This weekend, Angelina Jolie gets the chance to prove her worth as she brings the best animated villain – Sleeping Beauty’s Maleficent – to life. Among the greatest villains of all time, Maleficent shines brightest even among Disney’s early, magnificent villain output. And that drag she can turn into?! Get out!
It put is in the mood to celebrate cinema’s great villainy with a countdown of the 15 best villains in film.
Hellraiser in 1987 might have been a forgettable Eighties horror flick were it not for the imagination of Clive Barker, whose sado-masochistic Cenobites journeyed from hell at curious humans’ mistaken request. Chief among them, the elegantly sadistic Pinhead strikes quite a figure with his leather and perfectly placed metal.
Quote: The box. You opened it. We came.
14. Max Cady
Whether Robert Mitchum in 1962 or Robert DeNiro in 1991, this tattooed, backwoods psychopath leaves an impression and a cloud of cigar smoke.
Quote: Come out! Come out wherever you are!
One of the reasons Disney bounced back from decades of anemic cartoon output with their 1981 Hans Christien Anderson reboot The Little Mermaid was that they finally remembered the value of a good villain, and the sinister, baritone sea-witch Ursula fit that bill.
Quote: Come in, my child. We mustn’t lurk in doorways, it’s rude. One might question your upbringing.
12. Buffalo Bill
The Silence of the Lambs was the most honored, most celebrated film of 1991, and yet the miraculous Ted Levine went strangely unnoticed. Dr. Lecter was not the only figure to terrify us in the film, and Levin’s savage menace perfectly offset Lecter’s cool headed danger.
Quote: It rubs the lotion on its skin. It does this whenever it is told.
11. Keyser Soze
This one actor managed to play two different iconic, anonymous killers in 1995, establishing an award-winning career that has bloomed again just recently. The Usual Suspects spins a yarn about a puppet master boogeyman who is everywhere, controls everything, and is willing and capable of doing anything.
Quote: Who is Keyser Soze?
Gore Verbinski’s 2002 J-horror remake The Ring opened a genre floodgate with dozens of immediate copycats. His skill as a director and his cast certainly helped, but it was the terrifying central villain – the shadowy, sinister, wet and slimy cherub Samara in the well – that made the lasting impression.
Quote: Everyone will suffer.
9. Cruella de Vil
Disney’s 1961 animated puppy-napping tale was hardly one of their finest efforts, but it did boast one of Walt., Inc’s wickedest villains. Bony, pasty and brandishing a cigarette in a long, sleek holder, Cruelle de Vil epitomized the evils of money. Sort of an early Monty Burns, if you will.
Quote: I worship furs! Is there a woman in this wretched world who doesn’t?
8. Anton Chigurh
Javier Bardem spooky, tenacious psychopath in No Country for Old Men had such a magnificently twisted sense of purpose, you almost admired him. As long as he wasn’t looking for you.
Quote: What’s the most you ever lost in a coin toss?
7. Hans Gruber
Alan Rickman did every bit as much to make Die Hard the unforgettable Christmas romp as Bruce Willis. Ever the disdainful straight man to John McLane’s walkie-talkie wise cracker, Rickman brought an irritated elegance to the role of mastermind.
Quote: Do you really think you have a chance against us, Mr. Cowboy?
6. Wicked Queen
Walt Disney understood the relevance of a good villain perhaps better than any filmmaker of his time, and he proved that right from the get go. Snow White’s ageless Wicked Queen and her bulbous-eyed old hag alter ego both remain the best reasons to dust off the old 1937 classic.
Quote: Wait til you taste one, dearie. Like to try one?
5. The Joker
The Joker is a great villain regardless of the actor, but in 2008, Heath Ledger took ownership of the role. Dangerous, charismatic, darkly unpredictable, he wasn’t interested in money or power, just chaos. It was a terrifying, sinister place he took the evil clown, and the role will never be the same again.
Quote: I’m not a monster. I’m just ahead of the curve.
Jolie has big shoes to fill, taking on the character that, let’s be honest, is the only reason to sit through Disney’s 1959 animated flick. All angles and cloaks, she’s seriously evil. She casts a spell of death, then turns into a dragon and calls on the powers of hell. Of hell! In a Disney movie. That’s hard core.
Quote: Why so melancholy?
3. Hannibal Lecter
Anthony Hopkins’s restrained, poised, well-postured psychopath offered the kind of chilly, flesh-crawling terror we hadn’t really seen before 1991’s The Silence of the Lambs. Never flamboyant or showy, the performance felt genuine, which made it that much more terrifying. He was a brand new kind of nightmare, one who was way smarter than you and had a taste for flesh.
Quote: Ready when you are, Sergeant Pembry.
2. Darth Vader
At this point in history, it’s as if Darth Vader has always existed, but in 1977 – holy shit! That voice and that crazy breathing thing,the cloak and the helmet – coolest looking villain ever! Was he a dude? Was he a machine? A dude with a machine for a head? The Dark Lord was such a unique, powerful villain. James Earl Jones can make any dialogue sound important and impressive, meanwhile, David Prowse’s imposing physicality gave him the presence of a dark god. And a franchise was born.
Quote: Don’t underestimate the Force.
1. Wicked Witch of the West
It’s tough to top Darth Vader and Hannibal Lecter, but Margaret Hamilton did it. Her iconic look served her beautifully in the jazz-hands glamour of Oz. She looked amazing, plus she had flying monkeys to do her bidding! She was a glorious image of evil, and because she was in relentless pursuit of a little, lost girl, she became the stuff of nightmare for generations of children.
Quote: I’ll get you, my pretty!