Saturday, 1 May 2010

Times Top 20 Villains

I think its a poorly judged list, but anyway here's broadsheet paper The Times' Top 20 Horror Villains:

April 30, 2010

The top 20 horror movie villains

From the long shiny-topped creature in Alien to the terrifying Psycho serial killer Norman Bates, we pick the scariest figures ever to hit the big screen

20. Damp patch (Dark Water, 2005)
Hideo Nakata’s follow-up to The Ring demonstrated his mastery of the horror genre. When a divorced single mother is forced to move into a semi-derelict apartment in a run-down block, the focus of the terror is a creeping damp patch that slowly spreads across the ceiling. Somehow Nakata made that persistent drip more suspenseful than a houseful of knife-wielding psychos. WI
19. The Host (2006)
A monster flick in the tradition of the old-school B-movie classics, the Korean film The Host is a hysterical parable about pollution featuring a voracious giant tadpole which makes kimchi out of the hapless residents of Seoul. How scary can a tadpole be? This thing has more relentless, glistening teeth than the entire cast of The Hills put together, plus tentacles to boot. So, pretty scary. WI
18. Alien (1979)
The imagery’s all pretty hard to miss. The long, shiny-topped creature in Ridley Scott’s film, prowling the long, shiny corridors of the spaceship Nostromo to pick off crew members, changed the look of space creatures forever – gone were the pop eyed rubber monsters of yore, replaced with a combination jet-black insect shell/exposed bone seven-foot nightmare todger from the mind of deranged Swiss artist HR Giger. DH
17. The Thing (1982)
The most hideous horror villain is the hardest to pin down. “The thing” is an unstoppable shapeshifting alien that invades a Polar research station. As it uses living things as “hosts” for its reign of gruesome terror, a dog is soon splitting open and a human head is sprouting eight legs amid buckets of gore, thanks to horror special-effects legend Rob Bottin. JJ
16. Michael Myers (Hallowe’en, 1978)
The archetypal indestructible stalker/killer. As a boy, Myers inexplicably butchered his sister (making him also the most vicious child killer ever) and, on his escape from the nuthouse years later, seems to have an almost supernatural ability to withstand knitting needles in the eye and point-blank gunshots in the chest. He just keeps on coming… JJ
15. The Monster (Frankenstein, 1931)
Though less emotionally complex a creature than in the original Shelley novel, the monster (Boris Karloff) in Frankenstein is nonetheless significant for introducing the idea of the sympathetic villain (see Hannibal Lector). Here he is placated by children and nature, and his only nefarious urge is to revenge himself on Dr Frankenstein (Colin Clive). He accidentally drowns a young girl along the way, however. Which isn’t clever. KM
14. Marie (Switchblade Romance, 2003)
SPOILER ALERT! This French slasher movie with a twist has the sadistic, relentless flair of a 1980s video nasty and a penchant for violence involving barbed-wire-wrapped cudgels. A torturing psychopath is on the loose, terrorising gamine lesbian Marie (Cecile De France) and her girlfriend. But Marie, it turns out, is no innocent victim here. WI
13. The Shark (Jaws, 1975)
Like the best horror villains, the shark in Jaws is terrifying because it is relentless. It is an underwater Michael Myers, or Leatherface – a killer with no personality, or no dimensions, but one, crucially, who will not halt the bloody pursuit of its prey unless it is blown to pieces by an exploding gas canister. KM
12. Henry (Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, 1986)
Like a bleakly nihilistic revamp of Psycho, the horrific part of Michael Rooker’s eponymous serial killing protagonist in Henry’ is his compulsion. He simply cannot stop murdering. Thus it’s with a sense of dread that we watch his every encounter, including those with the na├»ve Becky (Tracy Arnold), knowing that it will all inevitably end in screams, blood and death. KM
11. Pinhead (Hellraiser, 1987)
