You Voted: The Greatest Horror Genre Icons

Herner Klenthur

We recently asked our readers to vote on the greatest horror icons of all time. Our question was very open-ended and we did not specify director, actor, writer or other. We left it entirely up to you our readers to choose what came to mind when we asked ‘Great Horror Icons’

We received thousands of votes with 191 important horror genre names nominated. Clearly since this is a film site the greatest were in the movie business but a few literary giants also made the list.

We have tallied the votes and this is the final list of the 25 most important and popular Horror Icons of all time.

Regardless of where the names appear on the list each one of these people have made a serious contribution to our genre without debate or question.

#25 Anthony Hopkins

Not many actors have had the careers that Anthony Hopkins has. He starred in the 1992 Dracula as Van Helsing, played one of the most iconic movie villains of all time in Silence of the Lambs and continues to wow movie goers throughout the world with his work as Odin in the new Marvel THOR movies. A very deserving person to have on this list.

Silence of the Lambs

#24 Lon Chaney

Lon Chaney starred in over 160 films in his career and for me is a favorite for his work in the classic Hunchback of Notre Dame. I think it says a lot for the depth and maturity of our readers that somebody like Lon made the list. Give yourselves a pat on the back!


#23 Jeffrey Combs

Jeffrey Combs really needs no introduction and really put his stamp on our genre with his work in Re-Animator but that is hardly his only role in the genre. He has contributed his acting chops and voice work to over 100 films in his career. One of my personal favorites was his role of the creepy FBI agent in Peter Jackson’s The Frighteners.

reanimator 01

#22 Mario Bava

Mario Bava is a legendary Italian director and writer who is best known for films like The Evil Eyes, Black Sabbath and a Bay of Blood to name a few. He has over 37 film credits to his name and is one of the true greats in the horror genre.


#21 Jamie Lee Curtis

Jamie Lee Curtis is not only an icon she is a great symbol of women in the horror genre. Sure she may be best known as a Scream Queen but her interviews on and off camera have shown she is a strong woman with deep moral values and somebody we can all look up to.


#20 HP Lovecraft

HP Lovecraft wrote a whole slew of short stories [ 10 best HP Lovecraft Horror Movies ] in the early 1900’s which made him famous but he still managed to die penniless. Since his death his short stories have been adapted into over one hundred films and he has been given credit for inspiring many more. If you have not read his novel In The Mouth of Madness be sure you do!


#19 Bruce Campbell

I was hoping Bruce Campbell would land in the Top 10 of this list but it was purely for selfish reasons. I am a die-hard fan of Mr Campbell’s and his work in Evil Dead will always for me be nothing short of legendary.  I am incredibly excited to see him hit the big screen again in Army of Darkness 2

Bruce Campbell, Ash

#18 Tony Todd

Tony Todd is another name like Bruce Campbell that we all knew would make this list it was just never clear how far up or down the list. Tony Todd has starred in over 170 movies and is best known for his role in 2012’s Sushi Girl and the classic terror ‘Candyman’


#17 Lucio Fulci

Is George Romero the father of the zombie genre or is Lucio Fulci? We might be debating that one forever but there is no denying that italian director Lucio Fulci is an icon of our genre for his work on the gory and brutal zombie films aptly titled ‘Zombi’. Word of advice after the first two they get REALLY bad and Zombi 5 and 6 are not even about Zombies if memory serves me right.

lucio fulci zombi

#16 Doug Bradley

Doug Bradley is really known best for one role even though he has had a lengthy career in the genre and that role is Pinhead from Hellraiser. He will reportedly reprise that role in the upcoming Hellraiser remake which Clive Barker is working on.


#15 Kane Hodder

Just like Bruce Campbell and Tony Todd I figured Kane Hodder would get enough votes to land on the list and I was right. You voted this iconic tough guy to the #15 spot on the list. When you need a big bulky bad ass to play your creepy man in the mask or iconic monster Kane Hodder is your man! He has starred in everything from Brad Pitt’s SEVEN to Adam Green’s FROZEN. Kane Hodder is without question a horror icon!

Diary of Anne Frankenstein - Kane Hodder

#14 Alfred Hitchcock

Alfred Hitchcock is one of the true greats of the horror genre and his appearance on this list is no surprise. PSYCHO redefined the horror genre and he managed to pull off his movie magic over and over with hit after hit including The Birds, Rear View Window and many more!

hitchcock the birds

#13 Tobe Hooper

Tobe Hooper also makes the list and you voted him #13. This man deserves to be on the list for a dozen different reasons but the one that stands out most is that he directed and wrote one of the greatest horror movies of all time The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2

#12 Tom Savini

Tom Savini is a polarizing man with his fans but love him or hate him he is a legend in the genre not only for his special effects talents but also for his work behind the camera on the Night of the Living Dead remake and in front of it in over 50 different movies including From Dusk Till Dawn, Dawn of the Dead and Machete.

