Hopefully, our first installment helped to establish what we’re hunting for here, because it’s only going to get more vile with every iteration. And I want you to be ready. The first segment of our countdown covered multiple genres, animated and live action, gangsters, serial killers and evil spirits. So I think, if nothing else, we’ve proven that we’re non-discriminatory in our hate for villains. Women, men, and… wait a minute… Did we cover children?
85. Kevin, We Need to Talk About Kevin
Aw, you haven’t seen the movie? Cute, isn’t he? Well, marked by the moment we start hating him, Kevin is youngest entry on our list. He’s an onscreen toddler when we start feeling our animosity. And that’s okay, because toddler Kevin is a little bitch. Oh, you’ve never cheered when a mother tosses her child into a wall? You think that makes you better than the rest of us? Watch this movie and get back to me. Because as the story is told in broken chronology, we sort of see where it’s all headed, and that warrants us wishing terrible things upon this child. His power as a villain is heightened by the intensity of Tilda Swinton’s best performance as Kevin’s mother,who is Kevin’s only chosen victim. Until the end.
84. Wade, The River Wild
This might be a surprise entry, given that the movie is largely forgotten these days, but once upon a time, this was a hit movie and it contains heart-pounding moments of both action and tension forgotten in today’s action adventure films. And it also contains a crafty utilization of Kevin Bacon’s crawling voice and general creepiness. As he holds hostage the less likable kid from Jurassic Park, the Queen of Awards Season, and David Straitharn playing a complete pansy dad, Wade also verbally abuses his bumbling criminal sidekick, played by a forgotten functional adult version of John C. Reilly. He manipulates the threat of the deadly rapids and the existing weak joints of his victims’ family unit to conniving measure. Streep, of course, accumulated praise that year for her portrayal of the strong female, but Bacon’s hate-worthy turn is equally admirable.
83. Benjamin, Wayne’s World
Rob Lowe’s features are annoyingly symmetrical. His is the perfect handsome face for corporate greed and mass produced plasticity. And in so being, he is also the perfect counter to the purity and artistry of basement cable television stars Wayne and Garth. Nothing I can write here explains Benjamin better than the assessment provided by Garth, one of the all time great movie lines: “If Benjamin were an ice cream flavor, he’d be pralines and dick.” I like to pretend it was Benjamin and not Rob Lowe who fell into that sleazy mother/daughter sex tape scandal in the 80s. That just makes more sense to me.
82. Biff Tannen, Back to the Future Series
The Tannen genetic line is a bullying bane in the McFly family history and, in accordance with at least one timeline, the United States. Time travel allows for a hulking Biff, who in the first installment gets his comeuppance by being fated to wash cars into his 70s, to work himself into a time paradox where he becomes a more global problem. This Zemeckian knot of theoretical physics provides us with multiple variations of Biff — from big dumb small time bully, to big dumb large scale political bully, to big dumb murderer — each as unlikable as the next.
81. Henry, Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer
Horror movies tend to portray death with an aesthetic distance or a wink or at least with enough frequency that eventually, the death is knowingly just a screen event. Not Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer. The gritty, realistic, documentary tone never allows you to achieve comfort with the dialogue, let alone the murders. Michael Rooker is perfectly unpleasant for the roll. Cold demeanor, menacing brow, measured violence in every word, seeping but never gushing. Again, it isn’t just about the violence. It’s equally upsetting hearing Henry confess his childhood abuse at the hands of the mother he murdered or viewing his instruction as he takes Otis under his twisted tutelage. Watching Henry offers a level of enjoyment akin to a prostate exam, and yet every so often, in the middle of the night, I return to it. The movie, I mean. Weirdos.
80. Catherine Tramell, Basic Instinct
Don’t look at the picture! Trust me, guys, stay with me down here! Don’t let her pull you in. She’s bad news. This bare siren is the manifestation of everything that frightens men about women. She’s strong willed, brilliant, educated, nakedly powerful, and gorgeous. Moreover, she realizes the bald power she wields over man, the way she can bring them to ruin by their own desiring devices. She’s smoothly manipulative, every statement she makes in the context of the movie is fishy with questionable motive. And now my linguistic metaphors are getting gross so… She’ll even flash her cooch if she needs to, tearing all of the pretense away from the symbolism.
79. Calvin Candie, Django Unchained
In Inglorious Basterds, watching Hitler get machine gun blasted into swiss cheese was fun, but it was too short-lived a moment. In his second schlocky, revisionist history genre mashup, Quentin Tarantino aimed for another artistic reparation catharsis. DiCaprio plays the role of Calvin Candie as if the goal is to make his own death an all-time satisfying moment. Candie is the highlighter run over all the most horrific parts of the American History book, the evil cartoon of the slaving-driving southern plantation owner, fit with the devil’s attire and grooming. Given that Tarantino’s movies all end the same way, it was pretty obvious that Candie was going to get what he had coming to him. But more than any other actor in the Tarantino library, DiCaprio, by committing to being utterly despicable, earns the righteousness of the retribution.
