/ MAY 2014


A Maniacal Laugh From The Editor

The 64 Best Movie Villains Of All Time Drafthouse Recommends: BLUE RUIN

Devin Faraci

Managing Editor
Meredith Borders

Associate Publisher
Henri Mazza

Art Director
Joseph A. Ziemba

Graphic Designers
Stephen Sosa, Zach Short

Copy Editor
George Bragdon

Contributing Writers

Alex Riviello, Andrew Todd, Ashley Gallagher, Brian Collins, Devin Faraci, Greg MacLennan, Jordan Hoffman, Film Crit HULK, James Sanford, James Wallace, Kate Erbland, Mandy Curtis, Meredith Borders, Mo Shafeek, Noah Segan, Phil Nobile Jr., Robert Saucedo and Tommy Swenson.

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MAY IS the big bads Month


DeVin Faraci Badass Digest Editor in Chief @devincf Read more at


Villains! They’re what make your favorite heroes heroic. They’re the engines that drive conflict in many of the greatest movies. And every now and again, they’re more interesting, more dynamic than the hero. This issue of BIRTH. MOVIES. DEATH. we celebrate the truly exceptional bad guys -- the most evil, the most awful and the most awesome. We love villains and we’re not ashamed to admit, it and this May is a good month for villain-lovers: Spider-Man’s Sinister Six rogue’s gallery begins forming in THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2, the X-Men finally face mutant killing Sentinel robots in X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST and Disney offers us the secret origin of SLEEPING BEAUTY’s nasty, occasionally dragon-formed witch with MALIFICENT. Why baddies? Villains are just so much more fun than most heroes, what with their lack of scruples and their nefarious plans. Villains offer actors the opportunity to go broader and bigger, and they offer audiences the ability to live vicariously through someone else’s awfulness. Best of all they almost always lose in the end, so they also offer up the illusion that everything works out in life. Our list of villains, compiled by BIRTH.MOVIES. DEATH and BADASS DIGEST writers, Alamo Drafthouse programmers and Mondo and Drafthouse Films employees, is presented in no order. That’s because we’re leaving it up to you to fully rank these 64 crumbums. Head over to this May, where we’re pitting

the villains against each other in a series of death matches, from which only one villain can emerge victorious. Head over now to make your voice heard and vote! We could have made a list of hundreds of villains -- paring it down to 64 was a hard process. Let us know who you think we missed by commenting on the site, or drop me an email at Until next month, bring on the bad guys! Devin Faraci



Screening In May At The Alamo Drafthouse
Inspired by the greatest bad guys of all time, the Alamo Drafthouse presents a month of dastardly, deplorable, diabolical and downright villainous cinema. For tickets, showtimes, formats, and a full list of titles, visit
BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA Dir: John Carpenter, 1986, PG-13, 99 min

An all-American trucker gets dragged into a centuries-old mystical battle with a 2,000-year-old sorcerer over an abducted Asian girl with green eyes under the streets of Chinatown. John Carpenter is one of the greatest things to happen to cinema, and Kurt Russell is THE one true God. If anyone could ever challenge the most incredible hero of all time then it has to be the baddest, ancient Chinese-iest, completely insane David Lo-Pan. Highflying, ass-kicking good times await in this face-melting blast of pure awesomeness where you are treated to not only the laser-mouthed mega bad guy Lo-Pan but also his three unstoppable violent storm henchmen who possess the power of lightning, rain and thunder. BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA is the urban, subterranean, blue-collar version of INDIANA JONES with half the smarts, twice the luck and one million percent more charm. It’s witty, it’s clever, it’s start-to-end action-packed but, most of all, it is probably the most fun any human can ever hope to achieve through cinema. (Greg MacLennan) ENCHANTED Dir. Kevin Lima, 2007, PG, 107 min

screaming. Also, she’s smart enough to understand that it’s better to get dresses from a shopping montage than mice tailors, and that Patrick Dempsey is way hotter than James Marsden. In salute to this hilariously satirical fairy tale, we’ve teamed up with the Action Pack to present an interactive quote-along edition! All of your favorite lines will be subtitled, along with the lyrics to Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz’s wonderful songs, plus everyone in the audience will receive themed props like tiaras, bubbles and rubber cockroaches: That’s how you know that this screening will be even more magical than true love’s kiss. (Sarah Pitre) INVESTIGATION OF A CITIZEN ABOVE SUSPICION Dir. Elio Petri, 1970, R, 112 min

Against a backdrop of intense political unrest in 1970s Italy, a Roman police inspector plays out a Kafkaesque tale as he investigates a brutal murder -- one which he himself committed. The provocative filmmaker Elio Petri maintains an uneasy balance between absurdity, genre thrills and terrifying realism in this unsettling, visceral, Oscar-winning thriller. Gian Maria Volontè (the villain in A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS and FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE) gives a magnetic performance as the deadly inspector, a man whose authority and aura of power have kept others from noticing his psychotic lapse. He’s about to transfer from homicide to a police division devoted to suppressing political radicals and he suspects he’s become above the law. By murdering his mistress, he’s found a way to prove it, if only to himself. Or has he? As he continues to investigate his own crime he becomes haunted, not by the crime itself or any impending punishment, but by the genuine absence of consequences. The film refuses to give viewers a safe place to stand. As director Elio Petri’s machine gun edits shoot back and forth between murder and detection, set to the insidious rhythms of

Growing up, I always wished I could be a Disney princess, specifically Sleeping Beauty. She has amazing hair, and she gets to sleep while a handsome prince handles the tough work of vanquishing Maleficent (you can see how my childhood priorities lined up). But then, in 2007, I discovered ENCHANTED, and my favorite princess quickly became Giselle (played by the radiant and immensely talented Amy Adams). She still gets to wear gorgeous gowns and hang out with talking animals, but unlike the other Disney gals, girlfriend keeps it real. She’s feminist, she’s funny, and she’s so brave, she can even handle cockroaches without


Ennio Morricone’s jaunty but foreboding score, INVESTIGATION becomes both a compelling character study of a crypto-fascist and a disturbing commentary on draconian government crackdowns. This is a film whose central mystery is not “Who dunnit?” but “Why?” Yet the chilling answer stares us in the face from the beginning and offers no comfort: the inspector commits murder simply because he can. (Tommy Swenson) ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST Dir: Milos Forman, 1975, R, 133 min

THE WIZARD OF OZ Dir: Victor Fleming, 1939, PG, 102 min

Routinely referenced on countless lists as one of the greatest things ever put to celluloid, THE WIZARD OF OZ isn’t great because it was an achievement for its time -- it’s great because it is a wholly inescapable whirlwind of excellence. It’s the movie kids beg to see over and over again and the film adults routinely need to revisit just to remind them just how magical a movie can be. Dorothy is a young farm girl in rural Kansas living with her aunt and uncle. After a dust-up between Dorothy’s trusty dog Toto and the evil Miss Gulch, the sheriff orders the canine be destroyed. Dorothy flees and, in her escape, finds herself caught up in a tornado that whisks her away to the mystical land of Oz, where music, munchkins, lions and tigers and bears (oh my!) await her. Dorothy’s absolute purity of heart is countered by the wretchedly awful Wicked Witch of the West in one of the greatest good versus evil battles of all time. After an inadvertent house-crushing of the Wicked Witch’s sister, Dorothy must flee to the Emerald City to speak to the Wizard of Oz and get herself gone before the Wicked Witch gets a hold of her precious and allpowerful ruby red slippers. (Greg MacLennan)

Milos Forman had a knack for making movies about rebels -- whether it was the pompous Mozart in AMADEUS or Andy Kaufman in MAN ON THE MOON. His perfect execution of the story of one man’s struggle against the institution is ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST. A career-defining, legendary performance from Jack Nicholson anchors the film’s heavy emotional core and helps Forman and this character drama hit all the right notes, from funny to devastating and everything in between. The film, though, would also not work without Louise Fletcher, whose evil Nurse Ratched makes an audience seethe with anger at the mere sight of her face. It’s their beautifully feisty interplay that takes center stage, directly speaking to the aforementioned theme of many of Forman’s films. Fleshing out this simple story is an amazing cast that includes early roles for Danny DeVito, Brad Dourif, Christopher Lloyd and more. Forman’s direct and honest approach allows the emotion to break your heart like a sink through a window. It’s powerful, affecting filmmaking. One of the best, most relevant and defining American films of the 1970s. (R.J. LaForce)




The 64 Best Movie Villains Of All Time
Vote on your favorite on!



These villains were selected by a panel of BADASS DIGEST contributors, BIRTH.MOVIES.DEATH. writers, Alamo Drafthouse programmers and Mondo and Drafthouse Films employees. Our writers are: Alex Riviello, Andrew Todd, Ashley Gallagher, Brian Collins, Devin Faraci, Greg MacLennan, Jordan Hoffman, Film Crit HULK, James Sanford, James Wallace, Kate Erbland, Mandy Curtis, Meredith Borders, Mo Shafeek, Noah Segan, Phil Nobile Jr., Robert Saucedo and Tommy Swenson.
Connie Marble, PINK FLAMINGOS When Connie and Raymond Marble send Babs Johnson a turd and claim to be the filthiest people alive (a “grossly offensive act that is a deliberate attempt to seize my title!” shrieks an outraged Divine) the gauntlet is thrown. An escalating war of attrition begins and, naturally, we’re on the side of Divine’s Babs Johnson because, well, just because. Mink Stole’s Connie has none of the flair -- none of the cranked-to-eleven style line delivery for John Waters’ enormous blocks of repetitive dialogue. We don’t so much hate Connie as love Babs and if Babs wants to lick Connie’s furniture, cover her in tar and feathers and shout “kill, kill, kill! Shoot, shoot, shoot!” then clearly we must follow suit but to cheer as she is executed for “assholism.” (Not because of her underground rape chambers or black market baby ring.) Babs’ ingestion of canine excrement ought to prove just how villainous anyone who makes a claim on her filth must truly be! (Jordan Hoffman) Darth Vader, The STAR WARS Franchise Sure, he’s a victim of oversaturation, and he’s been mimicked and parodied thousands of times even by the subsequent films in the series (everyone tilt their heads back and scream together “Noooo!”), but there’s no question that ol’ pasty Darth is one of the great villains of all time. He’s so menacing and imposing that in his first film he completely manages to overshadow Grand Moff Tarkin’s evil -- and that’s a guy who casually orders the death of two billion people. Darth Vader is the figurehead you get when you want to rule absolutely. In presence and in voice he’s unmatched, even with his asthma. He’s not afraid to get his hands dirty -- although he can kill you without even touching you. He’s a master of both ship and lightsaber combat. If you fail him he has no use for you and there are plenty of people who can fill your spot, so you don’t dare mess up. Of course, he’s not such a bad guy once you get to know him… it’s just a shame we did. (Alex Riviello) Captain Henry Rhodes, DAY OF THE DEAD A classic power-obsessed military douche-dick, DAY OF THE DEAD’s anti-science and proviolence Captain Henry Rhodes is far more threatening than any zombie. He’s a self-contained chain of command in a self-enforced position of power. We hear about a more-benevolent former Major Cooper, but those days are gone. The crazies have taken over, led by tinpot despot Rhodes. Joe Pilato’s performance is an unhinged, shouty all-timer. So dedicated is he to Rhodes’ assholery that he constantly threatens to rip apart at the seams. Rhodes doesn’t hide his hatred of anything that breaks with military order. Not only is he closed-minded towards Dr. “Frankenstein” Logan’s exploratory experiments on the undead, he’s a total dick about it. And he carries on being a total dick until the total end. His final scenes show him bitterly screaming “Choke on them!” (ad-libbed by Pilato) as zombies disembowel him and tear off his legs. That’s commitment. (Andrew Todd)

Simon Phoenix, DEMOLITION MAN Cryogenically frozen for forty years and subliminally conditioned in ultraviolence, murder-death-killer Simon Phoenix loves being a bad guy. There’s no overarching plan to his villainy -- he does it for fun. As a result, Wesley Snipes’ energetic performance, particularly his surprised delight at his conditioning and futuristic weaponry, is a joy to watch.



The three male leads in DEMOLITION MAN fall at key points on a continuum of means and ends. Dr. Cocteau (Nigel Davenport) represents peace via fascism, a satirical, overpowered nanny state. Stallone’s John Spartan is crass and violent but ultimately a good guy. And way on the other end of the scale perches Simon Phoenix, green-haired agent of chaos. Simon says, “Bleed.” Phoenix doesn’t even hate the people he kills; they’re just gnats to him. And while he’s probably no more familiar with the three seashells than Spartan is, he’d as soon shit in the street just to create consternation. (Andrew Todd) Doctor Octopus, SPIDER-MAN 2 Doc Ock fits firmly in the realm of misunderstood monsters, or at least his tentacles do. Dr. Otto Octavius is a good man -- he’s married to a loving wife, he’s impressed by young Peter Parker and he’s a well-respected genius who wants to create a sustained power plant to benefit mankind. It’s the loss of his wife and his fusion to the four-armed harness that drives him mad and leads him to a life of crime in order to fund his project, which of course leads to direct conflict with Spider-Man. Perhaps it’s good that his tentacles are in control. He’s more than enough of a challenge for SpiderMan physically now, but his mind is so clouded by their influence and his wife’s death that his genius doesn’t exactly shine through, and he resorts to simple robbery and kidnappings to get his way. That’s what you get when you nickname your tentacles “Larry,” “Harry,” “Moe” and “Flo,” perhaps. In the end, Doc Ock realizes what he’s become and, like the best monsters, realizes that the only person that can stop him is himself. (Alex Riviello) Edwin Epps, 12 YEARS A SLAVE What kind of a man could keep a slave? Too many films about slavery reduce that kind of a man to a one-dimensional figure of sadistic malevolence, but that simplistic portrayal doesn’t do justice to the actual reality of slavery in America. The people who owned slaves weren’t unknowable evil beings, they were humans just like us. That’s what makes Edwin Epps in 12 YEARS A SLAVE so compelling as a villain -- yes, he is a bad, cruel man, but he is also a broken, human one. His nastiness and violence come not from comic book evil but from identifiable places of damage, from places of fear and lust and weakness. Director Steve McQueen takes his usual star Michael Fassbender and uses his movie star looks to undercut the savagery of plantation owner Epps; Fassbender digs deep and finds the cowardice that motivates men like

Epps. The pain and violence, the rape and torture he heaps upon his slaves is bad enough, but the true mark of Epps’ ugliness is the way he forces Solomon Northrup to do his dirty work for him, horrifically whipping Patsey, the slave Epps has fooled himself into thinking he loves (the truth is that there is no love left in Epps, if ever there was any). That is the true nadir of Epps’ villainy, when he tries to strip Northrup of his very soul by making him complicit in the dehumanizing crimes of slavery. (Devin Faraci)

Lord Humungus, MAD MAX 2: THE ROAD WARRIOR Lord Humungus is less a character than a figurehead, the psychotic brains behind a gang of post-apocalyptic ferals. He’s faceless but iconic, clad in a hockey mask and a skimpy leather costume sourced from junk shops and S&M stores. The Ayatollah of Rock-and-Rollah wears his fetish gear like he means business. Humungus’ gang’s pack mentality contrasts with Max’s loner lifestyle. Perhaps they’re the terror that could eventuate if a group of Maxes banded together. They cause chaos because they can; because there’s nobody to stop them; because they dig it. George Miller paints the Humungus as cartoonishly evil: raping, pillaging and murdering, while laughing down the puny plans of their enemies. The visual style of Humungus and his dogs of war set the wasteland punk standard for decades. Postapocalyptic films, comics and video games alike owe a debt to the Lord Humungus and his buddies. It’s only a matter of time before their fashion sense hits the mainstream. (Andrew Todd)