Night of the Living Dead

#11 Peter Cushing

Once again our community shows that you they have some serious depth when it comes to the genre as Peter Cushing gets voted into the #11 spot. Peter Cushing is best known to mainstream movie fans for his role in Star Wars but for the rest of us horror movie fans its his work in The Horrors of Dracula and the Curse of Frankenstein that make him an icon of the horror genre.

Peter Cushing Horror of Dracula

#10 Dario Argento

I am going to anger a few people by saying Dario Argento is not one of my favorite directors but I do agree he is an icon. He deserves to be on the list for his consistent creepy contribution to the horror genre including Suspiria, Tenebre, and Demons just to name a few. He is also father to another genre icon that did not make the list, can you guess her name? Asia Argento of course!


#9 Clive Barker

Not many directors have not one, not two, not three but a handful of award worthy horror films under their belt. Clive Barker is an icon because he brought us Candyman, Hellraiser and The Midnight Meat Train … just to name a few.


#8 Christopher Lee

Christopher Lee is best known to modern film fans for playing Saruman in Lord of the Rings but horror fans who know the genre respect him for his work in classics like The Horror Of Dracula, The Mummy, The Curse of Frankenstein and more. Once again our readers show their depth by voting Christopher Lee a relative unknown to new horror genre fans into the Top 10.

Christopher lee Horror of Dracula

#7 Stephen King

Stephen King is best known for being one of the most important horror authors of our time. He is also well-known for having most of his movies completely ruined on the big screen. Stephen King recently made his triumphant return to the big leagues with his second chapter to The Shining titled ‘Doctor Sleep’

WTFThe Mist

#6 George Romero

George Romero is not only an icon but is also a hero of mine. I have met him on many occasions and he is such a likeable and under stated man. As of late he has become a bit infamous for trash talking The Walking Dead but that doesn’t take away that he is the father of the modern zombie genre.

Would there be a Walking Dead without George Romero? Hard to say but without question he paved the way.


#5 Robert Englund

Robert Englund is best known for playing the ultimate nightmare Freddy. He parlayed that role into a staggering and in-depth career totaling over 140 acting roles. Much like many of the other names on this list Robert Englund needs no introduction.

Freddy vs Jason

#4 Bela Lugosi

Between 1917 and 1959 Bela Lugosi starred in over 110 films including 1939’s Dracula, 1935’s Mark of the Vampire and 1934’s The Black Cat. When it comes to classic horror genre icons Bela Lugosi is without question at the top of the heap. You all voted him to #4 and I defy anyone to disagree.


#3 Boris Karloff

Boris Karloff much like Bela Lugosi is a genre icon from back in the day having starred in such iconic genre films as 1931’s Frankenstein, 1932’s The Mummy and 1935’s Bride of Frankenstein to name a few. Boris Karloff had over 200 movie credits to his name before he passed away and is a deserving name on this list.


#2 Vincent Price

Those of you who love the genre and know it well were probably wondering when and if Vincent Price’s name would appear on the list. He gets the very prestigious number two spot on our list. Vincent Price starred in more movies than we can count including The Last Man on Earth, 1953’s House of Wax and the 1958 science-fiction terror The Fly.

Vincent Price Birthday- 27 May 2011

#1 John Carpenter

Number one on the list is the incredibly talented John Carpenter and as much as I love every name on this list of genre icons I think that the #1 choice that our readers made is bang on. He has contributed so much to the genre and created some of the greatest genre franchises including Halloween, The Escape From franchise, The Thing, They Live, and so much more!

John Carpenter is a phenom and I can not think of a single movie of his that I do not own and love!


Who do you think our readers missed and who would you add? Remember the question was open ended and the votes were plentiful but the answers are conclusive!


Our policy for commenting is simple. If you troll or post spam or act like a child we will send you to your room without dinner and take away your posting priviledges. Have fun, be polite!

      1. Xavier Bernal November 24, 2013 at 10:51 pm

        Sci-fi/ supernatural

      2. Daniel Demented Mendez November 24, 2013 at 10:51 pm

        Hunchback of notre dame

      3. John Staunton November 24, 2013 at 10:57 pm

        Lon Cheney Sr.

