Monday, August 4, 2008

Favorite Movie Villains #80 - 71

80. King Koopa (Super Mario Bros.)

"The worst thing I ever did? Super Mario Brothers. It was a fuckin' nightmare. The whole experience was a nightmare." ~ Bob Hoskins

Whoever it was who decided that the film adaptation of Super Mario Bros. should be about a parallel dimension where dinosaurs instead of mammals evolved into humans and that they should cast Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo in the title roles is quite clearly clinically insane, brilliant, or both. And who plays Bowser, er, "King Koopa," lord of the dinosaurs? Dennis Hopper of course, pictured above with his "Goombas!" Watching Hopper cackle about his desire to kill those plumbers, threaten underlings, order a pizza with lizard tail on it, and use a devolving device to create retarded super-soldiers is the most bizarre part of this masterpiece of neo-surrealism, and if you've seen the film, you know that's saying something.

79. Archibald Cunningham (Rob Roy)

"I will tell you something, to take with you. Your wife was far sweeter forced than many are willing. And to put to truth to it, I think not all of her objected!"

In this movie, Liam Neeson takes out a thousand-pound loan from the Marquess of Montrose in order to help his small Scottish village, money which Tim Roth decides he wants. So he steals all of Liam's money. Then he stabs Liam's best friend to death. Then, just to make sure there's enough salt in the wound, he shoots Liam's dog, kills his cattle, burns his house down, and just good measure rapes his wife on the way out. And this is all before Liam Neeson has done a single thing in retaliation against him! What the fuck is wrong with you Tim Roth! Like any good cinematic rivalry it eventually comes down to a sword fight, and if that's all you're interested in, I can't blame you - sword fights are awesome. And YouTube is here to deliver!

78. Bruno Anthony (Strangers on a Train)

"My theory is that everyone is a potential murderer."

Bruno Anthony, pictured on the right, might look normal enough, even friendly. This lasts for all of three minutes until he decides that since he hates his father and tennis star / protagonist Guy Haines hates his ex-wife, they should obviously swap murders - Bruno should kill Guy's ex-wife while Guy kills Bruno's father! Guy's response to this is obviously the 1951-suitable version of "what the fuck is wrong with you!", but it's too late, and Bruno implements his plan without consent, murdering the shit out of Guy's ex-wife. When he finds out that Guy doesn't intend to go through with his half of the "plan," Bruno becomes enraged and decides that he is going to dedicate his life to framing Guy for his ex-wife's murder. Needless to say, this motherfucker is off-the-handle insane.

77. Joey Donner (10 Things I Hate About You)

"Money I've got. This I'm gonna do for fun." 

Every element of 10 Things I Hate About You is just a little bit heightened; largely straightforward but 10% parody of late 90's teen films. And Joey Donner, centered above between Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger, fittingly takes the generic rich jock teen movie villain archetype to a ludicrous plateau, bragging about his modeling gigs, plotting to devirginize and then dump innocent girls, punching out Joseph Gordon-Levitt, barking at girls who get in his Ferrari not to scratch the leather, parking as to box people's cars in so they can't pull out just for fun, drawing dicks on nerds' faces, and generally being a shitbucket. It's so ridiculous it's impossible to take seriously, but it revels in its ridiculousness to such a degree as to loop back around and be awesome again.

76. Norman Osborn / Green Goblin (Spider-Man)

"Sorry I'm late. Work was murder."

Willem Dafoe just looks like a supervillain. He was born to play one. And the Green Goblin is an extremely able-bodied first opponent for Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man; a rich, cocky genius with super-strength and advanced weapon technology who is the mortal foe of Spider-Man, but friends with Spider-Man's alter ego Peter Parker in his non-villainous form of Norman Osborn. That's kind of weird - it seems like every superhero has a secret identity, but Norman Osborn is like the only supervillain who does the same thing. What's that about?

75. Aaron Seltzer & Jason Friedberg (Date Movie / Epic Movie / Meet the Spartans / Disaster Movie)

"I am Iron Man!"
[cow falls on Iron Man]
~"Iron Man," Disaster Movie trailer

Effortlessly the the worst writer-director duo in the history of cinema (and I'm not being presumptuous, I have watched their movies), Aaron & Jason cut their teeth as two of the six writers for the already-awful Scary Movie before moving on to make films that make that one appear a Casablanca-level masterwork, all of which follow the same formula: An actor impersonating a character from the last year of cinema appears. They state that they are that character. They then fart, are hit by a car, or have a cow fall on them; repeat 75-80 times. However, I am glad for their existence, if only because I have never seen all of cinemadom unite so fully and passionately against anything, ever. It's the prototypical necessary evil so rest of us can bury our differences; their awfulness begets harmony. What great, well-rounded villains.

74. Ursula (The Little Mermaid)

"So much... for TRUE LOVE!"

Part evil queen, part Lovecraftian horror, but all Disney villain, Ursula is one of the preeminent animated evildoers of the last two decades, stealing merfolks' souls, shrinking them, and keeping them captive for all eternity like it's her job. And I guess it might be; they never really establish what she does for a living. She takes the essence of classic Disney evil queens like Snow White's aptly-named Queen and Sleeping Beauty's Maleficent and adds a further layer of humor and charisma, enticing Ariel to go right along with her plan until it's damn near too late. And it helps that she's a goddamn octopus and in the end grows to the size of a tower and starts trying to zap everyone. Bitch is crazy!

73. The Shark (Jaws)

"And you know, the thing about a shark... he's got lifeless eyes. Black eyes. Like a doll's eyes. When he comes at ya, he doesn't seem to be living... until he bites ya, and those black eyes roll over white." ~ Quint

And in the category of ocean-dwelling evil - there might not be much character here, but it takes one hell of a fish to single-handedly terrorize a whole community. But second only to Spielberg the Shark owes his enduring cinematic legend to John Williams; everyone who isn't completely pop culture-retarded knows and can instantly hum those two notes of doom, which are so basic, so primal, so perfect that they have come to single-handedly symbolize impending cinematic danger. And the Shark doesn't disappoint - he drags skinny dippers down to a watery grave and eats children and generally turns the ocean red every time he appears. He's considered the original summer blockbuster villain for good cause.

72. The Wicked Witch of the West (The Wizard of Oz)

"I'll get you, my pretty - and your little dog too!"

The above quote may just be the most singularly emblematic of cinematic villainy in the history of the medium, and the Wicked Witch is about as streamlined and simple a villain as you get - she wants to kill Dorothy, she wants to kill her little dog, and she had a goddamn army of flying monkeys that she'll do it with. It also helps that she scared the shit out of me when I was a really little kid. That kind of horror lingers; two decades later and I still feel uncomfortable when she steps onscreen. Man she's vile.

71. Red Grant (From Russia With Love)

"The first one won't kill you. Not the second. Not even the third. Not till you crawl over here and you KISS MY FOOT."

Bond villain alert! While James Bond has faced many supervillains - after all, his very first opponent was Dr. No, who lived in a palatial island lair and had steel hands - he can sometimes be at his most interesting when facing a fellow agent, competent, ruthless, cold, deadly, and precise. Like Bond himself, Red Grant is far from infallible (and it's his temptation by fifty gold sovereigns that leads to his demise), but he is extremely good at his job, and kills damn near everyone he meets until his final encounter with 007, not with wisecracks but with a gun or a simple unseen-until-it's-too-late wire around the throat. And he and Bond's final throwdown in the train compartment - just awesome. Red Grant would be a evenly-matched opponent even for Daniel Craig.

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