What makes a horror movie villain scary is subjective. What some people consider frightening can be completely goofy for someone else. Of course, sometimes the silliness is intentional. Horror and comedy go great together in a lot of people’s eyes, and some really ridiculous villains have been born from that. And then you have horror movies that tried hard, but the scariness of their villains couldn’t stand up to questionable filmmaking decisions and budgetary restraints.
Collected here are 21 of the absolute goofiest villains from horror movies, whether the laughs were intentional or not.
21. Alien Clowns
Clowns can be scary, but when those clowns are really aliens who attack people with popcorn guns, cotton candy cocoons, corrosive pies, and shadow puppets, it becomes clear that you’re in store for some goofy fun. Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988) is a sci-fi horror comedy about a bunch of aliens (who happen to look like grotesque clowns) who invade a small town. The “klowns” want to turn humans into gooey food, and their silly antics along with their disturbingly inhuman appearances have put the Killer Klowns in a place of cult prestige for horror fans.
20. A Snowman
Throughout much of the 1990s, low-budget slasher movies were continually looking for gimmicks to grab an audience’s attention for a quick buck in video stores. Holidays are time-tested gimmicks for slasher movies, and Christmas-themed horror films are some of the most popular. But with elves already taken (in Elves from 1989) and Santa Clause killers done to death, what does that leave? Snowmen, obviously!
Jack Frost (1997) is a horror comedy about a serial killed named, of course, Jack Frost. Jack is being transported for execution when his escape attempt crashes his transport vehicle into a genetic research vehicle. Jack is covered in genetic fluids, causing his body to melt into the surrounding snow. Now Jack is made up entirely of sentient snow. As silly as the premise is, Jack is at his goofiest in a scene where he forms himself in a bathtub to surprise a helpless young woman (Shannon Elizabeth in her film debut) who is just trying to take a bath.
19. Killer Rabbits
When brainstorming to come up with ideas for the scariest animals for a nature-run-amok film, rabbits probably aren’t very high on many people’s lists. Dogs? Sure. Rats? Maybe. But rabbits? One of the most docile and timid creatures in existence? It would take a lot of work to make a rabbit scary. Unfortunately, Night of The Lepus (1972) missed the mark by a lot.
Had the film been treated like a parody of the killer-animal subgenre, then it might have worked. However, Night of the Lepus treats its hormonally altered giant rabbits seriously, but the special effects can’t sell what they’re hoping the audience will buy. Scenes of stampeding rabbits consist of cute bunnies hopping around miniature sets in slow motion (to try to make them look lumbering), and attacks on people often feature glimpses of people in rabbit suits spliced among closeups of bright red blood.
18. A Laser-Eyed Llama
As shown in the film’s opening animation, Llamageddon (2018) is about an alien that comes to Earth from its home planet in a spaceship designed to look like a livestock trailer. The creature looks exactly like a llama, but instead of being a loveable, docile animal, it is intent on murder and destruction. It also wants to impregnate humans so they give birth to fuzzy llama eggs, but exploding people with its laser eyes seems to be of the highest priority. Llamageddon is incredibly low-budget and intentionally dumb, and it has buckets of blood (and other fluids) to go along with its laughable practical and digital effects.
17. The Giant Claw
Of the many sci-fi monster movies of the 1950s, The Giant Claw (1957) is one of the most notorious for its goofy monster. The movie itself is fine if somewhat derivative, but the giant bird everyone is supposed to be afraid of looks like an unfortunately malformed Looney Tunes character. The filmmakers originally wanted to have stop motion animation for their monster, but with a limited budget, all they could afford was a bargain-basement puppet. It did not work out well. Star Jeff Morrow once spoke about being embarrassed by the laughter coming from audiences when they should have been gasping in fear.
16. A Tree Stump
In the campy monster movie From Hell it Came (1957), the prince of a South Seas island is wrongfully executed for the murder of his own father. The prince then returns from the grave to get revenge on those responsible. They only thing is, the prince comes back as a living tree stump. Now, living trees can be scary, just look at The Wizard of Oz (1939) and The Evil Dead (1981). The prince, however, is one of those stiff, lumbering monsters that can be avoided with a light jog.
