Monday, October 24, 2016

The Top 20 Best Movie Villains: 20-11

Ready for some true villainy?

Now that we have all of the pleasantries out of the way, let's just dive right into the list, no preamble, no padding, go!

#20 - Mr. Henry Potter from It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
  • Richest man in Bedford Falls
  • Physically disabled
  • Convinces George Bailey to kill himself
Mr. Potter is a bit of an unusual person to appear on this list. Unlike most villains that will appear on here with the exception of one or two others, Mr. Potter is entirely human. And I don't mean that as he's actually a human with flesh and blood, but he's just a normal businessman in the 1940's. He doesn't have superpowers or any evil master plan, he's just a greedy old man that wants George Bailey's Building and Loan company.

It's that normality however that makes him a truly despicable human being. He's dead set on owning the town of Bedford Falls, as and the movie goes on his methods become even more ruthless, but he never loses his composure or demeanor. He's still a business man through and through and will try and sell you on any idea that comes into his mind. Hell, he even convinces George Bailey to kill himself based on the idea that he's worth more dead than alive after Bailey comes to him asking for a loan of $8,000 to save the Building and Loan... the same $8,000 that Potter stole mind you.

There's even a reality where Potter does take control of the town and makes it into Pottersville, a town that has casinos, big businesses, and... yeah that's really about it. Potter's impact on the town isn't drastic or evil, but purely out of self interest, and that self interest is what makes Mr. Potter a relatable, but absolutely scummy, villain for this list.

#19 - The Other Mother from Coraline (2009)
  • Parallel version of Coraline's mother
  • The "ideal" mother of Coraline
  • Has a fascination with buttons and eyes
  • Loves to play games
Coraline isn't exactly the happiest of movies. It's about a little girl moving to a drab new house with weird people and she just wants to have a happy life again. With that in mind, she discovers a little crevice in the house that leads to a perfect version of her house with a perfect version of her mother that calls itself her "Other Mother". The Other Mother just wants to make Coraline happy and love her, as long as she sews a pair of buttons over her eyes...

When you look at the Other Mother for the first time, you can tell that something is immediately wrong with her. She has buttons for eyes and is always smiling at Coraline. Now there's nothing wrong with that, but for the first half of the movie, we can see little cracks in her perfect demeanor, like shooting menacing glares at the Other Father and implying that Coraline's unhappy with her normal life because she hates her real parents. The Other Mother is crafty, and once Coraline verbally disobeys the Other Mother, Coraline's perfect world shatters as the Other Mother becomes a literal monster.

All three versions of the Other Mother (yes there are three), are all unsettling for their own reasons. The first one has a permanent smile on her face, her true form is spindly and is always in a position of power, while her third for is composed of sewing needles and resembles a spider more than anything else. No matter which form she's in though, she'll hunt down Coraline at ever chance she gets and even invades the real world in order to take Coraline's soul. Oh, that whole eye removal thing? Yeah, she steals your soul when she does that. And she's done it to three kids before Coraline.

When I first saw this movie, the Other Mother stuck with me for days because of how creepy and cool her design was, and that's not even including how she acts and manipulates everyone in the other world. The Other Mother is damned frightening to any kid, and outright unsettling to any adult, and what's better than a villain that everyone can be afraid of?

#18 - Gaius Caligula from Caligula (1979)
  • Emperor of Rome
  • Incest extraordinaire
  • Rapist extraordinaire
  • Fists a man. Because he could
To say that I had issues putting Caligula on this list would be an understatement. On one hand, I absolutely adore this villain and find him all levels of insane and villainous. On the other hand, he's a historical figure. I have a lot of problems putting a historical figure on a list of villains, because then it becomes a separation of history and fiction. Which is true and what do I base their placement on this list on? At the end of the day though, Caligula made it because this movie is insane enough that there's no way any of it could have been historically accurate. Well, the insane Roman leader part may be true, but the giant decapitation machine that Caligula uses? I think not.

Gaius Caligula, the son of Tiberius, becomes the emperor of Rome after his father's untimely death at Caligula's hands, and throughout the entire movie he becomes more insane and more depraved than any Roman Emperor has ever been. Caligula makes the aforementioned decapitation machine, rapes a bride and groom on their wedding day, fists a man, prances around the streets of Rome naked, proclaims himself a God, destroys the religion of Rome, and turns all of the Roman's senator's wives into prostitutes for his own devices.

