Throughout the history of cinema, villains have been the cornerstone of a good horror movie. We cheer for Nancy Thompson because Freddy Krueger is so vile. We’re terrified for Laurie Strode because we just don’t know when or where Michael Myers’ shape will emerge from the shadows. We need these seemingly insurmountable antagonists to allow our protagonists’ moments of victory to truly flourish.
But sometimes a villain isn’t enough. Sometimes, a hero has to contend not just with a malevolent entity, but also with a friend or family member who seems hellbent on making their lives more difficult. These are characters we spotlight today, as we pit the cream of the crap against one another to see who is truly just the worst.
A few notes about my selection process:
- The lineup is based on movies I’ve seen so there may be worse side characters out there that I’m just not aware of, but like any good white American man, if I haven’t personally experienced it then it must not have happened.
- I’ve excluded characters who are actively villainous, so you won’t see anyone like Carter Burke, Dr. Crews, Detective Joe Carlson, etc.
- While I tried to bring characters in from a range of movies, I did have to include multiple people from the Friday the 13th franchise because there have been a lot of assholes stomping around Crystal Lake over the years.
And with that, here are your fighters seeded based on how much I hate them:
8th seed: Steve (Hellraiser)
Steve makes this list solely on the strength of his ability to be utterly ineffectual. While Kirsty Cotton fends off her lecherous uncle, evil stepmother (Julia Cotton forever!), a squad of extreme sadomasochists, and ultimately a giant phallic monster, the best Steve has to offer is a weird trick where he swallows a lit cigarette before disappearing for the rest of the movie before almost getting killed five times in as many minutes and getting in the way as Kirsty attempts to close the Lament Configuration. Fucking useless.
7th seed: Jerry, Kirk, and Pam (Texas Chain Saw Massacre)
A lot of people rag on Franklin for being one of the most annoying characters, not just in the TCM series, but in all of horror. This baffles me, because if I was in a wheelchair and was taken on a trip where I was allowed to roll down a hill while trying to take a piss and given absolutely no access considerations the entire trip I’d be pretty pissed off too. So my ire is reserved for the three hippies that dismiss a disabled kid for the duration of their trip before deciding to trespass on some poor working family’s property. They got what was coming to them.
6th seed: Melvin (Tremors)
This little shit is a walking ad for birth control. Look, I get it. Going through puberty while also being the only teenager in a town of like a dozen people can’t be a great experience. But this kid is just about the most obnoxious little turd ever put on celluloid. His guffaws are enough to make me glad I’ve decided not to have children. And yes, it’s entirely possible that he gets on my nerves because he reminds me of what I was like at that age.
5th seed: Chuck and Chili (Friday the 13th Part III)
For all of their annoyances, aren’t stoners generally supposed to be pretty relaxed? I have never seen two more uptight potheads than Chuck and Chili, who also seem to be a solid decade older than everyone else headed up to Higgins Haven. While I get that most of their ire seems to be directed at resident pest Shelly, you’d think the weed would help mellow them out about it at least a tad.
4th seed: Mooney (Killer Klowns from Outer Space)
The walking personification of ACAB, Deputy Curtis Mooney automatically assumes anyone he meets is carrying narcotics. I’d consider the possibility that his position of authority makes him just as dangerous as the titular klowns if not for the fact that he’s just so incompetent. After all, his first impulse when coming face to face with one of the extraterrestrial jokesters is to arrest it, which goes about as well as you’d think.
3rd seed: Elaine (Nightmare on Elm Street Parts III and IV)
Elaine Parker makes a pretty strong case for Worst Elm Street Parent, which is no small feat considering most of the parents in the series are pretty awful. But Elaine really takes the cake, treating her poor daughter Kristen as an attention-seeking nuisance keeping her from her bourbon-soaked date. And one would think that after the events of Dream Warriors, just maybe Elaine would at least consider the possibility that Freddy Krueger is real. Nah, in Dream Master she’s still barking at Kristen that Freddy is all a delusion, eventually putting the final nail in her coffin by drugging her drink with sleeping pills. Top notch parenting, that.