The movie itself seems to lack faith in its own monster, with one of the characters actually saying the line, “this tree monster is utterly unbelievable.” The filmmakers and cast can’t even agree on the monster’s name, with it being referred to as “Baranga” in the trailer, “Taranga” in an official pressbook, and what sounds like Taponga or Tabanga in the movie (an no, not Topanga, that’s Danielle Fishel in Boy Meets World). Whatever it’s called, it’s one of the least intimidating monsters of the 1950s.
Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (1978) is a spoof film featuring, as you might have guessed, tomatoes that kill people. At its core, the film is a parody of monster movies, and it contains many satirical elements relevant to the late 1970s. Many years later, the film is remembered for its tomatoes that grow huge, make gibberish sounds, and murder people in inexplicable ways. Tomatoes are rolled, tossed, and thrown, often in reverse motion to make it look like they’re moving on their own. Attack of the Killer Tomatoes is not known for its quality, but its intentional campiness and goofiness has won it admirers over the years.
When a “misunderstood genius” (aka “mad scientist”) accidentally spills his latest chemical formula into the fryer at a donut shop, he unwittingly creates dozens of murderous, sentient donuts. Following in in a long yet relatively sparse tradition of killer-food-horror-comedies, the villainous donuts in Attack of The Killer Donuts (2017) have sharp teeth and a taste for blood. Attacks consist of lots of computer-generated pastries as well as real donuts just being tossed at people from off screen.
13. A Refrigerator
In The Refrigerator (1991), a couple from Ohio moves to a rundown apartment in New York City. The place comes with a few appliances including an old refrigerator, but they probably should have gone with something new. The fridge causes the couple to have disturbing dreams including tiny people inside the refrigerator and a floating fetus. Worse, the fridge has a habit of eating people. The mechanics of exactly how the refrigerator eats people are hidden off-screen, and it’s unclear exactly why people don’t just take a few steps back. The refrigerator is joined by other sentient appliances in a bonkers finale that has a good amount of cheesy gore.
12. A Bed
In a secluded house out in the countryside sits a luxurious bed, a bed that hungers. Fueled by a demonic force, the bed devours unsuspecting victims by absorbing them into its bedding and dissolving them in a kind of acid. The whole process is accompanied by an unnerving crunching sound. Also, there’s a spirit of an artist who escaped the bed’s hunger, but he is trapped in a wall and can only watch as people are eaten.
Death Bed: The Bed That Eats (1977) often feels serious in tone, but it’s debatable how serious the movie is supposed to be. Taken as a surrealist film, Death Bed can be somewhat effective. Mostly though, it just seems goofy, especially given that the movie is split up into chapters titled “Breakfast,” “Lunch,” “Dinner,” and “The Just Dessert.”
11. A Car Tire
Rubber (2011) might be a brilliant high-concept horror movie making a statement about how things often happen for no reason in life and in cinema. Rubber might also be an even higher-concept film about certain films (and the people who watch them) trying pretentiously hard to be “smart” when stuff just happens for no real reason. What Rubber absolutely is though, is a movie about a sentient tire that rolls around the desert and explodes people’s heads with telekinesis. The tire (whose name is Robert) is a goofy character for sure. That’s kind of the point though. It’s difficult to explain in such a short space, so Rubber is definitely worth a watch to make a judgment for yourself.
10. A Pile of Poop
Monsturd (2003) is a Z-grade horror comedy with a sentient pile of poop as the main villain. An escaped convict is cornered in a water treatment facility and ends up getting his flesh dissolved in sewage contaminated with experimental chemicals. He then comes back as a giant fecal monster. Lots of poop puns ensue. Monsturd is about as good as you are probably expecting. Sorry for this one.
9. A Gingerbread Man
Gingerbread men are usually portrayed as fast and family-friendly little scamps, but when Gary Busey is playing a gingerbread man, you know things are going to get weird. The Gingerdead Man (2005) features a sentient gingerbread man inhabited by the spirit of an executed killer. The movie is quite low budget, so the puppet for the gingerbread man is barely mobile. It mostly just stands around and talks, and it’s not always clear how it’s attacking people.
How does it pull the trigger on a gun with its mitten-shaped hands, and how does it fire about twenty shots out of a revolver? How does it wield a knife to slice people up? None of that really matters when you hear Gary Busey’s voice spout one-liners out of the gingerbread man’s squishy puppet face though. At that point it’s all in good, campy fun.
