Delbert Grady Played by: Philip Stone
Film(s): The Shining (1980)
Before we meet the former caretaker of The Overlook hotel, we hear about and then see his brutal, bloody handiwork: the gruesome bodies of his slain twin daughters (not to mention their ghosts). Then we meet him, sent by The Overlook to intervene in the matter of Torrance J. vs Torrance D., and his blasé evil is truly chilling. Played by British character actor Philip Stone, Grady couches horrifying language (think of how he refers to Dick Hallorann) and concepts in an almost off-hand, disarming way. And on this matter, he must be corrected.
Lorraine Warren Played by: Vera Farmiga
Film(s): The Conjuring (2013)
Warren is a real-life paranormal investigator who, along with her husband Ed (Patrick Wilson), comes face-to-face with pure evil in the shape of a terrifying witch in James Wan's delightfully old-school frightener. You'd expect Vera Farmiga to play her with grace and warmth, and you wouldn't be wrong.
Roger Mortis Played by: Treat Williams
Film(s): Dead Heat (1988)
Yes, Roger Mortis. As in Rigor Mortis. That's about as clever as this mash-up of zombie flicks and buddy cop movies gets - but Treat Williams is, as ever, fantastic as the cop-on-the-edge who gets killed, then reanimated, and decides to use his last hours on earth to a) find his killer and b) put up with annoying sidekick, Saturday Night Live oddity, Joe Piscopo.
Mama Played by: Javier Botet
Film(s): Mama (2013)
Twisted and sinewy, played with freakish athleticism by Javier Botet, Mama is a tortured spirit filled with nothing but love for the two little girls she adopted. But heaven help anyone who threatens them or gets in her way, for then love turns to all-consuming hatred.
377 R Played by: Nicholas Hoult
Film(s): Warm Bodies (2013)
Sensitive, tender, dead: Nicholas Hoult is a joy as the zombie who forms a touching bond with Teresa Palmer that might just trigger the unpocalypse in Jonathan Levine's horror comedy.
376 Mia Played by: Jane Levy
Film(s): Evil Dead (2013)
Suburgatory's Jane Levy gets to run the gamut from Aaaaaaaaieeee to B in Fede Alvarez' remake of Sam Raimi's lo-fi classic. As a drug addict brought to a cabin in the woods (uh-oh) to go cold turkey, she's possessed by a wrathful demon, slices through her own tongue, comes back from the brink and turns into a female Ash (Ashette?), complete with severed arm. No hero in the horror genre has been this covered in blood since Lionel in Braindead.
Diane Freeling Played by: JoBeth Williams
Film(s): Poltergeist (1982)
There are more eye-catching characters in Tobe Hooper's brilliant haunted house horror, and they're on this list. But Poltergeist wouldn't have half the emotional impact that it does without JoBeth's touching, well-rounded performance as a suburban mom who clings to her love for her abducted daughter all through their supernatural ordeal. Picture the moment where Diane hears Carol-Anne's voice, puncturing through the otherworldly veil. Without moments as tender as this, the terror that comes later wouldn't have the same impact.
Heidi Hawthorne Played by: Sherri Moon Zombie
Film(s): The Lords Of Salem (2012)
Rob Zombie has written a number of roles for his wife, Sherri Moon Zombie, in his previous movies, but none were as gilt-edged as this: a drug-addled death metal DJ who stumbles upon a conspiracy to end the world. And Mrs. Zombie steps up to the plate in most admirable fashion with a performance best described as fearless.
Gilderoy Played by: Toby Jones
Film(s): Berberian Sound Studio (2012)
Toby Jones is mesmerising as the fastidious British sound engineer drawn into an aural nightmare at the titular Italian horror movie studio in Peter Strickland's extraordinarily unsettling meta-horror.
Gerry Lane Played by: Brad Pitt
Film(s): World War Z (2013)
Forget the name, a name so bad even Brad Pitt has come out to criticise it. Focus on the character of the UN investigator who travels the world looking for clues to reverse the tide in the war against zombies. Dogged, redoubtable, resourceful, Pitt's Lane is perhaps all the more relatable for not being a zombie-killing machine (something that had originally been filmed). The name is forgiven.
Pluto Played by: Michael Berryman
Film(s): The Hills Have Eyes (1977), The Hills Have Eyes II (2007)
Pluto isn't the leader of the Jupiter clan of cannibals, the villains of Wes Craven's breakout hit (that honour would fall, naturally, to Papa Jupiter). But with his stretched bald head, bulging, eyebrow-less eyes (a result of Michael Berryman's hypohidrotic ectodermal dysplasia), he's by far the most memorable. There's a reason why Berryman's visage dominates the marketing materials for both the original movie and the risible sequel, for which he was brought back from the dead.
Ygor-as-Monster Played by: Bela Lugosi
Film(s): Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man (1943), The Ghost Of Frankenstein (1942)
Gem-like Universal ludicrousness, Lugosi takes over playing the monster because Ygor's brain has been transplanted into it. People laughed at the monster's Hungarian accent at the end of Ghost, so all his lines were cut from Meets.
Valeria Played by: Fenella Fielding
Film(s): Carry On Screaming! (1966)
A very British take on Lily Munster/Morticia Addams, Fenella Fielding is a hoot as the seductive femme fatale meddling with forces beyond man's ken (and Kenneth Williams') in the most stylish and slick Carry On film. It's never clear if she's undead, but that might explain why she's feeling a little stiff.
Karl Played by: Michael Gwynn
Film(s): The Revenge Of Frankenstein (1958)
Peter Cushing's Frankenstein, masquerading as a "Dr Stein", creates a second monster in the tragic Karl, given a new body to replace a broken one, but struggling with the physical and emotional consequences.
367 Carla Hoffman Played by: Barbara Shelley
Film(s): The Gorgon (1964)
Top quality Hammer regular Shelley here plays a tragic love interest with a little secret to hide...
John Played by: David Bowie
Film(s): The Hunger (1983)
Bowie plays one of Deneuve's partners-turned-victims. After she tires of him and cuts him off, he ages to near-death in a hospital waiting room. We've all been there.
Father William Thomas Played by: Fabrizio Jovine
Film(s): City Of The Living Dead (1980)
As with The Beyond, Father Thomas' spooky death opens a hellgate, and he later turns out to be not quite so dead after all. Just looking into his eyes makes a character vomit up her entire insides. Nice.
Rynn Jacobs Played by: Jodie Foster
Film(s): The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane (1976)
After Taxi Driver, Foster went straight into this effective chiller about a girl who supposedly lives with her poet father. Only nobody ever sees him...
The Gemini Killer Played by: Brad Dourif, various
Film(s): The Exorcist III (1990)
A precursor to the killer in Fallen (or the alien that flits from body to body in The Hidden), Exorcist III's serial killer is a demon who possesses a different person (usually old, infirm, senile patients found at the home where The Gemini Killer's host body, Father Damien Karras, is incarcerated) every time it wants to kill. Mocking, sadistic, evil, it's clear why William Peter Blatty wanted to call his film Legion before studio suits intervened. The Gemini also gives us one of the best jump scares of all time, in the hospital sequence where he appears from nowhere to give a nurse one heck of a headache.