Like all people who are entertainment-obsessed, the SpeakeasyENT staff encounters a lot of creepy stuff. Monsters, demonic possessions, serial killer biopics, “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” whatever, it’s pretty much a daily occurrence. At this point, we’re basically immune to the things that go bump in the night.
Except for maybe that one thing. That one creature that always sneaks up on us when we’re at our most vulnerable, and suddenly we’re 5 years old again. Bed-wetting possibly included.
So what scares us the most? Grab your favorite security blanket and read on to find out.
Kalabar, “Halloweentown” | Holly Coletta
The scariest thing about the “Halloweentown” series is that someone thought it would be okay to continue making the movies without Kimberly J. Brown, but Kalabar, the series’ original villain, comes in at a close second.
Back when Disney Channel made hella good TV movies (“Cadet Kelly,” “Get a Clue,” “The Luck of the Irish,” anything pre-Miley Cyrus), “Halloweentown” was the best of the best. It’s the perfect blend of corny (so many family morals to be learned by the Cromwell witches) and cool (Broomsticks! Robes! Badass grandmas!) and, no matter how out-of-style Marnie and her dorky late-90s scrunchie gets, “Halloweentown” has lasting awesomeness.
This is in part to the completely evil (and also hot) Kalabar. He’s the charming, friendly (and also hot) mayor of Halloweentown by day, but a jealous, vengeful cloaked demon beast thing… also by day. Turns out, Kalabar is sort of pissed that Marnie’s mom chose a mortal dude over him, and also he’s a bit salty that humans seem to think these monstrous creatures are, uh, monsters and have forced them to live in Halloweentown. He goes around freezing people and doing other menacing stuff in a black cloak.
Admittedly, Kalabar isn’t that terrifying now. But when I was 8 years old? Dude was kind of spooky.
And let’s be real: I just wanted an excuse to gush about “Halloweentown” for 200 words.
Willy Wonka, “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” | Christian Law
A lot of classic children’s movies had darker undertones that none of us really caught on to until we were older. The creepy, killer uncle with Nazi hyenas in “The Lion King?” The roofies someone slipped “Sleeping Beauty?” It’s all a tad messed up.
But perhaps the worst offender is “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” simply because it brings us the most maniacal antagonist of them all – Willy Wonka. Here’s a little plot outline for those uninformed few: a recluse living in his chocolate factory invites five children in for a tour, and whoever isn’t mauled by the various deathtraps within wins the honor of running a business.
It’s more in the territory of “Saw” and “The Hunger Games” than any children’s story, and it’s all because Willy Wonka is an evil bastard. He uses slave labor to get his work done, feeding his workers “cocoa beans” instead of giving them the money they need to send back to their families. After each child is done away with, he tells the parents the most gruesome ways he plans on “fixing” them, whether it’s with a giant squeezer or a taffy stretcher. And once Charlie wins the factory, what then? The place has been closed down for years, good luck getting some new wind in that economy. He might be giving Charlie a dream house, but he’s also leaving behind a staggering amount of debt and dead hookers in the employee lounge.
Is it even worth mentioning the tunnel scene? While forcing children to watch the most disturbing slideshow of everything wrong with the world, he sings them a song telling them how they are so going to die on that ride. But just as Grampa Joe takes a razor to his wrists, it’s over, and everyone moves on like nothing happened.
Shame on you, Wonka, for haunting my dreams. I bet the schnozzberries didn’t even taste like schnozzberries.
The Gentlemen, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” | Meghan Malone
After only 9 years on the earth, I became witness to some of the most horrifying creatures to ever grace a television screen. All thanks to my dad, who unknowingly recorded an episode of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” over one of our numerous home videos. Grey-skinned, silent and smiling, The Gentlemen of “Buffy’s” “Hush” episode are the stuff of nightmares. They are just fantastical enough to give me an inkling of assurance about their nonexistence, yet just realistic and human enough to continue to instill the fear of God in me.
The Gentlemen are terrifying for a number of reasons. 1) They don’t speak. They just smile eerily with their grimy teeth and sunken eyes as they 2) float (not walk, float) toward their victims who are probably pissing themselves when they 3) steal their victims’ voices so they can’t scream or call for help and 4) proceed to carve out their victims’ hearts with a surgical scalpel. Did I mention they do all of this in suits? Yep. Keeping it classy.
Joss Whedon takes the most uncomfortable elements of human life—total silence, smiling too long at a person, helplessness and sharp items, mixes it with a dash of ugliness, sadism and death and produces a winner of horror lore. To this day, I still don’t trust smiling men in suits. Paranoid? Maybe, but I would argue it’s a common side effect of childhood trauma. Besides, regardless of whether a man is a gentleman or not, I’d rather be safe and alive than sorry and dead.
Mr. Blonde, “Reservoir Dogs” | Isaac Noland
“You ever listen to K Billy’s Super Sounds of the Seventies?”
To anyone who’s ever seen Quentin Tarantino’s directorial debut, “Reservoir Dogs,” that line inspires fear beyond fear. I’m actually feeling my ear right now to make sure it is still attached to my body. Also, if I catch a whiff of gasoline at any point today, I will probably run far, far away.
While I understand that actors are simply acting, if I ever run into Michael Madsen on the street, I will cry. As the terrifying Mr. Blonde, a.k.a. Vic Vega, Madsen portrays the ultimate psychopath. Mr. Blonde is superficially charming and seemingly friendly despite being a criminal. Until we find out he likes to torture cops. If he were to make a profile on an online dating site, he would actually list “cop torture” under his interests. And he would put “really bad detached ear shtick” as a hobby. For those of you who have not seen “Reservoir Dogs,” or anyone who just wants to witness the best 5 minutes in cinema history, check the scene here. Moderate spoiler alert.
Alex DeLarge, “A Clockwork Orange” | Nikki Lanka
If Gene Kelly had known what twisted connotation his charming tune “Singin’ in the Rain” would have 19 years after its release, I wonder if he would have chosen to perform it. What should be a heartwarming scene about love, life and tap dancing is now – thanks to Stanley Kubrick – more likely to inspire the gut-churning scene of a young man in white clothes and black boots ripping open a woman’s clothing to forcibly have his way with her.
Alex DeLarge’s signature look in “A Clockwork Orange,” based on the novel by Anthony Burgess, is as eerily futuristic as his actions are barbaric. He and his gang of droogs terrorize their town with sociopathic actions not limited to rape and assault, never once batting that single set of long bottom eyelashes in remorse.
But Alex is as much a villain as he is an anti-hero. The film is narrated from his perspective, after all. And by the end, it’s hard not to sympathize for the kid. He likes Beethoven, right? He can’t be that bad? The weird clash of despising his actions but understanding his character makes him all the more creepy, as the audience finds themselves relating with a sociopath, and in turn, feeling like a bit of a villain, too.
Which villains still give YOU the heebie-jeebies? Leave us a comment or tweet us @SpeakeasyENT and let us know!