Killer doll movies have been around for ages. Some are treated seriously, but others are anything but serious. The Child’s Play/Chucky series has the rather unique distinction of having both serious and silly movies in its canon, sometimes switching tones from scene to scene within the same film. In the first film, Child’s Play (1988), Chucky provides some genuine scares, but by the time the franchise got to its fifth entry, Seed of Chucky (2004), the series had really ramped up the camp and gore. Chucky’s wisecracks alone make him one of horror’s goofiest villains (although he’s still one of the best).
7. Mini Ashes
Army of Darkness (1992) is a horror comedy with an emphasis on comedy, and among the “heroic” Ash’s (Bruce Campbell) many adversaries are tiny, evil versions of himself. Ash previously had trouble with an evil doppelganger coming out of a mirror during Evil Dead II (1987), but when a mirror is shattered in Army of Darkness, each broken shard lets a tiny version of Ash come through. In a scene best described as Gulliver’s Travels meets The Three Stooges, regular-sized Ash is tripped, smacked, stabbed, and burned by his giggling and dancing miniatures.
Munchies, from the the movie Munchies (1987), are tiny, possibly alien creatures that love to have fun. Their fun includes eating, smoking, leering at women, and engaging in lots of violence. If they sound a lot like Gremlins, that’s because they are a lot like Gremlins. There are some differences though. Munchies reproduce by getting cut to pieces, with each tiny body part forming a whole new Munchie (clothes and all). Munchies can also talk like humans, and they do so incessantly and with various accents. Munchies are like the distant, knock-off-brand cousins of Gremlins.
5. An Ice Cream Man
For many people, hearing the familiar tinkling tune of an ice cream truck is incredibly comfortable and nostalgic. But what if the ice cream man was a serial killer who made ice cream with human and animal body parts? That is the question answered by Ice Cream Man (1995), a comedic slasher movie starring Clint Howard as the ice cream man in question. The ice cream man, Gregory, is creepy and weird, and his murders capture the inherent goofiness of the character. It’s super good/bad.
4. A Detached Conjoined Twin in a Basket
The evil conjoined twin is an archetypal villain in horror movies, and they can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. In Basket Case (1982), the evil twin, whose name is Belial, looks like a lumpy mound of rubber poured into a basket. Belial is brought to a semblance of life through puppetry, reverse motion, stop motion, and screaming. Lots of screaming. Much of the screaming comes from Belial himself just because he’s in so much misery and pain, but a fair amount of screaming also comes from his victims in Belial’s many bloody murders. Though Belial as an on-screen presence can be quite goofy, there’s a surprising amount of seriousness in his character. Still, it’s hard not to crack a smile when you see a victim hold a mound of foam rubber to their face with its seams clearly visible.
3. CD Cenobite
The Hellraiser series went a bit off the rails fairly early in the franchise. By the third film, Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (1992), filmmakers were really reaching for good ideas for new Cenobites. This is evidenced by the existence of probably the goofiest Cenobite in the series, a guy with compact discs shoved into his head. He also has a CD changer in his torso that dispenses discs that he can throw, and every movement his upper body makes sounds like a robot for some reason. To be fair, a guy with pins in his head sounds pretty goofy too, but Doug Bradley sells Pinhead extremely well because he’s a great actor. The CD Cenobite can’t emote because of straps covering most of his face, and his mouth is pulled back in a permanently neutral grimace.
2. Creedence Leonore Gielgud
While you can take your pick of goofy villains in Troll 2 (1990), the Stonehenge-powered goblin queen, Creedence Leonore Gielgud, is probably the goofiest of them all. In an over-the-top performance for the ages, Creedence’s main goal is to turn people into gooey plant matter with magical food so the goblins of the town of Nilbog can eat them. Creedence also seduces a young man with corn. Oh, and her weakness is bologna.
1. Lubdan the Leprechaun
In 1993, Warwick Davis (Willow, Return of the Jedi) brought to life one of the most gloriously goofy slasher villains of all time, a leprechaun named Lubdan. Davis appeared as the magical maniac six times in The Leprechaun franchise during its first ten years with plenty of singsong rhymes (along with some rapping) and kills involving everything from pogo sticks to bongs to a sex robot.
The Leprechaun is very protective of his treasures, and he will stop at nothing to get back what is inevitably stolen from him. This has led the Leprechaun from a small house in the countryside to Las Vegas, outer space, and to the hood (twice). Warwick Davis’s Leprechaun is like a cartoon character come to life, gleefully dancing and giggling with each ridiculous murder he perpetrates.