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The 6 scariest Stephen King monsters


Pennywise, It

Pennywise, the child-devouring clown from It is possibly Stephen King's greatest horror creation. Of course, there's something intrinsically chilling about clowns anyway. Whole theses have been written about why exactly these supposed mirth-makers put the willies up so many of us. Whatever the reason, Pennywise is a nightmare-ish creation, an ancient cosmic evil who preys upon the kids of Derry, Maine, every 27 years. Whether played by Tim Curry in the 1990 telly adaptation or Bill Skarsgård in the critically lovebombed 2017 feature film, Pennywise is a creature that it's impossible to shake out of your mind. Be afraid, be very afraid.

Randall Flagg, The Stand, the Dark Tower series, and more

Described as "an accomplished sorcerer and a devoted servant of the Outer Dark", Randall Flagg has popped up in nine Stephen King novels in a variety of guises. He first appeared in 1978 novel The Stand as a demonic figure who wreaks havoc after a plague kills most of the population, while in the Dark Tower series he goes by the name of Walter o'Dim, usually appearing as some sort of dark sorcerer or powerful entity, and always hellbent on destruction.

The Raggedy Man, Cell

Are zombies really scary? Surely they're too moronic to be truly frightening, these lumbering, slathering thickos of the undead. Yet Stephen King was able to find the scary in this age-old screen monster, with his 2006 novel Cell, which featured a creature known as the Raggedy Man, the leader of a new brand of zombie. He had, of course, the blood-thirsty hunger of a normal zombie, while also being blessed with intelligence, meaning he's a thousand times scarier than an army of Walking Dead walkers rolled into one.

The Overlook Hotel, The Shining

Who's the real monster of The Shining? Is it Jack Torrence? Is it the ghosts he meets? Is it that carpet? We're going to say it's the Overlook Hotel itself that is the true evil of The Shining. It's a building that weaves a sort of dark magic, turning good men into bad ones, generation after generation. It may not have a face or a voice, but make no mistake, there's an evil about this establishment, an evil so much more dangerous that any knife-wielding maniac. And if you ever find yourself staying there, avoid Room 237…

Kurt Barlow, Salem's Lot

Trust Stephen King to take on the vampire genre in only his second novel and to create a creature every bit as iconic as Count Dracula or Nosferatu. Kurt Barlow may sound more like the errant child of a Coronation Street regular but, trust us, he's one of the most terrifying monsters in modern fiction. He was memorably brought to life by actor Reggie Nalder in the peerless 1979 TV adaptation.

Annie Wilkes, Misery

Flesh and blood she may be, but Annie Wilkes could well scare the bejeezus out of Pennywise and Kurt Barlow. The deranged mega-fan of author Paul Sheldon, she kidnaps her favourite author and forces him to write a novel according to her wishes. The scene when, after he tries to escape, she smashes his ankles with a mallet (only in the movie, mind, she severs one of his feet with an axe in the book), is one the greatest hide-your-eyes moments in film history.