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Ten Deep 8.01.13: Ten Creepiest Buffy the Vampire Slayer Villains

August 1, 2013 | Posted by Mike Gorman

“Ten Creepiest Buffy the Vampire Slayer Villains”

If you’re like me, you may not have realized that this summer marked the 10th anniversary of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series finale airing on the UPN network. The actual anniversary was a few weeks back and as a huge fan of the series I must apologize for missing it! I was a part of 411Mania’s long running BTVS recap review series and still consider the show to be in my top ten of all time. I wanted to honor the 10th anniversary of the series end with a Buffy-centric Ten Deep, and as Joseph Lee already did an awesome countdown of the series top ten episodes last year in his “A Bloody Good Time” column; I needed to find a unique take on the topic.

I first decided to tackle the series’ top ten villains of all time but as that list coalesced I saw a more interesting variant emerging, the top ten creepiest villains. This unique subset of Buffy foes makes your skin crawl both literally and figuratively for a variety of reasons. I hope that you will shiver in agreement at my selections.

10. The Master from Season One

The Master was Buffy’s first “Big Bad” and yes had a pretty creepy look but that is not why I selected him to start off this week’s list. For me his true impact came from the way he got inside Buffy’s head and lived on as the second season began even though he had been destroyed. The effects of her fight with the Master drove Buffy to a breaking point as season two opened and showed that sometimes evil lingers even when it is gone.

9. Caleb from Season Seven

Caleb, an agent of the First, set me on edge because he kind of came out of nowhere the final season and shook up the Slayer’s world with his incredible abilities and edge. It was his cruelty and flat out misogyny that pushed him into full on creepdom though. The Slayer and her Scooby Gang have faced many apocalyptic threats over the years but it was Caleb’s attacks that finally seemed to make the show’s violence real and disturbing, on many levels, specifically when he took Xander’s eye. Xander had long been the all too human character the audience could relate to and use as their entry way to this world, but he never got more than knocked around. Caleb’s brutal attack was the season’s true “SH*# got real!” moment!

8. The Mayor from Season Three

Mayor Wilkins was not creepy due to his appearance or even his machinations. It was his personality and demeanor that kept you off center when watching him. His down to earth, almost fatherly affectations juxtaposed with his evil behavior were off-putting to say the least. The Mayor was all about table manners, proper behavior, and wholesale slaughter. While he planned to devour Sunnydale, he would have at least brought a napkin to wipe his serpentine mouth afterwards.

7. Drusilla from Season Two, etc.

It was Drusilla’s insanity that first gave you the creeps when she appeared. She seemed to be existing on another plane that we could not quite understand. Soon it became common place enough that we grew comfortable with the character; until she switched gears and began exhibiting a vicious clarity. She would waver between these two states during her later appearances. Drusilla’s presence came to signify only one thing, uncomfortable chaos. The incredibly talented Juliet Landau brought a true madness to the character that she could display with a glance or a gesture.

6. The First specifically in “Conversations with Dead People”

The First is a pretty creepy villain in general. I mean, it is the very first evil that ever existed and can take the corporeal form of anybody or anything. This ability was put to its most unsettling usage in the season seven episode “Conversations with Dead People.” Buffy, Willow, Andrew and Dawn are visited by the First in a variety of forms, all people who have passes away, hence the title. It is the sequences with Dawn and Willow that are the most disturbing as Willow is visited by Cassie, a dead girl claiming to be sent by Willow’s dead lover Tara, and Dawn appears to be haunted by her mother’s ghost which turns out to be an evil spirit then visited by her actual essence. Both stories are meant to disrupt the characters confidence in themselves and Buffy. The impact of the First is more psychological than physical, and that makes it all the creepier in the end.

5. Ted from “Ted”

As a kid is there anything more ghastly than a divorced parent dating again? This was the scenario in the early episode “Ted.” Buffy’s mom had a new boyfriend that Buffy just didn’t trust and it turned out she had good reason not to, he was an evil robot. This is where the early seasons of the show really succeeded. They took every day “horrors” from a real teenager’s life and made them over the top true monsters that Buffy needed to slay. Ted was unsettling because at first we did not know he was a robot and it indeed seemed like Buffy had gone way too far in her attack on him. He was the big bad man trying to take over your mother’s life, literally. Whedon and crew did a great job here playing on those natural fears.

4. Angelus from Season Two, etc.

Angelus earned his spot here several times over throughout the run of both BTVS and Angel. It was his first appearances that truly were the most creepy of all though as he literally went from kind, loving Angel one moment to the sadistic, evil Angelus in the next. The real creep factor of the situation was exemplified in the manner in which he was created. Angel and Buffy made love on the eve of her 18th birthday, and Angel immediately lost his soul in that moment of true happiness. Talk about hammering home the “wait until you’re ready” sex education message! Be careful girls, if you have sex too soon with your boyfriends he may turn into a psychotic monster… kind of close to reality in a creepy way, no?

3. The Gentlemen from “Hush”

I will probably take some heat for not giving The Gentlemen the top spot on this countdown, but there are bigger creeps to come, believe me. That said The Gentlemen are one of the most twisted and terrifying villains to ever appear on this show and really on any show that has ever aired. The skeletal, floating Gentlemen steal the voices of everyone in Sunnydale in order to prevent them from screaming as they cut out their hearts. The Gentlemen were cruel and violent in a way that we had not yet seen on the series, and the silence they brought with them spoke volumes on a series often praised for its rapid fire dialogue.

2. Der Kindestod from “Killed by Death”

For a series based on vampires and other monstrous creatures, it was actually quite rare for Buffy the Vampire Slayer to enter actual frightening horror territory. The episode “Killed by Death” was one of those rare moments. In it children are dying at a hospital claiming to have seen a monster present in their ward. Of course it is written off as the fever dreams of sick children fighting an unknown illness. When Buffy herself takes ill and ends up in the hospital we learn that the monster is very real. Der Kindestod is only visible to young people who are feverish. He kills them making it look like they succumbed to an illness. The creature is first only shown in shadows and quick glimpses creating an air of fear and terror as the episode progresses. Eventually Buffy faces it and is victorious but for a while there Der Kindestod seemed poised to deliver a deadly blow to our Slayer.

And lastly…

1. Gnarl from “Same Time, Same Place”

Gnarl from the episode “Same Time, Same Place” is described as the Hannibal Lecter of the demon world in the promos for the series. This is based on the fact that Gnarl traps and flays his victims alive, eating their flesh. The basis of the episode is that Willow has returned to Sunnydale after her Dark Willow episode at the end of season six. We soon learn however that she has subconsciously cast a spell making herself invisible to Buffy and the Gang, and them invisible to her. It starts off kind of gimmicky but soon delivers a feeling of hopelessness and frustration to the audience that peaks when Willow is captured and tortured by Gnarl. Gnarl cutting off and eating pieces of Willow remains the creepiest moment in the show’s history to this day.

There you have it, Buffy’s top creeps. Did I miss your favorite? I will admit I was tempted to include Norman Pfister from “What’s My Line, Part One & Two.” Oh, you don’t remember Norman? He was the walking sack of maggots that looked like a cosmetic salesman. Shudder. I need a shower!

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Mike Gorman

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