Disturbingly Realistic Horror Movie Killers

Maybe this Halloween you’ll watch Freddy or Jason or Samara or Pennywise stalking and murdering their victims, and then you turn off the movie safe in the knowledge that such a monster cannot exist in the real world. Magic, demons, aliens, ghosts, curses…they dwell in our imaginations, ready to give us a thrill from the confines of entertainment.

Or maybe you want a real scare. Let’s look at the horror movie killers who are disturbingly real. Someone that could very well be lurking in the shadows, sneaking through your home or even standing behind you right now…



Played (originally) by Skeet Ulrich and Matthew Lillard

Although Wes Craven’s classic deconstruction of the slasher genre is somewhat satirical, the idea at the heart of Ghostface is unsettling. The world is packed full of horror fans and the nagging feeling that maybe one of them will take their interest too far. It’s an established fact that serial killers dwell in the realm of fantasy before acting in the real world. If someone wishes to recreate their favourite slasher moments it might look like this.



Played by Kathy Bates

If you’ve been to a convention you’ll be familiar with the obsessive fan. We all like getting into costume, meeting like-minded folk and having the chance to see our heroes in person, but there’s always the ones who seem a little off. They’re the reason celebrity guests have minders to keep the line going. Fans can be a little intense, and Stephen King turned one such encounter into one of his most memorable psychopaths.


The Invisible Man

Played by Oliver Jackson-Cohen

For this list we excluded killers who relied on technology or other gadgets, which should exclude this horror newcomer. Leigh Whannell’s new take on the classic tale features a domestic abuser who is an absolute nightmare with or without his invisibility suit. We see that his partner Cecilia lives in fear of him, and has to go to extreme lengths in order to leave him. Griffin’s drive to control those he considers dear to him results in manipulation, threats and murder, and it’s this existing psychosis that leads to the creation of his suit. With or without the technology, he’s a real nightmare.


Peeping Tom

Played by Karlheinz Böhm

One of the earliest serial killers in cinema…actually appearing on screens a few months ahead of Psycho…and one of the most disturbing. Lewis suffered psychological trauma after being the subject of his father’s experiments into fear. Now he lures women into his studio and films their terror with his camera while impaling them on the sharpened tripod legs. It sounds gimmicky, but director Michael Powell exploring the themes of voyeurism and the role of the audience decades before social media made it a much more prominent issue.


Wolf Creek

Played by John Jarratt

After decades of hosting lifestyle shows on Australian television, good-natured and trusted John Jarratt turned his public image on its head with this twisted psychopath. A trio of backpackers get stranded in the outback and see Mick as salvation, until he turns them into targets for his hunt. Based on the real life Ivan Milat, Wolf Creek puts audiences in the position of his victims and brings the real life terror to our screens.



Played by Eihi Shiina

Aoyama is a widower who comes up with a whacky scheme to meet new women: hold auditions for actors! He is instantly smitten with Asami, but the mysterious woman turns out to be hard to pin down. There’s some odd disappearances and injuries among people who know her, but Aoyama can’t help but pursue her. Sadly for Aoyama, he does discover Asami’s secret…that she’s a sadist with a perchance for needles and dismemberment. Kiri, kiri, kiri, kiri…


The Shining

Played by Jack Nicholson

There’s some insane cases of mass murder in the world that defy belief. But they’re all weird loners on the outskirts on society, the anomalies who went off the path of normalcy long ago. Even more disturbing are the one’s who murdered their own families. There’s something especially upsetting about a parent taking an axe to their own children, like some kind of pervasion of nature.

What, he’s driven mad by ghosts? Well…yes. Or perhaps it’s all in his head. There’s a argument for both and we’re cheating.



Played by four canine performers.

Nothing in the rules said they had to be human, and a psychotic mutt is plenty scary. The rampaging St. Bernard was a friendly pooch until he is bitten by a rapid rabbit, transmitting the disease to Cujo himself. When a solid good boy turns into a foam mouthed bloody killer with the strength to knock a normal sized person to the ground it’s pure nightmare fuel…and something that could very well happen.


Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer

Played by Michael Rooker

You may know Michael Rooker for playing unhinged ruffians in Guardians of the Galaxy, The Belko Experiment, The Walking Dead and more. He earned a reputation for playing rough characters with his debut performance in the gritty and heavily censored and restricted Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. The remorseless and compulsive murderous drifter comes across as all to real for our liking.


The Strangers

Played by Gemma Ward, Kip Weeks, Laura Margolis

Why are they doing this? Because you were home. Allegedly based on reports of home invaders picking random people to attack, and tapping into our fears of unexpected shootings and terrorism intruding into our everyday lives, this slow burn thriller will make your skin crawl. Three masked people appear on the doorstep of an innocuous couple and spend the night tormenting them for no reason whatsoever. Eventually it’s the hopelessness of their plight that leaves us unsettled…and that one of the strangers is from my home town.



Played by Peter Lorre

Legendary German film-maker Fritz Lang is best known for his sci-fi epic Metropolis, but his invention of the serial killer movie is a lower key masterpiece. For the longest time during the movie we only recognise the child killer by his shadow and tell-tale whistling of ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King’. When he is revealed, he’s disturbingly normal until we see the uncontrollable compulsion to murder innocent children take hold. Almost as disturbing is how quickly the people of Berlin turn into a mindless lynch mob when they corner Beckert.


The Hitcher

Played by Rutger Hauer

On the rural backroads of the USA a disturbed killer seeks out victims by hitchhiking. Equal parts cold and gleefully sinister, Ryder conjures up fears of strangers lurking outside of our safe towns and suburbs, waiting for us to fall into their traps. There’s something disturbingly human about Ryder’s desire to find a true rival, someone who could challenge him at his own game.



Played by Anthony Perkins

Obviously we’re including Bates. Alfred Hitchcock’s genre defining thriller defied industry expectations through its blend of psychology and suspense. They always said he was quiet, kept to himself and seemed harmless…except a demented, damaged mind lurked underneath. When Marion Crane stumbles into his world, Norman’s broken mind drives him to reveal the madness within.