78. Isaac, Children of the Corn
Thanks to a sadistic older sister, Children of the Corn is the first horror movie I ever watched. And even my trembling, piss covered, five-year old self had the presence of mind to realize that there was something exceptionally… off about the leader of this cult of minors. It might have been his Old Testament vocabulary, his demonic tone of voice, or maybe just the way he resembled an Amish lesbian gym teacher. I’m not quite sure who He Who Walks Behind the Rows is, but I know he can’t be good news if he likes to chit chat in private with this freaking creeper.
77. Virgil, True Romance
I think of Alabama Worley as the sweetest, most honest female character in movie romances. She’s my all-time favorite onscreen lover. Her devotion to Clarence is inspirational and warming. So when she’s practicing that devotion to endure a beatdown from brutal mob hitman Virgil, it’s impossible not to become personally involved. We can inscribe Gandolfini’s post-mortal legacy with the sweetness of his later roles as much as we’d like, but this is the context where he just boldly shines. His short monologue about the increasing ease of killing recalls real-life mob killer Richard Kuklinsi. And watching his fists lay ruin to the fierce but delicate Alabama is an exercise in immediate hate.
76. Clarence Bodicker, Robocop
For those who haven’t seen Robocop, those whose only exposure to Kurtwood Smith comes through his playing Eric’s dad on That 70’s Show, this movie might be a shock to watch. While Peter Weller’s Alex Murphy/Robocop dichotomy works to measure the fabric of humanity, Bodicker, the film’s most prominent criminal, measures the complete absence of humanity. Bodicker is a unique type of villain. He’s not the unfeeling sociopath or a product of corporate greed. He’s not a man of a single villainous act. Bodicker, for no apparent reason, seems to seek out opportunities to be the bad guy. He’s unrelenting, has no need for repentance, and even as he finds himself in an over matched showdown, he’s not going to bargain for his life or ask for forgiveness. He’s going to spit his own blood in the face of anyone fighting for justice.
75. Eric Gordon, Billy Madison
The first and only time Adam Sandler’s annoyingly reliable manchild functioned to a sympathetic and entertaining degree, Eric Gordon was his opposition. I want Adam Sandler to lose and die in every single Happy Madison production I’ve seen him in except for this one. Eric Gordon behaves petulantly and his personality is highlighted by a weasley appearance. He has no reservations about bullying kids or cheating to get what he wants. Driven entirely by selfish motivation and a dislike for a cartoonishly boyish and likable character, Eric Gordon earns a violent amount of hate in a generally non-violent movie. And then there’s his laugh. That there exists an example of a single movie in which Sandler’s forced speech impediment and high pitched voice isn’t the most annoying sound is testament to how simple and necessary it is to dislike Eric Gordon.
74. Archibald Cunninghan, Rob Roy
Liam Neeson has killed half of Europe without breaking a sweat. He won a fistfight with a wolf. I’m not saying he’s unbeatable; it was perfectly natural seeing him fall to Bill the Butcher’s blade. But it just doesn’t make sense that he’s matched against this wigged weirdo. I mean, in what other movie could a guy this prissy prance around in a wig, rape Liam Neeson’s onscreen wife, and still almost out-duel him in the end? I’m always team Neeson, but even if I weren’t, this guy would be skeezy enough to earn my hate.
73. Carl Fogarty, History of Violence
This is a good lesson in a common characterization tool in cinema. Villains frequently have scars. And the severity of their villainry is often measured on the placement of the scar. If the scar runs vertically down through the eye socket, you can bet your sweet ass you are dealing with a bad bad person (or animal, as is the case in a later entry). A scar in this area of the face denotes a violent history, more often than not, a history that needs avenged. Ed Harris is skillfully reserved as the creepy floater who comes into the small town to stalk Tom and his family. But it is Cronenberg’s knack for tension that really stirs our dark emotions toward the character. And even though Fogarty is violently dispatched of with surprising quickness and the viewer’s entire perception of the storyline flips on that moment, leaving Carl without his sought after redemption, he never earns himself a moment of our sypmathy.
72. Le Tenia, Irreversible
Occasionally, God likes to show off. Maybe Mrs. Almighty gets on his case about not having ambition and being content with his current place, so God drinks a couple of extra beers and heads to the shed, focusing on a masterpiece. The last time this happened was 1964, when Monica Belluci was born. And then sometimes, Satan comes along and defiles that divinely perfect creation. Literally translated, La Tenia means “the tapeworm,” but anyone who can do something so horrific to possibly the world’s most amazing creature has to be the damn devil. So, that’s what I call the rapist in Gaspar Noé‘s jarringly effective Irreversible. The devil. The seven minute rape stands among film history’s harshest and most difficult scenes to watch. A single take frames the horrendous act that sends the film’s story (played in reverse) spiraling into a gruesome and devastating conclusion. I hate La Tenia so much that that it turns my stomach and I can not really recommend this movie to anyone, as incredibly crafted as it is.
71. Candyman, Candyman
Candyman is a unique entry on the list because this fear isn’t really contained on the screen. Or even within the run time of the movie. It comes from that stupid temptation to play the game afterward. His non-sense backstory isn’t even that memorable and a hook isn’t exactly the most intimidating weapon. Okay, the bees are a bit scary, but you know why we really hate him. Don’t act like you don’t. Say it five times. C’mon. Coward. Find a mirror. Say it five times.