As October rolls along and with the Halloween season in full swing, it’s hard not to get lost in a horror movie marathon before the month is over. Horror films have been around for as long as Hollywood, which means for every iconic hero to grace the screen, there’s been an equal horror villain to act as a foil. But which villains are the most frightening, and which are the more entertaining or thrilling?
With Saw X recently hitting theaters, it begs the question of how the horror genre’s “modern” villain, John “Jigsaw” Kramer, ranks alongside some of the classic villains of the past decades. While some are more calculated and cunning in their antics, others are simply menacing by their mere presence and appearance alone.
Below, we break down how Jigsaw fares against Pennywise, Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, and more in a head-to-head.
Though it’s not the only barometer for comparison, Pennywise does have the luxury of two actors portraying the Dancing Clown to much acclaim. Whether it be Tim Curry or Bill Skarsgard, Pennywise’s allure is his creepy and twisted personality. In contrast, Jigsaw is more calculated in his ambitions with his life-or-death puzzle scenarios. On the traditional “horror” scale of giving terror and frights, we’re leaning towards Jigsaw.
Freddy Kreuger (A Nightmare on Elm Street)
Jigsaw’s signature “game over” line will haunt audiences for years, but does it stand the test of time like a horror jingle? Freddy Kreuger’s “One, two, Freddy’s coming for you” can be recognized by the avid horror fan and even the most casual moviegoer. The caveat is that in some of his later films, Freddy Kreuger was reimagined as somewhat of a quirky anti-hero, which doesn’t faithfully align with the horror genre.
On horror standards alone, we’ll give just the slightest edge to Jigsaw one-on-one.
Jason Voorhees (Friday the 13th)
Since 1980, the iconic hockey mask during the Halloween season has been synonymous with the slasher Jason Voorhees. Aside from the original, in which his mom, Pamela Voorhees, was the villain, Jason has become such a renowned villain that many horror film buffs refer to him by his first name. For the most part, the Friday the 13th films have been faithful to the genre, but later films such as Jason X have imbued unnecessary sci-fi tropes that don’t necessarily hit the mark.
In a horror-focused head-to-head, Jigsaw gets the edge again, given the level of consistency in his storytelling.
Michael Myers (Halloween)
Ever since Michael Myers terrorized Jamie Lee Curtis in the very first Halloween film back in 1978, the franchise’s success has spawned a total of 13 films to date. Although nothing will top the original, kudos must be given to the recent installments in Halloween (2018), Halloween Kills (2021), and Halloween Ends (2022). Those latter films were much more well-received than later iterations of Freddy Kreuger or Jason Voorhees. Plus, Myers’ iconic piano theme stands the test of time.
For the first time in these rankings, we’ll give the edge to Michael Myers and his classic mask, which William Shatner inspires.
Leatherface (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre)
It’s been 44 years since the first The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was released to audiences, and the franchise is still going strong with nine films to date. The franchise’s iconic villain, Leatherface, known for wearing the skin of his victims on his face, has been a renowned character in the horror genre ever since his debut. That’s on top of the surrounding town in Texas, whose lust for revenge, murder, and cannibalism is unrivaled.
The latter films of the franchise haven’t nearly stacked up as the original. And even then, Jigsaw has become more of a long-lasting horror character in comparison. We’re giving the edge toward Jigsaw in this one.