Ask anybody who their favourite horror author is. Which name will most likely be the answer? Stephen King of course, and with good reason. For decades, Stephen King has haunted the dreams and nightmares of teenagers and adults alike, with him becoming one of the most established and famous writers of the genre, with his exceptional works reaching the 54 novel point, which is an achievement for anyone to be amazed at. Reading his works, it’s pretty apparent that he likes to include villains into his novels and here are 10 of the best.
You knew this villain was coming. Pennywise, the dancing clown. Our balloon wielding friend. Everyone loves him, right? It’s pretty difficult to find anyone, even somebody who dislikes horror, who cannot recognise either Tim Curry or Bill Skarsgård portraying the psychotic entity who manifests itself mainly as Pennywise the dancing clown, luring children down to the sewers where they can float for eternity. Pennywise is perhaps the most iconic Stephen King character of all time and will remain a permanent asset to horror history, especially after Andy Muschietti’s mammothly successful 2017 release of IT: Chapter 1 becoming the highest grossing R-rated film in its opening weekend, with thousands of reports of people watching the film 5 times in the space of the opening weekend alone. What’s not to love about a villain who shapeshifts as it pleases, most iconically as a killer clown with a devilish laugh?
The Overlook Hotel (The Shining)
This one may confuse a few fans of King for a moment. Why isn’t the main villain of The Shining actually Jack Torrance? That’s quite easy to answer. Jack was gradually taken over by the hotel and driven to madness. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy after all. The whole hotel, especially Room 237, is enough to give anybody the creeps. The Overlook Hotel has become so renowned amongst other things in popular culture that it’s typical to say in a hotel anywhere, “This place is just like The Shining”. Who can forget the famous, “HEEEERE’S JOHNNY!” quote famously roared by Jack Nicholson? The Overlook Hotel is one of the creepiest buildings to never exist and let’s just hope that it never does.
Dogs are a man’s (or woman’s for that matter) best friend. Right? Not Cujo. Cujo is just a sweet and innocent St Bernard who is loved by all, but he is one day changed forever when he is bitten by a bat. His behaviour soon changes and he gradually becomes a drooling maniac of a dog and terrorises his owners and those around him. What could be more terrifying than a bloodthirsty dog rampantly charging after you? Everyone loves dogs. That is, except for Cujo. Bad doggy.
Ms White (Carrie)
You hear all of the rumours and legends about religious nutjobs acting like lunatics, screaming their beliefs at all who will or won’t listen, but you never meet them. That is, until you come across Ms White, mother of an isolated and shy teen girl, Carrie, who has telekinetic powers. Ms White is a sadistic Christian who subjects her poor estranged daughter to a variety of bizarre punishments as a result of her belief in God, which all push Carrie to the edge. A mother shouldn’t beat her child or make their lives a misery, but Ms White does. Carrie’s revenge comes as a pleasant surprise to those reading the book, but the extent to which Ms White tortures Carrie lingers in the mind of the reader or viewer for a long time.
Annie Wilkes (Misery)
It’s not hard to imagine that writers will have the odd fanatical fan here and there who will even go to the lengths of stalking to meet their heroes, but none go as far as the sweet lonely lady Annie Wilkes. Blake Shelton is the author of the Misery books, a victorian romance series, who is involved in a serious car accident, to which he is saved from by Annie Wilkes. Annie Wilkes takes Shelton to her house, but upon finding out the fate of her beloved Misery character, forces Shelton to modify her fate at whatever costs possible. If you’d like to seriously cringe at injury detail, Misery is the novel for you, but Annie Wilkes is certainly not the woman for you.
Percy Wetmore (The Green Mile)
“Percy Wetmore isn’t from a horror film!” I hear you crying (I think). Yes, he is. Being on death row is no fairy story, which guard Paul Edgecomb and prisoner John Coffey know all too well. John Coffey is an innocent man sent to death row for the rape and murders of 2 young girls who makes a real change to the lives of the guards of the Green MIle. Not all guards are nice. That would be too much to ask of a prison, wouldn’t it? Percy Wetmore sure isn’t the kind of guard you want to have working on death row. He’s a bully, a coward, an idiot and worst of all, he has his heart set on making the final hours of the inmates a misery. From stomping on a mouse, to breaking an inmate’s fingers to tormenting a man before his execution, Percy Wetmore is not only the worst guard in history, but one of the most psychotic and overlooked villains in Stephen King’s novels.
