There's a storm drain in Derry, Maine with two eyes peeking out. The eyes belong to a clown, and the clown belongs to Stephen King's IT, a story with a singular goal: trying to scare the sh*t out of its readers. One of King's longest novels, IT doesn't bother with screwing around. This isn't just a story trying to get inside your head, it's a story trying to get you very familiar with its child-eating villain, Pennywise the Dancing Clown.
The character in the novel is scary enough (considering the extent of your imagination), but it was in the 1990 made-for-TV adaptation of IT that people now had a visual reference to finally put some meat on Pennywise's bones. Tim Curry portrayed the killer clown in what is now considered a classic role, and chances are he's the reason you're still so afraid of clowns to this day. Case in point, the story is scary, but the character itself is horrific.
The thing is, though, Pennywise is hardly the only monster in Stephen King's oeuvre. King's written some foul characters over the years, and of those characters, some may actually give Pennywise a run for his money. So, if you think you can handle it, we dare you to explore 15 Stephen King monsters even creepier than Pennywise the Dancing Clown.
15 Annie Wilkes
So many (too many?) people want to be famous. They want the money, they want the power, they want the fans... However, while public recognition may seem exciting at first, you'll soon realize that safety suddenly doesn't seem as certain as it used to. Just look at Annie Wilkes in Misery. On the surface, she's passionate and caring, but once you get to know her—and really, once you start to piss her off—Annie's demons start to take over.
Annie Wilkes is like a fairy godmother possessed by the devil. She seems helpful, and at times she actually is, but then the sledgehammer comes out... and then the bones break... and then you can't walk anymore. So, yeah, Pennywise may be terrifying, but Annie Wilkes could be real.
14 The Overlook Hotel
In Stephen King's short story 1408, the main character Mike Enslin tells his tape recorder, "Hotels are a naturally creepy place." He's right. But it's not the story's hotel, the Dolphin Hotel, that best exemplifies the true horror of what a hotel is capable of; it's the hotel in The Shining. The Overlook.
The place is festering with ghosts, and these ghosts aren't the kind who play nice. They're vicious, possibly demonic spirits, who are trapped in eternal misery, reliving their gruesome ends and bringing harm to anyone who gets in their way. The characters in The Shining may be scary, but they're nothing without the Overlook. It's like a clubhouse for the undead, and it's got nothing but evil intentions.
Hell, for all we know, maybe it had the misfortune of being built on a Hellmouth—but that fact remains to be seen.
13 André Linoge
Nobody likes being told what to do, especially an entire town by some arrogant stranger. The thing is, though, André Linoge wasn't your typical vagabond. He's an evil wizard looking for an heir. Seeing as his days of ruining people's lives is coming to an end, he brings a storm to a small town in Maine and offers them a choice: give him a child he can train to become his heir... or die.
He's a supernatural being, but it's not his dark magic that makes him so frightening. It's how he manages to unravel this town by merely using words and theatrics. A mystical monster may not seem intimidating at first, but once Stephen King gets his hand on it, he does more than manage.
12 Margaret White
It's easy to call the telekinetic girl who killed everyone at the high school prom evil, but it's not correct. Sure, she's soaked in blood and literally destroying an entire town with her mind, but, really, she's not the villain. Aside from the bullies who made Carrie White's life a living hell during school, Carrie's Mother, Margaret White, is the true villain. On the surface, she's a middle-aged woman in Maine, but she's really more monster than any creature could ever hope to become.
From the time Carrie was born, Margaret White was an abuser in every way imaginable, making her daughter believe that she was unfit for the world. She considered her telekinetic abilities to be Satanous, and saw fit to punish her on account. White doesn't wear any flashy makeup, but she doesn't need any. Her personality already speaks volumes.
11 Blaine The Mono
If there was ever someone who could make a train scary, it's Stephen King. So, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise when he went and did just that. In the Dark Tower series, Blaine the Mono is a mad riddling train who seems almost too insane to exist, but does.
He's an insane, suicidal piece of living machinery who just so happens to be a killer as well. However, despite his physical force, his weapon is his mind. He uses riddles against his foes, and it often works in his favor. Now, seeing as there's a Dark Tower movie coming out later this year, we may not see Blaine on the silver screen during this outing, but if the film is successful enough to deliver sequels, maybe we can see this lunatic some other time.
10 Leland Gaunt
It's often commendable to "shop local," but when you live in Castle Rock, Maine, you're better off with big businesses. Leland Gaunt is a demon disguised as a human shopkeeper, and he shows up in Castle Rock to open his very own shop - a store that seems to always have the perfect items for sale, and with competitive prices to boot. He's got a thing for mayhem, and more than anything, he wants to see this town tear itself apart. It just doesn't help that locals think he's such a charming guy.
What's more is that Gaunt also has some specific intentions with his shop. He's not adding his customers to an email list, he's adding their souls to his personal collection. To be fair, though, his products run cheap and it's hard to pass up a good deal...
9 Kurt Barlow
King kept things simple with his second novel, Salem's Lot. Well, simple in the setup, at least. It's a modern take on Dracula, essentially, and he has a hell of a lot of fun weaving that classic horror tale into his small town setting. In that weaving, as it turns out, King created a masterful villain in Kurt Barlow, the blood-hungry monster.
When he shows up, people start to go missing. Barlow prowls this small town, feeding, turning locals into vampires themselves. He's been around for centuries, and it's in Jerusalem's Lot that he decides to spread his plague, while also satisfying his appetite for humans. In a way, he and Pennywise are very similar. But is one creepier than the other? It's difficult to say.
