Horror villains are an essential part of the genre for obvious reasons. Stories of sheer terror, gore, suspicious happenings, and/or psychological distress cannot exist without a frightening antagonist. But, in order to slice, dice, maim, and murder, scary foes must have something at their disposal. The best and most iconic horror movie weapons are just as famous, if not more, than the killers themselves. They play a major role in a film’s most memorable deaths and often intertwine into the narrative in a specific way.
Unlike a victim desperately searching for something to defend themselves against evil, a villain’s weapon is their sidekick. It often unveils more about their lives and killing style. Sometimes it is not a physical weapon at all! What are the common weapons? Which villains use them? When, if ever, do they deviate from the norm and go rouge during a kill? Let’s break it down using a few classic villains/antagonists and their iconic horror weapons of choice.
Michael Myers and His Butcher’s Knife
Ahhh, we love this silent slasher villain. Michael Myers has been hitting his victims with the stabby stab since the original Halloween film in 1978. And, throughout the franchise’s many films, including the most recent rebooted timeline, a butcher’s knife is his choice weapon. Why? We don’t really know. Mike’s first kill came at the tender age of six. By then, kids know that knives are very dangerous and could seriously hurt someone.
And he seriously wanted to hurt his older sister. However, there are times when he tosses his beloved blade aside and utilizes his own brute strength. He’s rather nimble and able to grab people by the neck and crush their windpipe with ease. Using your hands as a deadly weapon makes sense, especially for a large and homicidal man who is now an iconic horror figure.
Jason Voorhees, the Machete Master
This hockey-masked murderer is a machete wielding nightmare. The usage of a machete as Jason Voorhees’ weapon of choice points to his sad past. It’s a legacy weapon passed down from his mother, the original Friday the 13th killer. She used it against her victims only to have her own head cut off with it. Interestingly, Jason’s first kills happen with an ice pick and an ax before he gets his hands on the machete.
And boy does it work. Jason might be one of the most versatile killers on this list with a bevy of weapons at his disposal. He’s used a speargun, liquid nitrogen, a sleeping bag, and even a syringe to take his victims out. And, who can forget when he literally punched a man’s head clear off his shoulders and threw poor Kelly Rowland into a tree? Still, the machete is the most iconic killing tool that he (and others) have used in this franchise.
Candyman and the Hook of Horror
Be his victim. Candyman’s lore tells you exactly how he’s coming for you. Say his name five times in a mirror and prepare to die ASAPtually. Candyman aka Daniel Robitalle’s origin story is a sad and racist one that results in him being a superpowered entity with telepathic powers. He can make people go into a trance and/or hear his voice in their heads. But his weapon of choice is a hook, which is interestingly given to him by his killers/oppressors.
The hook is meant to disparage an important part of his body: Robitalle was an artist so cutting off his hand is a sickening blow. And putting a hook was a tactic to dehumanize and cause him further pain. So, he kept the hook and sought vengeance. Unlike Jason, Candyman sticks pretty closely to using the hook as his horror weapon of choice in his movies. But he’s not above sending some killer bees to take someone down, too.
The Ghostface Killers of Scream and their Modified Buck 120 Knives
Each Scream film features a rotating cast of killers, all of whom die at the end of every movie. They have different motivations and approaches to killing but one thing remains (mostly) the same: using a knife to, as Randy said, “slice and dice.” (The specific type is a modified Buck 120, for those who wanna know.) This horror weapon of choice originates from the first movie with Billy Loomis and Stu Macher, who got much of their inspiration from films like Psycho and Halloween.
Both of those flicks feature killers who use knives. So it is no surprise that these horror-obsessed teen killers would follow suit. The Scream killers do introduce some variety in the mix from Tatum’s garage door demise to Roman’s failed attempt at shooting Sid. But that sharp sound of Ghostface’s knife unsheathing is a classic.
Negan (The Walking Dead) Beats You with a Baseball Bat
Is The Walking Dead horror? As a fan of both the show/comic and genre, I say yes. Horror does not have to be scary, which itself is rather objective. A world where flesh eating undead people are roaming around is indeed horrifying. Unfortunately, the undead are the least of people’s problems because human beings will find a way to do bad things. One shining example is the former villain Negan, one of the franchise’s most believable antagonists.
He was (and still kinda is) a grade-A a**hole with enough charisma to get lost people to follow him. While he had access to fire and manpower, his brutal weapon of choice was a barbed wire baseball bat named after his deceased wife Lucille. It’s an inspired horror weapon choice that played a part in one of the most iconic and heart-wrenching deaths in the show and comic’s history. Honestly, I’d rather someone shoot me in the head than to have my brains slowly bashed in with a spiky bat.
