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Tag: villains

Editorials

The Greatest Horror Villain of Each Decade

March 18, 2020
horror-movie-villains-collage [Source: shnakebite91 Wordpress]

Horror cinema has many iconic villains and today we’ll be counting down 10 of the greatest merchants of menace. I will choose a single villain from each decade, look at a bit of the villain’s background and how they managed to traumatize audiences who watched their films. So, let’s get spooky.

1920s: Count Orlok – Nosferatu (1922)

Originally made as a Dracula stand-in, Count Orlok has become a great villain in his own right. With actor Max Schreck’s towering frame, creeping shadow, sharp teeth, and keen unblinking eyes Orlok has become an instantly recognizable cinematic predator that has lasted almost a century. Not even Stoker’s estate could prevent him from becoming a cinematic nightmare.

Count Orlok one of Cinema's greatest early horror villains from Nosferatu (1922) [Source: PopHorror]
Count Orlok one of Cinema’s greatest early horror villains from Nosferatu (1922) [Source: PopHorror]

1930s: Frankenstein’s Monster – Frankenstein (1931)

The archetypal mad scientist creation. The monster isn’t necessarily evil but because of continual abuse and a lack of moral guidance, he begins violently lashing out at the world. Frankenstein’s Monster has a legendary look courtesy of makeup artist Jack Pierce. And thanks to Boris Karloff’s animalistic performance, which makes the character threatening and sympathetic, Frankenstein’s Monster has been cemented as one of horror’s most tragic monsters.

Frankenstein's Monster prowling through the woods in Frankenstein (1931) [Source: Movie Monster Wiki - Fandom]
Frankenstein’s Monster prowling through the woods in Frankenstein (1931) [Source: Movie Monster Wiki – Fandom]

1940s: The Wolf Man – The Wolf Man (1941)

Like Frankenstein’s Monster, the Wolf Man garners great sympathy because of host Larry Talbot’s (Lon Chaney Jr’s) inability to control the monster within him. But unlike Frankenstein the Wolf Man is vicious. Murdering innocent people and leaving Larry to deal with the consequences. With Jack Pierce’s brilliant makeup making the monster the midpoint between man and beast, the Wolf Man is an iconic example of the darkness in all men.

One of cinema's most iconic werewolves. The Wolf Man (1941) [Source: Fiction Machine]
One of cinema’s most iconic werewolves. The Wolf Man (1941) [Source: Fiction Machine]

1950s: Godzilla – Godzilla Series

Cinema’s biggest monster. Starring in 35 films since 1954 Godzilla is a Japanese icon. He’s a prehistoric monster awakened by hydrogen bomb testing and was created as a symbol for the destructive powers of the atomic age, though lately, he has become a metaphor for nature striking back at humanity. He’s the embodiment of destruction and for 66 years he’s shown that for all our advances annihilation is never far away.

Godzilla, the King of the Monsters. Gojira (1954)
Godzilla, the King of the Monsters. Gojira (1954) [Source: USA Today]

1960s: Norman Bates – Psycho (1960)

The grandfather of all slasher villains. While seemingly normal, Norman hides another personality that forces him to kill anyone who threatens the illusion that his mother is still alive. Thanks to Anthony Perkins’ understated performance and Alfred Hitchcock’s direction Norman Bates (based on murderer Ed Gein) terrified audiences by showing that even the quiet good-looking boy next door could turn out to be a murderer.

Norman Bates and his mother in Psycho (1960)
Norman Bates and his mother in Psycho (1960) [Source: Bloody Disgusting]

1970s: The Caller – Black Christmas (1974)

Black Christmas‘ sorority house killer remains perhaps horror’s most terrifying villain. Because nothing about him is explained. His victims are random. The only insights we get into him are his disjointed, threatening ramblings. And his appearance, voice; name remain a mystery. Inspired by the urban legend of “the babysitter and the man upstairsthe Caller embodies the fear that you’re never safe. Even in your own home.

The mysterious killer from Black Christmas (1974)
The mysterious killer from Black Christmas (1974) [Source: The Dead Meat Wiki Fandom]

1980s: Freddy Krueger – The Nightmare on Elm Street Series

The burnt, razor glove wielding, Christmas sweater and fedora sporting dream killer has been scaring viewers since his 1984 debut. Inspired by stories about young people suddenly dying in their sleep and brought to life in skin-crawling fashion by Robert Englund, Krueger takes sadistic pleasure in twisting his victim’s dreams into nightmares. And the sheer glee he takes in his cruelty is what makes him cinema’s most iconic bogeyman.

The Springwood Slasher from A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
The Springwood Slasher from A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) [Source: NME.com]

1990s: Candyman – Candyman Series

Originally, Daniel Robitaille, Candyman became a vengeful spirit after he was killed over a 19th-century interracial love affair. His hand was mutilated, his body smothered in honey and he was stung to death by bees. Now he kills anyone who dares say his name five times in a mirror. With his imposing figure, hooked hand and Tony Todd’s intimidating voice, Candyman is a true terror titan.

