I've decided for Halloween, to count down the top 10 monsters and villains from classic horror and thriller films. Criteria: When I say "classic", I mean anything from the 1920's-1950's.
10. Gill-Man/The Creature from The Creature from the Black Lagoon: This amphibian/reptile humanoid mostly stays in the waters of the Amazon. The last character to be part of the classic Universal monsters, he is a mix of classic horror and the "Atomic Age" (the term used to describe horror movies of the 50's, which exploited audience's fears of nuclear disaster). He only appeared in 3 films, and is low on the list because he is not as influential as the other monsters on this list, and doesn't do that much in the films he's in.
9. Dr. Griffin/The Invisible Man from The Invisible Man: This mad scientist created a formula that accidentally permanently turned him transparent. He is completely insane and terrorizes a small village. He is lower on the list as he, again, isn't as influential as the other monsters on the list, despite being well-known. He also only appeared in one or two films, whereas other monsters had at least four or five films.
8. Mr. Edward Hyde from Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: Hyde is the alter-ego of kindly Dr. Henry Jekyll, who drinks a serum to unleash Hyde, who is the embodiment of Jekyll's inner demons. Hyde is an abusive rapist and murderer, he is the embodiment of everything evil and wrong in the world. Both versions of the character (the 1931 version and the 1941 version, portrayed by Fredric March and Spencer Tracy, respectively) in classic cinema are fantastic, and those performances are what put him higher than others on the list.
7. "The Freaks" from Freaks: The titular characters may be deformed and monstrous, but they actually serve as the antiheroes of this disturbing film from Tod Browning, director of Dracula. They dismember a beautiful, gold-digging acrobat and her lover for trying to screw over one of their own in the ending of this classic. The climax of this film is haunting, and although you feel bad for the villains, you also root for the freaks. The cast were actually rounded up from various sideshows, so none of the freaks are enhanced by makeup, these are actual deformed people, which would never be allowed in a mainstream film today.
6. Karras the Mummy from the Mummy sequels: This silent, lumbering, bandaged corpses limps his way through The Mummy sequels. He was portrayed by Lon Chaney Jr. in the Universal films, and Christopher Lee in the Hammer Studios reboot, and was kind of like a slasher villain: he's slow, silent, has a masked face, and kills all who stand in his way, usually through strangling them of all things. The films which feature this character may be hit-or-miss, but he's memorable, and his character type has becoming a staple of pop culture: the slow, lumbering mummy wrapped in bandages.
5. Kong from King Kong/Gojira aka Godzilla from the Godzilla series (tie): First, let's look at Kong: This humongous ape is another staple of pulp culture, and he has been featured in many films, including unofficial King Kong films made in Japan. He has climbed the Empire State Building, faced off against Godzilla, and fought a robot version of himself. He is also the star of one of the most influential and innovative films of all time: 1933's King Kong. Now, let's look at Godzilla: He's a giant, radioactive lizard who's been resurrected and rebooted many times, and faced off against countless monsters, including Mothra, King Kong, and King Ghidora. He has a son, and faced several clones of himself, including Space Godzilla and Mecha-Godzilla. He is one of the most influential characters in modern culture.
4. Imohtep from The Mummy: This undead Egyptian priest (portrayed by screen legend Boris Karloff) is the star and antihero of the original 1933 film. He just wants to resurrect his beautiful lover from ancient Egypt, but he will kill anyone in his way to do it, and he's basically a zombie, so he definitely has monstrous quality. Karloff's performance is fantastic, and it really holds the film together.
3. Lawrence Talbot aka The Wolfman from The Wolfman: This wealthy and kind man was bitten by a werewolf, so every full moon, he is forced to become a mindless killing machine, a "wolf-man". Lon Chaney Jr. gives a good performance, and it's tragic because the transformation is completely against his will, and as the wolf-man, he cannot control his actions. It is funny though, that in this film, he strangles his victims, not bite them like a normal wolf.
2. The Monster/Frankenstein's Monster from the Frankenstein series: Boris Karloff's iconic monster is a tragic figure in horror cinema. He is innocent, and is confused and scared of the world surrounding him, which will never understand or tolerate him. He does kill people, but it is almost always an accident or in self-defense, but he is always painted as the monster by the public in all the films. Karloff is the definitive Frankenstein Monster. Christopher Lee also gave a good performance in Hammer's The Curse of Frankenstein, where the creature is portrayed as a straight-up monster.
1. Count Dracula from Dracula: Bela Lugosi's Dracula is now a staple of pop culture and the definitive vampire. The voice, the look, and the personality are now the first thoughts that come to people's heads when they think of Dracula. I am also including Christopher Lee's role as the count from Hammer's Dracula films, as both versions are equally influential and memorable, and both movies helped make the careers of the main stars (Lugosi and Lee). Gary Oldman also gave a great portrayal of the character in Francis Coppola's 1992 adaptation.
Runner-ups: Gamera, The Thing from Another World, Erik the Phantom from The Phantom of the Opera.