      4. Greg Adams November 24, 2013 at 11:00 pm

        I love John but seems Boris has been Iconic representation of Genre for well over 50 years I think that earns 1 . IMHO anyway

        • Todd Nichols November 27, 2013 at 2:55 am

          100% Agreed !!

      5. Graham Landers November 24, 2013 at 11:03 pm

        I don’t know, without Bela and Boris, their might not have been a horror genre as we know it today. My nod would be to Boris since I liked both of his Frankenstein and The Mummy more than Dracula.

      6. Matthew Baxter November 24, 2013 at 11:07 pm

        Linnea Quigley and Elvira should get at least a mention.

        • Horror-Movies.ca
          Horror-Movies.ca November 25, 2013 at 10:48 pm

          they got more then 1 mention just not enough to top the list unfortunately

      7. Jason Hammond November 24, 2013 at 11:41 pm

        I would say the only glaring omissions are William Castle and Herschel Gordon Lewis.

      8. Lena Stange November 25, 2013 at 1:39 am

        Vincent Price was the greatest

        • David Ransom November 25, 2013 at 9:06 pm

          I totally agree that Vincent Price was the greatest horror actor ever. Also Lon Chaney, Boris Karloff, Peter Cushing, and Christopher Lee. But don’t rate Bella Lugosi at all – he couldn’t scare a young child!

      9. Callum Harrison November 25, 2013 at 1:57 am

        It is ‘Rear Window’ not ‘Rear View Window’ just to point out 😛

        And I agree with Dario Argento, he has had some great film like Suspiria but he hasn’t made a good film since Opera.

        • David Ransom November 25, 2013 at 9:09 pm

          – and that version – like all the others since Chaney’s phantom – was pretty good, but not a patch on the Lon Chaney version!

      10. Matt Kunka November 25, 2013 at 2:23 am

        Well deserving number one!!

      11. James Swarner November 25, 2013 at 3:02 am

        Bela Lugosi

      12. Tom Kennedy November 25, 2013 at 3:24 am

        Rod Serling anyone?????

      13. John W November 25, 2013 at 4:44 am

        Lovecraft wrote At The Mountains of Madness.

      14. caja88 November 25, 2013 at 4:54 am

        Sammy Terry! Joe Bob Briggs! Elvira!!! U guys suck! Badly suck!

      15. caja88 November 25, 2013 at 5:09 am

        R.L. Stein, Ray Bradbury, and yes Tom Kennedy Rod Serling! What about Karen Black? KNB Effects Team? Rick Baker? Roberts Blossom? Larry Fessenden? Bava? Gaspar Noe? Miriam Dory?
        I’ve never read a more pretentious fail of a list in my life! Exactly why horror blows anymore! Hey! You guys forgot the paranormal series….whatever

      16. Mab Cloggy November 25, 2013 at 6:42 am

        Biggest peice of shit list ever done

      17. Douglas Rowe November 25, 2013 at 6:47 am

        Wow… Kane Hodder, Doug Bradley and Tony Todd all rank higher as “iconic” figures than Lon Chaney, who created some of the most patently iconic performances AND character make-ups of all time with “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” “The Phantom of the Opera,” and “London After Midnight”? Astounding…

        • David Ransom November 25, 2013 at 9:13 pm

          Yes, I was really shocked to see those names above Lon Chaney’s! Ridiculous! What is the world coming to!?

        • Horror-Movies.ca
          Horror-Movies.ca November 25, 2013 at 10:48 pm

          Did you vote? I was surprised so many classics made the list at all!

        • Douglas Rowe
          Douglas Rowe November 26, 2013 at 1:03 am

          Why the surprise that “so many classics” made the list? Are you suggesting that horror fans in general tend to overlook the genre’s long history, and focus more on recent film/books/television programs, with which they are far more familiar? Or are you suggesting that the horror genre attracts many younger fans, who are often guilty of the above tendencies (no matter what aspects of pop culture hold their attention, horror-based or not)? Or, is it simply the fact that internet (and particularly social media-based) polls also usually skew younger, and that’s why you were surprised by the inclusion of the “classics” that made it into the top 25? I think all three scenarios are ripe for discussion/debate, and I don’t totally disagree with any of those notions.

        • Todd Nichols November 27, 2013 at 3:03 am

          YES…was really blown away when I seen Lon Sr. below the likes of Tony Todd, Doug Bradley and Kane Hodder !! Chaney started the American Horror Film and created CLASSIC pieces of Horror Cinema without even speaking !!….Tony Todd was Candyman….Doug Bradley was Pinhead….Kane Hodder was one of the many actors to portray Jason !!! In MY LIST, Lon Chaney Sr. is Number ONE !!!!

