15 Movie Villains That Scarred You for Life

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Everybody's got one buried in their memory somewhere. That movie bad guy who made you want to hide under your bed, wet your pants and, in general, exhibit the sort of terrified behavior kids normally reserve for thunderstorms and doctor's visits. We're not talking about your run of the mill horror slasher villains here, though. Anyone can (and should!) be afraid of a guy in a mask with a chainsaw running around their summer camp or ski resort. We're talking about villains just a touch more sinister, a touch darker, maybe even a touch more real.

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1. Judge Doom, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

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He seems pretty run of the mill; scary,dark glasses, the obligatory black hat, deep, booming voice. Yeah, his eyes can get pretty weird but, really, we dare you to sing "Shave and a Haircut" without shivering just a little bit. Creepy!

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2. He Who Must Not Be Named, The Harry Potter Movies

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Let's just call him Tom Riddle, shall we, and avoid any sudden appearances.  We were reading about him in the books long before he made it to the silver screen but, oh, when he did, even adults cringed a little. That face, those teeth, that nose. Not to mention the fingernails and, you know, the generally murderous revenge vibe. We've seen five-year-olds, fifteen-year-olds and fifty-year-olds squeeze their eyes shut tight when Lord V. shows up in all his moldering, anti-social glory.

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3. Freddy Krueger, A Nightmare on Elm Street

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Freddy's the guy who scared the teen crowd the most. Probably because, you know, he hunts teenagers. But really, he was just a bit more psychologically frightening than your average `slasher.' Freddy got to you through your dreams, guaranteeing spikes in No-Doz sales during the '80s and '90s.

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4. Darth Vader, Star Wars

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He's really big, he's really mean and he seems to be part robot, part human and all nightmare. The labored, two-packs a day breathing, metallic voice-box and ability to pluck those who displease him off their feet in a one-handed stranglehold are guaranteed kid-crowd "gaspers." Probably the only thing creepier in the Star Wars `verse than good old Darth is Jar Jar Binks.

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5. The Wicked Witch of the West, The Wizard of Oz

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The original film baddy for generations of kids, the Wicked Witch was the stuff of which nightmares are made. Her inhuman green skin, raspy voice and shrill cackle, all-black wardrobe and obsession with destroying a young girl were all hallmarks of creepiness. Not to mention her monkeys. Even worse was her death, since the "Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead'"song is pretty darn unsettling itself when heard enough times. The Wicked Witch is so scary that when Sesame Street had her guest-star almost forty years after The Wizard of Oz was released, parents complained loudly enough that the episode was pulled, never to be seen again.

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6. Maleficent, Sleeping Beauty

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We could probably make this whole list about Disney villains if we wanted to.  But this evil lady is fairly representative of the genre. She has been scaring toddlers and pre-teens for years with her pancaked makeup, soulless eyes, swooping cape and black fashion statements. She's  just really, really scary looking.

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7. Fats the Puppet, Magic

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Ventriloquist dummies are like clowns ”” they already scare the bejeezus out of a whole lotta children just by existing. Kids from the late '70s probably remember hiding behind the couch (or in the next room, even) when Fats got going. Nothing freaks a kid out more than a puppet on a demented killing streak. Poor Fats, though; Chucky would eventually steal all of his thunder.

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8. Regan Macneil, The Exorcist

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What's scarier to a child than another child, we ask you? Particularly when that child is possessed by the Devil. If you saw Linda Blair's performance when you were a tween or teen, you're probably still scared beyond belief by the experience- we know we are! And we'll never, ever look at pea soup the same way again.

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9. The Alien, Alien

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"They mostly come out at night. Mostly." Newt should know ”” not many people survive an encounter with those nasty H.R. Giger-designed creatures from the Alien franchise. Kids who watched Aliens because the original Alien movie was kind of scary and cool were in for a full-on freakout when the sequel came out. Who could forget those fangs, the acid for blood and that nasty parasitic habit of gestating their young in your stomach.

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10. Lustful Nazi Dude, Raiders of the Lost Ark

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OK, his name was Major Arnold Todt, but who really cares? This guy had it all ”” a lust for power, vengeance and imposing black hats. Oh yeah, and jackboots too ”” don't ever forget he was a Nazi. Nothing was more guaranteed to scare the young action fan in the '80s than his sinister smile and skin-crawling leching. Well, except his fantastically grisly death scene. Ewww! 

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11. The Child Catcher, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

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With his filmy eyes, pointy nose and obligatory black hat, the Child Catcher is another all-time classic baddie and perhaps the creepiest one on this list.  Every child watching this guy back in the '70s knew he was just as bad as they come ”” trying to lure kids into your wagon with candy and ice cream is pretty much the definition of "stranger danger" after all. Roald Dahl, as always, sure knew what he was doing when he introduced this character to the movie version. There are a lot of 30 and 40 somethings out there who would still rather not talk about this guy.


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12. The Grand High Witch, The Witches

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Another Roald Dahl character (and we haven't even mentioned how whacko Mr. Wonka himself is,) the Grand High Witch was pretty spooky in a full-on, "I'm a classic witch" kind of way. You know, the kind who puts kids in ovens and cackles a lot. The not-very-nice kind.

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13. Sid, Toy Story

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Everybody remembers a kid like Sid from school. You know, that weird kid who spent all his time listening to death metal at too young an age, chasing ants with magnifying glasses and getting suspended for bringing jackknives to school. Sid has a lot of power over the preschoolers and kindergartners who love Toy Story so much. Thankfully, Buzz and Woody can be pretty scary in their own right.

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14. Gollum, The Lord of the Rings

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We've seen children squeak in fear and run out of the room when Gollum came on screen. And that was before he even spoke. Just watching him eat fish, "fresh and wriggling," is nasty enough to scare most people. Truly a creature from our darkest nightmares, Gollum will haunt children's dreams for years to come.

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15. The Joker, Batman

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Just to be clear, as splendid as Heath Ledger's performance is, we're talking old school here, the original Nicholson performance. Jack's characterization is imbued with a deeply disturbing, human element to it that makes his character's mental illness profoundly unsettling. Yes, his Joker looks frightening, but even worse is that he feels frightening, like he might do anything at any time and it's gonna be bad. Which it always is.  "Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?" indeed.

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