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The Dreadful Ten: Top 10 Horror Icons of the New Millennium!

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If there’s any common complaint this writer sees from the horror community at large, it’s that they just don’t make ‘em as they used to. Indeed, from SFX to production value, the horror game has certainly changed since the new millennium began sixteen years ago. However, that doesn’t mean the horror genre hasn’t produced some iconic characters in the past decade-and-a-half, and so for this week’s Dreadful Ten, FANGORIA is ranking our top 10 Horror Icons of the new millennium!

Before we begin, I will note that to qualify for this list, characters from reboots, remakes and sequels from the new millennium are voided as they come from existing on-screen material. Likewise, this list aims for impact instead of legacy; just because a horror character has 5 sequels since 2000 doesn’t mean they pack the same punch as one that truly made it count in a single film. So without further ado…

 

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  1. Twisty the Clown, AMERICAN HORROR STORY  

With a carved-out scalp atop his head and a dirty, grinning mask above his disfigured face, Twisty the Clown effortlessly dethroned the Rubber Suit Man as AMERICAN HORROR STORY’s most recognizable ghoul. And with Twisty’s showing face at conventions around the country, there’s no doubt that this empathetic killer has already made his meteoric rise into the horror culture lexicon.

 

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  1. Chromeskull, LAID TO REST / LAID TO REST II

An old-school slasher that fright fans could get behind, CHROMESKULL quickly became an indie splatter horror favorite with enough gruesome evidence to show for it. And while the character has remained dormant for some time, there’s little arguing how much the character lit up horror message boards and forums back in the late ‘00s.

 

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  1. Leslie Vernon, BEHIND THE MASK: THE RISE OF LESLIE VERNON

Speaking of old-school slashers, few captivated audiences in the way that Leslie Vernon in BEHIND THE MASK, putting a personality behind the psycho killers we all grew up watching. And while Vernon sadly has yet to see screentime since, you’re almost guaranteed to find someone with his trademark get-up at your local horror convention.

 

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  1. Mary Mason, AMERICAN MARY

Certainly one of the most memorable up-and-coming horror icons, AMERICAN MARY has proven itself to have legitimate staying power, and the macabre underground surgeon at the heart of it has only grown in popularity. And considering Katharine Isabelle has credits such as GINGER SNAPS and HANNIBAL among her prolific genre career, the fact that Mary Mason remains in conversations to this day is quite telling.

 

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  1. Victor Crowley, The HATCHET Trilogy

Likely the closest thing to a flat-out Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers in the new millennium, Victor Crowley had a helluva introduction and has only evolved into an even bloodier horror icon through HATCHET II and III. In fact, of all the over-the-top slashers to come out of the gate since 2000, few can do so without compromising their fright factor as well as Crowley, and the sold-out repertory screenings around the country can attest to that as well.

 

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  1. John Kramer / Jigsaw, The SAW Franchise

While one might argue Billy the Puppet is the true star of the SAW franchise, Tobin Bell’s overnight leap from character actor to horror icon is no mistake. Hell, there are barely any contemporary characters outside of the genre that are as recognizable, especially given the character’s penchant for maniacal catchphrases and the various lines of merchandise adorning Bell’s visceral villain.

 

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  1. Shaun & Ed, SHAUN OF THE DEAD

Our first legitimate heroes of the list, there is nary a horror convention imaginable where you won’t find yourself a Shaun & Ed duo from SHAUN OF THE DEAD… and rightfully so. And for a genre that is so preoccupied with its villains that it will often underserve the protagonist, Shaun & Ed earn their greatness through genuine chemistry and brilliant direction.

 

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  1. Patrick Bateman, AMERICAN PSYCHO

From sketch comedy to parodies to flat-out ripoffs, Patrick Bateman is one of the most quotable characters in the horror genre since the dawn of the new millennium. Even with as many years behind the character as it has been, Patrick Bateman’s staying power is impressive as hell, and this writer wouldn’t be surprised if it stays that way for ages to come.

 

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  1. Daryl Dixon, THE WALKING DEAD

Love it or hate it, THE WALKING DEAD has changed the horror genre in a big, bold way, and there’s no character who has stood out in terms of iconography more than Daryl Dixon. Badass, heartthrob and expert zombie slayer, Daryl Dixon has graced the cover of FANGORIA for the show’s fifth season, which should attest to the undeniable popularity of this horror hero.

 

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  1. The Firefly Clan, HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES / THE DEVIL’S REJECTS

Although Rob Zombie has proven himself to be a divisive figure in the horror genre, there’s no arguing that Captain Spaulding, Otis Driftwood and Baby Firefly have secured their place in horror history. Quotable, terrifying and with a bizarre mainstream appeal, there’s nary a single piece of horror merchandise that hasn’t adorned the Firefly Clan in one way or another, and even fewer horror aficionados who could protest their popularity either.

And now, here are some honorable mentions that didn’t quite make the cut…

 

Mick Taylor, WOLF CREEK / WOLF CREEK II

With an effortlessly intense performance from John Jarratt, Mick Taylor’s murderous bushman made for the horror antithesis to CROCODILE DUNDEE.

 

Lipstick-Faced Demon, INSIDIOUS

Although the character is likely neck-in-neck with the Bride in Black and INSIDIOUS protagonist Elise Rainier when it comes to popularity, horrorheads can find duplicates of this character in haunted attractions around the country.

 

Mr. Babadook, THE BABADOOK

A genuinely terrifying contemporary horror figure, Mr. Babadook only missed this list due to his sparing screen-time and ambiguous nature.

 

Stuntman Mike, GRINDHOUSE

A grand return for Kurt Russell in the horror genre, Quentin Tarantino’s killer racer flick drags when Stuntman Mike doesn’t grace the screen with his intimidating charm.

 

Esther, ORPHAN

One of the best child performances in horror history, Isabelle Fuhrman has afforded herself a mountain of goodwill with the genre crowd following her sinister turn in ORPHAN.

About the author
Ken W. Hanley

Ken W. Hanley is the Managing Web Editor for FANGORIA and STARLOG, as well as the former Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine and a contributing writer to YouWonCannes.com. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on screenplays, his debut novel “THE I IN EVIL”, and various other projects, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.

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