Sunday, August 3, 2008

Favorite Movie Villains #90 - 81

90. Emil Blonsky / Abomination (The Incredible Hulk)

"Is that all you've got?"

A brand new villain to be certain, but one that rises up to the impressive challenge of stealing a movie out from under Ed Norton. Tim Roth is pretty much the mayor of awesome here, and what I like is that unlike other superhero nemeses like Magneto, Doc Ock, and Lex Luthor, he doesn't have some broad plan to take over the world or rule anything, at least initially, he's just a solider trying to do his goddamn job, even if he has to do it a bit unethically along the way. And he does it well enough that when he turns into the hulking CGI superbeast the Abomination, you're almost sad to see Tim Roth go.

89. Hugo Drax (Moonraker)

"Look after Mr. Bond. See that some harm comes to him."

Bond villain alert! Hugo Drax is admittedly the villain of one of the weakest Bond films, but nonetheless he is, if not an innovative Bond villain in any way, a very entertaining one - a good old-fashioned billionaire industrialist secretly plotting to store a superrace of superior stock on space stations while he gasses and kills every human being on earth, then repopulates the planet with his superior race which he will rule from his space station as emperor of all humanity. Yes, this was when the Bond series had gone off the rails a little bit. But the absurdity doesn't take away from the hilariousness of Hugo Drax lamenting that James Bond "appears with the tedious inevitability of an unloved season" to stop his plans. That shit's hilarious.

88. Shooter McGavin (Happy Gilmore)

"I eat pieces of shit like you for breakfast."

The comedy villain isn't a requirement to nearly the same degree as the action villain, but it can definitely liven things up. The trap that Happy Gilmore, arguably Adam Sandler's last good comedy, finds itself in is that Happy is already such an anger-prone jackass that how does someone seems villainous in contrast? Well, be more of a jackass, quite simply. Shooter McGavin gloats and preens and has hissy fits and steals old ladies' houses and rigs golf matches with such grandeur that it's all you can do not to bow in awe of his jackassery. If he wasn't so funny doing it he'd be fully contemptible, but in this case he elevates the entire picture.

87. Lady Eboshi (Princess Mononoke)

"Now watch closely, everyone. I'm going to show you how to kill a god."

I'm not normally too into the animes and whatnot, but an obvious exception must be made for the films of Hayao Miyazaki - Princess Mononoke in particular you can make an extremely easy case for being one of the top five films of 1997, delivering a level of depth and nuance not normally seen in this kind of epic fantasy. Fittingly, Lady Eboshi is among the least "villainous" of any characters on this entire list; she never kills an underling or declares her intent to rule all, and in fact it seems like her foremost interest is in the well-being of her village. But as a symbol for the excess of humanity, her path in this conquest involves raping the life out of mother nature and hatching a plan to kill a forest god, and she is a ruthless, competent, and deadly foe to her enemies all while being an interesting character.

86. Captain James Hook (Hook)

"Peter Pan, prepare to meet thy doom!"

No better version of Captain Hook will ever be committed to celluloid. Dustin Hoffman searches deep down inside himself an uncovers a performance so delightfully, egregiously, unnecessarily over-the-top that all you can do is stare at the screen, mouth agape in awe, and he boosts an otherwise somewhat lesser Spielberg effort to the level of all-time guilty pleasure. When he sneers and instructs his pirates to throw a non-believing underling into the scorpion-filled "boo box" two minutes after stepping onscreen, you immediately know you're in for a special treat of villainy.  Seeing is believing!

85. Mr. Blonde (Reservoir Dogs)

"I don't give a good fuck what you know, or don't know, but I'm gonna torture you anyway, regardless."

Reservoir Dogs would be a great movie with great actors even without Michael Madsen's ax crazy turn as Mr. Blonde, but he's definitely the lynchpin that secured its classic status, if only for one legendary scene. Anyone who has seen the movie knows exactly of what I speak: when Mr. Blonde ties a captured cop to a chair, dances around to pop music, and then wields a straight razor and uses it to saw the cop's ear off just because it's "amusing, to me, to torture a cop." Simply one of the all-time greatest "what the fuck is wrong with you!" moments in cinema.

84. Kasper Gutman (The Maltese Falcon)

"I couldn't be fonder of you if you were my own son. But, well, if you lose a son, its possible to get another. There's only one Maltese Falcon."

The Maltese Falcon may or may not be the first film noir, but it's undeniably the oldest reigning king of the genre, thanks to the confident simultaneous implementation of several elements: the moody, high-contrast visual motifs, the quasi-asshole loner private dick protagonist, the femme fatale, and a solid criminal villain, in this case the "Fat Man," Kasper Gutman, pictured on the right. An adventurer of sorts, his only interest in the world is a priceless artifact called (gasp!) the Maltese Falcon, and he has no qualms about engaging in unscrupulous, murderous, and otherwise uncool behavior in his path to get it. He's the noir criminal all the other noir criminals want to be.

83. Stuart "Stu" Macher (Scream)

"It's a scream, baby!"

The Scream trilogy is a tragic case of a clever initial premise that quickly went downhill - way downhill - and became exactly what it initially parodied. But the first film is still great, and every scene that isn't stolen by Jamie Kennedy (weird, right?) is stolen by Matthew Lillard as the hilariously psychopathic teenage slasher Stu Macher. He stabs and slashes and cackles and threatens at gunpoint and has what seems to be superhuman strength when he's under the "scream" mask, but when his identity is discovered, pushed for his motive, all he can come out with is "peer pressure." He then starts crying and whining in a high pitch that "my mom and dad are gonna be so mad at me!" It's pretty brilliant.

82. Max Zorin (A View to a Kill)

"But that means... I would have to be..."
"Dead!" [shoots him] "That's rather neat, don't you think?"
~Howe & Max Zorin

Bond villain alert! I know I'm alone in this, but I love A View to a Kill. It comes with some of the warmest nostalgic memories of any movie, and John Barry's score is great. But the ace in the hole is Christopher Walken as Max Zorin. The end result of Nazi experimentation on human fetuses to produce a perfect human, Zorin is one of the few who survived, but his superhuman strength and intellect come with the downside of insanity. 

He plans to detonate explosives on fault lines to create an earthquake that will sink Silicon Valley, thus gaining a monopoly on the growing microchip market. Now there's a goddamn villainous scheme! After his dozens of men who have spent years loyally serving him finally finish building his mines and planting the detonators, he gathers them all and stands on a hill with an AK-47, cackling at the top of his lungs while spending the next three minutes gunning them all down. Did I mention I love this movie?

81. Jabba the Hutt (Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi)

"You may have been a good smuggler, but now you're Bantha poodoo!"

Although his turns in The Phantom Menace and the 1997 A New Hope special edition are respectively unnecessary and embarrassing, Jabba the Hutt's appearance in Return of the Jedi definitely made an impression on me as a kid. Why? Well, look at him - he's a giant fucking slug! As the oft-spoken of but never seen presence hovering over the first two films, Jabba is already larger than life before ever appearing onscreen, and they literalize the hell out of that by making him weigh thirty tons. This drug-puffing, Rancor-owning, Max Rebo Band-listening motherfucker is exactly what an intergalactic gangster should aspire to be. But I have made sure to include in the picture what really solidifies him as legend - yes, it was Jabba the Hutt who said "you know what Princess Leia should be wearing? A gold bikini." And eleven-year-old boys across the nation rejoiced, and it was good.

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