Top 10 Horror Movie Boogeymen!

Last Updated on August 3, 2021

Boogeymen. What exactly are they? According to the official definition, they’re quite amorphous, with the term applicable to really any sort of vague embodiment of evil. That said, we’ve always associated the Boogeyman with the direct endangerment of young children. You know, the kind of spook-tale subject lurking in the closet, hiding under the bed, that kind of ghoulish behavior. Then again, there’s also an inherent supernatural element to the Boogeyman – not quite a human, not quite a full-fledged alien-monster – the criteria falls somewhere in the interim. One thing is for certain though, director Stacy Title has designs on fashioning a new cinematic boogeyman called, yes, THE BYE BYE MAN, which hits theaters today, this timely Friday the 13th.

You already know what that means. What better time to weigh in and give you our list of favorite like-minded, child-preying villains? You into it? Good, peep our Top 10 Horror Movie Boogeyman above!


If the murderous MO of the Boogeyman is to come into the homes and bedrooms of young children and feast on their deep-seeded fears, then it’s safe to say no single horror movie villain has enjoyed a longer reign of abject terror than Mr. Freddy Krueger – the knuckle-knifed, sleep-stalking, dream-infiltrator extraordinaire! Burned and left for dead years before by parents fed up by his abusive behavior, which some have suggested include pedophilic predilections, Freddy Krueger still manages to subsist in the dream-realm and torment his teenage targets in a way that carries over to the conscious world. That is, if he kills you in a dream, you’ll never wake up in reality. This sort of somniphobia – fear of excessive sleep – no doubt adds an extra level of terror in terms of baleful bedroom Boogeymen. 32 years, 9 films…Krueger is king!


While he’s less of a supernatural entity and more of a flesh-and-blood maniacal man-child, there’s still no denying how regularly referred to as the Boogeyman Mr. Michael Myers has been over the decades. Hell, HALLOWEEN 2 was alternately titled THE BOOGEYMAN. More than that though, in the original, Laurie Strode and Sam Loomis constantly label Myers as the Boogeyman, and frankly, the way he silently stalks around, maneuvering through various houses unnoticed, hovering in the background and suddenly popping out of dark corners, he indeed feels like an inescapable Boogeyman. Of course, calling Myers The Shape (as credited) certainly reinforces this vague and general notion of the Boogeyman as a blank, emotionless, stolid embodiment of utter evil. The real question is, if the mask was molded after William Shatner as Captain Kirk, does that mean Shatner is, in his own right, also a bona fide Boogeyman?


Good lord, is there a more mortifying modern-day metaphorical Boogeyman than The Babadook? If so, I’d like to know. In what can be construed as one grand allegory for sleep deprivation and the stressful rigors of single parenthood, Jennifer Kent’s THE BABADOOK is the exact embodiment of evil that defines what a Boogeyman is. A children’s pop-up book character who materializes in the middle of the night, only to creep up, crowd the closet and instill absolute fear in the hearts and minds of its victims. In this case, a little boy and his increasingly weary mother. This film and its title character drives to the heart of what makes up such universal childhood phobias, as well as parental grief (the loss of a parent or spouse). Straight-up, THE BABADOOK is among the two or three best horror films I’ve seen in the last decade or so.


We just passed the one-year anniversary of the late great Angus Scrimm’s passing, so it’s with a heavy heart and a celebratory spirit we salute PHANTASM’s The Tall Man as one of the most memorably macabre cinematic Boogeymen of all time. Damn this dude dished some legit chills in his day, did he not? What is about this guy, almost Michael Berryman-esque in his unique physical comportment. Not only does The Tall Man fit the bill as a Boogeyman, he also cottons nicely to the mythos of the Slender Man, which has its own specific folklore. As for PHANTASM, the indelible image of the grave robbing Tall Man towering over the young boy’s bed, which is unsettlingly placed in an outside graveyard at night, still packs a mean punch.


