Top 10 Movie Demons
“Explorers in the further regions of experience. Demons to some. Angels to others.”
– Pinhead, “Hellraiser” (1987)
1. A typically benevolent celestial being that acts as an intermediary between heaven and earth
1. An evil spirit or supernatural being; devil or fiend.
As the lead cenobite in Clive Barker’s blood-soaked montage of phantasmagorias so eloquently put it, angels and demons can frequently become interchangeable – depending on one’s viewpoint. For this list, however, we’ll focus primarily on the darker side of celestial entities – because villainous, fallen angels are just so much more fun than white-robed, cherub-cheeked, jovial spirits.
10. The Djinn from Wishmaster (1997)
The movie itself was no masterpiece, but it did manage to spawn three feature-length sequels, albeit straight-to-video. As far as demons go, however, the Djinn was a creatively twisted adversary with some decent makeup effects on his side. Against him, of course, are the limitations of being an evil genie, and a cunning Tammy Lauren.
9. The Dementors from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
Soul-sucking immortal fiends, these eyeless, gaping-mouthed demons feed on positive emotions, draining all the happiness and intelligence from their victims. They’re stationed around the Azkaban prison, but tend to find work as free-roaming bodyguards for the more fearless. In the books, they grow like fungi in dark, moist places, creating a chilly fog wherever they go. Plus, it’s rumored that they like rainbows and lollipops … but those predilections won’t be found in the Harry Potter films.
8. The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters (1984)
Gozer, the shape-shifting Sumerian god of destruction, commands the Ghostbusters to choose the form it will assume to destroy the world. And thus, the colossal 100-foot-tall Stay Puft Marshmallow Man was born. And shortly after that, the world’s largest s’mores.
7. The Angel of Death from Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)
Rather a demonic-looking angel, this Pan’s Labyrinth-esque creation did grant life back to our hero, contrived though it may be. At least it had wings. Although, those wings had eyes on them, which circles back to how much director Guillermo del Toro likes his monsters to have peepers located anywhere but on the face.
6. The Balrog of Moria from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
Its very name meaning “cruel demon” (at least in Gnomish), the Balrog was a towering evil spirit of flame that was one of the most feared creatures in Middle-Earth. Oddly, it was defeated by a frumpy old wizard with a stick. But in the cinematic universe of the ring and its various lords, monsters of overwhelming sizes tend to fall at the hand of diminutive protagonists.
5. Eric Draven from The Crow (1994)
Resurrected by the mysterious title avian, Eric Draven becomes something of an angel of revenge to bring justice to the street gang that caused the death of his wife and, of course, himself. With a face painted up to look like a cross between Batman’s Joker, Michael Myers’ mask, and the Phantom of the Opera, Eric is one of the more demonic heroes to murder a bunch of thugs in the name of zombified comeuppance. And one would have to be quite the angel to forgive “The Crow’s” three increasingly awful sequels.
4. Death from The Seventh Seal (1958)
A classic vision of the angel of death, Bengt Ekerot’s pasty-visaged, black-cloaked phantom isn’t all about dragging unfortunate souls to the underworld. Sometimes he likes to play a good game of chess. And so, Max von Sydow’s Crusades-fighting knight plots to stall off his own demise by moving some pawns around the board. Who knew Death could be so sportsmanlike?
3. The Lord of Darkness from Legend (1985)
A heavily-costumed Tim Curry portrays the monstrous devil in Ridley Scott’s cult fantasy. Once again, it would seem that the more demonic a villain’s appearance (the makeup and prosthetics are absolutely astounding here), the more ludicrous their weakness. This dark lord is dispatched like a mere Gremlin. But it doesn’t stop him from being far more memorable than the heroes.
2. Pumpkinhead from the Pumpkinhead films
It may hobble around like an ungainly xenomorph, but Pumpkinhead (a silly name that gains some respect when his head shape and features are revealed) is one of the most enduring of movie demons (like the Djinn from “Wishmaster,” this demon gained a slew of cheesy sequels). He’s summoned by a witch and linked to the psyche of a dead boy, intent on slaughtering a band of adolescent troublemakers, thrill-seeking teens, an unfortunate mortician, and even feuding families, depending on which adventure you seek. Coincidentally, Rawhead Rex, a pagan beast, was introduced a year before “Pumpkinhead,” but the even clunkier Rex would end up virtually forgotten – except by diehard horror fans.
1. Pinhead (and all his various cenobites) from the Hellraiser films
The ultimate hellbound demon, Pinhead (a.k.a. The Black Pope of Hell, The Angel of Suffering, The Dark Prince of Pain), rules a realm of infinite torture with his cenobite crew of mutilated souls. The first film from 1987 afforded the most impressive supporting hellions (including Butterball and Chatterer), before a hefty helping of sequels somehow managed only hopelessly inferior derivations. Though Julia and Uncle Frank may be the real villains, the iconic pincushion-faced nemesis is the only valid reason to watch any of the numerous follow-ups with their laughable, copycat minions. We’re talking about you, Camerahead.