Our Top 10 Retro Horror Icons to Celebrate this Halloween

Adam Fay,

It’s Halloween time! It’s an excuse for many of us to stay up late watching the scariest movies we can find. This Halloween we are celebrating by going back in time and revisiting some of our favourite retro horror icons.

These are the horror movie characters that scared and thrilled millions growing up and who continue to live in the dark reaches of our psyche to this day.

So this Halloween, why not spend the evening with some of these legends of horror and discover why they have become icons of the genre.

10. Candyman

Movies:

Candyman (1992) | Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh (1995) | Candyman 3: Day of the Dead | Candyman (Remake)(2021)

Who Is He?

As the urban legend goes, look in a mirror, say his name 5 times and Candyman appears to slay all those who doubt his existence. This hook-handed slasher was the star of the first Candyman movie in 1992. The film came and went in cinemas without much fanfare, but has grown over time to become a genuine cult classic. This week sees a new Candyman film released, written by horror maestro Jordan Peele (Get Out, Us).

We Recommend:

Check out the original Candyman for some genuinely creepy vibes, and there is solid buzz about the much-delayed reboot due later this month.

9. Pennywise

Movies:

Stephen King’s It (1990) | It (2017) | It Chapter 2 (2019)

Who Is He?

Informally known as It and originating from Stephen King’s 1986 novel, this ancient cosmic evil is actually a shapeshifter who most often takes the form of Pennywise the Dancing Clown. Anyone with even the most remote scary clown phobia will know that Pennywise pushes all the wrong buttons. While Bill Skarsgard played Pennywise in the recent movie adaptations, many of us still get chills thinking back to Tim Curry’s portrayal in the original 1990 miniseries.

We Recommend:

While the 2017 It remake was a great update, give the 1990 miniseries, Stephen King’s IT a go for some scary retro fun.

8. Hannibal Lecter

Movies:

Manhunter (1986) | The Silence of the Lambs (1991) | Hannibal (2001 | Red Dragon (2002) | Hannibal Rising (2007)

TV:

Hannibal (2013 – 2015)

Who Is He?

Once a highly respected forensic psychiatrist, Dr. Hannibal Lecter was hiding a rather dark and disturbing secret. He had a hankering for murdering and…gulp…eating his victims. Appearing in five films and a television series, he will always be most famously portrayed by Anthony Hopkins, who won an Academy Award for the role in The Silence of the Lambs.

We Recommend:

It would be easy to recommend the original movie and while The Silence of the Lambs is still a brilliantly creepy experience, we prefer to seek out the lesser-known first appearance of Hannibal in the 1986 Michael Mann film, Manhunter. A real gem worth finding.

7. Jason Voorhees

Movies:

Friday the 13th (1980) | Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981) | Friday the 13th Part III (1982) | Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984) | Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985) | Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986) | Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988) | Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989) | Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993) | Jason X (2002) | Freddy vs. Jason (2003) | Friday the 13th (Reboot) (2009)

Who Is He?

Featured in no less than 12 films, Jason Voorhees is one of the most recognisable horror characters and a staple of any halloween dress-up. Instantly distinguishable by his hockey mask and machete, Jason has been shot, hacked, slashed, strangled and torched…but you can’t keep a bad man down.

We Recommend:

Not known for their cinematic quality, it’s difficult to recommend a particular Jason Voorhees film without insisting they are all best viewed with a group of friends up for a scare and a laugh. We’d go with Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (the 4th in the series) as the best of all.

6. Leatherface

Movies:

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) | The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986) | Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990) | Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1994) | The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) | The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006) | Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013) | Leatherface (2017)

Who Is He?

Simply put, Leatherface is a psychopath living with his fellow psychopathic family in a Texas ranch. He’s partial to wielding a chainsaw or two and likes to wear human skin as a mask. Not a great dating profile, but a decent checklist for one of the most terrifying horror movie characters of all time.

We Recommend:

It’s impossible to go past the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre (available on Amazon Prime Video). A game changer when it was released in 1974 and still holds up as a genuine, gut-wrenching shocker to this day.

5. Chucky

Movies:

Child’s Play (1988) | Child’s Play 2 (1990) | Child’s Play 3 (1991) | Bride of Chucky (1998) | Seed of Chucky (2004) | Curse of Chucky (2013) | Cult of Chucky (2017) | Child’s Play (Reboot) (2019)

TV:

Chucky (2021)

Who Is He?

When a crazed serial killer hides out in a toy story after getting chased by a detective, he decides to do the most logical thing and perform a voodoo ritual to transfer his body into a “Good Guy Doll”. Fairly standard behaviour. Thus, Chucky the crazed doll who murders and causes havoc is born. 8 movies later and Chucky has become a beloved horror movie character due to his diminutive stature and dark sense of humour.

