Top Ten overlooked movie Villains
I have been pondering this for a while. What makes a good villain? Should they be pure evil or should we be able to relate to the villains? Movie villains are a dime a dozen and a comprehensive list of the best of the best just doesn’t exist. All of the lists that I have found online are either very large and seem to try and fit everyone, or shorter lists that just seem to regurgitate the same few answers. Long lists and short lists have one thing in common. They are uninspired and aim to please everyone. My list isn’t like that at all. Odds are you’re going to disagree and that’s cool. I welcome it. Respond and discuss, argue and eventually come around to my point. It is inevitable.
There are many qualities that I look for in a movie villain. I think that too often we get “cool” villains that we are secretly supposed to sheer for. Guys like The Joker as played by Heath Ledger. Sure his acting was awesome and he had a cool look. But he was a plot device and nothing more. Ledgers death no doubt added to the mystique and has made the character quite overrated, and this is coming from a HUGE Ledger fan.
Conversely there are the villains who are so evil that we actually root for their demise. Both type of villains are necessary depending on the fiction that’s being created, but the odds are pretty good that my list isn’t going to feature any of the people that you would expect.
So without further banter lets get down to the top ten movie villains. Dennis Hopper, Speed
This is probably the most main stream villain that you will see on this list, which is why I have him at the ten spot. Phoenix masterfully executes a sleazy, incestuous, dirt bag emperor living in his fathers shadow. Green with envy of the man his father loved more all while forcing his sister into marriage. This is the personification of a movie villain that you truly hate and wait with anticipation to see him finally thwarted.
9 Gus-Pet Semetary 2
Clancy Brown is one of those actors that the general movie audience will recognize as “Hey it’s that guy”. However this man actually does have quite the cult following, of which I am part of. My first memory of Brown is of Gus the asshole Sheriff and step dad in Pet Semetary 2. Like so many of my generation I was raised on horror movies and I watched the Pet Semetary films often. As an adult I really like the sequel because it is over the top and often ridiculous. However when I was young the sequel scared me much worse than the first one, and Gus is the reason why.
Hey it doesn’t have to be an action or horror film in order to have a villain. Evil comes in all shapes and plot lines. Will Ferrell’s role of Mugatu is one of his more iconic early on screen arrivals. He was still in a supporting role however Mugatu is where Will Ferell left Kattan and Molly Shannon in the dust. Ferrell had a couple more supporting roles before launching into leading man stardom and box office sensation. But it started here with the devilish plot to kill the Malasian Prime Minister in Zoolander.
7 Howard Payne-Speed
Pop quiz, hotshot. There’s a bomb on a bus. Once the bus goes 50 miles an hour, the bomb is armed. If it drops below 50, it blows up. What do you do? What do you do?…Need I say more? Speed is a treasure in action film history. It has a unique plot and a good box office presence. It certainly made waves, and was even parodied on the Simpsons. This is one of my favorite movies to re watch over and over again. Dennis Hopper is a really good bad guy, we all know this. He made a career out of it. But There’s something especially charming about the former police officer turned mad bomber. He has a great over the top yet somehow completely grounded personality, and he goes out in a really cool way.
6 Ernie McCracken-Kingpin.
It’s hard to hate Bill Murray. Even after his years of Ghostbusters abuse it’s really hard to hate the guy. He has such a charm about him, and that charm carries over to the smooth talking kinda con man professional bowler in Kingpin. Ernie is the reason that Roy loses his hand and ultimately heads down a very dark and pathetic road. So when Roy finally does get back into the sport of professional bowling due to the help of a whore and an Amish man it seems like he is surely going to get his vengeance by defeating Ernie. However the sleazy and disgusting McCracken picks up the victory winnng the grand prize and sending Roy home disappointed. There are a million reasons to love Kingpin, and Ernie is at the top of the list.
5 Rochefort- The Three Musketeers.
Michael Wincott had a really good run in the 90’s with films like The Three Musketeers, The Crow, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and Alien Resurrection. the guy has credentials and I am sure somewhere there is a list with him on it one of those other roles (especially The Crow). However, I find him particularly dubious and very entertaining in this outing. He works really well in this time period, and my god that voice.
In 2014 we have too many comic book villains to keep track of on screen. Before Marvel blew up the box offices though they had a much smaller representation on the silver screen. I have said on record many times that the state of comic book films would not have boomed like it has without the Blade franchise. Blade was really the first non Superman/Batman comic book adaptation to be a very big success. Frost and his band of vampire misfits who scheme to take over the reigns their elders prove to be very tough foes for Blade. Not only do they kill his mentor, but they have his mother living in vampire sin as well. Frost takes Blade to the edge and even succeeds at harboring himself as a vampire god. This is a role that wouldn’t have worked as well without Stephen Dorff who is so damn cool.
3 The Shredder-Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
The Shredder was quite imposing. He had mad skills in the martial arts, a scary suit of armor. And an army of ninjas that feared him. Every time he is seen on screen he is accompanied by a sinister score of music. The actor responsible for his voice over work was awesome. The Shredder was a perfect foil for the Turtles. He is formidable, ferocious, and evil. He had the victory until he allowed his emotions to get the better of him. A classic ninja mistake. His return in the sequel was a little less menacing until he takes the ooze and becomes super Shredder, but man is this guy quite imposing for a kid movie.
2 Cyrus The Virus Grisom-Con Air
Con Air is another underrated classic. It is by far Nic Cages best film. It borders both insane and asinine, with a great original concept and nice ensemble of convicts. Leading the pack is Cyrus “The Virus” a contemporary evil genius who leads his convicts to certain levels of freedom. If not for that Wiley Nic Cage they would have safely managed to escape. He is one of the smarter movie villains of the 90’s. Most people like to think of Hannibal Lecture as an evil genius, but I think Cyrus would stomp the crap out of Lecture and feed him to Buscemi.
1 Bodhi-Point Break.
Point Break is in my top 5 picks for favorite movie of all time. It’s definitely regarded as a classic by many, but no one gives this movie the respect it deserves. The entire concept was ripped off and retooled for The Fast and The Furious and instead that has exploded into a 7 movie franchise making billions. Patrick Swayze pretty much exemplifies the essence of the character. A spiritual thrill seeker, in a constant search for the next big ride. Every time I watch this movie I identify more with Bodhi. He is by far my favorite movie villain.