T-1000, TERMINATOR 2 The toughest thing for the director of any Arnold Schwarzenegger movie is to find a villain that can at least somewhat plausibly pose a challenge for the Austrian titan. This is doubly important in a TERMINATOR film, where he’s a cyborg instead of one of Arnold’s traditional superhumans. Luckily, James Cameron found his answer -- and his all-time best villain -- in T2, which had the benefit of being made at a perfect time where CGI was at its most exciting, providing the film with an entirely new kind of foe that could wow us AND make us believe that Arnold might not be able to stop him. Robert Patrick may not have Arnold’s physical prowess, but when the T-1000 calmly strolls out of a mega explosion not unlike the one that just about killed Arnold in T1, all bets are off. (Brian Collins) Emma Small, JOHNNY GUITAR While it’s not that uncommon to watch a Western with a female lead, rarely do you see one with two iron-willed women pitted against one another in such a spectacular fashion as in JOHNNY GUITAR. Blown into her first scene by a foreboding wind storm, Mercedes McCambridge’s villainous Emma Small steals the show over and over again with her skillful instigation, manic glares and, of course, an unrelenting thirst for the death of her rival, Vienna, played flawlessly by Joan Crawford. Emma, who runs the bank in the tiny Arizona town where the film takes place, cannot stand the very existence of Vienna, whose saloon intentionally sits squarely on the site where a railroad is to be built, promising to make Vienna very rich, very soon. While Emma’s hatred is attributed by Vienna to jealousy over the fact that Vienna has had an on-again, off-again romance with the object of Emma’s affection, the Dancin’ Kid, it is made abundantly -- astonishingly, for the time -- clear that the real target for Emma’s repressed obsession is the shirt-and-tie wearing Vienna, herself. Do yourself a favor: throw on JOHNNY GUITAR and watch Emma Small bully with McCarthy-esque speeches the cowed town mensfolk into hanging an innocent woman and a troubled teen, wallow in demonic glee by the light of the saloon-destroying fire that she set ablaze by shooting down a large chandelier with a shotgun and, of course, fight to the death in a final shootout (that she started, naturally) with the desperate hero. You’ll see that Emma Small is a villian that does exceptionally well what villians do best -- she turns inner turmoil and deepseated shame into a destructive force that is nigh unstoppable. (Ashley Gallagher) Jason, The FRIDAY THE 13TH Franchise FRIDAY THE 13TH PART V: THE NEW BEGINNING has among the most kills in the series, some of its best nudity (hello, Deborah Voorhees), and one of the franchise’s most endearing injokes (“Damn enchiladas!”). But a lot of fans hate it. Why? Because it’s NOT JASON VOORHEES. He had been “killed for good” in the previous film. Sure, he had the mask, but it was a different character, and fans cried foul -- so a year later, he was brought back from the dead (literally, he was a zombie from here on out) and all was forgiven. The quality of the film doesn’t matter -- you can send him to New York, pit him against a CARRIE ripoff, or even blast him to space -- as long as it’s the real guy behind the mask, we’ll keep coming back for more. (Brian Collins) Khan Noonien Singh, STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN He’s strong. He’s smart. In his own time he controlled a huge portion of the Earth. But those aren’t the things that make STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN’s titular Khan Noonien Singh one of the all-time great villains. It’s his will to vengeance that makes him great, the single-minded desire to get back at James T. Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise. While that drive leaves Khan vulnerable to the quick-thinking of Kirk and company, it also allows the genetically modified dictator to strike harder than any villain in TREK history, leaving such an indelible mark on the pop culture that the rebooted films tried to glom off of some of that history. But the truth is that Khan’s mad, Ahab-like quest for vengeance succeeds largely because of the man behind the pecs, Ricardo Montalban, whose silver fox looks and purring accent add the perfect edge of menace to the man who humbled and hurt Captain Kirk. (Devin Faraci)


Magneto, X-MEN Earmuffs, comic readers: Until X-MEN FIRST CLASS, I never really gave much thought to, Magneto’s backstory. I thought he was a pretty standard comic villain: a megalomaniac hellbent on world domination. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) But then I was introduced to a character with a horrific past, a man who’d survived the worst World War II had to offer. A man who had to hide what he was, or else be hunted. A man who had started out good, but was forged, through adversity, into a man who thought he was above the race that treated him like crap. Honestly? Now that I know more about him, I can’t really blame him for being a megalomaniac hellbent on world domination. You do you, Erik. (Mandy Curtis) Bob Barnes, PLATOON The really good villains are seductive. They’re bad guys you can kind of understand. And at their very best they represent a path that the hero might take, a dark vision of the future. That sums up Bob Barnes, PLATOON’s scarred Sergeant whose approach to the Vietnam War is brutal and represents the side of the war that America tried so hard to forget. Barnes terrorizes and kills villagers, he abuses his men and he shoots SGT. Elias -- the light side to Barnes’ darkness -- and leaves him for dead. Barnes is a fascinating, layered villain brought to slimy life by Tom Berenger, filled with self-loathing and riding a death wish into the jaws of hell itself. In the end he gives Charles Taylor, the young GI standing in for director Oliver Stone, a scar to match his own and forces the young man to kill him on the battlefield. Perhaps in the end Barnes won the battle for Taylor’s soul. You can read your own metaphor for the loss of American innocence into that. (Devin Faraci) Mrs. Iselin, THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE (1962) The annals of great villainy are rife with evil moms, but few have the sheer nastiness to top Mrs. Iselin, the awful mater played by Angela Lansbury in THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE. Even before we know that Mrs. Iselin is Capital E Evil, we know she’s kind of an awful mom; her Korean War hero son Raymond Shaw ( the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life) resents her because her nosy, bossy ways get between him and the love of his life, Jocelyn. Just when you think THAT’S overbearing, you discover that she’s a Communist operative who is handling the brainwashed Raymond as he prepares to assassinate the presidential candidate running

against her husband! Mrs. Iselin is one of the great ‘power behind the throne’ villains, a string-puller whose dastardly, murderous plan keeps her out of the spotlight and away from the fallout, hands clean. Or it would, if her general unpleasantness towards Raymond didn’t come back to bite her in the end. One interesting note: Lansbury was only three years older than Laurence Harvey, who played her son. (Devin Faraci) Randolph & Mortimer Duke, TRADING PLACES Randolph and Mortimer Duke are the 1% personified. Like Colin and Violet in CHEAP THRILLS, the Dukes play with ordinary people as if they were Happy Meal toys. The brothers may be friendly rivals, but they’re united in the pursuit of money and the subjugation of the lower classes. Late in the film, Mortimer even unapologetically lays bare the racism inherent in their class warfare, incredulously asking “Do you really believe I would have a nigger run our family business, Randolph?” At first merely amiably pompous, it is precisely the Dukes’ jovial nature that makes them so villainous. Their social experiment with Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy is as cavalier as their commodities trading, as they ignore the very real consequences both have on ordinary people. They do this sort of thing all the time. Who’s gonna stop them? Thirty years and several financial crashes after the release of TRADING PLACES, Congress did, outlawing their brand of insider trading in a clause colloquially known as the Eddie Murphy Rule. The brothers themselves ended up on the street in Landis and Murphy’s followup COMING TO AMERICA. It’s an inspired cameo and a satisfying end for the Dukes. (Andrew Todd) The Wicked Witch of the West, THE WIZARD OF OZ You have to sort of understand where the Wicked Witch of the West is coming from. After all, Dorothy Gale just shows up in Oz and drops A HOUSE on her sister -- how do you not get upset about that? In fact it’s not even clear what the Wicked Witch is doing that makes her so completely ‘wicked’ in the first place -- taken from another point of view, she is righteously seeking revenge for the assassination of her family. But forget that point of view. The Wicked Witch of the West is one of the great villains of all time because she’s so uncomplicated (in the movie; we’re well aware of the non-canonical stuff that has sprung up around Elphaba). She’s storybook evil,


with a gross green pallor and an army of creepy henchmonkeys, and Margaret Hamilton -- a sweet single mom in real life -- gives her a cackle that has defined the sound of evil for generations. The Wicked Witch of the West is such an iconic image of bad witches and bad guys that it’s impossible to imagine a time before she existed, before she threatened the Straw Man with a little fire or warned Dorothy she would get her little dog Toto, too. It’s her simplicity that makes her work, a force of absolute badness that stands in stark contrast to the love and friendship of our heroes. Also she owns a really fabulous hourglass and does some excellent skywriting. (Devin Faraci) Hannibal, The SILENCE OF THE LAMBS Franchise He might as well be named “Sun Tzu” or “Machiavelli.” The name “Hannibal” is a wink, a historic combination of academia, confidence and cunning. We take solace in his abilities, knowing that within his villainy lies leadership. Superseding a simple bad guy, Lecter is an antagonist, often an adversary to the same displeasures his audience suffers. The difference between you and Lecter isn’t morality, it’s the extremes you’ll go to prove them. Herein, he gets those flashes of empathy from us, satisfying our civilized morals through calculated grotesqueness. We want to please Hannibal, not just through the fear he engenders, but because he knows the rules as a professor. Search for a victim who did not slight universal principles of good manners and you will come up empty. We’re less afraid of Lecter than we are of being uncouth, the scowl of using the wrong fork replaced with your brain being eaten while you’re still conscious. It’s no surprise that he cherishes the finer things in life, a globe-trotting gourmand, since that juxtaposition creates the stakes (and steaks) that pull us towards the edge of our seats. Our fear of Lecter

is the terror of our own savagery being exposed, embarrassment at the hands, teeth and tongue of the Doctor himself. (Noah Segan) Loki, THOR, THOR: THE DARK WORLD, THE AVENGERS Sometimes villainy has sex appeal. Did anyone know in advance that Loki -- the stringy haired, whiny half-brother of the Asgardian god Thor -would end up as popular as any of the heroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Certainly some of the credit for Loki becoming God of Tumblr must be laid at the feet of Tom Hiddleston, whose good looks and sly wit make him a sympathetic, if greasy, baddie. A lot of the credit also has to go to Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, who found the Shakespearian center to this character -- the petty jealousy of his fair-haired brother, who was destined for the throne of Asgard despite being a bit of a jerk -- and put it front and center. The God of Mischief has spread his glamours across three Marvel movies so far, and his manipulative misstatements and vexing hexes have powered a good bit of the larger narrative sweep of that Cinematic Universe. There are the kinds of bad guys you love to hate, and then there’s Loki, the kind of bad guy you find yourself feeling for despite yourself. That makes him dangerously close to being an antihero (he really skirts the edges of that in THOR: THE DARK WORLD), but so far Loki has stayed reliably bad. Even when he’s doing good it’s for his own selfish reasons and with Machiavellian intentions that reach far beyond the confines of this particular crisis. The fact that we’re suckered into liking and feeling bad for Loki just as Thor does is a big part of what makes his villainy so delicious -- he even tricks the audience. (Devin Faraci)


Voldemort, The HARRY POTTER Franchise THE THING THAT MAKES VOLDEMORT PRESCIENT IS ACTUALLY THE CLASSICAL NATURE OF HIS EVIL. FOR ALL HIS TREMENDOUS POWER, IT IS NO ACCIDENT THAT IT ALL STEMS FROM NOTHING BUT A TREMENDOUS INTERNAL FEAR. THAT WOULD BE THE FEAR OF DEATH. FEAR OF LOSS. FEAR OF LOVE ITSELF LEADING TO THOSE VERY THINGS. ALL RENDERING THE OBVIOUS: EVIL IS THE DEEP RESENTMENT OF ONE’S OWN HUMANITY. (Film Crit HULK) Death, The FINAL DESTINATION Franchise We will all die. There is no truth more inescapable, no fate so inexorable as that. This is the destiny that awaits us all, and we can try to fight it -- we can seek plastic surgery or cryogenics, do yoga and take vitamins, buy convertibles or date models -- but we will all grow old and eventually die (and that’s if we’re lucky enough to grow old first). Therein lies the genius of the FINAL DESTINATION films. Death is the villain, and he’s no masked monster or creepy serial killer. He is invisible. He is impassive. He is relentless. And he comes for us all. (Meredith Borders) Anton Chigurh, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN Can a haircut be evil? If it’s sitting ugly on top of Javier Bardem’s particular pate, the answer is a resounding yes. Bardem has always been willing to snip and style his way into a character, but his work as ruthless psychopathic contract killer in the Coen brothers’ 2007 Best Picture marked a new high point in his ability to look both truly evil and truly in need of a trip to the salon. As the dead-eyed hitman Anton Chigurh, Bardem is kitted out with plenty of other extra-villainous accessories beyond just his horrific pageboy -- from his coin-call catchphrase to his nefarious air tank -- but it’s his complete lack of human emotion that makes him so chilling and keeps the character from falling into farce. (Kate Erbland) Biff, The BACK TO THE FUTURE Franchise Hey, butthead! Few bullies are as prolific as the Tannens. Biff and his forefathers represent the worst-case scenario, a bully who follows you through every permutation of your life, your family’s past and your future. We often find solace, in retrospect, with the remembrance of tormentors past. There’s a sigh of relief we all breathe when we recall the

swirlies, the wedgies and noogies as artifacts of our youth. Biff and his dads have an unrelenting, quantum effect on the McFly Family. They force that common adolescent neurosis, all too often gratefully compartmentalized, into the most irritating chase through multiple dimensions. Biff preys on a nightmare we didn’t know we had, that we’ll never escape our childhood bully. (Noah Segan) The System, BRAZIL Everyone is foiled by some great villain. For some of us, it’s those last 10 pounds, and for others it’s an actual nemesis in our lives that will stop at nothing to destroy us. But I think the greatest villain who has ever lived and unites us all is probably the invisible monster that is The System. You see, bureaucracy my friend, is that spectacular essence that can crush a soul from the inside out with its never-ending spinning wheel of complexity, inefficiency and inflexibility. Try and thwart bureaucracy, and bureaucracy will send you to the back of the line. Try and understand bureaucracy, and bureaucracy will drive you to the edge of madness and back. There is no greater fear than the unknown, and bureaucracy is a perpetually elusive monster in the night that no one can understand or explain except to describe it as the completely unexplainable. The System is everywhere and nowhere. It is always working but never making any progress. If bureaucracy sets you in its sights, there is no calling it off. No amount of “You’ve got the wrong man” or “that should be a T instead of a B” can stop it. Once The System has you, there is nothing that you can do...unless you have the right forms filled out, stamped, double stamped, and then returned to the right person in the right order on the right day. Wait, where was I? You should start this over. (Greg MacLennan) John Doe, SE7EN John Doe doesn’t show up until well into director David Fincher’s 1995 shocker, but when he does, he literally enters with a bang, as a shadowy figure trying to gun down detectives Somerset (Morgan Freeman) and Mills (Brad Pitt). Inside John Doe’s lair, Somerset and Mills find 2,000 notebooks full of pithy observations -- “What sick, ridiculous puppets we are and what a gross little stage we dance on” -- and disturbing drawings. Despite his nondescript name, John Doe is hardly run-ofthe-mill. He is in the process of running through the list of the Seven Deadly Sins, creating murder scenes that illustrate pride, lust, gluttony, etc. As brilliant as he is theatrical, John Doe casually strolls into Somerset and Mills’ police station in a bloodspattered shirt, shouting to get their attention;



he gets ours immediately because he’s played with sinister serenity by Kevin Spacey, sporting a shaved head, a toneless voice and far-away eyes. The madman has surrendered, but the story is far from finished and the riveting/revolting Spacey is just warming up. “You know, this isn’t gonna have a happy ending,” Somerset warns Mills and, thanks to the final, awful surprise in Andrew Kevin Walker’s screenplay, that proves to be quite an understatement. (James Sanford) Chad, IN THE COMPANY OF MEN When people think of the ultimate evil Yuppie, perhaps the style-obsessed serial killer Patrick Bateman of AMERICAN PSYCHO comes to mind. But in his 1997 debut film, IN THE COMPANY OF MEN, writer-director Neil LaBute gave the world someone even more loathsome and, unfortunately, probably more likely to show up at your college reunion. As played by Aaron Eckhart (in his first major film role), Chad has the cool good looks and self-confident demeanor of a Brooks Brothers model -- you can easily picture him running the show in the boardroom or the bedroom. Yet beneath that alluring surface is a warped mind that’s always on the lookout for opportunities to belittle and torture. LaBute’s film is a sort of DANGEROUS LIAISONS for the Clinton Era, with the misogynistic Chad coercing a milquetoasty co-worker, Howard (Matt Malloy), into joining him in a scheme to woo, seduce and then abruptly dump a vulnerable woman. While Howard’s conscience eventually begins to get the better of him, Chad has no such qualms, gleefully pulverizing the heart of kindly, hearing-impaired Christine (Stacy Edwards) and, as a bonus, ruining Howard’s life in the process. Plus, he does it so effortlessly, he puts the ease in sleaze. (James Sanford) The Shark, JAWS In 1975, Steven Spielberg made people afraid to go into the water with one four-letter word synonymous with deep sea villainy: JAWS. It was the director’s way of paying homage to films like THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD and CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON and thus a new Universal monster was released into the sea. Of course, the argument could be made that the shark (affectionately nicknamed “Bruce” by the film’s production crew) was just chomping on swimmers out of pure animal instinct and that the real villains here are the greedy Mayor Vaughn and Amity Island’s local businessmen that stood to lose money on closed beaches. Nevertheless, it’s Bruce that goes down as one of the greatest, most iconic villains in cinematic that is quite

brilliantly more hidden than seen, like a monster under the bed ready to drag you under. (James Wallace) Harry Lime, THE THIRD MAN Orson Welles’ smirking mug doesn’t actually appear until an hour and five minutes into THE THIRD MAN, but, wow, what an entrance. Harry Lime is the personification of the Evil that walks among us. He shows how a little bit of greed can snowball into a depletion of all ethical beliefs. He shows how a type of self-preservation that may be necessary during wartime cannot continue during times of peace if we expect to continue functioning as a society. From the absurd vantage point of a carnival’s Ferris wheel, Lime surveys the city of Vienna, once the cradle of civilization and now bombedout to resemble the surface of the moon. “Would you really feel pity if one of those dots stopped moving forever?” The black marketeer’s bilious speech is all the more cutting because it speaks to basic survivalist urges. Also the observation that the bellicose nation-states of Italy brought us the Renaissance while the pacifist Switzerland brought us merely “the cuckoo clock.” (Jordan Hoffman) Annie Wilkes, MISERY Never has the word “cockadoodie” held so much menace. Annie Wilkes is the dowdy, prudish monster of Stephen King’s MISERY, and a glimpse into the mind of a man who has been fending off crazed fans for decades. She wields a sledgehammer, a typewriter and an irrevocable sense of right and wrong, and Kathy Bates’ performance combines wholesome good cheer and psychopathic cunning with unnerving ease. She is the virtuous, berompered face of fandom gone wrong, a spectre of what can happen to any of us if we allow our passion to become obsession. Your STAR WARS, your BATMAN, your FIREFLY -- that is Annie’s MISERY, and she will maim, kidnap and kill to ensure that her favorite franchise ends the way it ought. (Meredith Borders) White Angel, MARATHON MAN “Der Weisse Engel is here. My God, he gets away!” So screams a dazed old woman, woozily bounding across 47th Street, the heart of the historically Jewish diamond district in New York City. Moving through the crowd is Dr. Christian Szell, loosely based on Dr. Josef Mengele, the SS monster at the heart of MARATHON MAN. Shot with short lenses and one of cinema’s first uses of steadicam, it

is a waking nightmare for the concentration camp survivor to see her former tormentor in a land where she is supposed to be safe. “Is it safe?” is, of course, the question the “White Angel” asks the next-generation Jewish-American Dustin Hoffman about a cache of diamonds as he tortures him with dental tools. Hoffman is unaware that he is caught in the middle of an espionage story -- and it is a somewhat silly story, too. MARATHON MAN is a movie whose parts far outweigh its sum, and its most striking part is the terrifying visage of aging, pure evil. (Jordan Hoffman) Clarence Boddicker, ROBOCOP Back in the ‘80s you never had to concern yourself with what created a villain. You didn’t care if he was abused as a child or if he hung out with the wrong crowd as a teen; you just wanted to hate him and root for the good guy. Clarence Boddicker was the perfect foil for Robocop, a straight-up villain who reveled in his villainy. The guy cracks jokes as he tortures Murphy and only shoots him in the face when he grows tired of him -- there’s no conscience in this man, no thoughts for anyone but himself. He’s the physical representation of the growing need for a tougher cop, the reason Robocop is created in the first place. He’s also a real badass. Forget ED-209 -- that thing got taken out by a staircase. Boddicker got smashed through an entire warehouse worth of windows and still almost managed to kill Robocop with a damn lead pipe. They just don’t make bad guys like him anymore. (Alex Riviello) Janine Cody, ANIMAL KINGDOM It takes a very special brand of woman to lead a notorious crime family, and it takes an even more unique lady to do such a thing while saddled with the nickname “Smurf. “ As matriarch of the Codys, a fearsome Melbourne-based mobster family, Janine Cody is tasked with making the tough decisions -- basically, whom to kill and when to do it. Smurf doesn’t care who gets in her way, even if they’re from her own stock (though damn if she’s not beholden to her interchangeable sons), and she spends every minute of David Michôd’s tightlywound 2010 drama teetering on the edge of a complete breakdown. But Janine can’t break -- she’s too smart for that -- and the divine Jacki Weaver seamlessly blends a sweet grandmotherly charm with all the guile of a cobra. She could strike at any moment, and she will. (Kate Erbland)

Regina George, MEAN GIRLS My high school experience was unusual. Our town was too small for there to really be cliques, and therefore there wasn’t really a “popular” crowd. We didn’t even have cheerleaders until I was a junior. (I know, right?) Sure, there were meanish people, but no one who ever rose to the level of The Plastics’ alpha/ queen/despot, Regina George. And even though I was in college when MEAN GIRLS was released, I learned so much about the way high school should have been from Ms. George. Things like how important it is to wear pink on Wednesdays, that someone can be half a virgin, and that joining the Mathletes is social suicide. Sadly, Regina and I would not have been friends in high school. I didn’t own much pink clothing, I was a Mathlete and I’m pretty sure “half a virgin” is not something people can be. (I’m actually quite positive that there would have been some Burn Book entries about the nerdy girl who liked to wear thrift store T-shirts.) However, I didn’t wear sweats on Mondays and I never tried to make “fetch” happen. Surely, that would have gotten me at least a few Plastic points? (Mandy Curtis) Woo-jin, OLDBOY IT WAS AN UNINTENDED SLIGHT. A MOMENT OF GOSSIP. BUT THAT’S ALL IT TOOK TO UNRAVEL WOO-JIN’S WORLD AND SEND HIM ON THE PATH OF RUINING ANOTHER’S. IF THE ROOT OF GREAT VILLAINY IS THE TERRIFYING IDEA BEHIND IT, THEN THE IDEA THAT THE VERY FABRIC OF OUR LIVES COULD BE UNDONE BY A SINGLE, INADVERTENT OBSERVATION MAY BE THE MOST TERRIFYING OF ALL. (Film Crit HULK) The Xenomorph, ALIEN You barely see the alien in ALIEN, but the glimpses you catch of Stan Winston’s suit based on HR Giger’s biomechanical design are enough to forever lodge the mysterious Xenomorph in our nightmares. A psychosexual horror from beyond the stars, the Xenomorph doesn’t have a backstory or a plan -- it’s just killing the crew of the Nostromo because that’s what it does. It represents a primal urge for violence and sexual domination (it shoves its tube down your throat and makes you a host for its spawn) that exposes humanity’s essential weakness. While the humans on the ship have surrounded themselves with high tech and metal, they can’t keep themselves safe from a beast that uses only its own body -- including its blood! -- as a weapon. Slavering fangs, razor claws, an articulated tail that looks like a spine ripped from a giant’s back and a huge, penis-shaped head define the

indelible silhouette of this classic monster. Future instalments of the franchise would bring dozens upon dozens of Xenomorphs to the screen, but they were never as scary as this first time, when one lone monster turned a vast spaceship into its own spook house. (Devin Faraci) Richard Nixon, ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN President Richard Nixon only appears in the final frames of Alan J. Pakula’s landmark political thriller -- by way of archival footage, no less, there are no fake Tricky Dicks here, and they sure as shooting aren’t necessary -- but that doesn’t mean that his villainy doesn’t permeate every minute of the film. The fact-based and Oscar-winning film is dedicated to uncovering dirty deeds, with Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford going to great lengths to reveal one of the greatest and most far-reaching political conspiracies of all-time. It’s the eventually disgraced leader’s hubris and ego that drive all of the action of the film and its many players, and Nixon’s self-interest is terrifying in its completeness and complexity. Surely, it can’t be a coincidence that Nixon’s Committee to Re-elect the President could so easily be referred to as “CREEP.” (Kate Erbland) General Zod, The SUPERMAN Franchise Although Superman’s more famous nemesis is likely Lex Luthor (or Kryptonite), there’s something about General Zod and his penchant for monologuing and interesting attire that make an impression. (Who doesn’t love the jodhpur-esque pants and leather trim of the SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE and SUPERMAN II era?) In addition to being unquestionably certain that his way is the best way -- and the only way -- the Kryptonian is persistent to a fault. Even when he’s stripped of powers and shut into an alternate dimension, he somehow finds his way back into ours and goes about his business of trying to take over the universe, or, like in MAN OF STEEL, make a new home for his people, even if that means massacring an entire planet full of species. What’s a few million unique beings when you need a new place to ride your giant dragonfly lizards? Showy fashion sense, unwavering confidence and absolute dedication to a cause. I don’t know about you, but that checks pretty much all the boxes on my Best Villain checklist. (Mandy Curtis) Daniel Plainview/Eli Sunday, THERE WILL BE BLOOD Daniel Plainview abandoned his child in pursuit of greed. Eli Sunday exploited a town’s piety for petty vengeance. Who is the bad guy in THERE WILL

BE BLOOD. Neither. No, both. Plainview and Sunday are locked in eternal battle until one of them grabs a bowling pin. They hate each other not because they stand on either side of an ideological fence. They hate each other because they see themselves in one another. And what they see is bullshit. While one can’t deny that both are able to build something tangible -- Plainview an oil empire, Sunday a church congregation -- neither can ever be happy knowing that, in a very real way, they couldn’t have done it without one another. The feud wouldn’t matter much if their egotistical bouts didn’t have real world implications for the people and structures around them, showering everyone in the black oily bile of their petty jealousies. (Jordan Hoffman) Cody Jarrett, WHITE HEAT “Top of the world, Ma!” THE FAMOUS WORDS OF CODY JARRET RING OUT AS HE SIGNS HIS OWN DEATH WARRANT, BUT THERE’S SO MUCH THERE. FROM THE PSYCHOSEXUAL RAMBLINGS TO BEING A MANIAC BIGGER THAN HIS CRIMES, THE MOST DANGEROUS VILLAINS ARE UNPREDICTABLE. AND IT IS ALL TRANSFORMED BY CAGNEY, DELIVERING A VISCERAL PERFORMANCE LIGHT-YEARS AHEAD OF HIS TIME. (Film Crit HULK) Frank Booth, BLUE VELVET Whether he’s Daddy or he’s Baby, Dennis Hopper’s portrayal of the gas-guzzling, sadomasochistic criminal mastermind of Lumberton, North Carolina, is a study in scarcely controlled rage. He is unhinged, an artist of the word “fuck” who revels in pain and harbors very strong opinions about beer. He is childish and filled with wrath, and he stands as the weirdest part of a very weird landscape created by David Lynch, a man who certainly knows from weird. (Meredith Borders) HAL 9000, 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY “I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.” The Heuristically programmed Algorithmic computer in Stanley Kubrick’s film and Arthur C. Clarke’s novels is all unhelpful placidity, the final word controlling the spacecraft Discovery 1. HAL exhibits no personality, no humanity, no compassion -- and no true evil, either. HAL is villainous in the absence of emotion, in its obdurate devotion to its programming in the face of certain doom. HAL represents both our fears of the heights to which technology can soar and then plummet, and our

frustration when our laptop freezes for no goddamn reason when we’re in the middle of something important. (Meredith Borders) Det. Stansfield, LÉON/THE PROFESSIONAL It’s easy enough to hate a cop, especially if you’re a punk rocking cinephile. We dig our indie movies, our left-of-center ideals, and generally believe that control is regression. A rule-toting copper has a book to throw; it’s part of the job description. Gary Oldman’s Detective Stansfield becomes a tremendous antagonist by using that position of authority to justify his being completely insane. Like all great baddies, he’s a complete contrast to our hero. He’ll kill a family, wear a suit like it’s pajamas and shout at the top of his lungs. It’s no wonder he’s a police officer, since it’s yet another obvious difference between him and Léon. Similar to his b.f.f., Ludwig van, Stansfield’s got the skills to pay the bills -- he’s genuinely got crazy detection abilities. Also like Beethoven, he uses them in spite of a baffling array of disorders, both physical and mental. Of course, Oldman had a taste, likely an inspiration, from IMMORTAL BELOVED. The triptych between Oldman, Beethoven and Léon is a triangle in the Euclidean sense, creating a stable plane of hero, conflict and villain. (Noah Segan)

Agent Smith, THE MATRIX Franchise “... It is purpose that defines us, purpose that binds us. We are here because of you, Mr. Anderson. We’re here to take from you what you tried to take from us: Purpose.” -- Agent Smith, THE MATRIX RELOADED Very seldom do antagonists get a story line as complex or rich as the hero’s. Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) begins quite simply as a computer program, made up entirely of zeros and ones. He is a security program designed to eliminate threats to the system, and return the status quo. It is almost a commentary on the concept of Antagonists in cinema. But it is Smith’s obsession with the anomaly Thomas Anderson / Neo (Keanu Reeves) that ultimately leads him down his own philosophical rabbit hole upon his defeat in the first film. It leads him to redefine his own existence, similar in complexity to the journey of our heroes. The truth is that because of Neo’s victory in the first film, Smith has no reason to be, or purpose. So what seems like a very rote, dismissible agenda for a screen villain actually becomes part of the larger story itself. When Neo ascends into the Superman / Christ-like savior of the humans role at the end of the first film, it turns Smith into the opposite: a virus, infecting everyone he touches, including all of his fellow programs in The Matrix whose purpose have been made redundant by Neo’s success. I read this as a metaphor for how the status quo would react to a sudden shift in the power dynamic. THE MATRIX is about a lot of things, but to me it is ultimately about co-existence. The films take the classic hero’s journey of Us Vs. Them, and by giving the lead antagonist his own journey, it explores themes in our action cinema that seldom get addressed: there is no black and white, or zeros and ones, and a shift in power dynamic is never as simple as defeating the villain. (Mo Shafeek) The Thing, THE THING ABSOLUTE. IT’S THE WORD THAT MOST COMES TO MIND WHEN WE THINK ABOUT THE THING. THERE IS NO PATHOLOGY. THERE IS NO IDEALISM HERE. IT IS PURE BIOLOGY. A BACTERIAL INVASION THAT UNDOES THE VERY SUBSTANCE OF OUR BODIES, MINDS AND SOULS, BRINGING US FACE TO FACE WITH THE MOST JARRING AND SICKENING RE-CONSTRUCTIONS OF OUR OWN HUMANITY IMAGINABLE -THE MOST TERRIFYING WAY TO PERHAPS REALIZE WE MIGHT BE NOTHING BUT SACKS OF MEAT. (Film Crit HULK)

The Heathers, HEATHERS The Heathers are the original mean girls, a trio of posh, preppy teens in blazers and pleated skirts, wreaking havoc on the unpopular with biting words and a penchant for croquet. They play cruel, senseless pranks on the dumpy and the lovelorn, and they run the halls at Westerburg High School with gleeful abandon. They’re mega-bitches because they can be. They are the foul-mouthed, shoulder-padded avatar of toxic friendships between high school girls, so spiteful that we cannot regret any tragedy that befalls them. After all, if you want to fuck with the eagles, you have to learn to fly. (Meredith Borders)


The Ancient Ones, THE CABIN IN THE WOODS The Ancient Ones are timeless gods who slumber under the earth and demand a ritual blood sacrifice of five archetypal humans every year in Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon’s THE CABIN IN THE WOODS. They are colossal monsters made of fire and ash, and appeasing them is humanity’s only chance for survival. There are two ways to read THE CABIN IN THE WOODS. The first is to cast the facility technicians as the bad guys. After all, they’re unleashing unspeakable horrors onto innocents, forcing these comely college students to endure appalling trials while they, the technicians, are betting on the kids’ survival, drinking tequila and flirting with each other. Alternatively, we can see the teens as the antagonists, as their continued existence threatens the endurance of the entire human race. But really, shouldn’t we assign blame to the greedy assholes who demand this pointless ritual? The technicians are just doing their jobs. The teens are just trying to have a good time. The Ancient Ones are just dicks. (Meredith Borders) Angel Eyes, THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY “You’re smart enough to know that talking won’t save you.” If Lee Van Cleef ’s Angel Eyes were a member of the Heavenly Host he’d be the Angel of Death; while other characters in THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY kill more people, Angel Eyes kills his victims with more relish. He’s the kind of a guy who will crack a joke while torturing you for information, and he’s the kind of guy who will kill his own employer when he catches wind of just how big a fortune is at stake. What makes Angel Eyes so iconic is the ruthlessness he exhibits. There’s an aspect to killing that’s a job for him, but it’s a job he loves -- he has no hesitation in killing Stevens in his bed, and he gives a chilling chuckle after the deed is done, looking down at the powder-burned pillow beneath which rests a shattered skull. It’s the way he goes about his work -with a whistle in his heart! -- that makes Angel Eyes so damn scary. (Devin Faraci) Ivan Drago, ROCKY IV This ain’t about whether Ivan Drago wants to break you. He simply must. Like the Cold War he personifies -- there is an inevitability to Drago. Directly compared to Rocky, he suggests an insecurity. He’s tall, broad, more classically

handsome and, as is the recurring theme with the series, a sure bet with the metrics. Unlike Apollo or Clubber, Ivan is a foreigner from a land we’re not supposed to understand. He’s the fear of the unknown, xenophobia, and the recurring theme of the Soviet Threat, obsolescence. He rises from chipsets and polymers, a stark contrast to a grey sweatsuit and raw eggs. In an era when the average American was finally getting comfortable with a computer, Drago is technology turning on us. In another far off Eastern land, he is a hero, justified through literal and engineered evolution. The fear he engenders isn’t through evil persevering, but the realization that he may actually be better. (Noah Segan)

Principal Rooney, FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF Wake up and smell the coffee, Mrs. Bueller. Don’t leave his cheese out in the wind. He’s going to want to see a body. Principal Ed Rooney matches his opponent, tit-for-tat. It’s an archetypical example of tables turning, our hero gaining insight and maturity while the bad guy becomes a big old baby. As Ferris progresses, so does Rooney, earning his credentials. Of course, Rooney’s villainy and the film itself lend themselves to favoring the reward over the risks. Ferris’d be fine any way we cut it. By being unrelenting, willing to shirk protocol, Rooney becomes a hang-nail that could turn gangrenous. He’s the T-1000, Jason Voorhees and Rasputin. As Ferris ventures further from the confines of school, Rooney’s lengths are equally extreme. He’s an Ahab, his entire sense of accomplishment geared toward snagging his Great White Whale. (Noah Segan)


Ursula, THE LITTLE MERMAID I was only 5 when THE LITTLE MERMAID was released, and my obsession with Disney’s animated movies had barely begun. I didn’t have much in the way of experience with villains, either (at least, not the kind I’m all too familiar with now at age 30). Ursula, with her calculated manipulations and eventual uncontrolled anger, was a new experience for me. Ariel and my 5-year-old self were actually a lot alike back then. Neither of us knew much about the world, and we both blindly trusted that Ursula’s intentions were good. What we didn’t realize was that there are some people in the world who are just rotten to the core. And because they can’t see the good in the world, they’re going to try and take everyone else’s happiness away. For a 5-year-old, this is a major life lesson. I’m not sure I realized it fully back then, but I certainly do now. Ursula’s eventual comeuppance also led me to believe in the power of true love, which may or may not have been the cause of various failed relationships in the two decades since I watched the movie for the first time. What a witch. (Mandy Curtis) Maleficent, SLEEPING BEAUTY Now this is one bad bitch. Maleficent is the iciest of the Disney villains, the stylish siren with a throaty laugh and elegant mannerisms. She’s hot, she’s cool, she’s vicious and vampy, and really, who can blame her for casting a little curse after she wasn’t invited to the party? This is the Mistress of All Evil, for goddsake, and you always invite the Mistress of All Evil to the party. She’s got the sexiest ensemble, the most glamorous makeup and the greatest name of all time. Maleficent is substance married with style: she comes with an amazing mythology clothed in panache, draped in fascinating details like spinning wheel spindles and a forest of thorns and her compelling concealment as a will-o’-the-wisp. And did we mention she can turn into a fucking dragon? At any rate, I wouldn’t want to be the one to leave Maleficent off of this list. Girlfriend does NOT like to be slighted. (Meredith Borders) Cruella De Vil, 101 DALMATIANS Disney has never been one to back down from peppering their ostensibly kiddo-aimed films with some seriously outsized villains, but even many-legged sea beasts and evil stepmothers can’t quite best Cruella De Vil, a deranged fashionista willing to kill puppies (puppies!) in order to outfit her evil visage with their lush, spotted fur. Every reason given for Cruella’s literal cruelty doesn’t remotely approach anything resembling relatablity, and her dastardly desire for fresh fur is unquestionably a black and white issue. She’s evil, puppies are perfect, and it’s a bit of a miracle that more little ones were not scarred by the idea that a grown woman might steal their puppy to make a throw or a stole. (Kate Erbland)

The Joker, The BATMAN Franchise Few characters, let alone villains, have the generational connection that The Joker does. Every era has its Joker, representing cultural, societal and psychological philosophies. From the camp and kitsch of Romero’s harlequin to the sheer irony of Luke Skywalker’s heroic voice squealed and high-pitched, interpreting his performers is as important as reading into his incarnations themselves. For two concurrent, bordering generations, we look to Nicholson and Ledger as the paramount Jokers. The casting of Nicholson, an icon, a representative not only of pop culture, but of intimidating talent, gave us confidence. Jack’s Joker begins as a man, with a story, with a visage that’s as recognizable as any. He’s comforting, a rhythm and cadence that allows us to lull. By contrast, Ledger is a mystery. While we can’t argue Nicholson’s influence, even over twenty years ago, Ledger was to some a heartthrob, an up-and-comer, an early example of the current drive toward emotional, melancholy leading men. His Joker is an enigma, a man with no past, only theatrical, melodramatic lies. They are both representatives of their respective ages. Jack projects power, a suaveness, the Age of The Power Suit, the Yuppie. He is a man bred from Counter Culture only to have found success later as an Archetype. He didn’t sell out. He bought in. The gangster became the businessman. Heath is broken, a mess, ostensibly asking for our sympathy as he works out his madness, playing on our modern compassion, the requirement of tolerance, even against our better judgment. He beseeches us for equality, regardless of the circumstances. He’s kind of whiny. We can’t deny The Joker as a foil, the unhinged, unexpected insanity against the systematic pragmatism of Batman. That dynamic depends on every successful Joker being able to identify exactly what practicality he must wage against for his time. As a result, while the conflict and mania of Bruce/ Batman may be fluid, the real progression, the true mirror of our state, is The Joker. (Noah Segan) Ernst Stavro Blofeld, The JAMES BOND Franchise 007’s archenemy is so iconic that not even being played by five wildly differing actors in as many films could unseat him as the go-to archetype for “evil genius.” To be fair, a constantly changing appearance was part of Blofeld’s MO in the original Ian Fleming novels, but in the villain’s cinematic trifecta of YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE, ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE and DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER, it’s hard to see even an attempt at continuity. A bald head and a fluffy white cat are about all Donald Pleasence’s slimy Euro-creep has in common with Telly Savalas’ somber egomaniac/brusier, and silver-haired Charles Gray abandons the look altogether. But what the portrayals do share is an upper-crust sense of entitlement, and whether he’s trying to start World War III or

threatening to unleash a global famine, Blofeld has long been something of a foppish, aristocratic one per center against whom two-fisted civil servant James Bond stands opposed. It’s a dynamic that bodes well for his potential return to the series (following a lengthy court battle) to face off against current “blunt instrument” Daniel Craig. (Phil Nobile Jr.) Candyman, CANDYMAN The ‘90s were a weird time for slasher films -especially the early ‘90s. It’s only fitting, then, that Candyman was a weird villain for a slasher film. He had a defined personality but didn’t crack quips. He was smooth, seductive and sexy but also a grotesque monster. He had an incredible origin story that provided black audiences their first real horror icon since the days of blaxploitation. And he didn’t have to rely on camp to do it! Candyman, as played by Tony Todd, is a terrifying villain because of how easily he glides between fact and fantasy. He’s a ghost and a ghoul but he makes his nest in the very real, very scary Cabrini–Green projects. I was always amused by how many people I have known that truly believed in Candyman. More so than Freddy Krueger or Jason Voorhees, Candyman really reached that boogeyman status for a generation -- becoming as much a fixture in myth as the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus. I had a friend in high school who thought Cujo was a true story, though, so maybe I just went to a school full of dummies. (Robert Saucedo) Nurse Ratched, ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST The smiling face of Louise Fletcher’s Nurse Ratched personifies a specific type of villainy: that of the unfeeling institution that would calmly and persistently strip away your basic rights, one privilege at a time, chipping at your humanity day after day, all under the guise of “helping” you. Even scarier, as ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST tells us, is that while you might have temporary, fleeting victories against a villainous establishment, it’s ultimately an unwinnable war. Though Nurse Ratched’s mask eventually slips and we see the petty, hateful monster behind it, that smiling facade is what lingers in the brain, and resonates in our day-to-day lives. (Phil Nobile Jr.) Reverend Harry Powell, NIGHT OF THE HUNTER NIGHT OF THE HUNTER’s Reverend Powell possesses a fairy tale, “Big Bad Wolf ” quality that keeps him just on the other side of reality. This larger-thanlife presentation of Robert Mitchum’s silver-tongued preacher/murderer, especially as viewed through the eyes of the film’s child protagonists, evokes a most primal fear: that of the child toward the





father, instantly relatable to anyone who grew up in a home with a stern patriarch. Imposing, mercurial, frighteningly unknowable, spouting lessons from the Bible while threatening bodily harm, Reverend Powell likely rang very familiar to the children of the Greatest Generation. (Phil Nobile Jr.) Irma Vep, LES VAMPIRES Louis Feuillade’s LES VAMPIRES, made in 1916, is one of the earliest masterpieces of cinema and still fully retains its capacity to enthrall and delight. Running just under eight hours, it is a ten-part serial about the evil exploits of a secret society known as the Vampire Gang, a group of super criminals lead by the seductive and terrifying Irma Vep. Musidora, the actress who brings Irma to life, is the ultimate vamp -- a colloquial term applied to describe a particular type of woman in the 1920s who embodied exotic style, dark eroticism and endless indulgence. These liberated women were seen as threatening fatales who were luring society to ruin. As the leader of the Vampires, Irma Vep creates a very modern kind of terror, using conspiratorial intrigues and rampant paranoia to target bourgeois society and bring it to its knees. LES VAMPIRES has a surreal capacity to access its own unconscious, taking us through a world of multiple disguises, secret passageways, poison rings and evil master plots. Irma Vep strikes fear into our hearts because she shows that some terrors can never truly be confronted or contained. (Tommy Swenson) Tajomaru, RASHOMON Forget about villains with layers; RASHOMON’s Tajōmaru has versions -- a different one for every set of eyes on him. In the aftermath of a rape and murder, witnesses recount the incident in court, and each version of the film’s central crime reveals a new iteration of Toshiro Mifune’s bandit: honorable rogue, scuzzy criminal, lucky coward. As the film explores the subjective, fluid nature of truth, an important observation surfaces: the villain of one person’s story isn’t necessarily the villain of another’s, and every person -- wise, brave, evil or stupid -- is always the hero of his own. (Phil Nobile Jr.) Ramrod, VICE SQUAD Ramrod, man. Ramrod. Wings Hauser owns the film VICE SQUAD in his portrayal as Ramrod: psychotic, yet stylish, a pimp with a penchant for doing incredibly nasty things with wire coat hangers. Hauser is a rabid dog -- bloody, bruised and still bursting with hate as he heads LA cops on a wild chase in Gary Sherman’s sleaze-soaked classic. Clad in western-wear with the widest grin he can manage without dislocating his jaw,

Hauser storms his way from crime scene to crime scene, leaving a trail of maimed bodies and brutal murders. His motivation? A bruised ego! This isn’t some cackling supervillian with a dastardly plot to take over the world -- this is a pimp with a pitchblack soul and absolutely no regard for the sanctity of human life. He’s equal opportunity, too! He’ll belly punch fellow pimps and nipple twist Nazis just as easily as he’ll ice cops in cold blood. As an added bonus, Wings Hauser scream/sings the film’s theme song, “Neon Slime.” (Robert Saucedo) Amon Goeth, SCHINDLER’S LIST From his first scene in SCHINDLER’S LIST, Ralph Fiennes looks and acts the part of evil incarnate, calmly both committing and overseeing the deaths of scores of Jews, racking up a body count that ranks up there with cinema’s greatest mass murderers. But during a quiet scene in which Goeth visibly struggles to reconcile his own monstrous worldview with his attraction to Helen, a Jewish prisoner serving as his housemaid, Goeth becomes something even scarier: human. Fiennes mixes Goeth’s sociopathy with a dose of petty bullying and the shy stammerings of a schoolboy crush, turning the moment into a queasy portrait of absolute, banal evil. (Phil Nobile Jr.)



Hans Gruber, DIE HARD It’s of no real surprise that of all four DIE HARD sequels, the only villain that even comes close to matching the greatness of the original’s Hans Gruber was his brother Simon (in DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE). From the moment Alan Rickman is introduced, calmly strolling through the basement of Nakatomi on his way up to the 30th floor, you know he’s not the bland sort of euro-trash villain we had been accustomed to in our action films. When McClane saves the day, it’s almost a shame that Gruber has to exit the film -- he is sorely missed. Indeed, I always found it interesting that future DIE HARD ripoffs more often than not had a Gruber-like villain (dryly hilarious, brilliant, played by an esteemed actor) instead of McClane clones -- CLIFFHANGER, UNDER

SIEGE, etc, all put effort into making their villains more memorable than their heroes. That is the legacy of Hans Gruber. (Brian Collins) Hans Beckert, M Throughout M, Peter Lorre’s Beckert is a mystery, a seemingly remorseless child killer that hides in the shadows, an evil force who preys on the weak. It isn’t until the end of the film, when Beckert is marked and dragged before a “court” in an abandoned distillery by a furious mob, that he lets us know why he’s doing what he does. “I can’t help what I do!” he pleads to his audience of criminals, who laugh at him for that old excuse. Beckert screams his case, pouring out his

heart that no one knows how compelled he is, that he’s forced to commit these atrocities and he’s pursued by ghosts no matter where he goes. It’s one of the most remarkable monologues in cinematic history, made all the more impressive by the fact that this was Fritz Lang’s first sound film. There has hardly been a more chilling explanation of a serial killer’s motives put to film in the 80 years since its release. (Alex Riviello) Hans Landa, INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS For Austrian-born Nazi colonel Hans Landa, the hills are alive with the sound of murder -- and he is frequently the one responsible. Hailed as “The Jew Hunter” (a title he relishes), Landa tracks down fugitives as methodically as Sherlock Holmes, employing his insidious interrogation

skills like a laser to break down every cover-up and disintegrate even the most carefully constructed lies. Not unlike a sadistic cat with a mouse, he sometimes gets a thrill from toying with his prey: He lets a young Jewish girl escape from the home in which her family was massacred, just because he’s curious to see if she can survive on her own until, inevitably, they meet again. Writer-director Quentin Tarantino feared he had written an unplayable role until he met German/Austrian actor Christoph Waltz, who craftily transformed Landa into a fascinating, frightening and sometimes startlingly charming monster of a man. The characterization earned him the 2009 best supporting actor Academy Award and launched his English-language career, proving sometimes bad guys really do win in the end. (James Sanford)


Drafthouse Recommends: BLUE RUIN
DeVin Faraci Badass Digest Editor in Chief @devincf Read more at

This month’s Drafthouse Selects title is BLUE RUIN, a gripping -- and sometimes funny -- revenge thriller from Jeremy Saulnier. Featuring an intense central performance by Macon Blair, BLUE RUIN manages to be a bloody, tense story that also argues the absolute futility of revenge. Dwight has been living in his car for years, waiting for the day when Little Wade Cleland would get out of prison. Little Wade has done a number of years for killing Dwight’s parents, and Dwight brutally murders the freshly freed man while he’s celebrating with his family. But that’s just the opening of the movie; Dwight doesn’t realize that revenge comes both ways, and Little Wade’s family decides to keep going an eye for an eye, no matter how many people are left blind. Or dead. Saulnier teases unbelievable tension from the smallest of moments. A scene where Dwight waits in an empty house becomes an exercise in almost unendurable stress -- one that pays off in spectacular fashion. BLUE RUIN isn’t just a smart, gritty meditation on the nature of vengeance; it’s also a terrifically entertaining movie that belongs alongside other classic revenge films like OLDBOY, DEATH WISH and ROLLING THUNDER.


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