Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Favorite Movie Villains #70 - 61

70. Little Bill Daggett (Unforgiven)

"I'll see you in hell, William Munny."

A Western baddie of the "well-intentioned extremist" variety, Sheriff Little Bill Daggett's M.O. is to keep his frontier town of Big Whiskey free from violence, no matter how much violence he has to use to do so. When some Big Whiskey prostitutes put a bounty out on two cowboys who slashed one of their faces, Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman take on the job. Clint Eastwood unhappily dishes out his old West vigilantism on the cowboys, and Daggett retaliates by murdering Morgan Freeman and propping his corpse up outside the saloon to show what happens when people take the law into their own hands in his town. Naturally, this brings Clint and Daggett into direct and violent conflict, but the movie asks us whether we really want to side with the murderous sheriff OR the murderous vigilante, coloring everything with shades of grey and more depth than usually expected from the Western genre.

69. Dr. Evil (Austin Powers series)

"I didn't spend six years in Evil Medical School to be called 'mister,' thank you very much."

I definitely have a love / hate relationship with Mike Myers - Wayne's World is one of my favorite movies of all time, but you couldn't fucking pay me to watch The Love Guru. But whatever complaints may be lobbed his way the man has a talent for constructing an extremely memorable character, and in the first Austin Powers movie he established in Austin Powers and Dr. Evil two permanent pop culture figures, the latter of whom, between his "shh!" battle with Scott Evil, his ransom demand of "one meee-llion dollars," and his request for "sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their heads," snags all the movie's best lines and effortlessly steals the show.

68. Jonathan Crane / Scarecrow (Batman Begins / The Dark Knight)

"You look like a man who takes himself too seriously. Do you want my opinion? You need to lighten up."

Most of Batman Begins' cast - Bale, Oldman, Neeson, Freeman, and so on - aim for strong, quiet gravitas, but Cillian Murphy takes it the other direction, with his bug-eyed, oozing creepiness edging towards the cusp of campiness while still being just realistic enough to fit in Nolan's story. Flinging panic-inducing fear-gas from his wrists at will, he's the closest one in the Nolanverse to actually having superpowers, and wielding a combination of that, alcohol, and fire in his above-quoted first encounter with Batman is the most quickly, confidently, and nearly fatally anyone has dispatched Batman in the franchise thus far. Sure, he's no match for the Caped Crusader by the time The Dark Knight rolls around, but he was still a pretty badass first supervillain opponent.

67. Captain Vidal (Pan's Labyrinth)

"I choose to be here, because I want my son to be born in a new, clean Spain."

Mixing equal parts fascism and insanity into a pleasant villainous mixture, Captain Vidal, by sheer measure of ruthlessness, sadism, and violence committed, is just about the most contemptible onscreen villain of the decade. There's this one part where he meets a captured farmer and his son who are suspected of being rebels. So Vidal takes a bottle and smashes it into the son's face over and over and over again, shattering his skull, smashing his nose flat, and beating his face into a bloody, gory pulp, before shooting him and the father, and you're all like "holy shit!" It turns out they weren't rebels at all, but do you think Captain Vidal cares? If you do, you haven't been paying attention, because Captain Vidal is goddamn crazy.

66. Regina George (Mean Girls)

"Boo, you whore!"

She doesn't gun anyone down, but in the war zone of high school, Regina George is a ruthless and merciless commander, harnessing popularity as her weapon, those who want it as her soldiers, turning the school against itself and laying waste to the romantic / social lives of those who cross her just because she can. She's scary because she's kind of real. While Mean Girls is fundamentally a tamer version of Heathers, I find Regina George to be the most memorable single character in either movie.

I also like that Lindsay Lohan played the normal girl versus Rachel McAdams' psychotic bitch in this movie and Rachel McAdams went on to become a more and more serious and focused actress while Lindsay Lohan became a club-hopping coke-whore. Irony!