2nd seed: Eddie (Friday the 13th Part VII)
Is there anything worse than a toxic nerd? When would-be author Eddie isn’t spouting the inane gibberish that’s supposed to be the plot of his latest story, he’s treating new girl Tina like shit just to impress the amazingly incompetent mean girl Melissa. When given a chance by Melissa (albeit for nefarious purposes) Eddie humps her leg with dog-like ferocity until she’s forced to show him the door, but not before he spews his indignity at her and later calls her the c-word when no one’s around to call him on it. Spineless little weasel.
1st seed: Rick (Friday the 13th Part III)
If you were seeing a childhood friend who hadn’t been back in the area since suffering some kind of severe trauma there, would your instinct be to greet her by jumping out from behind a door and planting a kiss on her with gorilla-like aggression? If you said no, then congratulations! You are a better person than Rick, which admittedly is a very low bar. Add to that the casual negging, descriptions about the amount of time they should spend on having sex, and reminders of the girl he passed up being with to spend time with Chris, and you get the quintessential toxic “nice guy” who deserved to have his eye popped out.
Rick (1) vs Steve (8)
Initially bewildered about how to interact with a human being he doesn’t want to have sex with, Rick sticks to his comfort zone by making passive aggressive comments about Steve’s appearance. In response, Steve stares blankly in the middle distance with a smile pointed at no one in particular. Rick, fully used to plodding on without reading the room at all, continues babbling inanely about being a simple country boy. Rick continues to stare at nothing until slowly dissolving into a puddle of tapioca pudding on the floor.
Eddie (2) vs. Jerry, Kirk, and Pam (7)
Within three minutes of being introduced, Eddie has pulled out the 1,200 page handwritten manuscript for his latest sci-fi novel, Handsome Space Author Vs. The Stuck-Up Galactic Tramps. He’s shocked, however, when he finds that the trio, who have extensive experience in reading quasi-intellectual nonsense, start giving him notes on his work. The ensuing argument lasts four and a half hours and only ends when the group realizes Eddie has pretty much ripped his story wholesale off of L. Ron Hubbard. Humiliated, Eddie sulks out into the cold, dark night.
Elaine (3) vs. Melvin (6)
Elaine, on a date with a sentient mannequin from a Men’s Warehouse, is halfway through her fourth martini when she realizes that someone has been surreptitiously putting packets of sugar in her hair throughout the meal. As she looks around the restaurant she sees young Melvin, barely containing his glee at the brilliance of his prank. Elaine proceeds to harangue the young boy in front of all the other diners until he wets his pants and spends the next two decades in therapy.
Mooney (4) vs Chuck and Chili (5)
Mooney takes one look at Chuck and Chili and proceeds to taser both of them into unconsciousness. He proceeds to plant an ounce of marijuana on them, which represents about 5% of the amount they’d already had on their person.
Rick (1) vs Jerry, Kirk, and Pam (7)
Upon meeting the trio, Rick casually knocks down both Jerry and Kirk on his way to hit on Pam. Appalled, Jerry and Kirk try to find help at a local farmhouse and are never heard from again. After twenty minutes of Rick’s inane babbling Pam wanders off to the farmhouse to try and find Jerry and Kirk, obliviously stepping over their mutilated corpses to see if the owners might be home. She’s also never heard from again.
Elaine (3) vs Mooney (4)
Elaine and Mooney immediately hit it off based on their mutual contempt for teenagers and poor people. They start dating, it turns serious, and they’ve soon made each other thoroughly miserable. Elaine hates that Mooney never takes her anywhere nice for dinner, and Mooney hates that Elaine insists on talking to him while he’s reading Infowars. Frustrated and lonely, Elaine cheats on Mooney with the Men’s Warehouse mannequin and when Mooney catches wind of the affair and kills the mannequin. After a drawn out murder trial that catches on with the small town papers, Mooney is sentenced to life in prison.
Rick (1) vs. Elaine (3)
Rick finds himself enamored with Elaine, which he explains in great detail to her is quite amazing considering how she’s far older than the girls he typically goes for. He confesses his love for her, but she rejects him as poor country trash. Unused to this kind of rejection, Rick flies off in a fit of range, grabbing an axe from the barn and taking off Elaine’s head with it in one brutal swing. At first horrified by his actions, Rick is absolutely aghast to find that decapitation has not killed Elaine, but instead only fueled her verbal tirade. Elaine’s abuse continues unabated until Rick’s simple slips fully into madness.
Winner, and your Tournament Champion: