If our societal obsession with serial killers, ghost hunting, and all things Stephen King is any indication, we seriously love to be scared. And, while innovative new films like 2019’s Midsommar and 2017’s Get Out give us plenty of fresh opportunities to shudder and shriek, we can’t help but return to certain longstanding horror icons year after year.
To see which ones are still haunting our nightmares and frequenting our search bars, FrontierBundles.com chose 12 of the most popular villains from horror movies released before 2000 and analyzed Google Trends data from the last year to see who’s on top in each state.
Unsurprisingly, Stephen King characters dominated the competition with a total of 20 states. Ten of those belonged to The Shining’s Jack Torrance, It’s Pennywise took eight states, and Carrie’s titular character was the most searched in two: Vermont and Wyoming.
Trailing Pennywise were Chucky from the Child’s Play franchise and Frankenstein’s monster (Frankenstein, of course, was the name of the doctor), who each won six states. The Silence of the Lambs’s Hannibal Lecter and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre series’s recurring killer Leatherface weren’t far behind with five and four states, respectively. Rounding out the list were Alien, Ghostface, Norman Bates, Count Dracula, and Freddy Krueger.
Geographically, there weren’t any obvious trends, suggesting that nothing brings the country together quite like the fear of murderous fictional monsters and men.
Though the study only included characters from horror films that predate this millennium, many of these bone-chilling antagonists have enjoyed a return to the big or small screen fairly recently. Bill Skarsgård brought Pennywise back to life in 2017’s It and this fall’s It: Chapter II, Mark Hamill voiced Chucky in this year’s Child’s Play reboot, and Jack Torrance will surely feature in Doctor Sleep, the upcoming sequel to The Shining. Though Frankenstein’s monster didn’t really get his own remake this year, he definitely helped inspire the absurdist Netflix mockumentary Frankenstein’s Monster’s Monster, Frankenstein, starring Stranger Things’s David Harbour.
Got a hankering for a good horror movie after reading this article? Here are the 20 best ones of all time.