65. Oddjob (Goldfinger)


Bond villain alert! Auric Goldfinger's chauffeur, bodyguard, golf caddy, and assassin Oddjob, who contrary to N64-propagated-belief is not a midget, is everything a good Bond henchman should be. He only has one word of dialogue, but he's loyal to a fault, terrifying, kills people by throwing a goddamn steel-lined bowler hat, and is seemingly invincible. It doesn't matter how hard Bond fights him; in straightforward one-on-one combat, James Bond will never, ever defeat Oddjob, ever, it is impossible. Thus their final encounter in Fort Knox alongside a three-minutes-from-detonation nuclear bomb and Bond's discovery of Oddjob's one weakness (Electric-type is super effective!) is one of the most awesomely badass scenes in any movie ever. And as always, YouTube illegally delivers the goods!

64. Syndrome (The Incredibles)

"Oh, ho ho! You sly dog! You got me monologuing! I can't believe it!"

While I love Pixar to death, it wasn't until their sixth film The Incredibles that they conceived a villain awesome enough to stand proud with the best of the best Disney baddies. A weapons manufacturer and self-titled nemesis of Mr. Incredible from a perceived childhood slighting, Syndrome plans to kill Mr. Incredible along with his whole family and anonymously unleash a colossal battle droid on the city, letting it rampage and kill until he "heroically" comes along and stops it, thus becoming a superhero in the eyes of the people. Although he has no biological superpowers, his zero-point energy beam is badass and gives him dominance that makes mere superstrength look paltry. Powerful, callous, cunning, intelligent, evil, and voiced by Jason Lee - what more could you ask for?

63. Bill (Kill Bill)

"I'm a killer. A murdering bastard, you know that. And there are consequences to breaking the heart of a murdering bastard."

The way Quentin Tarantino builds up to the encounter with Bill is sprawling in scope. Bill has the first (off-screen) dialogue and the first (shockingly on-screen) act of violence in the duology, and in the first film always lurks at the edge of the narrative (and of course in the title), commanding his assassins as a sort of dark lord. In the second film we finally see his face and build up his background, his relationship with Beatrix Kiddo, the origins of his skills. By the time the final encounter comes we may be almost surprised at its brevity compared to the epic battles we've seen before, but the relatively anticlimactic final battle befits the emptiness Beatrix feels inside upon the culmination of her revenge. Plus, he gives a pretty sweet monologue about superheroes.

62. Jack Torrence (The Shining)


Arguably cinema's all-time greatest ax murderer, Jack Torrence may not rack up a particularly high body count, but the joy of watching him slowly go crazy is substantial enough that it's more than made up for. You could make an argument that it's really the house that's the villain and not Jack himself, but although the house is certainly creepy and has dead little girls and fellating dog-men roaming the halls, Jack is the one who plunges an ax into Scatman Crothers' chest and then chases his wife and child around trying to murder them, so we'll go with him. Although in all fairness if Shelley Duvall was my wife it probably wouldn't take me long to reach this state either.

61. Tommy DeVito (Goodfellas)

"I'm funny how? I mean funny like I'm a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh, I'm here to fuckin' amuse you? What do you mean funny, funny how? How am I funny?"

Martin Scorsese owns the cinematic gangster as surely as any director can own a genre, and before noted Wet Bandit Joe Pesci was outsmarted by Macauley Culkin, the director and actor teamed up to create one of the most terrifying character portraits ever committed to celluloid. Tommy's not the main villain (the movie arguably doesn't really even have one) and he's not the smartest or the most influential or powerful gangster, but he is really, truly crazy. Just a complete and utter volatile sociopath who you might be riffing with, he takes one gag a little too personally, so he casually pulls out his 9mm and and puts one in your fuckin' head. Goodfellas is arguably the best film of Scorsese's intimidating filmography, and Tommy DeVito is the show-stopper who makes it as unpredictable and edgy as it is.

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