The urban legend Candyman (1992)
The urban legend Candyman (1992) [Source: The Clive Barker Podcast]

2000s: Jigsaw – Saw Series

Jigsaw is the horror villain of the 2000s. Embodying post 9/11 anxieties about the morality of torture Jigsaw, aka John Cramer managed to carve out a gruesome legacy for himself. His use of ironic traps to reform/eradicate those who he believes don’t appreciate life, Tobin Bell’s commanding voice and his animatronic mascot made him the face of torture horror. And his legacy has continued through multiple accomplices and successors.

Jigsaw and his iconic billy puppet mask
Jigsaw and his iconic billy puppet mask [Source: Screen Rant]

2010s: It/Pennywise – It (2017)

Stephen King’s iconic horror creation made a huge impact with Its 2017 reimagining. The creature that haunts Derry, Maine can change into many forms that will give anyone nightmares. His most recognizable form is Pennywise The Dancing Clown (Bill Skarsgard) whose smile hides a desire to devour children. It exploits our fear of the unknown and attacks the sanctity of childhood innocence all at once. Making It the perfect modern horror villain.

Pennywise tormenting children in It (2017)
Pennywise tormenting children in It (2017) [Source: Entertainment Weekly]

So ends my list of horrors 10 best villains. Which horror villains did I miss? Let me know in the comments.

Also Read: 7 Reasons Characters Die In Horror Films

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Editorials

The Movie Villains Who Nailed It (And Those Who Didn’t) – Part Three [Marvel Cinematic Universe]

March 6, 2019

Marvel has come a long way since Robert Downey Jr first donned the Iron Man suit in 2008 and took on Jeff Bridges’ Obadiah Stane, with a wide range of villains coming and going throughout the course of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s realisation. Every protagonist needs a worthy antagonist, and many directors have tried (sometimes succeeding, sometimes failing) to bring a comic book bad guy to life effectively on the big screen.

The MCU has gifted us some enduring villains (like the brilliant Loki) and completely forgettable ones (remember Whiplash in Iron Man 2? No?). Some of these bad guys were merely temporary foils for our favourite superheroes to gleefully slap around in a few big-budget action sequences and ultimately played a small role in any build-up before the film was released. Some, however, were absolutely critical to the plot and featured heavily in trailers and publicity material prior to making their anticipated appearance on screen.

As we complete our series on Villains, let’s take a look at two Big Bads in the MCU, one of whom hit the nail on the head, and one who ultimately proved to be a let-down.

Part Three: Marvel Villains

Ultron – so much potential, so little payoff

Ultron

Calm down, this is just my opinion.

When the first teaser trailer for Avengers: Age of Ultron dropped and I heard James Spader growl “I’m going to show you something beautiful”, my instant reaction was…..oh yes. Spader has one of the best voices in Hollywood, and I thought he was the perfect choice to play the evil, evolving robot hell-bent on destroying humanity and the Avengers. And of course, he delivered every line exquisitely – better, in fact, than some of his fellow actors in the movie.

There is, however, only one word to adequately describe what Age of Ultron turned out to be – meh.

I’m probably in the minority here, but I was disappointed with this movie in the end. The first Avengers is just so good, one of the most enjoyable Marvel movies by far, perhaps with the exception of Thor: Ragnarok. Joss Whedon had set the bar pretty high in 2012 and had a lot to live up to with his 2015 sequel. His previous villain had been Loki, after all – not an easy act to follow.

But Ultron, in spite of everything he appeared he would be in the trailers, was ultimately a pretty two-dimensional villain. Yes, he had some complex daddy issues with Tony Stark and his actions resulted in the necessity for the Sokovia Accords, which caused the fallout in Captain America: Civil War, and yes, he helped create Vision, but Ultron just didn’t do it for me in the end. Age of Ultron itself isn’t written as well as its predecessor either and becomes a bit muddled towards the end – maybe if the film as a whole had been more successfully executed, Ultron would have reached his full potential.

Thanos – well worth the decade of anticipation

Thanos

I’m a huge fan of how the Russo brothers brought Infinity War to life on the big screen. It was a monumental challenge given the sheer number of characters involved, all of whom had their own personal backstories, but they pulled it off. You can read my glowing review here.

And one of the primary reasons for the success of that film is, I believe, its antagonist.

Marvel had been building steadily towards the big reveal of Thanos since his first cameo appearance in Thor in 2011. And when the titan finally appeared, he did not disappoint. In his first scene, he bumps off two of those enduring MCU characters we talked about and beats Hulk in a fist fight, which very few others can claim to have done. And that’s just him getting started.

I was always a little worried that Thanos would be just another two-dimensional villain driven by an unwavering desire to take over the universe, and while cosmic annihilation is indeed on his agenda, there’s something that very clearly sets him apart from all other villains in the MCU – he actually achieves his goal and defeats the good guys.

There are some pretty great villains in Marvel’s grand project, but for me, Thanos is the one who absolutely nailed it and very much lived up to the hype.

The bottom line

So there we have it – the movie villains who were worth the wait, and those who ultimately let us down (or let me down, anyway). Hope you’ve enjoyed my little rants, even if your opinion differs completely. But I’m sure we can all agree on one thing: a really great villain can raise the bar for any film.

Also Read: The Movie Villains Who Nailed It (And Those Who Didn’t) – Part Two [James Bond]