Everything that Caligula does is simply glorious for how over the top and insane it all is. Malcolm McDowell plays Caligula, and you can tell that it's McDowell at his A-game, showing no mercy for his performance and his descent into pure lunacy. The entire movie is a cult hit, but I implore you to check it out for a gritty, X-rated, insane look at one of Rome's most powerful, and unhinged, emperors.

#17 - Immortan Joe from Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
  • Head of the cult of War Boys
  • Leads an army into the gates of Valhalla
  • Gets it on with five personal breeding wives
You would think that a movie like Mad Max: Fury Road wouldn't have incredibly complex characters, but you'd be wrong. Not only is it one of the best movies of the past decade, but it's one of the most intense and brilliant action movies of all time. For that, we have none other to thank but Immortan Joe, the psychotic warlord that runs his paradise of sociopathic followers.

While we never see exactly how Immortan Joe got to power, we know that everyone in his little kingdom views him as a god. He controls the water flow for thousands of lives and often denies them water for no apparent reason other than he's insane. He's incredibly possessive, to the point that when his five breeding wives are taken from him, we will lead a makeshift army of three different factions through hell and high water just to get them back. He pilots a massive monster truck with his Gatling gun wielding son and has no qualms with sacrificing his own war boys just to get what he wants.

Immortan Joe is one of the most ruthless villains on this list, sacrificing millions worth of resources just to get what he wants, but he gets away with it by turning all of his actions into that of a deity. To motivate his soldiers, he makes grand religious claims that their actions will be witnessed by the gods and that they will be blessed eternally in the afterlife. That would be enough on its own, but he convinces hundreds, if not thousands of his followers that he is a god, any having that much power is never a good thing. The only way he can be stopped is to kill him, and even then his armies are still mostly intact and not that cool with following orders from the people that killed him. It all doesn't matter though, because Joe is passionate and violent enough to get whatever he wants when he wants.

#16 - Dracula from Dracula (1931)
  • Also known as Vlad Tepis
  • Also known as Alucard
  • Did you know he could shapeshift?
  • Seriously, it's DRACULA. What can I say?
There's something right about putting a Universal Monster on the list. Classic horror films have endured for years and are still regarded as some fo the best horror films to date, and one needs to look no further than Count Dracula, a man who has been adapted so many times it's hard to not be familiar with him. Hell, people who have never even seen this movie know who Dracula is just by cultural osmosis. 

Still, while I can say how amazing Dracula is as a villain when he's played by Bela Lugosi, THE horror actor extraordinaire, I might as well talk about some other great Dracula roles because, in all fairness, I shouldn't have to explain why Dracula deserves a place on this list. Hell, he nearly made it onto my Top 20 Video Game villains, he's that prominent. 

Christopher Lee's take on Dracula was great in the 1958 film of the same name, which made him the definitive Dracula actor for the next decade as he fought against people like Billy the Kid and socialized with Roman Polanski. There's Monster Squad, where Dracula teams up with a bunch of horror movie monsters to fight a group of kids on Halloween, and of course there's Gary Oldman's brilliant portrayal in Bram Stoker's Dracula where his greatest foes are Keanu Reeves and the Dread Pirate Roberts. And of course there was that one time where he was voiced by Adam Sandler. Good times...

Look, Dracula is a boss. He can fly, he can eat burgers in Manhattan, he could be terrifying, goofy, and still be the first thing that people think of when they hear the word "vampire". If that's not iconic, I don't know what is. Still, he gets knocked off several places by the fact that he's always getting beaten in the exact same methods and in most adaptation, he doesn't have the latent skills that he was born with. I'd argue that Bram Stoker's Dracula was the most faithful recreation of Dracula's abilities, but most movies just say that he can fly, drink blood, and has no reflection. A bit of a shame, but when Dracula is good, he's damned good.

#15: Mr. Babadook from The Babadook (2014)
  • Based of a children's book
  • Can take on the form of humans
  • Invisible to anyone that he doesn't stalk
  • Ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-dook-dook-DOOK!
Is the Babadook real?

That's the question that plagues Amelia, a mother of a potentially autistic son, after she reads him a bedtime story about a creature named Mr. Babadook. Since then, her son has claimed to see the Babadook wherever he goes as it causes him to lash out. The more than Amelia denies his existence though, the stronger Mr. Babadook gets... or is this all one giant delusion the plagues Amelia through her depression.

Regardless of whether or not Mr. Babadook is real ,there's no denying that the simple idea of him is frightening enough. We never fully see what he looks like, but we do get glimpses of him in the corner of people's eyes, off in the distance, or skittering around rooms in the middle of the night. Everything about Mr. Babadook though is absolutely menacing, perhaps more so than any other villain on this list. Mr. Babadook is a monster in the purest sense; he's not human, and will stalk anyone with his supernatural powers. There's no blood, there's no jumpscares, there's just pure terror as he drives his prey insane.

The Babadook is the most metaphorical villain on this list because we never know if he actually exists or what his purpose even is. He wants his presence to be acknowledged, but whether or not its because he wants to engulf a person's soul or have them realize their own faults is never fully stated. He's only defeated when Amelia finally stands up to him and yells at him to leave, but event hen he just goes into the basement, where he locks himself away. The family feeds him every now and then, but he's never truly gone. If you want to say that's he's a symbol of depression, guilt, fear, or literally a monster that goes bump in the night, Mr. Babadook is a terrifying monster to behold, even if it's just for a second.

#14 - O-ren Ishii from Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003)
  • Aka: Cottonmouth
  • Head of the Tokyo Mafia and member of the Deadly Viper Assassination squad
  • Employs the Crazy-88
  • Assassin since 11 years old!
Quentin Tarantino is a man who knows his villains. You can throw a stone at his catalog and you'd probably hit some form of an irredeemable scumbag, but for my money, no one has as much style and organization as O-ren Ishii, one of the five members of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad.

O-ren was the daughter of an American sergeant who watched as her family was brutally killed by the Yakuza as she lied underneath her bed watching as they were gutted in front of her. She escaped and killed the head of the crime family responsible by appealing to his... pedophilic tendencies. Since then, she was an assassin for hire until she joined Bill's DVAS, where she helped put the Bride into a coma before consolidating power as the head of the Japanese Yakuza.

O-ren is someone you do not want to mess with and has strength way beyond her appearance. When someone briefly off-mentions that she's a half-Jap, half-Chinese, American born woman, she doesn't hesitate in decapitating him in a heartbeat. Her forces are even stronger, with a psychotic high school girl with a mace as her personal bodyguard, and 88 hired goons at her beck and call. Even after all of them die to the Bride, O-ren is still ice cold and cool as she slowly goads on the Bride to fight her in the middle of the snow. Plus in classic video game logic, she's stronger than all 88 of her goons combined.

Sometimes style can go a long way for a character, and O-ren is as stylish and she is heartless. She's tough, smart, deadly, and event hing that you would look for as the head of a crime syndicate. Some samurai charm helps too.

#13 - Norman Bates from Psycho (1960)
  • Really likes his mother
  • Has a hobby in taxidermy
  • Proprietor of the Bates Motel
  • Did I mention he likes his mother?
Norman Bates is the textbook definition of a psychopath. We all know just how crazy and horrific this man can be, but has anyone actually gone back recently to watch Psycho in its entirety?

For the first half of the movie, you wouldn't even assume that Norman Bates is evil. He just seems like a socially awkward man that's a mama's boy, listening to whatever she says and unwillingly follows her orders. Sure he's a bit odd, but nothing too outrageous.

Once the second half fo the movie kicks in, then we realize just how insane Norman truly is. In actuality, his mother died a decade ago and Norman keeps her corpse dressed up in a rocking chair. To give his mother a "voice", he developed an alternate personality where he dresses up as a woman and talks like his mother, who he makes into a violent and homicidal maniac that just wants to keep his son safe. So Norman goes and commits murders as his mother because he believes that what his mother wants, all the while defending her in his normal personality as a sweet old woman that wouldn't hurt a fly. Or at least until the end of the movie where Norman's mother persona says that she's the sweet and innocent one and that Norman is really the murderer of countless women hat he's been sexually attracted too.

Wow, that was dense. I'm still honestly shocked at how thematically dense Norman's character is. For most of the villains up until now, you can define them by a few character traits in particular, but Norman is just contradiction upon contradiction. Norman seems normal enough, but as Psycho progresses, we realize just how insane his character truly is. I honestly think the best part about his character is just when he's sitting down with Marion talking over dinner. In hindsight, we know how nuts he can be, but in those early moments, the audience is left feeling uncomfortable all around. First time viewers don't know what this momma's boy is talking about and why the camera is so intent on being as close to his face as possible, and repeat viewers are piecing together his psyche and what each line of dialogue means in the grand scheme of things. Whether your a first time viewer or not, Norman Bates has endured for half a century (Vince Vaughn version notwithstanding) and is a cinematic icon for all of the most scarring of reasons.

