The ten scariest Roald Dahl characters on film

Images courtesy of Sony Park Circus, Park Circus and The Alfred Hitchcock Trust
Images courtesy of Sony Park Circus, Park Circus and The Alfred Hitchcock Trust


Roald Dahl’s stories have delighted generations with their imagination and adventure. But every good story needs a baddie – and Roald Dahl’s were some of the scariest! Now fans of all ages can relive their fears as Roald Dahl’s films return, with over 390 confirmed screenings and special events as part of the Roald Dahl on Film season.
 

Here are ten characters that kept us up at night:
 

1. The Grand High Witch

If the description in The Witches book wasn’t enough to give you nightmares, the image of Anjelica Huston as the Grand High Witch peeling off her mask to reveal her true face in the 1990 film adaptation was sure to do the trick. Huston spent eight hours in make-up before filming to transform into her character!

Catch The Witches on the big screen at Queen's Theatre, Belfast on Saturday 24th September 2016, The Dukes, Lancaster on Saturday 8th October 2016 and Curzon, Clevedon on Friday 28th October 2016.
 

2. The Child Catcher

Many aren’t aware, but the character of the Child Catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was added into Ian Fleming’s original story by Roald Dahl; a truly terrifying addition that still has us freaked out to this day. The role was played by Robert Helpmann, who used to take out his top set of false teeth during filming to make himself look more gaunt; this also created the hissed tones in his voice that used to fill our nightmares.

Don't miss Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at Chapter, Cardiff, Saturday 24th - Sunday 25th September 2016.
 

3. Miss Trunchbull

We’re not sure what scares us more, being swung around the playground by our pigtails or enduring a spell in the ‘chokey’ for doing absolutely nothing wrong. Either way, we wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of Matilda’s Miss Trunchbull! Watching Pam Ferris snort and charge like a bull in the 1996 film is enough to put any child off misbehaving; apparently she used to stay in character on set to scare all the children and make sure their fear was genuine when the camera was rolling!

Watch Miss Trunchbull in action at Bodelwyddan Castle in Rhyl, as part of Wicked: 16, International Youth Film Festival, on Thursday 22nd September 2016.
 

4. Aunt Sponge & Aunt Spiker

No wonder James escaped in a giant peach at his first chance with these two horrors around; we for one are glad Joanna Lumley and Miriam Margolyes got arrested at the end of the 1996 film, though getting squashed under the peach as they did in the book is a far more satisfying ending!

Catch these two horrors in James and the Giant Peach, showing at The Talbot Centre, Whitchurch, Shropshire, on Thursday 29th September 2016.
 

5. Mr & Mrs Wormwood

Matilda’s parents were a truly horrible pair and we couldn’t think of anything worse than being stuck under the same roof as them! Did you know Danny DeVito, who played Harry Wormwood, also directed, narrated and co-produced the 1996 motion picture and he was actually married to Mrs Wormwood (Rhea Pearlman) in real life?
 

6. Boggis, Bunce & Bean

This lot were no match for the clever and cunning Mr Fox were they? We can’t blame the Fox family for wanting to feast on the farmers’ food, but we wouldn’t want to be the ones trespassing on these three’s land! Voiced by Michael Gambon, Hugo Guinness and Robin Hurlstone in Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr Fox, these three are as mean as they are foolish.

 

7. Ernst Stavro Blofeld

Another one you might not have known, Roald Dahl wrote the screenplay for You Only Live Twice and was therefore responsible for the introduction of the white cat stroking supervillain, Ernst Stavro Blofeld. From his facial scar to his plans of world domination, Blofeld is the definitive Bond baddie.

Watch You Only Live Twice at The Watermark, Ivybridge on Thursday 29th September 2016.
 

8. Mr Hazell

Horrid Mr Hazell, played by the great Robbie Coltrane, definitely got his comeuppance after Danny the Champion of the World and his father William pull off their spectacular ‘Sleeping Beauty’ plan on his pheasants in the 1989 feature film. There’s no magic or special powers; this villain is so scary because he’s so real.
 

9. Carlos

A mysterious and sinister old man who will bet his car for the chance to chop off your finger. Taken from Roald Dahl’s “The Man from the South” short story, this terrifying gambler appears time and again in adaptations, including Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Tales of the Unexpected and Quentin Tarantino’s Four Rooms.

Catch Carlos at Chapter, Cardiff in Tales of the Unexpected (20th September 2016) and Four Rooms (September 25th and 27th 2016).
 

10. Billy

We’ve definitely saved the scariest until last! Mass murderer Billy frightened the living daylights out of us watching The Night Digger. Roald Dahl agreed to write the screenplay to showcase his wife at the time, Patricia Neal, who had just recovered from a series of strokes. Patricia’s character Maura was also a stroke survivor and Billy takes full advantage in this dark thriller.

 

To celebrate Roald Dahl 100 - the centenary year of Roald Dahl’s birth, Film Hub Wales and Chapter as Film Hub Lead Organisation, have developed a family-friendly film programme that will celebrate the world’s number one storyteller, who was born in Cardiff in 1916. Find a screening near you here http://www.filmhubwales.org/roalddahlonfilm/whatson