Horror maestro Clive Barker's directorial debut Hellraiser introduced us to S&M-loving ghouls from another dimension the cenobites, led by a certain Pinhead - so called because he had a bunch of nails hammered into his head. Pinhead favoured chains and meathooks, to, as the tagline promised us, “tear your soul apart”. That’s gotta hurt. DH
10. Damien Thorn (The Omen, 1976)
The Exorcist, in 1973, had given us a child playing host to the devil. Whereas The Omen took that premise to its logical conclusion, giving us a child as the devil himself. In doing so, it turns the world on its head, and makes everything that is childlike an innocent – tricycles, birthday parties, nannies – into vessels of evil. KM
9. Cesare the Somnambulist (The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, 1920)
Ninety years after his screen debut, Conrad Veidt’s Cesare remains an effectively eerie presence. Dressed all in black, like a gothic, kohl-eyed version of Jarvis Cocker, he haunts the mountain villages of Southern Germany, murdering and kidnapping while seemingly trapped in his own permanent sleep. With Nosferatu’s Count Orlok, he is one of the original movie creeps. KM
8. Leatherface (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, 1974)
The filmmakers claim that Leatherface (Gunnar Hansen) had antecedents in the serial killer Ed Gein, but the real shock here is in the marriage of the fantastical with the brutal. For the first time ‘Massacre viewer, there is something ineffably disturbing about the sight of large lumbering man in a white shirt and a black tie, wearing an expressionless mask, emerging from his house with a chainsaw raised above his head. KM
7. Asami (Audition, 1999)
Demure Asami seems to be the perfect date for a jaded businessman looking for a nice submissive new girlfriend, But Asami has an axe to grind and acupuncture needles to plunge into her hapless beau’s most tender nether regions. And just wait and see what she plans to do with that cheese-wire. WI
6. Jack Torrance (The Shining, 1980)
Jack Nicholson revels in every crazed second of his performance as Jack Torrance, aspiring novelist whose winter stay in the snowbound Overlook Hotel convinces him that hacking up his wife and child is the key to overcoming his writer’s block. Torrance’s demented cry of ‘Here’s Johnny!’ is one of the most iconic moments in horror movie history. WI
5. Mick Taylor (Wolf Creek, 2005)
Like Crocodile Dundee’s psychotic cousin, Taylor is all easygoing Aussie bonhomie as he picks up a trio of young backpackers lost in the Australian Outback and cooks them a cheerful fireside dinner. Then he drugs them and tortures them to death with psychotic glee in his rusty chamber of horrors. Bonzer, mate! JJ
4. Count Orlok (Nosferatu, 1922)
This German classic comes from a cinematic period, pre-Twilight, when vampires were actually considered scary. Max Schreck, who plays the titular blood-sucker (Count Orlok by day, vampire by night), gives a master-class in creepisoity. The wide bug eyes, the wonky teeth and the hunched twisted-branch demeanor remain chillingly iconic. Much imitated, but never bettered. KM
3. Freddy Krueger (A Nightmare on Elm Street, 1984)
Freddy Krueger was built to last. Conceived by Wes Craven in the 1984 ‘Elm Street original, this undead razor-gloved child killer subsequently starred in seven sequels, a TV series and a merchandising bonanza. And though the fear factor inevitably ebbed from the franchise, Freddy was deemed potent enough for a comeback in this summer’s darker, straight-faced remake. KM
2. Sadako (The Ring/Ringu, 1998)
The slow-burning techno-fear of Hideo Nakata’s The Ring arguably introduced a new wave of Asian horror cinema to the Western audience. And Sadako, the malevolent child-woman who crawled out of the television set, stringy black hair covering her face and eyes rolled back into their sockets, was the scream queen of the whole scene. WI
1. Norman Bates (Psycho, 1960)
Modern movie horror was born in Hitchcock’s Psycho. It had serial killing, nudity, violence, and cross-dressing. And yet it’s easy to forget that when Norman Bates (Anthony Hopkins) bursts into the cellar at the climax, dressed in his dead mother’s wig, with mouth agape and knife raised, he is utterly terrifying. KM

see also The new Freddy Krueger reveals all

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