Throughout film history we have had our great share of wonderful heroes. From Indiana Jones and Atticus Finch to James Bond and Norma Rae Webster, we have seen many screen personas save the day or even just do the right thing. However, many times there is someone to stand in their way.
These villains are despicable, always thinking of themselves, or are just plain horrible people. Some of the best villains are the ones we hate the most but find something within the character that makes them special and maybe even relatable. Below are some of those villains, they may do horrendously evil things but we love them for it.
15. Lord Voldemort (Harry Potter Franchise)
“He Who Must Not Be Named”, “The Dark Lord” are just some of the titles given to the half-blood wizard who many considered to be the most powerful dark wizard of all time. Born Tom Marvolo Riddle, to a rich muggle father and a witch, he was a member of Slytherin House during his time at Hogwarts.
For anyone confused by the above, he is the guy Harry Potter is trying to stop and who gave Potter the scar. He has the desire for blood purity, to rid the magical world of Muggle(non-magical) blood. A descendent of Salazar Slytherin and leader of the Death Eaters, Voldemort has put the fear into many wizards throughout the franchise.
He appears in flashback or in person in all of the films, except for The Prisoner of Azkaban, where he is mentioned. Author of the Harry Potter series, J.K Rowling describes Voldemort as “the most evil wizard for hundreds and hundreds of years” and “ a raging psychopath, devoid of the normal human response to other people’s suffering”.
Like most archetypal villains, Voldemort’s arrogance leads to his downfall. Rowling has explained that the difference between Harry and Voldemort is that Harry accepts mortality while Voldemort does not. Voldemort may not believe in mortality but he will never die in our hearts.
14. Mrs. Danvers (Rebecca)
The head housekeeper at Manderley, the manor of the wealthy Maxim De Winter, Mrs. Danvers is a no-nonsense resentful woman who is not to fond of the new Mrs. De Winter. The eponymous Rebecca is no longer on the seen any more and Mrs. Danvers is obsessed with her. There are some major lesbian undertones in this character, especially when she shows the new Mrs. De Winter how she keeps Rebecca’s clothes and undergarments in the same place they always were.
Judith Anderson gives a performance for the ages as Mrs. Danvers. It always seems that she is lurking in every corner of the manor waiting for any slip-up that the new Mrs. De Winter will have. She even attempts to persuade the new Mrs. De Winter to jump to her death because she will never live up the greatness of Rebecca.
Mrs. Danver’s devotion to Rebecca was not mutual. Rebecca hid many secrets from her. In the end, which is different from the novel, she fails to break up the new marriage and we see her burning as the manor goes down in flames, a perfect ending for this crazy, spiteful woman.
13. Freddy Krueger (A Nightmare on Elm Street Franchise)
The horror icon himself, the man who kills you in your dreams, Freddy Krueger. This burnt serial killer has been the subject of many nightmares since he first was seen in Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street. Countless sequels, a reboot, and even a battle with Jason later, Freddie has become the ultimate villain and an icon of the horror genre. Freddie is a vengeful ghost who attacks people in their dreams with his brown fedora, red and dark green striped sweater and claw wielding hand.
Portrayed by Robert Englund for all of the movies, except the reboot, Freddy, represents neglect, particularly that felt by children, according to the actor himself. Others have said the character represents overall subconscious fears that we all have.
In the first film, it is shown that Krueger is a child killer who escapes prosecution and is burned by an angry mob of parents, who burn the building he is hiding in. His physical form dies but his spirits lives on to terrify the teenagers in his old neighbor and the dreams of viewers for many years to come.
12. Betelgeuse (Beetlejuice)
“Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse!!” Summoned by speaking his name three times, Betelgeuse is pronounced phonetically like the title of the film. Played by Michael Keaton in the Tim Burton directed film, Betelgeuse is rude, crude, and perverted and that’s why we love him. He seems to be having fun on screen, messing with just about everyone.
However, he does seem to not be a pleasant person in someone’s life, he’s always invading someone’s personal space. Although he is quite selfish, trying to get the curse lifted no matter who stand in his way, you can’t help but laugh alongside his antics.
His powers and abilities including regeneration, shapeshifting, and teleportation, add to his creativity as a character. Out of anybody on this list, Betelgeuse is the most fun and perhaps the most likeable, without being considered a psychopath for liking them. The pranks and musical numbers alone, including the masterful dancing he creates during the “Day-O” section are enough to get through his selfishness and see the hilarious villain he is.
11. Joan Crawford (Mommie Dearest)
Variety magazine described Faye Dunaway’s performance as Joan Crawford as follows: “Dunaway does not chew scenery. Dunaway starts neatly at each corner of the set in every scene and swallows it whole, costars and all”. That, ladies and gentlemen is an understatement. Mommie Dearest, the queen of camp comedies, is led by Dunaway’s frighteningly good and bad performance. It is her that makes the film watchable.
As Paramount said as they realize that Mommie Dearest was becoming an unintentional comedy, “Meet the biggest MOTHER of them all”. Joan Crawford really is, shrieking and hollering at her daughter Christina, producing great, campy lines like “No wire hangers, ever” and becoming an extraordinary character that many drag queens have tried to imitate.
Faye Dunaway’s performance is reason enough to watch one of the campiest films ever created, she steals this movie and frightens the wire hanger right out of our hand.
10. Annie Wilkes (Misery)
Don’t be a dirty dog and mess with her favorite character. Stephen King’s ultimate villainess, Annie Wilkes represents the nurse as a torturer and the angel of death. After she saves Paul Sheldon, her favorite author, she’s his number one fan, she is in no hurry to take him to the hospital. When Sheldon kills off her favorite character Misery, she burns the only copy of the book and inflicts a series of physical and psychological torture mechanisms until he re-writes the book with Misery surviving.
Annie Wilkes can be described as cunning, brutal, and devious who hides her malice behind a cheery facade. She is incredibly paranoid and violent, may be bipolar, and has an unhealthy obsession with romance novels, including the Misery series. Her fits of rage are punctuated by weird, made-up phrases such as cockadoodie and fiddely-foof.
It’s a combination of these borderline funny phrases, Annie’s ever-changing personality and Stewie Griffin’s portrayal in the Family Guy episode “Three Kings” that cement Annie Wilkes as a villain we love to hate.
9. Col. Hans Landa (Inglourious Basterds)
Tarantino really knows how to make great characters. He made us at least appreciate a man who is nicknamed “The Jew Hunter” SS Col. Hans Landa’s job is to find Jews hiding in Nazi occupied areas. He is ruthless, highly intelligent, and relentless.
However, what makes him special, not only as a villain but as a character is his ability to be charming and polite when it is needed. His murderous deeds do not go unpunished as he is branded by Lt. Aldo Raine with a swastika on the forehead, marking him a careerist for the Nazi regime.
Quentin Tarantino himself said that Landa might be the greatest character he has ever written. Played perfectly by Austrian actor Christoph Waltz, who embodies all of the multifaceted portions of Landa to a tee, Landa is the kind of villain who leaves the viewer impressed and entertained, we almost forget he is doing horrible deeds.
Col. Hans Landa’s ill reliance on the Nazi party, not really agreeing with their ideologies, even though he wears the uniform, makes him more acceptable as a character, he is not really a Nazi, so the viewer is drawn to his deeds, because we do not have to associate him with the Nazis themselves. We may not be able to forgive “The Jew Hunter”, but we will always be a fan of Mr. Landa.