Leatherface and the Chainsaw of Death
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is about as bizarre as you can get. Imagine the terror of being chased by a physically imposing man wearing a human skin mask. His weapon is pretty obvious based on the franchise’s name. But, funnily enough, Leatherface’s first kills are with a hammer and impaling someone on a meat hook. He also doesn’t technically perform a true massacre until much, much later in the franchise. Still, the eventual chainsaw chases and deaths in this franchise will never get old.
Considering the Sawyer family’s preoccupation with meat (both human and animal) and occupations as slaughterhouse workers, using a chainsaw makes a lot of sense. And boy, is it a gruesome choice. Like other large and silent killers, Leatherface does have strength and general ingenuity to take someone out. But the old and faithful chainsaw is usually the way to get the job done.
Carrie, the Telekinetic and Vengeful Teenager
Is Carrie truly a villain or a victim seeking vengeance? Depends on who you ask. She did choose some pretty extreme retaliation tactics against her terrible classmates and mother. Mortal weapons are no joke but supernatural telekinetic powers? That’s a tough one to fight. We don’t fully understand the origins of Carrie’s powers but I’d like to believe that they manifested as a protective mechanism from the cruelty she faced in the world.
Your chance of dying is 100%… unless you too are a super being too. Carrie can shut doors, flip cars, and send sharp objects flying your way without blinking her eyes. Now, that’s the definition of a deadly and super iconic weapon for much horror delight.
Freddy Krueger and His Gloves with Bladed Fingers
Dealing with a horror antagonist in the flesh is one thing. Having a killer take you out in your dreams is something else. Freddy’s using your nightmares to come for you… and you can’t lock a door in your mind. Using a human’s need to sleep against them is a terrible horror weapon for sure. But the Nightmare on Elm Street antagonist takes this terror further with his infamous gloves with blades on the fingers.
It’s never made clear why he chooses this unorthodox (and now iconic) weapon to deliver horror in folks’ dreams. But for a sadistic and truly “evil for no reason” character like him, there’s no logic to be had. The blade fingers are makeshift and work a lot like a bear claw with the ability to leave scars or annihilate. Freddy does use some other tools (including Jason’s machete in their standoff film) but we all know that horrifying glove (and ugly sweater) all too well.
The Fisherman (I Know What You Did Last Summer) Hooks His Prey
I Know What You Did Last Summer is another slasher franchise with a roster of victims. The original film stars several wildly popular ‘90s teen icons, pitting them against super cringe dialogue and a man with a hook. They thought they killed him but a year later, he rose from his “grave” like Jesus, except dark and ready for murder.
The original killer Ben Willis uses a hook, which is both a nod to his profession as a fisherman and a matter of convenience. If you are near a boat or dock and want to kill, why not use this accessible sharp object? Like Scream, the killers change but the primary weapon (and that weird black cloak) remain the same.
Zombies/Walkers/The General Undead Take a Bloody Bite
Are zombies are truly horror villains? To be fair, they are mostly everyday people who couldn’t run fast enough. They don’t purposely have a sinister agenda because they are rotting flesh. But, the undead are technically antagonists in an apocalyptic world, so we’ll throw them in here.
Zombies (or walkers, as The Walking Dead calls them) come in different versions with some of them running like hell while others amble sneakily. But they all use the same weapons to get victims: their teeth. Their scratches and blood/guts are also a biological hazard that could lead to death. As seen above, they might even get nonsensical strength and pull your guts out. The use of teeth as a weapon is relatively common in horror movies, even outside of the undead. Pennywise and Xenomorphs also have deadly chompers.
Pinhead’s Teleportation, Illusions, and Summoning Skills
Hellraiser’s bad guy could possibly kill you with his looks alone. That would be one hell of a sight to encounter. Pinhead is straight from Hell so he rightfully has a ton of otherworldly abilities and weapons at his disposal.
He summons hooks and chains to rip his victims to shreds, making them move and shapeshift with his mind. Pinhead also uses teleportation and illusions to take down his victims. And there’s really nothing that can take him down for good. He’s a purveyor of chaos who will pretty much do anything to kill when the unction strikes.
Of course, there are many, many horror baddies who use some iconic weapons in their movies. All of them have some sort of method, whether it is physical or psychological, to wreak havoc. Knives, chainsaws, hooks, and more all lead to splatter and gore.
Originally published on October 4, 2021.