Rankings: America's Favorite Monster Is …

The horror genre has a frightening army of scary characters to keep you awake on stormy nights: werewolves, Frankenstein, witches, poltergeists and more. But the most-loved monster in America is … the vampire.

Yes, this Transylvanian transplant ruled even before romantic sparkler Edward Cullen of "Twilight" fame burst onto the scene in 2005. Three years before that, in 2002, psychologists presented a study at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, later published in the journal Imagination, Cognition and Personality revealing the Dracula isn't just a count. He's king.  

Media psychologist Stuart Fischoff of California State University Los Angeles asked a nationally representative sample of 1,166 people ages 6 to 91 their favorite movie monster. They were also asked their reasons for loving that particular monster best. [Our 10 Favorite Monsters]

The answers were varied, from slasher Freddy Krueger to Frankenstein. But Dracula won out as the most popular monster, the researchers found. Perhaps anticipating the Twilight trend, vampires were also rated the sexiest of all monsters.

"Even in 'monsterland,' it seems, it pays to be beautiful or handsome," the researchers wrote.

Vampires also circumvent the human fear of aging, the researchers noted.

Other favorite monsters, in order, included Freddy Krueger, the burn victim serial killer, whom audiences enjoyed for his "realistically horrifying" portrayal of evil. Frankenstein tugged the heartstrings as an outcast, while "Friday the 13th"'s Jason Voorhees appealed to those who like to see their killers creative, immortal and with high body counts. "Halloween"'s Michael Myers was likewise beloved.

Sixth on the list of monsters was Godzilla, and seventh was Chucky the demon doll. Women chose Chucky as their favorite monster three times more than men, and a common reason cited was because the little moppet was an unlikely killer. Like vampires, Chucky is intelligent, a trait that also resonates with audiences.

Intelligence explained America's 8th-most-popular monster, Hannibal Lecter, as well. The cannibalistic killer "provides his admirers with an appreciation of the workings on an insane mind," the researchers wrote. Lecter beat out King Kong, the No. 9 monster, as a favorite, but the giant gorilla won more pity and was seen as the most misunderstood of all movie monsters.

Rounding out the top 10 was the creature from Alien, which was also ranked as the most horrifying-looking monster of the bunch.

The research further found that young audiences had a higher tolerance than older folks for blood and gore, but that everyone loves a classic movie monster such as Bela Lugosi's Dracula. In fact, the researchers wrote, 90 percent of people who listed a classic monster as their favorite added that they loved the original films. Remakes, they wrote, tended to be disappointments.

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Stephanie Pappas
Live Science Contributor

Stephanie Pappas is a contributing writer for Live Science, covering topics ranging from geoscience to archaeology to the human brain and behavior. She was previously a senior writer for Live Science but is now a freelancer based in Denver, Colorado, and regularly contributes to Scientific American and The Monitor, the monthly magazine of the American Psychological Association. Stephanie received a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of South Carolina and a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz.