Villains are an important device in movies for the creation of drama and suspense. Usually the concept is simple: the villain fights against the good guy and audiences want to see the villain’s evil plans fail and the good guy triumph. Still, there are many bad guys that are so fascinating that it becomes hard to let them go at the end of the movie. The editors of Film Dungeon compiled a list of their 30 favourites.
Played by: Alan Ford
Film(s): Snatch. (2000)
Line: ‘Off course fucking off course! I wasn’t asking, I was telling.’
Brick Top is a world class prick. He may look like a geek, but he’s meaner and nastier than most cool looking baddies. He also scores points for his great intimidation skills. Furthermore he’s pretty smart, knowing who to please and who to fuck within the London underworld. His major weakness is overconfidence. Those pikeys were not to be underestimated. Still, his habit of feeding enemies to wild, hungry pigs demands his entry in the list.
Played by: Patrick McGoohan
Film(s): Braveheart (1995)
Line: ‘The problem with Scotland…is that it’s full of Scots!’
Classic villain, wonderfully portrayed by Irish actor Patrick McGoohan. He’s a clever strategist, knowing exactly when and how to strike his enemies. The problem is his only son who is a homosexual. There’s nothing he can do against that, so out of frustration he throws his son’s lover out of the castle window. Without a proper heir, Longshanks knows that when he dies, the British ruling over Scotland will be over. This doesn’t prevent him from being a vile bastard though, taking every opportunity to cause hurt, death and destruction.
If this feature would consist of villains from books, Pennywise would probably be higher in the list. Now Stephen King’s ultra villain stars in a pretty decent TV-movie that is however far inferior to King’s brilliant novel. Still, Tim Curry is genius as the children killing clown. Pennywise is simply pure evil and the cruellest and scariest monster King has ever invented.
Played by: Tim Curry
Film(s): It (1990)
Line: ‘They flooooaaat. They all float down here’
Played by: Gary Busey
Film(s): Lethal Weapon (1987)
Line: ‘Endo here has forgotten more about dispensing pain than you and I will ever know’
The ultra blond Mr. Joshua is pretty much a badass. He shows his macho behaviour in his intro-scene by letting his employer hold a lighter under his arm for a pretty long time. Riggs and Murtaugh have a lot of trouble with this ex-commando. In his mission to smuggle heroin in the States, he lets nothing or nobody get in his way. He scores extra points for his pretty good fighting skills.
MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE is no masterpiece, but without Frank Langella it would really suck. His portrayal of Skeletor, who was already a favourite villain in cartoons, became a most memorable character. His looks are spot on, and he rules his underlings with an iron fist. It’s a total shame that He-Man kicks him into a dark, deep shaft at the end of the movie.
Played by: Christopher Lee
Film(s): The Lord of the Ring Trilogy (2001 / 02 / 03)
Line: ‘Hunt them down! Do not stop until they are found. You do not no pain, you do not no fear. You’ll taste man-flesh!’
While Sauron may be the real bad guy in THE LORD OF THE RINGS, Saruman makes a far bigger impression. His voice is perhaps his greatest asset. The way he utters spells and commands is just the ultimate in evil cool. Christopher Lee, almost 80 when he played this, is remarkable in the role that he was born to play. When it comes to evil old wizards surrounded by Orcs, Saruman is the man.
Played by: Kurtwood Smith
Film(s): RoboCop (1987)
Line: ‘Can you fly Bobby?’
It’s not exactly his looks that make Clarence Boddicker ultra villain material. It is his ruthless and merciless attitude. He first shows his vileness, when he kicks one of his wounded cronies out of a moving truck. Soon after, he displays a real sadistic streak when he brutally murders Murphy. Although he’s a street level boss, he meets personally with Dick Jones, Vice President at OCP (Omni Consumer Products) which shows that he is also an intelligent and competent gang leader.
Played by: Arnold Schwarzenegger
Film(s): The Terminator (1984)
Line: ‘Your clothes - give them to me, now.’
Schwarzenegger is perfectly cast as a killing machine. The Terminator is one scary motherfucker. ‘Sarah Connor? Yes. Boom!!!’ He is efficient and unstoppable. The perfect invention really. James Cameron (director) and Stan Winston (special effects) have really outdone themselves. The highlight? There are many, but Schwarzenegger barging in the police station killing everybody is pretty damn exiting.
Max Zorin is James Bond’s best antagonist ever. Born in Germany, Zorin grew up to become a leading executive in the microchip market. It is revealed that he was the product of Nazi medical experimentation during the second world war. As a result, he is extremely smart but also psychopathic. One of his cruellest actions is shooting his own labourers to death laughing. Evil to the core.
Played by: Orson Welles
Film(s): The Third Man (1949)
Line: ‘Oh, Holly, you and I aren't heroes. The world doesn't make any heroes outside of your stories.’
A great name that echoes in movie eternity. Probably the most mysterious character in this overview. Harry Lime fooled almost everybody in his cunning plan to get away with a racketeering scheme. Faking his own death worked for everybody, except for his old pall Joseph Cotton. In his pursuit of profits, Harry made many victims, including children. He doesn’t care at all, which makes him a pretty naughty man indeed.
Played by: Daniel Day-Lewis
Film(s): Gangs of New York (2002)
Line: ‘Ears and noses will be the trophies of the day. But no hand shall touch him.’
Nothing goes too far for William ‘Bill the Butcher’ Cutting in his personal mission to oppress the new immigrants whom Bill sees as mere cockroaches. His name is very appropriate: whenever he joins the street fights, he slaughters enemies by the dozens using his vast set of knifes and stabbing weapons. He shows a softer side around Amsterdam, who he sees as the son he never had, but in the end, Bill is a bad man. Played to perfection by Daniel Day Lewis who bagged an Oscar for the role.
Played by: Dennis Hopper
Film(s): Blue Velvet (1986)
Line: ‘Shut up! It’s daddy you shithead. Where’s my bourbon?’
Frank Booth is a drug inhaling freakshow with a very evil streak to him. He leads the underground movement in the small town Lumberton. To support his weird sadomasochistic sexual needs he makes people’s life a living hell. One of the most threatening and sadistic characters present in the list. Booth is a guy you just can’t wait to see die.
Played by: Anthony Perkins
Film(s): Psycho (1960)
Line: ‘Mother she’s just a stranger. She’s hungry and it’s raining out.’
The psycho-killer was relatively new in the sixties. Hitchcock put this type of villain on the map with the twisted creation of Norman Bates. A wonderfully creepy predecessor to Michael Myers and the likes. Under the controlling eye of his dominant mother he kills the guest of Bates Motel, until his insane secret comes out at the end of the movie.
Played by: Robert de Niro
Film(s): The Untouchables (1987)
Line: ‘I want him dead! I want his family dead! I want his house burned to the ground. I wanna go there in the middle of the night and piss on his ashes!’
‘Enthusiasm’ is a word that comes to mind when thinking about Big Al. He uses that word before he bashes a guy’s head in with a baseball bat. De Niro plays the gang leader so brilliantly that you forget you’re watching De Niro. You’re watching Al Capone (the bald head also helps). He portrays ‘Scarface’ as a ruthless sociopathic killer. Unforgettable.
Played by: Ralph Fiennes
Film(s): Schindler’s List (1993)
Line: ‘Ah, an educated Jew... like Karl Marx himself. Unterscharfuehrer! Shoot her.’
Can a psycho Nazi killer still be charismatic? Leave it Ralph Fiennes to pull it off. Even though Goeth commits horrible acts and certainly deserves to die for it, he can be touching in a strange and remote way. A truly remarkable bad guy, right up until his ‘Heil Hitler’ send off.