Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Most Intimidating Villains Ever

So we've discussed the lamest villains we can think of. Now how about looking at the one's that keep us up at night? I both love and hate the villains of my favorite movies. They scare me, but in a great no-real-danger sense; usually. Though I have been known to occasionally go to sleep with the light on. So here are the villains that are the most memorable to me-- in no particular order. Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Silence of the Lambs) I ate his liver with some fave beans and a nice Chianti...(add slurpy noise here)........ I honestly don't remember if that line was in the book Silence of the Lambs, but I sure couldn't forget the impact it had when I saw it on the screen. I think what made Lecter so menacing was the fact that he was psychotic, brilliant and civilized at the same time. Me? I wouldn't have a clue what wine should go with a human liver. I haven't seen the new movie Hannibal Rising and I don't really intend to. In my opinion Hannibal needs to be played by Anthony Hopkins in order to remain the charismatic sadist who causes me insomnia. The Alien (Alien) I can't think of a scarier creature in existence than the Alien from Ridley Scott's movie Alien. This movie is soooo good, but terrifying. I still can't watch the scene where Ridley comes face to face with the alien and its second mouth comes forward with all the sharp teeth and slime. ((shudder)) And do we even need to mention the much parodied scene in which an alien comes out of Kane's stomach. ((ewwww)) But my God, what a scary villain. I don't want to peek inside the brain that came up with this one. Darth Vader (Star Wars) This list could not exist without mentioning Darth Vader. Not the Hayden Christensen version, but the black suited, heavy breathing one. It's an absolute tribute to James Earl Jones and that magnificent voice of his that Vader is so intimidating without facial expressions. I don't remember that many scenes in which Vader displayed his prowess with the dark side of the force, but you believed in his power. Norman Bates (Psycho) Just the name gives me the willies. On the surface Norman Bates seemed harmless enough. He was this milquetoast of a man who nonetheless turned out to be horrifying. Essentially based on serial killer Ed Gein, Norman Bates showed us what happens when the "momma's boy" syndrome goes to the extreme. Alfred Hitchcock did a magnificent job of showing how a timid little man can nonetheless harbor a serious dark side. If you want a good old fashioned horror film, the original Psycho is a must see. The Shark (Jaws) Jaws was one of those movies that seriously affected my formative years. My parents had an unusual lack of good sense in taking me to see that movie when I was way too young. I guess that's what happens when you can't find babysitting. I literally took a flying leap onto my bed for years just on the off chance that a great white shark might be hiding under the bed. You can't be too careful about these things can you? But Jaws affected everyone didn't it? I don't know anyone that wasn't a little scared of going into the ocean after seeing that movie. And if you weren't scared, well, what the heck is wrong with you? This is a movie that grabs you from the very fist scene. You could feel the terror of the woman swimming in the ocean as the shark first grabs her and pulls her under. I'm still a little scared to swim in the ocean. Annie Wilkes (Misery) I'm your biggest fan...... Ever since Kathy Bates uttered those words in the movie adaptation of Stephen King's novel Misery authors everywhere have shuddered in fear. We've all heard of the obsessed fan. The stalker. But Annie Wilkes is even more intense than your average psycho. One the one hand, there is something pitiable about the character. This is a woman with no real life outside of the one she's created in her head. And boy is it a scary one. When she calls Paul Sheldon mister man as she tells him what she expects of him, we feel his alarm. This is not a woman in charge of her thoughts or feelings. And if you thought the hobbling scene in the movie was grotesque, you should read the book. So these are the one's that stick out in my mind. I've deliberately kept the list short because I hope the rest of you will add to the list and tell me what scares you at night when you're home......alone.

38 comments:

Peter P said...

Hands of Blue seemed quite scary. Bleeding...

SQT said...

Peter, I had to look that up. I love Firefly but didn't really remember Hands of Blue that well. I have them all on DVD though, so I can refresh my memory. :D

Neila said...

Those are some awesome movie villains! Hannibal definitely gets me every time!

But I am a HUGE Hitchcock fan!!! He was the master. I am with you on Norman Bates, but have you ever seen Rope? Two men strangle a classmate for no other reason than they want to see if they can get away with it. Now, those are the kind of villains that scare the crap out of me!

Irene said...

Alex Forrest in "Fatal Attraction" is one hell of a villainess.

All men be warned about the dreadful consequences that can ensue due to marital infidelity. HAHA!

Happy weekend! =)

SQT said...

I haven't seen Rope, it sounds scary! I guess Hitchcock knew about thrill killers before the rest of us knew what they were.

Alex Forrest was scary in Fatal Attraction. I think men were scared of women who looked like Glen Close for a good long time. ;)

Peter P said...

I have to agree that Aliens are quite scary.

How about the bugs on Starship Trooper?

Stewart Sternberg said...

Allow me to present Claudius, uncle to Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Claudius who killed the father and now plots to kill the son. In my mind one of Shakespeare's finest villain. Or, if you prefer another Elizabethan baddie, there's always the ambitious Lady MacBeth.

I will back away from Vader and Lecter or even Dick Cheney. Villains who become part of popular culture, riding its crest for too long, lose their venom. They are reduced to being repeatedly copied and mimicked.

That being said, allow me to pick two characters from film who stay with me: Max Cady. First portrayed by Robert Mitchum, then by Robert DeNiro. The villain from "Cape Fear" is the personification of vengeance. He is evil.

Who can forget the scene where the protagonist has his family in a movie theater and DeNiro as Cady sits in the front row, smoking a cigar, laughing maniacally.

SQT said...

How did I miss Dick Cheney?

Stewart-- I totally get where you're coming from regarding Lecter and Vader, but still, they were great villains when they were created. It's too bad that success spoils that.

Peter--Those bugs were scary. I remember watching the movie and thinking there's no way we'd have a chance against something like that.

Peter P said...

Peter--Those bugs were scary. I remember watching the movie and thinking there's no way we'd have a chance against something like that.

I was thinking about some super spray.

But you are right, those bugs were gross!

Peter P said...

Hannibal never really scared me. He was just a misguided gourmet. :)

Alex said...

Kevin Spacey's character from "Se7en" was scary, because his actions were completely logical, if not moral. Something like a toned down version of Jigsaw in the "Saw" movies. Plus Kevin Spacey is a great actor, even if he did do that godawful Superman movie.

Man, that franchise must pay people tax-free cash under the table, because no matter how bad the Superman movies are - and most of them have been pretty bad! - people line up to act in them.

As for Shakespearean villains, I would go with Iago; he was by far the most real character Shakespeare ever created. Even Kenneth Brannagh couldn't screw him up when he directed/starred in/shared writing credit for Othello.

SQT said...

Alex-- Spacey's character in "Se7en" was so creepy. I loved that movie.

I liked him in "The Usual Suspects". Who is Kaiser Soze indeed.

Kate S said...

I literally took a flying leap onto my bed for years just on the off chance that a great white shark might be hiding under the bed. You can't be too careful about these things can you?

(Sqt hears a knock on the door... who's there?)

"Land Shark"

*snicker* Ok, sorry - especially if you didn't see the SNL to which that refers.

When I was little girl the two "villains" that kept me awake were simply disembodied arms. One was the trucker's arm that motioned Dennis Weaver forward in "Duel" the other was the arm that crawled around by itself in a movie whose name I don't recall (a man lost his arm in an accident and it took on a life of its own.)

I used to lie awake in fear of that coming to get me.

Lee said...

I was raised Catholic and saw The Exorcist when I was but a wee Catholic school girl. The devil that'll come in a possess your butt even though you're just a good little kid and make you do horrible things is the scariest thing I've ever encountered.

Still can't watch scary movies.

SQT said...

Kate-- I used to love Land Shark. Much less threatening than Jaws. You also reminded me of another scary movie- the original "Hitcher," with Rutger Hauer. He was also one of the androids in "Blade Runner." He makes a great villain.

Lee- Good one! "The Exorcist" is still one of the scariest movies I have ever seen. Unfortunately most movies don't depict the Devil as well. Though I do remember watching the original "Omen" and thinking Damien was creepy as Hell.

jedimerc said...

For me, it will always be Vader, more because of my childhood memories of watching him be 'Vader' ... I still get chills during 'Empire'. It just rocks...

I also think Max Cady is pure evil. I prefer Robert Mitchum's evil over DeNiro, but both will do :)

And the Alien gave me nightmares when I was 6...

Stewart Sternberg said...

Lee, I'm a Jew and the Exorcist scared me stupid. The brilliance of that film is that there is no real physical villain. They are fighting a manifestation of evil.. and the battleground is a little girl. I love this film.

I actually got up and walked out on it the first time I saw it in a theater. Because it upset me that much. I think it was immediately after the mutilation with the crucifix scene that I rose.

Stewart Sternberg said...

By the way, it always interests me to see how jedi and I tend to parallel one another on so many things. Jedi..it's a shame we don't live near one another. Something tells me we could have some interesting discussions around a couple rounds of beer.

SQT said...

Jedi is cool isn't he?

Stewart-- I remember hearing that a lot of people walked out on The Exorcist when it first came out because it scared the beejeesus out of people. I have never sat and watched it all in one sitting; it's that creepy.

S.M.D. said...

...Hannibal...I agree. He CANNOT be played by ANYONE other than Hopkins. PERIOD. I won't see the new film. The guy that plays Hannibal is too gangly in my opinion, and I just don't like the direction they are taking his character. I always liked thinking of Hannibal as this brilliant man who just snapped cause some guy couldn't play flute...

Now for other villains!

