Top of the list is The Thing from John Carpenter’s 1982 film (not the cripplingly disappointing 2011 prequel, even if Tormund Giantsbane is in it). The use of gory, disgusting handmade prosthetics gives the lifeform found in The Thing a visceral quality that just can’t be replicated by digital special effects. Plus, anything with tendrils and tentacles instantly gets boosted way up the rankings for me. Truly Horrifying.
Horror Highlight: For jump-out-of-the-seat scares, it has to be the blood test scene, but when the corpse of Norris transforms in to what is described on the The Thing Wiki page as “The Worm-Spider Thing”, the creature takes on another level of scariness.
The Child Catcher (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang)
Controversial, but show me someone who wasn’t deathly afraid of the Child Catcher and his gigantic nose as a child, and I still won’t believe them, they’re lying. Has he gone yet, mum?
Highlight of Horror: Definitely his capturing of the children in his sweetshop/prison wagon. It took me a long time to trust ice cream men again.
The Pale Man (Pan’s Labyrinth)
Certainly a show-stealer, The Pale Man from Guillermo Del Toro’s masterpiece is only on screen for about 5 minutes, but in a film which has its fair number of horrifying set pieces (the glass bottle scene, anyone?) The Pale Man stands head, shoulders, hands and eyes above the rest as the creepiest thing in the whole movie.
Horror Highlight: The first time he raises his eye-hands to his face. Not only one of the most memorable moments in recent cinema, but also the inspiration of countless lazy halloween costumes.
Special Mentions also go to: Pennywise (It), Leatherface (Texas Chainsaw Massacre), Michael Myers (Halloween), Pierce Brosnan’s Singing Voice (Mamma Mia).
Image: Warfield Productions