What’s a horror movie villain without a gnarly weapon? Why, nothing but a chump in a rubber mask with a desperate need for therapy. Lunatics of the silver screen are only as scary as the killer tools they wield – and we’re talking good ol’ rusty, crusty blades that cause a spatter. Here are twelve uniquely armed psychos who use their iconic instruments to bathe our nightmares in copious amounts of blood.
Jack Torrance and his Axe
Those eyes. That hair. There’s nothing dull about Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of a writer with a horrific case of cabin fever – especially the ax he drags through the Overlook Hotel. The deadly blade is plunged into the chest of Hallorann, the hotel’s clairvoyant chef. But it’s really put to the test on the wooden hotel door standing between Nicholson and his “little pigs” in Stanley Kubrick’s puzzle of a film. Heere’s Johnny.
Michael Myers and his Bowie knife
Let’s be honest. Big Mikey doesn’t really need assistance when it comes to murder. The super-killer is stronger, taller, and just. doesn’t. die. But when snapping babysitters’ necks barehanded grows tiresome, the madman in a white mask reaches for his trusty blade to finish the job.
Leatherface and his chain saw
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
Give it up for the mutilated maniac, whose disfigured face hides behind a mask made of human skin and whose moves with a chain saw rival anything Patrick Swayze pulled off in Dirty Dancing. Then give it up to director Tobe Hooper for the weirdly beautiful final scene: Leatherface – in a suit – whirling with his motorized beauty as his prey gets away and the sun goes down.
Margaret White and her kitchen knife
Another disturbing creation dreamed up by horror maestro Stephen King, Mama White is a religious zealot who views entering womanhood as a one-way ticket to hell. One could actually make the case that she uses biblical diatribe as her weapon of choice, but it’s the climactic stigmata scene when Mama’s attacks Carrie with a kitchen knife that sticks with us the most. Keep things holy, Mama.
Marie Nolastname and her circular saw
Switchblade Romance. That’s the title the Brits gave to director Alexandre Aja’s French adrenaline rush about a college girl with really bad timing: She just happens to visit her friend’s family home the same weekend they’re all gutted like fish. That said, there’s surprisingly little switchblade usage in the film. Our horror icon, Marie, prefers something a little less dainty – like a buzzing circular saw.
Ghostface and his Buck 120
Wes Craven washed the nineties in teenage blood when he premiered the first of, well, way too many whodunits. Scream – which features a masked killer who stumps hot girls with pop culture trivia, then slaughters them with a hunting knife – remains a teen-scream staple and has set up permanent real estate on best-of lists of genre fiends and critics alike.
Candyman and his hook
Years before that goofy slickered fisherman craze (we still know what you did Jennifer Love Hewitt), audiences were tortured by something way more serious: an urban legend about a hook-handed slasher in a fur coat who lives in the mirror and emerges when summoned by pretty young things. Go ahead, laugh – but we’re not calling out his name any time soon.
Pinhead and his hooks and chains
Avid acupuncture enthusiast and leader of the extra-dimensional Cenobites who harvest human souls (just go with it), Pinhead prefers to rip his victims to shreds with a bunch of hooks and chains. The jangling manacles are summoned with … his mind. Sounds bizarre, sure, but the puppet master and his gory glory really does have some charm.
Jason Voorhees and his machete
Friday the 13th
You know the drill: deformed face + troubled childhood = the formula for an unstoppable horror franchise. Jason Voorhees is one massive dude in a hockey mask who loves to slice through ripe teenagers with a rusty machete. Though we should really blame his slasher ways on the bad parenting of his mom, Pammy Dearest.
Annie Wilkes and her sledgehammer
Guns, drugs, knives, ugly sweaters – this woman’s arsenal is massive enough to keep a man sidelined for life. But the one that really sticks a wrinkle in our brain is the metal mallet she uses to hobble her literary prisoner. Just think if director Rob Reiner stuck to Stephen King’s actual vision: hobbling by way of axe. Yikes.
Harry Warden and his pickax
My Bloody Valentine
What’s more romantic than celebrating Valentine’s Day with a guy decked out in coveralls and an oxygen hose, wielding a pickax? How about someone’s bloody heart neatly wrapped in a candy box? So goes the love story that does not end happily ever after in this 1981 Canadian horror fest.
Freddy Krueger and his handy blades
A Nightmare on Elm Street
There’s nothing scarier than the thought of a child killer with a blistered face, tattered duds, and a glove decked out in blades coming to get you in your sleep and tear off your flesh. Sheesh. And there’s a creepy lullaby, too? One, two, Freddy’s coming for you. Three, four – we don’t want to play anymore.
Photos: Compass International Pictures (Halloween); Warner Bros. (The Shining); Paramount Pictures (Friday the 13th); Vortex Productions (The Texas Chain Saw Massacre); Dimension Films (Scream); New World Pictures (Hellraiser); Castle Rock Entertainment (Misery); New Line Cinema (A Nightmare on Elm Street)