How about the Predator from the first Predator? Not any of the other Predator films, just the first one. The other films sort of ruined it all.
Also, how about Emperor Palpatine from SW? Just the way the guy speaks is creepy.
How about Event Horizon, Sam Niel's character?

So many to put out there :S.

Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

hey, you forgot hillary! ha!

smiles, bee

SQT said...

Hillary and Dick Cheney; those two could take over the world couldn't they?

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

The Curmudgeon said...

I still haven't seen "The Exorcist." I read the book, however.

I was still a teen, living in my parents' home. We had a sort of kids' den in the basement and I was reading the book there. I was probably listening to records, too -- background noise really as I was very absorbed in the book.

So I didn't see my sister sneak down the stairs. Or tiptoe right in front of me. I didn't notice her at all --

-- until she screamed.

As I recall, I had to be coaxed out of the drop ceiling.

Angela/SciFiChick said...

Clint Howard. I know he's not a villain, but he still gives me nightmares.

mist1 said...

Great list.

I'm not afraid of villains. I like villains. I am afraid of cavities.

chris luby said...

Reavers.

SQT said...

Sci-fi Chick
Is that Ron Howard's brother? Yeah, I get that. ;)

Mist
My daughter feels exactly the same way.

Chris
The reavers were very scary. I also hated that they killed off my favorite character at the end of Serenity. But the beautiful thing about sci-fi is there's always hope they can bring him back someday. Assuming of course Firefly comes back someday.
...still hoping....

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Jigsaw from the 'Saw' movies' is really bad!

Writer on Board said...

Pan's Labyrinth really disturbed me deeply (http://www.panslabyrinth.com/) frightening on many levels. The first Saw movie did the same thing, besides being disgusting.

I like your blog Stewart but I also liked and like The Breakfast Club and Dirty Dancing and that other chick flick movie from the 80s so what do I know? And I loved your vampire story! You should expand it into a novel. I'll buy it. That's one customer. You did write the vampire tale, or am I confusing Stewarts?

SQT said...

Stewart did write the vampire story. I think most of us agree that we'd like to see more of it.

Lee said...

The Exorcist seriously damaged me psychologically. I was way too young and way too brainwashed. I slept with lights on for years afterwards and would just stare at the cracked door, waiting for Satan to creep up on me. Ruined me for horror flicks. I can only watch semi-scary sci-fi stuff, like Star Wars and Alien. Anything that even has a glimmer of possibly happen, like a madman with a chainsaw at a campground, or a gourmande cannibal, I am totally, totally out on. I just go right back to being a terrified little girl, sitting as small as I could, in the corner of my bed.

I need therapy.

Stewart Sternberg said...

Clint Howard was always the freakiest looking kid. He was so freaky that he appeared as an alien freakzaoid on Star Trek when but a tad. And required little makeup for the role.

Ron Howard is freaky for other reasons. I despise him as a director. If it's a Howard film, I steer clear. When I heard he was doing "The Da Vinci" code, I gagged. I still remember seeing the scene where the curator of the museum is lying on the ground and his genitals are glowing so brightly that they can't be seen. It was the strangest thing I ever saw.

And WRITER ON BOARD, thanks for the compliment. I appreciate it.

Hey there, Skippy said...

DAKOTA FANNING

And that's just in Charlotte's Web

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

max cady as that know-it-all sternberg said; but also rev. harry powell in NIGHT OF THE HUNTER. mitchum played the ultimate bad guy, the hannibal lecter of black & white movies.

Stewart Sternberg said...

You know, SQT, I've make a request to every writer I communicate with, at least when I remember to do so: Turn me into a villain. I want someone to put me into a book and make me one of the most loathsome villains imaginable. I want to be a mastermind. Someone manipulative, clever. Someone the audience hisses at and wishes death upon.

I exchanged an email with Raymond Benson once. He wrote some of the Bond novels during the nineties. I begged him to make me a Bond Villain.

I loved the idea of seeing myself in a suit, smiling innocently and saying the words: "Well, Mr. Bond, I'm not sure what else we have to say to one another. However I must leave now. I have a date with destiny. And you? You have a date with the reaper. So, Goodbye, Mr. Bond, enjoy the adventure."

Asara said...

psst.. the shark had a name! It's Bruce.

Anyway.. the most intimidating villain for me would have to be the spiders in Arachnophobia.

It just doesn't get me any worse than that.

SQT said...

Stewart, maybe one of your writing assignments could be to have us write a story featuring you as a villain. I bet you'd get tons of submissions. ;)

Crunchy Carpets said...

Sqt...dh's folks were always in the habit of NOT checking ratings or reviews of the movies they took him to see.
His dad took him to see Jaws and it had the same reaction.....

Mind you...My son....He has seen it and the second one and doesn't even blink. He doesn't get why everyone is so afraid of the shark though!

Adam also feels bad for The Blob....didn't get what the big deal was.