8. Hans Gruber (Die Hard)
Before Alan Rickman wowed us with his portrayal of Professor Snape in the Harry Potter Franchise, he was the German terrorist in one of the best action movies ever made. Hans Gruber, probably the best name given to a villain, is the mastermind of the Nakatomi Plaza heist. John McClane, played by Bruce Willis has to save hostages from Nakatomi. You know the rest, there’s been four sequels.
Hans Gruber, with his mustache so perfectly quaffed and awesome accent really set the film in motion. From his blowing Takagi’s brains all over the board room to imitating McClane’s classic line, Gruber is one bad ass dude. Hans tries to switch between his casual persona and his more intimidating one in order to keep people on their toes.
The whole film is a cat and mouse game between him and McClane seeing who can stay one step in front of the other one. Gruber’s blatant disregard for human life and his better than you attitude make it all the sweeter when he falls from 30 stories. He still makes one good villain.
7. Norman Stansfield (Leon: The Professional)
The role that launched a thousand villains, Norman Stansfield, the corrupt and mentally unhinged Drug Enforcement Administration official is a psychopath who torments Leon and his new protegee Mathilda throughout the film. After massacring Mathilda’s entire family after he finds out that Mathilda’s father had been stealing cocaine from him, Stansfield is now after Mathilda who knows what happened.
Norman Stansfield is really over the top character, which makes him such a wonderfully terrifying villain. Gary Oldman, a masterclass actor, played him this way on purpose. Him and director Luc Besson wanted a contrasting character to the calm and collected Leon.
Oldman’s overstated approached lend to an exaggerated delivery of all of Stansfield’s lines. Stansfield is charming as well as a psychopath, you see yourself rooting for this crooked cop as the action unfolds. That takes a great actor and a better villain.
6. Jack Torrance (The Shining)
Although there are difference between Jack Torrance in the book and the film, he is still one scary man either way. In the film, directed by Stanley Kubrick who knows how bring a scary character to life, Jack, played by Jack Nicholson, is treated less sympathetically than in the book. It is implied that he is insane from the start. The writer and recovering alcoholic has a little bit of an anger issue strikes the fear in his wife Wendy and in the viewer.
Stanley Kubrick and Jack Nicholson’s version of Jack Torrance is charismatic, scary, and his descent into madness is amazing to watch. The reason we love Jack Torrance is his influence on popular culture. His “Here’s Johnny” line is permanently in the lexicon of pop culture and is one of the greatest movie quotes. His writer’s block and Kubrick’s “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” moment was one of the best in the film.
Stephen King may not have like how his character was portrayed on screen, but we sure do and his character will live on through this film forever.
5. Dr. Hannibal Lecter (The Silence of the Lambs)
The icon, the ultimate psychological mind-bender, the man who made you never drink Chianti again, Dr. Hannibal Lecter. There are many reason why Lecter from The Silence of the Lambs, he been in plenty of other films, but I will focus on him in The Silence of the Lambs, is an amazing villain that is so great.
The first time we meet Lecter, he is behind the glass wall, glaring at Clarice Starling, then he gives that great line “Hello Clarice”. He terrifies by just opening his mouth, hopefully not to eat your face– sorry cop in the cage.
Lecter relationship will Sterling, who he helps to find serial killer Buffalo Bill, adds another dimension to an already interesting character. Lecter is fascinated by Clarice, who he gives small clues to lead to Bill, so she can figure it out on her own, while he slips away from authorities.
When he calls Sterling after she receives a medal for her work, and says “I’m having an old friend for dinner”, haunting and thrilling. Dr. Hannibal Lecter is an iconic figure who will live on forever and will be the crowning achievement of actor Anthony Hopkins.
4. Anton Chigurh (No Country For Old Men)
The denim terrorizer of the Texas desert, Anton Chigurh is the serial killer without remorse from both the book by Cormac McCarthy and the Coen Brother’s film No Country For Old Men. Sporting one of the most terrible haircuts ever put to film, Anton kills almost everyone he meets, leaving their lives up to a flip of a coin. He has no remorse and is seemingly unstoppable. Anton, a hitman, is hired to retrieve a satchel holding $2.4 million from a scene of a drug deal gone wrong.
Anton Chigurh is a villain we love to hate because of the unholy relentlessness that kills with. He is a horror movie icon within a Coen’s western. There is something about him. He is hard to understand, his victims, the ones he does kill, do not understand him, law enforcement is baffled by him, and he is beyond condemnation.
He is an enigma, a man that is kept far away from us, we do not know much of any backstory about him. He kills because he is told to. We want to know more about him, so we are incredibly interested in what he does and why he does them, him and his terrible haircut will always be in our minds.
3. The Joker (The Dark Knight)
Heath Ledger delivers the performance of a lifetime in The Dark Knight, Awarded by a posthumous Oscar, among other awards, Ledger delivers the psychopathic, weirdly charming, and manic performance as the Joker. Making the role his own, adding nuance to a character that has been portrayed by great actors like Jack Nicholson, Ledger made the joker even creepier and gave the Joker such a lack of empathy for his work.
A rough and tumble version of the Joker, Ledger brings a grudging to the role, that displays the Joker’s lack of importance on himself physically. Ledger’s chaotic approach to the character made the Joker more human, edgier, his version of the Glasgow smile, sends a shiver down everyone’s back.
There are more surprises to this Joker, you never know what personality is going to come out, funny, crazy, manic, or even sweet. Ledger’s performance will be cited as one of the best ever, as he added so much to the character and made the Joker from The Dark Knight, an iconic figure.
2. Alex DeLarge (A Clockwork Orange)
From Anthony Burgess’ novel to the Stanley Kubrick’s film of the same name comes the anti-hero with a knack for ultraviolence. He is quite the sociopath who robs, rapes, and assaults innocent people with the helps of his drones who drink milk+ and speak Nadsat, their version of teenage slang. Alex is particularly fond of classical music and fantasizes about rape, torture, and destruction while listening to it.
What makes Alex such a great villain and one to appreciate is his transformation and his creativity in his violence. After being arrested and convicted of murder, Alex is an example of a model prisoner. He endears himself to the church chaplain and is fond of the Old Testament. He does have to go through the Ludovico Technique, which gives us one of the best images in film, Alex having his eyes spread open forced to look at the screen. He transformed and is released and returns to ultraviolence.
Alex is also a master at weird violence. Alex kills a woman with a phallic statue and made “Singin’ in the Rain” scary. Alex is the definition of a disgruntled youth and we love him for it.
1. Daniel Plainview (There Will be Blood)
He will drink your milkshake and abandon his son. Daniel Plainview, from Paul Thomas Anderson’s new classic There Will Be Blood, is the ruthless and power obsessed protagonist of the film. His quest for money and power cost him everything in his life.
His son, an orphan who Daniel picked up to look better to potential sellers, goes deaf after a terrible oil drilling accident becomes his father’s partner in the oil drilling business. Later in the film, when his son wants to start his own business in Mexico, Plainview mocks his deafness and tells him he is an orphan.
So what makes this despicable man, who does terrible deeds and is a horrible person, a villain you love to hate. He never gets what’s coming to him. He does all of these terrible things and although he is alone, super wealthy, but alone, he never really pays for what he does. He even gets at Eli Sunday, the young preacher, who was the only person who was as equally evil as Plainview. Daniel Plainview is also played by Daniel Day-Lewis so the character is perfectly acted and believable.
Author Bio: Ryan Anderson is a sophomore at Miami University in Oxford Ohio, where he is studying Zoology and Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies. His love of classic cinema and film history keeps his love for film strong and ever-present in his life.