You would be hard pressed to find an author who has created such terrifying monsters as the most prolific modern horror author himself, Stephen King. Of all the monstrous creations he has concocted to keep us up all night, there are five monsters in particular from his fiction that have frightened me more deeply than the others. But, before we continue, let’s discuss the elephant in the room. There are many villains in the Kingaverse, and we could get in a hot debate over the most powerful or memorable or charismatic , but Randall Flagg is the biggest baddie of them all. He is the fallen angel of King’s literary universe but he isn’t appropriate for this countdown. For this top 5 list, I will name monsters in their truest forms. I am listing five creatures that inspire terror the moment you see them:
5. Barlow: The main baddie of Salem’s Lot presents the true visage of the vampire as remorseless predator that will feed on love and human weaknesses to sate its bloodlust. As the wicked force that is naturally attracted to the evil place (the Marsten house), Barlow turns the town of Salem’s Lot into a nightmarish husk. Owing more to Nosferatu than Dracula, Barlow is one of the most frightening vampires committed to fiction.
4. The Monster from the Crate (aka Fluffy): You have to love Creepshow. And when this Tasmanian devil lumbers out of his crate, it is one of the most frightening creatures ever seen on film (thanks to Tom Savini’s excellent effects). I saw this in the theater when it was first released theatrically and this segment scared the hell out of me!
3. The Beasties from The Mist: The Mist is King’s most Lovecraftian work. But where Lovecraft was sometimes disconnected with his audience, King makes HPL’s universal horror of the unknown more intimate as a group of people in a grocery store try to survive a mist that has rolled in and houses slithering tentacles of terror and unimaginable creatures. After reading this classic novella or watching the rather bleak movie adaptation (I recommend the black and white cut, BTW), you will never see a rolling bank of fog and not shudder at the horrific possibilities residing inside.
2. Cujo: A rabid Saint Bernard. Shit. That is absolutely terrifying. A menacing dog is scary enough, but when the gentle Cujo turns into a ferocious, raging monster after contracting rabies from a bat bite, it is deeply frightening because, under the right set of circumstances, this could happen to you; on the quiet street where you live.
1. Pennywise: King was making clowns scary a long time before so many of these posers out there today, and there is no scary clown that tops Pennywise! He is the Godfather of scary clowns. A soul-consuming, alien creature that can take on the guise of your worst fear, Pennywise fuels unease at first glance. But when those fangs of his jut from his mouth, there is nothing but all-consuming fear that seasons his feast. Pennywise is the scariest King monster on my list!
So there you have it! Please mention any King monsters you think I overlooked in the comments!