10 Most Horrifying Cartoon Characters

One of the things that appeals to me about doing a weekly Top 10 is the ability to think outside the box and go for topics that might not be strictly tied to horror movies, but more to horror in general. Case in point: this week's Tuesday Top 10, in which I am taking a look at the most frightening animated characters it's ever been my perverse pleasure to witness.

When considering candidates, I ruled out movies/shows intended only for grown-ups; it would've been too easy to collect a bunch of baddies from Heavy Metal, The Maxx, Wizards, etc. No, I thought it would be much more of a challenge to focus on characters that have actually scared the bejeezus out of little kids--in some cases, little B-Sol himself. Oh, the benefits of a horror-drenched childhood!

10. Cruella De Vil

101 Dalmations (1961)
She resembles a harpy, has vicious streaks of white through her hair, and her all-consuming goal in life is to slaughter a gigantic litter of puppies and use their skin to make a coat for herself. If that isn't the stuff of nightmares, then I don't know what is.

9. Gollum

The Hobbit (1977)
My fifth grade teacher thought it would be cool to show us this Rankin-Bass TV chestnut in class. Imagine my ten-year-old mind reeling at the sight of this bizarre, freakish thing. Still, this movie did kick off a lifelong Tolkien obsession. "Where there's a whip...there's a way!"

8. Maleficent

Sleeping Beauty (1959)
One of Disney's more underrated evil queens, I first came across her Satanic majesty at a double-feature of Sleeping Beauty and The Black Hole way back in Nineteen-Hundred and Eighty. I maintain this is one of the Mouse House's most boy-friendly features, and this shape-shifting bitch is one of the main reasons why.

7. Skeletor

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983-85)
Kind of a no-brainer. He's a roided-out blue dude with a skull for a head. Even though he's voiced by the same guy who did the voice of that lovable Falcor in The Neverending Story, he still freaked the snot out of me every weekday afternoon after school...

6. The Apple Bonkers

Yellow Submarine (1968)
OK, I chalk this up mainly to being a really little kid, but good lord did these guys creep me the eff out. Towering, mindless drones dropping giant apples on people's heads and turning them to stone. "Smash them! Crash them! O-BLUE-TIRATE THEM!!" Shivers...

5. The Witch

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
She was pretty hot in a secret-BDSM-fantasy kinda way in her evil queen form, but once she transforms herself into that gnarled-up, bug-eyed old crone... permanent childhood trauma. Never realized how many nightmarish villains Disney cooked up...

4. Mumm-Ra

Thundercats (1985-87)
I know, I spent way too much time on weekday afternoons watching action cartoons instead of doing my homework. But how could I pass up a show in which the main villain was a jacked-up, maniacal mummy? Although I never remember hearing him say this. Would've ruled, though.

3. General Woundwort

Watership Down (1978)
OK, do you see that picture over there? Do I need to say anything else? This flick was on constant rotation on HBO when my fam first got it in the early '80s, and this grizzled hideous old rabbit, kept me glued to the couch in terror. Or maybe that was just my mom's plastic couch coverings...?

2. Gargamel

Smurfs (1981-90)
A hideous wizard who tried relentlessly to track down a cute village of friendly, fun-loving little blue fairies. So he could cook and eat them. Maybe not as many kids deconstructed their cartoons as much as I did...

1. Other Mother

Coraline (2009)
My big regret is that I'll never know what it's like to experience the sublimely frightening Coraline as a child. But at least I got to vicariously experience it through my own progeny. And for my money, there has never been a more thoroughly soul-chilling creation to ever appear in an animated film than this grasping, malevolent, twisted perversion of motherhood. It just taps into the psyche on so many levels. Or at least my psyche. Paging Dr. Freud...

Share it: