So another day another top 10. That means another set of self imposed rules to govern my choices. For this list I decided it best to come up with the villains that stayed with me the most. That will make for a list which includes some comedy entries and some seriously brilliant performances. But for whatever reason these 10 bad guys have remained in my brain as being the nastiest, craziest, scariest, funniest and/or most quotable pieces of scum that ever graced the silver screen.
Possibly the least dangerous on the list. This guy has been winding me up since before I even knew what the words ‘jobsworth’ and ‘bureaucrat’ meant. He’s a nasty little shit with an annoying face and a jealousy for our heroes that leads to him exploding a tank full of ghosts across Manhattan! I love the early scenes between Peck and Venkman. It’s a classic example of how we should all deal with the sheer volume of red tape brandishing idiots in the world; sarcasm and dry wit.
Best Line – “What is the magic word, Mr Venkman?”
Another one from my childhood and scary for a couple of reasons. Firstly because she’s the angriest woman to ever wear a beret in history, and secondly there’s the thought that someone felt attracted enough to sleep with her at least 3 times!!! Her only redeeming quality is that she produced Sloth!
Best Line – Mouth: Is this supposed to be water?
Mama: It’s wet aint it? Now drink!
I saw Robocop at a ridiculously young age. I think it was the first 18 rated film I ever saw. So from the opening scene of ED-209 going berserk in the board room, I was hooked! But it was Boddicker that sold the film. His unflinching, intense and stupidly violent character was the most terrifying thing I’d ever seen. I love that even in the face of being smashed through a window and beaten to a pulp by a superhuman semi-robot he still talks nasty. What a bad guy!
Best Line – “I don’t know. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just not making myself clear. I don’t want to fuck with you, Sal. But I got the connections. I got the sales organisation. I got the muscle to shove enough of this factory so far up your stupid wop ass that you’ll shit snow for a year.”
There’s a pattern building here. I’ve just realised that all the villains to appear so far are ones I first saw as a child. I don’t know if that means I had a clearer sense of right and wrong back then, or I just scared easier. Well for this one it’s definitely the latter. My sister made me watch It (and Poltergeist 3) when I was a young scaredy cat. I can thank her for my lifelong fear of clowns. But the great thing is that watching Tim Curry’s haunting performance in later life reveals just how funny he was too. Always popping up at the right moment with a great line and a good dose of poo-your-pants terror.
Best Line – “Ohh yes… They Float Georgie… They Float… and when your down here, with me… YOU FLOAT TOO!”
Alan Rickman has had the great fortune to have played a few iconic villains. His Sheriff of Nottingham in Prince of Thieves is easily the best part of the film. And with Hans Gruber he created a terrorist for the ages. I love that whenever Rickman plays a villain he seems constantly disappointed. You can see him rolling his eyes at the inept people around him. My favourite example of this is the conversation he has with Harry Ellis, in which it’s obvious to everyone except Harry that it is not going to end well.
Best Line – “Now I have a machine gun. Ho, ho, ho.”
There’s no worse kind of villain that one who thinks he is doing God’s bidding. Warden Norton is a biblical plague on the lives of the Shawshank inmates. His absolute cold detachment from the awful things he advocates makes him a chilling screen presence. But it is his refusal to help Andy, even when he knows Andy has the chance to prove his innocence, that makes him truly evil. Whilst some on this list are villains to laugh and poke fun at, this is definitely one to fear.
Best Line – “Lord, it’s a miracle! Man up and vanished like a fart in the wind!”
Totally irredeemable and without remorse. Mr Potter exists to make profit. A greedy old businessman who would rather see the world suffer and starve than spend a penny. This is the man who puts events in motion that cause George Bailey to almost commit suicide. For that alone he deserves to burn. The fact that he does so by stealing the money of much poorer men and women makes it all the more heinous. Potter is a rare breed of villain that never actually has to answer for his crimes. It’s frustrating, but I guess we just have to imagine the sea of red hot pokers awaiting his bottom on arrival in hell.
Best Line – “George, I am an old man, and most people hate me. But I don’t like them either so that makes it all even.”
Heath Ledger’s world beating turn still stands as the very best comic book villain representation in movies. There is no trace of a performance in his role. It feels real and it is terrifying. This is a man who isn’t bothered about money or world domination. He just wants to create chaos and panic; that is one of the scariest things you can imagine. He is unpredictable in all the worst ways and his threats are always followed through with action. A true nemesis for cinema’s most gritty hero.
Best Line – “You see? This is how crazy Batman’s made Gotham! You want order in Gotham? Batman must take off his mask and turn himself in. Oh, and every day he doesn’t, people will die. Starting tonight. I’m a man of my word.”
There’s nothing as scary as the villain you don’t see coming. That’s what Nurse Ratched is. She masks her insane evil behind a well kept hairdo, a smile and a pleasant tone. But she is in fact responsible for genuine atrocity as she keeps the hospital patients as her personal prisoners. She is unflinching in her torturous treatments that are made to belittle and imprison these vulnerable men in their own minds. And her dogged determination to bring down McMurphy is all the more potent given that she is backed by the judicial system.
Best Line – “You know Billy, what worries me is how your mother is going to take this.”
Okay so we’re finishing with a silly one. But honestly this guy has been my favourite villain since I first saw him at about 8 years old. He is an immortal ghost that lives inside a wheelchair-bound old man , who occasionally transforms into an 8 foot tall wizard to woo green eyed women in the hope of taking over the world! If that’s not the best premise for a bad guy then I don’t know what is. Add to all that, that he is played by the inimitable James Hong in a performance that creates so many quotable lines you need to see the film hundreds of times just to take them all in properly (believe me I’ve done it). He is evil, powerful, supernatural and hilarious. That is a combo that makes an ideal bad guy. So thanks James Hong and thanks John Carpenter. A great movie and a world beating villain.
Best Lines – “They have returned. And this time they are not alone. Egg Shen is with them. Little bastard sorcerer has brought them through the Bog of the Dead Trees.”
“Shut up Mr Burton! You were not brought upon this world to ‘get it’”.
“Mr. Burton, if you have an influence over your youthful friend, you better exert it now. Otherwise, I will have you both brought out to the hell where people are skinned alive it’s that simple, understand?”
“I smell the blood of human beings; find them! Boil them until their flesh falls off. You heard me!”