#12 - Judge Claude Frollo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
  • Highly regarded judge of Paris
  • Surrogate father to Quasimodo
  • Obsessed with fulfilling the will of God
  • PG making song!
Wait, I get to talk about the villain of one of my favorite movies? Can do!

Now I'm fully aware that the nature of this list is very subjective. After all, there are some villains I adore that most people wouldn't even bat an eye at. But even then, there's no denying that Frollo is one of the best Disney villains if only for how dark and sadistic he is. Frollo is the sole reason why Hunchback received a PG rating. His song "Hellfire" was so intense with its lyrics, imagery, and lustful undertones that not even Disney could get away with saying that this movie was entirely family friendly. Frollo is a rating booster of a villain.

While we don't know much about his backstory, we know that he's very cautious about what God thinks of him. He views himself as a righteous man of God while killing gypsies, burning down Paris, and lusting after a beautiful young woman. And yes, I do mean lust. As a man in his 60's, there's a scene where he grabs Esmerelda's hair and smells it against her will. Eeeewwwwwww....

So what makes Frollo so evil? Well, outside of convincing Quasimodo that the world is evil and hates him because Quasimodo looks like a monster, but he's persecuted the gypsises and has personally tortured them, imprisoned them, as well as nearly burn many of them alive on a stake! Wow. And he's not done! He then tries to kill Quasimodo and Esmerelda and is only defeated when he hallucinates that he's falling into the pits of Hell on top of Notre Dame. Frollo is a man that goes out in style.

As the only representative of organized religion on this list, it's still interesting to note at how unpleasant Frollo is despite how he claims he's pure and innocent. He'll say that he's a righteous man almost immediately before saying that he's better than every single person in Paris. So why isn't he in the Top 10 if I'm gushing over him so much? Frollo simply doesn't have as much power as he thinks he does. He isn't a bishop or a cardinal in the Catholic Church, he's a judge. A powerful judge, but he doesn't have nearly as strong of an iron grip as previous incarnations of the character. Also, Frollo really is only good at manipulating people. When it comes to his actually feats, he hasn't done much of anything significant. He's had ruthless plans to accomplish his goals, but not concrete plans. Frollo is one of the most vile Disney villains though, and with his outstanding "Hellfire" alone, he had to make the list in some way, shape, or form.

#11 - Regina George from Mean Girls (2004)
  • Maker of the Burn Book
  • Most popular girl in school
  • Will never make "fetch" a thing
  • Bitch got a bus to the spine and lived!
Never before has there been a villain you love to hate as much as Regina George. She's so quotable, so perfect, and so hilarious. Whenever we think of villains, we usually think of people that are out to rule the world or cause misery to others. Regina is selfish as hell, and that's what makes her so great. She's such a petty villain that looks like she's in control when she actually isn't, and is so gosh darned good at being bad!

Regina leads a group of the most popular girls in school called "The Plastics", girls that are drop dead gorgeous... and that's about it. Most of them are dumb as hell, but Regina is more cunning than the rest of them. She keeps tabs on every rumor and bit of gossip in order to use it to her advantage, while also stealing every scene she's in.

I cannot stress enough that Regina is so enjoyable to watch from beginning to end. We all knew a Regina George in our lives, whether it was one selfish brat of a girl, or a girl in high school that thought that life in high school was the most important thing ever. Add on countless pink costumes and some truly hilarious dialogue, and you get a villainess that almost everything millennial can relate to. Mean Girls is already a great movie in its own right, but Regina is what elevates the movie into a cult status. She's so unlike any other villain out there that I had to mention here in this list somewhere, and it just so happened it was #11. I would have put her higher, but she really loses a lot of her impact by the end of the movie when she's in a full body brace (HA!) and she's about as terrifying as, well, a high school girl, but there's still merit in saying that she's one of the best movie villains I've ever seen.

Oh, and for making Wednesday's Pink Days is evil enough. How dare you relegate pink to one day of the week!

See you in one week with the Top 10!

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