I can stop anytime, thank you very much.
Harry Powell in Charles Laughton’s Night of the Hunter.
HAL 9000. He kills for a greater good. Out his belief that it is the right thing to do. He is benevolent overall, and I was sympathetic when he was shut down, but he killed expertly, almost artfully. It is as if he was designed as a killing machine above all else, and the mission was simply practice for him.
6 solid contenders:
—Jack Palance’s unforgettable Jack Wilson in George Stevens’ “Shane”.
—Henry Fonda’s chillingly blue-eyed Frank in Sergio Leone’s “Once Upon a Time in the West”.
—Dennis Hopper’s frightfully insane Frank Booth in David Lynch’s “Blue Velvet”.
—Orson Welles’ wretched Capt Hank Quinland in his own “Touch of Evil”.
—Kirk Douglas’ utterly immoral Chuck Tatum in Billy Wilder’s brilliant “Ace in the Hole”.
—Joseph Cotten’s vicious Uncle Charlie Oakley in Alfred hitchcock’s “Shadow of a Doubt”.
I just realised most of these villains derive some of their power from the fact they’re played by actors generally identified with heroism or kindness.
When they take on an evil persona, they become especially disturbing.
(The same phenomenon occurs with Robert Mitchum in “Night of the Hunter”.)
(They also simply happen to be damn great actors.)
All solid entries. But aren’t you forgetting Leone’s sadistic Angel Eyes.
How ’bout them lads from FUNNY GAMES?
Gene Tierney in “Leave Her to Heaven”
Scorpio from “Dirty Harry”.
Nurse Ratchet in Cuckoos Nest. Christopher Walken in True Romance. Those two truckers in the end of Easy Rider.
Gavin Elster in VERTIGO and Noah Cross in CHINATOWN. Boy, do they ever get off Scott free…
I know this topic has been created numerous times, and that my choices have already been uttered, but what the hell:
Noah Cross Chinatown – The embodiment of evil as crafted by the greed of capitalism, where even his daughter are minor obstacles for him in his unending and insatiable search for more.
Harry Powell Night of the Hunter – Another disciple of greed, except Powell is also a product of religious fanaticism that blinds him so horribly he is willing to kill children in order to carry out what he deems as God’s will. His scream alone remains the most terrifying thing I have ever experienced, it brings tears to my eyes and fear to my soul.
Anton Chigurh was also a great villain, but I actually found him so damn likable in some scenes (i.e. the coin toss) that I wouldn’t put him on a list of the greatest.
Ming the Merciless in the old Flash Gordon serial from the 30s – he was trying to bring the whole universe under his evil sway.
Bill McKinney and Herbert Coward.
If I say ‘Deliverance’ I am sure you know which parts they played….their performances just didn’t feel like acting, which is why they are so skin-crawlingly effective.
There have been many great villain performances, but I don’t think I have ever seen anything to compare to those two demented hillbillies.
Guy most likely to make your skin crawl= Willem Dafoe in Wild at Heart
Never mind Scorpio in Dirty Harry, what about Hank Scorpio?
I´d put down:
- Kakihara from Ichi the Killer
- Wo-Jin from Old Boy
- Roy Batty in Blade Runner
- Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood
- The boys in Funny Games
Lady Kaede from Ran, she only has one goal and that is to plunge the realm into chaos.
Javier Bardem’s character in No Country For Old Men.
Tatsuya Nakadai’s character in Sword Of Doom
Gary Oldman as Stansfield in Leon: The Professional
Daniel Day Lewis as Bill The Butcher in Gangs Of New York (despite the fact the film was weak, Lewis’s work is genius
Alpha 60 from Alphaville
or Diane Ladd’s character in David Lynch’s Wild at Heart
Capt. M. Renard in To have and have not
Rick Von Sloneker in Metropolitan
willem dafoe as rick masters in to live and die in la
The penguin from The Wrong Trousers is one of my favorite villains ever
Hand scorpio. HA!
t-100 there is no such thing as a more frightening person/machine/anything
denzel washington in training day. “alonzo” = wtf put on a helmet that dude can play ur mind.
I’m surprised there’s no mention of Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh in No Country For Old Men (2007). I mean, I know it was recent, but he was utterly blood-curdling—a very well-deserved Supporting Actor Oscar.
I’m going to have to second the notion that Sully brought up, Javier Bardem was exceedingly good in No Country For Old Men. May not be the best ever but he sure should be up there. His character was intensely well played, a sure fire psychopath or was he?
agree with the ming the merciless idea. something like the wicked witch of the west rather than a regular criminal psychopath?