In the pantheon of slasher movie villains, a select few killers stand out among the rest. From the wisecracking Freddy Krueger to the terrifyingly stoic Michael Myers, from the savagely simple Leatherface to the convoluted voodoo sorcery of the Chucky doll, these characters may be disparate in their origins, appearances and tactics, but they do share a few things in common: Each has an obsessively loyal fanbase; each has starred in increasingly bizarre, often-inferior sequels; each has insatiable bloodlust; and each has a shit-ton of kills in their body count.
So, to get a taste of the brutality of these slasher icons, I rounded up one victim of each to share their story.
Movie: Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)
Victim: Suzi Donaldson, played by Tiffany Paulsen
Manner of Death: Stabbed with a harpoon, very slowly
In Paulsen’s Own Words: I’m in and out of this movie pretty quickly, but I play Suzi and I’m one of the people who brings Jason back to life — so without me, there would be no movie! At the beginning of the movie, my boyfriend and I are on a boat in Crystal Lake. Well, I assume it’s Crystal Lake, I’m not sure. Wherever Jason died last, that’s where I am. Anyway, my boyfriend and I are on a boat and he throws the anchor over and that snags an underground telephone pole or something. Jason’s dead body is under the water, he gets electrified and then he comes back to life. It makes just so much sense on a scientific level.
Next, Jason climbs on the boat and immediately decides to kill us both because, well, it’s Jason. Of course, in real life, if you were on a boat and someone is trying to kill you on it, you’d jump into the water, but we were filming in Vancouver, in like January or December and it was flipping cold, so they wouldn’t let me jump in the water and they didn’t want to hire a stunt person. So, originally, I was going to jump into the water and he was going to shoot me with a spear gun but it was too cold for that. I still got it with the spear gun, but I ran to the hull of the boat and hid in this little box and that’s when he comes for me.
It was a fun shoot, and I was on set for about a week. The biggest thing I was nervous about was that I had to take my top off — I was young and I’m from a small town and was worried about it. It was my first big studio movie, and my agent was talking about how Jamie Lee Curtis had taken her top off and all these other examples. She had this long list, so it was basically like, “Get over yourself, nobody cares.”
It’s weird, I’ve had these moments in my life where people have discovered that I was killed by a famous serial killer and it’s very exciting. I was in a film school class a couple of years ago and my cinematography teacher said, “You look so familiar to me” — it turned out he was this obsessive Friday the 13th fan. I had an original poster with an “I Love New York” logo on it — Paramount got in trouble because that’s copyrighted and they couldn’t use it, but I had an original poster so I gave it to him and it was a big, exciting moment for him.
It’s a pretty big family, people who are obsessed with horror movies. They’re such great fans — even my little 15 minutes was exciting to people. I still get fan mail, and it’s not like it was a couple of years ago. It’s so funny, too, because I don’t really get what the allure is, because I don’t like to be scared.
Movie: Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991)
Victim: Carlos Rodriguez, played by Ricky Dean Logan
Manner of Death: Freddy exploded his head by scratching his nails on a chalkboard (it was a dream)
In Logan’s Own Words: I played Carlos, who was a kid in a detention home where all the kids there ended up in a Freddy dreamland. Carlos was deaf and had a hearing aid, so Freddy turns my hearing aid into a gruesome, crab-like thing that latches onto my head, which makes things so loud that, if a pin drops, my skin breaks open and my eyes bleed. So he’s torturing me, and finally, he blows my head up by scraping his nails on a chalkboard.
All the effects from the movie were done by a guy named John Buechler, who did that and many other movies. It wasn’t a green screen, it was true special effects in those days, so there was a head cast made and a body cast made. Then there’s all these applications put on my face, and you can’t see it, but there’s probably 15 or 20 tubes going into those and each of those tubes goes to a guy working pumps behind me. The scene took like, 10 people for it to work and we all had to work together. Those effects in particular were really ahead of their time.
I later found out that I was Freddy’s favorite kill, which was cool. Robert [Englund] and I were in Pasadena at a convention and someone in the audience asked, “Who’s your favorite kill?” and he said, “Carlos is my favorite kill, because who’s a better Freddy kill than a handicapped person?” I thought, “Oh man, that’s so harsh,” at the time, but it stuck, so, yeah, I’m Freddy’s favorite kill.