We Recommend:

Why not dive in and check out the 2017 Cult of Chucky? This is a surprisingly solid little thriller and gives a good summary of what Chucky is about. We’d also suggest checking out the soon to be released Chucky TV Series coming this month.

4. Pinhead

Movies:

Hellraiser (1987) | Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988) | Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (1992) | Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996) | Hellraiser: Inferno (2000)  | Hellraiser: Hellseeker (2002) | Hellraiser: Deader (2005) | Hellraiser: Hellworld (2005) | Hellraiser: Revelations (2011) | Hellraiser: Judgment (2018) 

Who Is He?

One of the more ingeniously created horror characters, Pinhead (creatively named because he has a head covered in…well, you know…pins!) leads a group of hellish, demonic misfits called Cenobites who are summoned to earth to provide eternal damnation to anyone unlucky enough to unlock a mysterious puzzle box.

We Recommend:

There may be a total of 10 Hellraiser films in existence, but we’d suggest that only the boldest of horror fans venture outside the first three in the series. Even then, the first Hellraiser is the only film we could hand-on-heart recommend as a truly great horror film.

3. Michael Myers

Movies:

Halloween (1978) | Halloween II (1981) | Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988) | Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989) | Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995) | Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998) | Halloween: Resurrection (2002) | Halloween (2007) | Halloween II (2009) | Halloween (2018) | Halloween Kills (2021)

Who Is He?

His backstory is pretty simple. When Micheal Myers was a young boy, he murdered his sister and was thus institutionalised for many years. After one day escaping, he returned to his home town to prey on other victims. We agree, not much character depth, but it’s this quiet, mysterious, expressionless nature that makes Micheal Myers the kind of strong, silent type you’d definitely want to avoid.

We Recommend:

No true horror movie aficionado will recommend anything outside of the original 1978 Halloween (Watch it on Stan), but the most recent 2018 version had a lot going for it and its sequel Halloween Kills is releasing this week.

2. Ash Williams

Movies:

The Evil Dead (1981) | Evil Dead 2 (1987) | Army of Darkness (1992) | Evil Dead (2013)

TV:

Ash Vs Evil Dead (2015-2018)

Who Is He?

What we love most about Ash is that he is just a regular guy. While on a getaway to a remote cabin in the woods with friends, he just happened to stumble across The Book of the Dead, which just happened to unleash pure demonic evil. Luckily, Ash just happens to know how to defeat this relentless evil. He’s the horror movie hero with a shotgun in one hand and a chainsaw where his other hand should be (we’d explain, but its a long story)

We Recommend:

There’s 3 seasons of classic moments from the Ash Vs Evil Dead TV Series, but for a true sense of this character, you simply cannot go past the comedy/horror masterpiece that is Evil Dead 2 (now streaming on Stan)

1. Freddy Krueger

Movies:

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) | A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985) | A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987) | A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988) | A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989) | Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991) | Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994) | Freddy vs. Jason (2003) | A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

TV:

Freddy’s Nightmares (1988 – 1990)

Who Is He?

There was a time in the late 1980s when Freddy was a legitimate cultural phenomenon. We’re talking t-shirts, trading cards and lunchboxes level. The first Nightmare on Elm Street film portrayed him as a dark, shadowy figure, but as the sequels kept coming, Freddy chewed up more screen time with more wisecracking one-liners. But what really set the character apart was his unique narrative. He was the guy who attacked you within your dreams. The only way to not face him, is to not fall asleep. Yikes.

We Recommend:

Firstly, we’d suggest you avoid the lacklustre 2010 Nightmare on Elm Street remake. If you are after scary Freddy, go for the very first Nightmare on Elm Street, for a lighter, more cheeky Freddy check out Parts 3 & 4 or Freddy vs Jason

What to read next?

  • Our 10 Favourite Tom Cruise Characters

    2021 incredibly, marked the 35th and 25th Anniversaries respectively of two of Tom Cruise’s most iconic movies – Top Gun and Mission: Impossible. In anticipation of the long-awaited release of Top Gun: Maverick in Australian cinemas – it’s official, you can watch it on May 26 – we present to you our 10 favourite Tom Cruise characters.

    by Andrew Buckle • posted on
  • Disney+ on Fetch: 10 Reasons We Are Celebrating.

    We can’t hide our excitement that Disney+ is finally available on Fetch! If you are yet to experience it for yourself and not sure whether to take the leap, or if you have subscribed but haven’t fully explored all it has to offer, check out our 10 reasons why we think Disney+ arriving on Fetch is cause for serious celebration.

    by Adam Fay • posted on
  • 6 TV Mums Who May Not Deserve Mother’s Day

    Would you bring breakfast in bed to these questionable television matriarchs? Join us as we look at some of their most dubious moments to determine if they are in fact, Mother’s Day worthy.

    by Adam Fay • posted on