the son of Lithuanian aristocrats and is orphaned with his sister during World War II. The siblings are captured by Nazis – who murder his sister and eat her – in front of him. Later escaping, Lecter is raised in an orphanage until adopted by his uncle. He has an affair with his uncle’s wife after his death. His obsession with catching his sister’s killers overcomes him and hunts down, kills, and eats each of them. He is a brilliant man and graduated from the
Method of Murder: He murders in various methods, but usually eats his victims by cooking them up gourmet style.
Killer Quote: “(Lecter) is standing at rest - like a savage animal confident of the brutality coiled up inside him. His speaking voice has the precision of a man so arrogant he can barely be bothered to address the sloppy intelligence of the ordinary person.”
Random Pop Reference: Lecter has been parodied on “
Honors: “Silence of the Lambs” won the Oscar for best movie in 1991.
Want to Play a Game?
First Appearance: Saw (2004)
No. of Film Appearances: 5
Created By: James Wan and Leigh Whannell
Actor: Tobin Bell
Description: A balding middle aged man with a hang-dog, expressionless face. He is paunchy and average sized, but very cunning, patient, and willing to do what it takes to succeed.
Backstory: Jigsaw is Jonathan Kramer, a civil engineer who is dying from an inoperable frontal lobe tumor as a result of colon cancer. He is divorced from his wife, a drug counselor, after their unborn child dies in an attack by one of his wife’s patients. The event makes Jigsaw angry and detached. Once he learns of his cancer, Jigsaw devises intricate traps and places flawed people into them in order for them to see the error of their ways. Those who survive, Jigsaw believes, will be better people. Oddly, Jigsaw doesn’t see himself as a murderer, but someone who helps people. He wants his surviving victims to appreciate their lives.
Method of Murder: Jigsaw sets up deadly traps to see how far his victims will go in saving their own lives. If they die he cuts a jigsaw puzzle shaped section of their flesh – as a symbol that they where missing a part of themselves needed to survive the traps.
Killer Quote: "He's not Jason or Freddy. He's not even Hannibal Lecter. He's a person with extreme beliefs and he really thinks he's making a difference. He's a vigilante if anything. He thinks he's making a difference."
Random Pop Reference: Jigsaw action figures are now available.
Honors: The Saw movie series has earned more than $555 million worldwide.
The Boy Next Door
First Appearance: American Pyscho (2000)
No. of Film Appearances: 3
Created By: Bret
Actors: Christian Bale, Dechen Thurman, and Michael Krembo
Description: A sophisticated, well-educated young investment banker. He’s handsome, but intense and very competitive. He’s fond of wearing expensive designer clothing – especially suits. He is arrogant and seems full of self loathing.
Backstory: Bateman is the oldest son of wealthy
Method of Murder: Various – but he likes to torture or have sexual liaisons with his victims before killing them.
Killer Quote: "I like to dissect girls; do you know I'm utterly insane?"
Random Pop Reference: In the Showtime serial killer series “Dexter,” the main character uses Patrick Bateman as an alias.
Honors: “American Psycho” has become a cult hit.
This Doll is Your Worst Nightmare
First Appearance: Child’s Play (1988)
No. of Film Appearances: 5
Created By: Don Mancini, John Lafia, and Tom Holland
Actor: Voiced by Brad Dourif
Description: A two-foot tall plastic “Good Guy” doll. The doll has red hair and big, blue eyes and wears cute overalls.
Backstory: A serial killer called the Lakeshore Strangler is shot by police. The mortally wounded killer, Charles Lee Ray, breaks into a toy store and falls on top of pile of “Good Guy” dolls. Just before he dies, he chants a voodoo spell to place his soul into one of the dolls. The toy store burns to the ground, but the doll lives.
Method of Murder: Chucky kills with various methods, but generally like to use hammers, knives, and hatchets to do away with his victims.
Killer Quote: “This is certainly not "Pinocchio" or "Babes in Toyland," and it may not do much for the sale of large boy dolls between now and Christmas.”
Random Pop Reference: Chucky was parodied on “Robot Chicken,” and voiced by Mark Hamill.
Honors: The Child Play series has gross more than $175 million worldwide.