Movie: Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1991)
Victim: Kelly Meeker, played by Kathleen Kinmont, podcaster and author of I Should’ve Been Nicer to Quentin Tarantino — and Other Short Stories of Epic Fails and Saves
Manner of Death: Impaled with a shotgun and hung on a wall (Michael Myers can do this with anything)
In Kinmont’s Own Words: Kelly was the daughter of the sheriff, which instantly puts a target on her head. She ends up getting impaled with a sawed-off shotgun through the torso and then hung on a door. I think it was included as one of the five most ridiculous death scenes in horror films. She doesn’t see it coming, either!
To do it, they put a harness on me underneath my shirt that was attached to a wire that went through the door. I also had some bike shorts on and I actually sat on a bike seat that was mounted onto the door when I got pulled up so that my feet could dangle. Everything was covered by my shirt, of course.
That harness was so tight that it was cutting off something inside my body when I was hanging up for a few minutes. When I got down, I had to sit down for a minute. I asked the stunt guy about it, and he explained that my kidneys were filling back up now — so I literally got the pee squeezed out of me for that role.
It was a pretty cool thing to be a part of and people love talking about it at conventions and stuff. Michael Myers is such a great villain — that mask with that hollow, blank, eyeless expression — and he just appears. He’s just there, and it gets you every time. I wish I could be a part of more Halloweens, but Rob Zombie won’t cast me.
Movie: Scream 2 (1997)
Victim: Randy Meeks, played by Jamie Kennedy
Manner of Death: Stabbed repeatedly inside of a news van after insulting the killer on the phone, an unwise thing to do in a horror film (Randy, of all people, should know this)
In Kennedy’s Own Words: I played Randy Meeks, who was the video store clerk who knows everything about horror movies imaginable and the pitfalls people need to avoid in them. I died a horrible death in Scream 2 when I was arguing with the killer on a college campus. I piss him off, and I’m by a van that slowly opens up and then he grabs me and cuts my throat. I don’t know if I would have gone near that van, but that’s what happened.
One of the cool things about the scene was that I was talking to Roger [Jackson], who’s my buddy and the voice of Ghostface, and my mother was visiting the set that day. On the phone he was saying all this crazy stuff about my mother, so those reactions are all about him saying stuff about my mom who was with him while he was on the phone. I didn’t know where they were, either, because Wes [Craven] hid them from me.
Ghostface was a great villain and is now on the Mount Rushmore of villains, because it’s mysterious and you never knew who it was — anyone could put on the costume, so it can be passed from person to person. It’s even scarier because it could be anyone.
Movie: Candyman: Day of the Dead (1999)
Victim: Lina, played by Rena Riffel
Manner of Death: Stung to death by bees
In Riffel’s Own Words: I played Lina, who was basically a party girl and the girlfriend of a character named Miguel. So, Miguel and Lina were having fun and drinking and flirting, and for some reason, my character took some honey and dripped it into my mouth. From there, a swarm of bees crashed through the window and covered me. Then Candyman appeared, and my stomach was slit open by the Candyman hook.
To do this, they put real baby bees on me and brought in a beekeeper. They use baby bees because they don’t have venom yet. There were also prosthetics of clumps of bees put over my body, so it was a mixture of real bees and prosthetics as well as some CGI.
It was really intense and scary. To put them on me, they took a little sand shovel and scooped them on. It felt tickly and vibrating, and they just kept putting on more and more and more of them. It was all supposed to happen in one take, but before that happened — while I was covered in baby bees — a mature bee flew into the soundstage and kept trying to land on me. So I had to wait to shoot my scene until they caught this other bee and put it outside.
Finally, we did my one take and we got through the scene, but then there was an issue — they couldn’t find the bee vacuum. It had been left on another soundstage so I had to patiently sit there and wait for them to come back with this bee vacuum. Eventually, they came back and gently removed the bees. While there was no swelling, I did have some stingers in my arms, which I was able to pull out. Maybe the whole thing took a half hour, but it felt like a really long time. Even now, while I like bees and have watched bee documentaries and I appreciate what they do for the planet, I still think of that experience when I see them.
Movie: Saw (2004)
Victim: Paul Leahy, played by Mike Butters
Manner of Death: Sliced up by a maze of razor wire
In Butters’ Own Words: Paul Leahy was a bad guy: He was a drug addict, he messed around on his wife, and Jigsaw wanted him to pay for that, so he was drugged and woke up in a thing of razor wire. He was given a time limit to get out of the maze and over time the maze got more complicated. He tried to get through and eventually succumbed to his cuts. It was probably a very painful death for Paul. Even doing it was a bit painful because I was in this enclosed space. The razor wire wasn’t real, but flailing around on this rubber substance did give me some cuts.
My character later appeared in Saw 3, 4 and 5 — there was some speculation as to why Paul was killed by Jigsaw, as he was Jigsaw’s first victim. There was some talk that maybe Paul and Jigsaw knew each other, but they ended up going in another direction.
Jigsaw’s a great character. He’s so much more methodical and intelligent than most other horror villains, which makes him really interesting. I was actually offered the role of Jigsaw, but in the first script, there wasn’t a lot for that character to do, so I gratefully declined. I was looking for a bigger part and my manager, who was producing the film, said, “Trust me, trust me,” but I didn’t and I should have. But Tobin [Bell] did a fantastic job and the rest is history. It was a great experience though, and a great franchise to be a part of.
Movie: Hellraiser: Revelations (2011)
Victim: Sarah Craven, played by Devon Sorvari
Manner of Death: Ripped apart by chains
In Sorvari’s Own Words: I played the mother of two kids who go away to Mexico, find the puzzle box and accidentally unleash Pinhead. When I die in the movie, giant hooks on chains come flying at me. I get hooked through the collar bones and the cheeks, then I get pulled off into the darkness, where I’m presumably horribly murdered by Cenobites.
The makeup in that movie was amazing. It took a long time because the cheeks and the skin around my collarbone were made of foam, so they molded these foam pieces and glued them to my face and then put makeup on it to blend. It took a couple of hours to put it on, and I had these pieces on me all day, like during my lunch break and everything else. It’s funny though, while I enjoyed doing the movie, I’m really not a horror fan. I’m the biggest baby, so I’m terrified of scary movies.
Movie: Texas Chainsaw (2013)
Victim: Officer Marvin, played by James Macdonald
Manner of Death: Attacked with a hatchet
In Macdonald’s Own Words: Officer Marvin was just a small-town cop who was a little bit too cocky for his own good. He got into a big fight with Leatherface at the top of a flight of stairs, where he beat the crap out of me and threw me into these glass cabinets that shattered. Then he dragged me downstairs when I was still alive and peeled off my face.
The process was pretty intense. They took a cast of my face that was then laid over my face so you could see all the veins and the muscles and the tissue — it was actually pretty disturbing to do. It was my first horror film and it was fun, but it’s even scary to be in those movies. Like, there was this basement dungeon and it was gruesome — there were bowls full of fingers and half torsos hanging and things like that, and it all looks real. Leatherface is scary too! You never see his face, so that’s kind of a classic horror trait with him and Jason and Michael Myers and all that. But really, it’s all about the sound of that chainsaw coming at you — it’s so iconic. It’s terrifying!
Movie: Cult of Chucky (2017)
Victim: Nurse Carlos, played by Zak Santiago
Manner of Death: Stabbed with a knife, drilled with a power drill and sliced open with a broken bottle (there were three Chuckys — it’s pretty complicated)
In Santiago’s Own Words: I love the Chucky franchise and I loved my experience with it. Don Mancini — the creator of the Chucky franchise — wrote and directed this one, so the whole process was directly with Don, which was so cool because Don is the guy, you know? He’s a genius.
When Don approached me, he told me, “You’re going to have the most unprecedented death in the whole Chucky franchise — three Chuckys kill you.” So I was like, “Woah!” and was pretty excited about it. My character, Carlos, was a gay nurse working in this asylum hospital, and he gets attacked by these three dolls. He gets torn up and disemboweled and knifed down — it was a pretty crazy death.
For the Chucky puppets, there were a few different ones that did a few different things, because some are better for facial expressions and others are better for physical movements, so there’s a mix of those puppets during my death scene. They’re all operated by hydraulics by these amazing puppeteers offscreen. For some shots, there’s also this actor named Linden [Porco] who fits into a doll costume, so Chucky is sometimes a person in a suit. As for the voice of Chucky, it’s usually pre-recorded and played live on set, but sometimes Brad Dourif — who’s been the voice of Chucky since the original — reads it live, which is really cool.
Really, the whole thing was just such an amazing thing to be a part of. Before this, I’d done a ton of sci-fi and there’s a dedicated fandom to sci-fi, but this was my first big introduction to the horror fandom, and there are people who are just so deeply into the body of and the history of horror films. Overall, it’s a pretty cool club to be in — to be killed by one of those big horror villains.