Warden Samuel Norton (Rita Hayworth And The Shawshank Redemption)
Did you know that Stephen King wrote Rita Hayworth And The Shawshank Redemption as a short story and that the film that went on to become ranked as the best film of all time was adapted from that? Probably not, as most people do not realise this. If you’ve read it, you’ll know how excellent a story it is. Over the period of several prison wardens, Andy Dufresne and Red are becoming used to change, but one warden changes how Shawshank prison is ran, certainly for the worse. What kind of a warden torments prisoners, sends them to solitary confinement for months and has prisoners shot? Warden Samuel Norton does. Like Red says, prison is no fairytale.
He Who Walks Behind The Rows (Children Of The Corn)
Another short story of King’s, Children Of The Corn is one of the stories that puts you off of walking through a field of crops and makes you nervous around the idea of venturing through the rural states of America. As long as you’re not an adult, maybe you’d like to venture to the tight-knit community of Gatlin, a small town in Nebraska. He Who Walks Behind The Rows is one of the more sadistic villains to feature on this list and one of the most powerful. Who wouldn’t fear an omniscient deity with the power to bring the lives of those under the age of 18 to a standstill? After reading or watching Children Of The Corn (which have entirely different conclusions), you will certainly feel a sweat coming on if you live in or near Nebraska. If you happen to be travelling there, make sure to not venture to Gatlin. You may not return.
Gage Creed (Pet Sematary)
Gage is just a little kid, right? A sweet and innocent child incapable of anything other than playing like any other child does, right? Wrong. Gage Creed is one child you don’t want to mess with, especially considering his goal to kill everyone he knows and his taste for killing family members. Pet Sematary is an ancient Indian burial ground which has been haunted by the Wendigo, which brings the dead back to life in a zombie-like state. Little Gage is a normal kid until he’s ran over and subsequently ran over by a hapless truck, but is returned to life by Pet Sematary, which begins a series of changes in his behaviour. Cute turns to killer and innocent turns to intent on killing.
Randall Flagg (The Stand)
Randall Flagg is perhaps the most powerful of all Stephen King villains. Appearing in 7 of his novels, he also holds the record for the most appearances in his novels. As a sorcerer of dark magic, it’s pretty clear that Flagg isn’t someone to mess with, especially as he sets his goals on the destruction of civilisations and wreaking havoc. His first appearance in The Stand marks the beginning of a King era of terror, with Flagg causing havoc in a town after a plague wipes out the majority of the population. Whether or not you want the apocalypse to happen, Flagg is the last person you want to be leading you. Who’d not be scared of a 1,500 year old maniac?
Walter Padick/The Man In Black (The Dark Tower)
“Who’s Walter Padick?”, I hear you asking. Padick is none other than Randall Flagg, but in The Dark Tower, Padick haunts the entire series under many different personas, providing us with a refreshing recurring villain and a truly terrifying magician bent on causing trouble. Unfortunately for the sorcerer, Padick can be beaten quite easily, as is seen when the young spider boy in The Dark Tower novel itself takes it upon himself to have Padick tear body parts out, just before he is brutally slain. All’s well that ends well, right?
André Linoge (Storm Of The Century)
“Born in lust, turn to dust. Born in sin, COME ON IN.”
Nobody wants to get caught up in a blizzard. Absolutely nobody wants to get caught up in a blizzard in a town which hosts a 4000-year-old wizard bent on terrorising the inhabitants of the town. Leaving a trail of carnage, Linoge killed people and drove other to suicide after finding out some of the townspeople’s darkest secrets, all whilst holding his own secret to his mortality, proving how truly evil he is. Uncontrollable and unpredictable, Linoge represents the more magical of King’s villains.
Stephen King himself
You may scratch your head here, but it’s true. Who’s the biggest villain in Stephen King books and films? Stephen King. He’s the man who has penned the most horrific villains known to humanity. Millions of children have been scared sleepless by his works. Admit it, you watched the original IT miniseries in the ‘90s and terrified yourself with Tim Curry’s classic representation of Pennywise or stayed up past your bedtime to watch The Shining whilst your parents were asleep as a child, right? This is the case for millions of children (now adults in most cases) and he has been the source of entertainment and terror for generations and will be the cause for generations more to have sleepless lights. When he’s not scaring you witless, King’s busy writing stories that will break your heart (here’s looking at you, The Green Mile and Cujo) and never has another writer done this so much. Here’s to Stephen King, one of the finest writers around, but the biggest villain in horror history.
The world of horror would not be the same without Stephen King. Ask any horror buff to name their top 10 horror films or books of all time. It’s almost guaranteed that at least one Stephen King title will make the list, which is understandable. If you have not read some of his books or watched his films, it’s more than highly recommended for you to experience his pure genius. You won’t be disappointed. What or who is your favourite Stephen King villain?