By: Luiz H.C………
A lot of genre fans insist that the 2000s was one of the worst decades for horror, but even if most mainstream productions at that time appeared to be edgy remakes and attempted cash-ins on trends like J-horror and “Torture Porn,” the independent scene was actually stronger than ever. This is especially true for Slasher films, with the rise of digital filmmaking tools and widespread internet access allowing for fresh voices and more experimentation within the sub-genre.
This led to quite a few original Slashers that are still worth talking about today, with original villains meant to better represent the fears and anxieties of the new millennium. In fact, there are so many underrated movies and characters from that era that we decided to come up with a sequel to our original list of 6 Underappreciated Slasher Villains from the 2000s, as that decade still has a lot to offer if horror fans are willing to look.
Like last time, we’ll be focusing on the characters themselves rather than the overall quality of their respective films, and we also won’t be considering any remakes or reboots of existing villains. Naturally, don’t forget to comment with your own favorites below, as it’s always fun to look back on original characters that we think deserve more attention.
Now, onto the list…
6. Coffin Baby – Toolbox Murders (2004)
At first glance, Tobe Hooper’s underrated reimagining of Dennis Donnelly’s The Toolbox Murders might feel like it’s infringing the “no remakes” rule, but his version of a horrific murder mystery contained within an apartment complex actually features a completely different killer. The titular toolbox still makes a horrific appearance, aiding in all kinds of grisly homicide, but Coffin Baby is an entirely original creation. A supernaturally driven ghoul hell-bent on immortality, his messed-up face and sadistic tendencies make him the worst kind of nosy neighbor.
The movie itself has some issues, as it was technically never completed and Hooper was forced to re-edit the available footage into something watchable, but it’s still a fun Slasher flick with a unique setting, likable characters (Angela Bettis makes for a great lead) and a surprisingly memorable killer. The sequel is pretty fun as well, featuring even more of the deranged killer, but it’s hard to compare it to a Tobe Hooper movie.
5. The Virgin Slayer – Cherry Falls (2000)
Sabotaged by MPAA censorship, a botched theatrical release and unfair comparisons to Scream, Geoffrey Wright’s Cherry Falls is a witty subversion of Slasher tropes that deserves a lot more attention than it originally received. Starring the late, great Brittany Murphy as a genuinely likable final girl, the film also boasts a unique villain that goes against all genre conventions by exclusively targeting virgins.
The Virgin Slayer’s methods and motivation stand out more than his cross-dressing visuals, but he’s still a suitably creepy opponent with a backstory that works even better in the post-Me-Too era. While some elements of the film haven’t aged as well as others – and it’s a shame that so much of the original cut footage was lost – I’d argue that it’s even more relevant now than it was back in 2000, and that’s mostly due to the strange antagonist.
4. The Ronald Reagan Killer – The Tripper (2006)
David Arquette is obviously no stranger to horror, but I wish more genre fans would watch his criminally underseen horror-comedy, The Tripper. Featuring a hippie-slaying murderer with a bizarre Ronald Reagan obsession, the film’s stoner-comedy elements might not be for everyone, but there’s no denying that Arquette came up with one hell of a memorable killer.
Despite the film’s lighter tone, the eerie mask and suit make for a surprisingly creepy villain design that also parodies the absurd social dilemmas of the 70s. As a feature, The Tripper may have its issues, but this freakish incarnation of Ronald Reagan will live on as he hunts down cannabis-loving hippies in a lovingly crafted homage to classic exploitation flicks.
3. Satan Man – Satan’s Little Helper (2004)
Jeff Lieberman’s Satan’s Little Helper is an incredibly odd film, with bizarre tonal shifts and a sinister sense of humor, but it’s also one of my favorite Halloween movies and features one of the most entertaining murderers on this list. A devious serial killer disguised as a cartoonish depiction of the Devil, Satan Man is the real heart of this wicked little black comedy, taking on a misguided apprentice as he terrorizes the unsuspecting suburbs.
The movie’s comments on violence in media and its effect on children may seem a little exaggerated by today’s standards, but this weird comedy still holds up because of its memorable characters. The bizarre interactions between Satan Man and his number one fan are already worth the price of admission, but the gruesome kills and chilly atmosphere are what cement the flick as a perfect addition to any Halloween marathon.
2. The Butcher – The Midnight Meat Train (2006)
From Candyman to Pinhead, Clive Barker has a habit of churning out iconic antagonists that develop a life of their own as they get adapted into franchises. However, a lot of horror fans forget about The Midnight Meat Train‘s Butcher, which happens to be one of my favorite Books of Blood characters and one of the most unique killers on this list.
Played by Vinnie Jones in Ryuhei Kitamura’s highly entertaining adaptation of Barker’s short story, The Butcher is a uniquely tormented character in that his murderous hobby is more of an actual job than anything else. While I won’t spoil the movie’s horrific twist, this is one of the more tragic entries on the list, and I feel that it’s a shame that this story never got a sequel.
1. The Killer – High Tension (2003)
Featuring compelling performances, grimy visuals and genuinely disconcerting gore effects by genre veteran Giannetto De Rossi, Alexandre Aja’s High Tension is by far my favorite movie out of the New French Extremity lineup. It also happens to feature one of the most brutal antagonists of the 2000s with its sadistic Killer.
Initially dressed like a mechanic from hell, this nasty murderer is the physical manifestation of all things horrible, though he still manages to show off a sick sense of humor while engaging in a mad murder spree with his creepy old van. The eventual twist about his true nature may not be to everyone’s liking, but there’s no denying that this is one of the most memorable movie murderers out there, and a huge part of that is due to Philippe Nahon’s gleefully evil performance. Nahon may have passed away last year, but he left behind proof that solid acting and a good script are all you need to be a scary antagonist.