      18. Wilber Peñate November 25, 2013 at 8:41 am

        Totally forgot the German art cinema that brought us the classic Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Nosferatu. Ooh and Stephen King.

      19. Wilber Peñate November 25, 2013 at 8:42 am

        Ed Wood

        • David Ransom November 25, 2013 at 9:14 pm


      20. Juan José Morales A. November 25, 2013 at 4:57 pm

        Rod serling with thw twilight zone?, more than iconic…genius

      21. Kerry Grant November 25, 2013 at 8:14 pm

        Where the hell was Barbara Steele? She’s is the Queen of Horror.

        • David Ransom November 25, 2013 at 9:17 pm

          – and don’t forget Sheila Keith! For me, she’s the Queen!

      22. David Ransom November 25, 2013 at 9:19 pm

        There was H.P. Lovecraft – great! – but where was Edgar Allan Poe!!?

      23. David Ransom November 25, 2013 at 9:29 pm

        With horror classics such as Psycho, The Birds, Frenzy, and, for me, the most frightening of all: the psychological horror masterpiece Spellbound, I was really surprised that Hitchcock wasn’t right up there near the No. 1 spot, if not actually on it!

      24. Derek Smith November 26, 2013 at 2:46 am

        We should also include Wes Craven,,& Linnea Quigley & Takashi Miike, Eli Roth,Rob Zombie,& early San Raimi & PeterJackson!!!

      25. Shannon Hubbell (@brundlefly) November 26, 2013 at 8:30 am

        Errr… That picture under “Doug Bradley” is of Andrew Robinson as Larry/Frank.

      26. Shannon Hubbell (@brundlefly) November 26, 2013 at 8:32 am

        Oh, and for the love of Pete. Lovecraft wrote AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS. IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS was an original Lovecraftian film.

      27. Denis Alarie November 26, 2013 at 12:19 pm

        Im happy with the list even though i think wes craven should have definitely made the list. Now im a rob zombie fan,but anyone saying he should have made the list should have the head examined. Definitely would have been riots .

      28. Corvus Coen November 26, 2013 at 3:14 pm

        Bela Lugosi’s Dracula was in 1931 not 1939.

      29. Jamie close November 26, 2013 at 3:33 pm

        Lugosi’s Dracula was 1931.

      30. fredkrueger29 November 26, 2013 at 4:44 pm

        Wes Craven?????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • Michael kruger November 27, 2013 at 12:55 am

          I know, right

      31. Sarah Walker November 26, 2013 at 4:49 pm

        Thank you Shannon @ brundlefly for correcting that annoyance. As if Lovecraft hasn’t been discredited enough with incorrect references!! I’m pretty sure Stephan King wrote In the Mouth of Madness, well 80% sure.

      32. Brian November 27, 2013 at 2:14 am

        It’s Rear Window…not Rear View Window. LOL!!!!

      33. Jamie g November 27, 2013 at 6:53 am

        Please make best of Netflix horror 2013

      34. Tiago November 29, 2013 at 6:28 pm

        I think it is absurd to suggest that John Carpenter is the ultimate horror icon. Ridiculous, really.
        About Lovecraft, I also love in the mouth of madness, but for horror fans I would really recommend The Shadow Over Innsmouth or the early short stories, these are the gold for horror fans. Lovecraft, King and Hitchckock are on the top of my list. No James Whale? Val Lewton? That is also absurd.

      35. Jeff December 1, 2013 at 5:53 pm

        Seriously people?? You guys seem outraged that this list wasn’t geared to your individual tastes. Not everyone likes the exact same films or icons.This list represents the most known and recognized people for this genre and I mostly agree with it. Thanks for a good list HM.CA

      36. Ed December 1, 2013 at 10:16 pm

        Where’s Wes Craven?Carpenter may have pretty much created the slasher genre with Halloween, but Craven’s Nightmare perfected it.

      37. Matt January 5, 2014 at 12:03 am

        Wes Craven, David Cronenberg… Also, Tony Todd beats out Bruce Campbell? Damn.

      38. Timothy Kicior October 4, 2014 at 6:52 pm

        Good call but i think a few are out of order

      39. 00ghoul00 October 4, 2014 at 9:30 pm

        boris karloff is the far and away greatest horror icon. no contest- game over. imho.
        he is, still to this day, synonymous with the horror genre.