Candyman, Candyman, Candyman, Candyman, Candyman. We all played the game as a kid, right? You know, giggling with your friends in the bathroom, readying a count of 3…2…1…before slamming off the slight switch, waiting a few beats before quintuply uttering the seemingly sweet namesake of the urban legend that is Candyman. The giggles hush, the mood tenses, and just before you flip the lights back on, one of your asshole friends tries to pull a creepy jump-scare on everyone. I did it, you did it, we all did it. As for the man and myth himself, Tony Todd, is status as a barbarous Boogeyman is made all the more impressive by the fact he doesn’t solely target children. But if you need a sadistic soul summoned through the mirror with a hook-hand ready to rip, trust, the Candyman can!


One of the most recent and creepily cutting horror movie Boogeymen to come around is that of Bughuul, the fictitious pagan “devourer of children” seen in the SINISTER movies. Said to be the brother of Moloch, the real pagan deity and subject of satanic worship, it’s Bughuul’s so called need to feed on the souls of small children that lead to a series of grisly slayings that springboards the movie’s story. This is all explained to Ethan Hawke by Vin D’Onofrio, who also claims Bughuul uses tricks and ruses to lure children into his clutch before consuming their souls in his own hellish netherworld over time. Played by Nicholas King, in the movies Bughuul has a grungy, mouthless CROW-like appearance with long greasy black hair, sunken eyes and scaly reptilian skin.


Although the title BOOGEYMAN has been appropriated toward a pretty atrocious horror franchise of the aughts, it’s Ulli Lommel’s 1980 film BOOGEY MAN that deserves to reclaim the name. In what plays like a twisted low-rent cross between HALLOWEEN, THE EXORCIST and THE AMITYVILLE HORROR, the BOOGEY MAN here is one that comes unleashed when, years after a young woman witnesses the murder of her mom’s boyfriend, shatters a mirror and lets the spirit out. It then goes on an indiscriminant death spree. This is a strange little movie that deserves to be seen, as it melds slasher and supernatural genre tenets to pretty effective ends. It also takes the term Boogeyman and puts its own unique spin on the meaning, here less interested in child subsumption than boasting a vengeful chimera out for blood.


If there’s one definitive Boogeyman derived from the pen of the King, Stephen King, it has to be Pennywise the Dancing Clown in the movie adaptation of IT. Because, let’s face it, this malefic entity that takes shape in the form of a sharp-toothed clown feeds specifically on the fears of young children. In fact, in the novel, Pennywise assumes many forms and shapes beyond the red-nosed goofball…bats, sharks, leeches, werewolves…whatever a child can fear and fear the most, Pennywise can become IT. Thankfully, in the lore of both tome and TV movie, the frightening Bozo wig only comes around every 27 years to wreak havoc on the children of Derry, Maine. Props to Tim Curry for giving the character the requisite teeth back in 1990, laying the groundwork for Bill Skarsgard to raise the bar this September.


We might as well go ahead and couple KRAMPUS with its devious Dutch counterpart, SINT, as two prime examples of fiercely festive Christmastime Boogeymen. After-all, not only do both subvert the holiday cheer of Santa Clause himself, both baddies intently target children in order to circulate their own ice-cold lifeblood. Krampus in particular is one that primarily preys on a young lad named Max after a family celebration is gorily interrupted. As for SINT, he also saves his lethal abductions for wee lads, the only difference being he’s less a supernatural conjuring than that of KRAMPUS. Still, the way both villains sully the image of the jolly fat man that means so much to so many little kids and then directly threaten those young lives with unbridled violence…it’s boogey time indeed!


We’ve a pretty killer tie-in to kick things off here, if you’ll bare with us. The great Doug Jones, seen above as our first noteworthy Boogeyman The Pale Man in PAN’S LABYRINTH, also plays the title villain in THE BYE BYE MAN. Talk about typecasting! Anyway, indeed, Guillermo del Toro’s secondary antagonist to little Ofelia in PAN’S LABYRINTH is, if not one of the scariest onscreen Boogeymen, certainly one of the most original and imaginative. It does remind me a bit of Alec Baldwin in BEETLEJUICE though. In terms of his motives, this fetid, saggy-fleshed ghoul has an insatiable appetite for small, helpless children. When Ofelia sneaks into his lair to lift a sacred dagger, Pale Man flashes his fangs on a pair of fairies before retreating back into his lair upon O’s escape.

Tags: Hollywood

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