8 Greg Stillson
It's safe to say that Stephen King has a healthy appetite for politics. Seeing as he tends to point out the horrific elements in the subjects he likes to cover. And when he wrote The Dead Zone, we discovered that his view of politics isn't exactly what you might consider to be... trusting. He's got a cynics eye, but if you look closer, it's really more the eye of a realist. Greg Stillson may seem like your typical Congressman, but we soon discover that his future self is an Armageddon-conjuring dictator who will single-handedly end the world. So, as a political leader, that's not really, uh, reassuring.
Don't let the fancy suits and charming personality fool you. Greg Stillson is a monster, and worst of all, he's a monster with power that people wanted elected.
7 Henry Bowers
Margaret White and Greg Stillson have already proven that monsters don't necessarily have to be, well, monsters (visually speaking, at least). So it's only natural that Henry Bowers would make an appearance on this list. Like Pennywise, Bowers is also a villain in IT, but a very different kind of villain. He's a living, breathing bully, but not your typical part-time after-school bully. Bowers works around the clock.
Now, it's not to say that Bowers' terror can run miles around Pennywise, but his terror is the kind that actually exists. There really are violence-obsessed thugs wanting nothing more than to watch people suffer. He's a kid on an anthill, but he doesn't have a magnifying glass. He just went ahead and brought his own fire instead.
6 Mrs. Massey
Pennywise the Dancing Clown is a layered, systematic, and theatrical villain, but sometimes simpler is scarier. Take for instance the ghost of Lorraine Massey. An eternal guest at the Overlook Hotel, Mrs. Massey is possibly the most recognizable ghost in The Shining, not just to its readers, but to its main character, Danny Torrance. She's the ghost in Room 217 (or 237, depending on which medium you're meeting her through), and she's a vile, decomposing creature who has nothing but bad intentions for any poor soul daring to enter her room.
She wants to bring pain. She wants bring misery. She wants to leave fleshy, moldy residue on your toilet seat... Honestly, King's made up some really terrifying characters, but it's hard to beat a naked corpse who refuses to stop haunting you—even if you're just a five-year-old boy.
She's considered the scariest ghost in The Shining for a reason...
5 The Crimson King
With the Crimson King, Stephen King created a character that is, essentially, an evil incarnate (aren't they all, though, kind of?). He's a monster as close to the collective depiction of "the Devil" that King has ever gotten with a character, and that's not just taking his visual appearance into account. This beast of a character has one main goal/need/fetish: to bring misery and death to all.
You might still try to argue that clowns are a lot scarier than devils, but let's really break the guy down. Let's see the big picture here. He is the bringer of darkness, the king of the crazed, and if it weren't for him, we might never even have a Pennywise the Dancing Clown to begin with. That has to count for something, doesn't it?
4 George Stark
In a really twisted way, George Stark is basically Stephen King. This was the first book that King released after audiences discovered that King released novels under a pseudonym, Richard Bachman. So, the details of the story in The Dark Half may be a bit, um, overdramatized...but you get the idea. In the story, Thaddeus Beaumont has a pseudonym as well: George Stark (so, Stephen King IS Thaddeus Beaumont. And Thaddeus Beaumont IS George Stark). And as it just so happens that George Stark has a mind of his own.
Naturally, this "dark half" is twisted and violent, and when push comes to shove, he'll kill. But why does he rank up against the likes of Pennywise? Because with Pennywise, the monster's chasing you, but with George Stark, the monster is you. *Cue chills*
Ah, man's best friend... In Cujo, the titular dog wasn't always such a nasty beast. If you take the original text at face value, then Cujo went crazy on account of rabies. However, if you side with the supernatural elements, then maybe the ghost of killer Frank Dodd possessed him. No matter how you spin it, though, it's a simple enough mother-protecting-son-from-evil-dog story, and honestly, that's terrifying enough.
This unstoppable dog wants nothing more than to rip apart the mother and son trapped inside their '77 Ford Pinto, and even though there's really not much more to it than that, it's the simplicity that makes it work so well. Maybe it's because so many of us have dogs ourselves, and there's always that sneaking feeling that maybe — just maybe — their animal instinct to hunt and kill just might take over...
2 Gage Creed
To be honest, the scariest part of Pet Sematary has nothing to do with the supernatural, but with a semitrailer. And if you've seen the movie or read the book, then you know why...
Still, that's not to say that the supernatural elements don't stand on their own. Because, they do. In Pet Sematary, you've got demon cats, demon wives, and worst of all, demon toddlers. After Gage returns from the grave, it's not really Gage who comes back at all, but something much more sinister. There's something evil inside that tiny body, and it's got a brutal lust for blood. Before the story even gives you enough time to finish mourning his untimely death, this scalpel-wielding demon child enters beast mode and wreaks havoc in classic Stephen King fashion
1 Randall Flagge
Pennywise may bring the fear, but Randall Flagg brings the all-out destruction. As an evil being in cowboy-casual, Flagg is a Stephen King monster first showing up in The Stand, King's apocalyptic epic. Though he ends up showing up in other stories from King, Flagg's M.O. never changes. He brings death, he brings chaos, be brings pain, he brings mutilation, he brings—well, we can keep going, but you get the idea.
If Flagg has one thing going for himself, it's endurance. The guy knows how to stick to a goal, no matter how evil it may be. He may seem like a simple small-town guy on the outside, but just you wait. This guy's a beast like no other, and by the time anyone even tried to size him up, he would already have a plan for how to end their life.