Friday, October 26, 2007

The Bucket's List of the Top 20 Overlooked, Underrated, and Underappreciated Screen Villains of All-Time

A couple years back AFI, or the The American Film Institute for the non-industry laymen, came out with their list of the 50 Greatest Movie Villains of all time. Now, while I have the utmost respect for The American Film Institute and whatever it is that they actually do, which I assume is something greater than just coming up with various countdown lists, their list of the 50 Greatest Movie Villains of all time is, to say the least, a wee bit pretentious. Unless you’re an esoteric, NYU film school brat, who dresses in all back, and wears a scarf in 70 degree weather, then you probably disagree that “Man” from the classic Disney film Bambi is one of the top 20 screen villains ever.

So, where is the list for the rest us, you ask? Well, just in time for Halloween, we here at The Bucket have answered the call and have put together our list of the Top 20 Overlooked, Underrated, and Underappreciated Screen Villains of All-Time.

20). Dracula (The Monster Squad): “Give me the amulet you BITCH"

I know we’re all thinking it, but I guess I’m the only one willing to man-up and put it in print: Duncan Regehr’s interpretation of Dracula in the 1987 Fred Dekker cult-classic The Monster Squad kicks, KICKS, Bela Lugosi’s Dracula in the nards! In the behind the scenes featurette on the new Monster Squad DVD, Fred Dekker admits that his first choice to play Dracula was none other than Liam Neeson. Who knows how that casting decision would have altered the lives of Neeson and Regehr? Maybe Regehr would’ve been nominated for an Academy Award for playing Oskar Schindler and Neeson would have nailed the role of John Dirks in the 2000, direct-to-video, film Krocodylus (yes, a movie so bad it had to rip off the plot of Lake Placid). But one thing is for certain, no way in hell Neeson brings one-fifth the amount of wicked dandyism and ambigious sexuality that Regehr brought to the role of Dracula. Now, give him his props, you Bitch!

19). Patrick Batman (American Psycho): "I ate some of their brains, and I tried to cook a little. Tonight I, uh, I just had to kill a LOT of people. And I'm not sure I'm gonna get away with it this time."

Maybe I'm a sick guy but when I first saw American Psycho I laughed my ass off. This was the first time that I saw Christian Bale after he was an obnoxious Newsie but before he was kick ass in everything from Batman Begins to 3:10 to Yuma, and he just blew me away in this performance. His Patrick Batman was a paranoid, self deluded namby pamby rich boy who was so self absorbed it took at least fifteen killings or so for him to recognize his own morality. Bateman is a vapid souless cog in the big wheel of industry and he likes to chop his victims up with a shiny axe-- Evil? Hell yeah, I'd say he's got evil down in spades. I also loved that this took place in the 80's and how he attributed most of his murders to the albums of Huey Lewis and Phil Collins. Just remember folks it is a satire and if you, like most audiences who saw this film, didn't get that then you probably hated it. But give it a second chance you may find you really love it, and now that Bale is a big honking star, you might appreciate it even more.

18). Buddy Ackerman (Swimming With Sharks): “You are nothing! If you were in my toilet I wouldn't bother flushing it. My bathmat means more to me than you!

Kevin Spacey is probably best known for his great villain roles in Seven and The Usual Suspects (for which he won his first Academy Award in 1996). But I think a lot of people overlook, or perhaps haven’t even seen, his stand-out work in the 1994 George Haung black comedy Swimming With Sharks. Spacey plays the Grand Dick of all Bosses, movie producer Buddy Ackerman. The film is based on Haung’s own experiences as an assistant in Hollywood, however, I imagine sans the kidnapping and torture part. Spacey plays Ackerman with a devilish sense of Schadenfreudism, as he needles, belittles, abuses, and berates his young assistant Guy. The best scene in the movie is when Ackerman passive-aggressively castrates Guy on his first day for bringing back a packet of Equal with his coffee, instead of Sweet-N-Low.

17). The Predator (Predator): Dutch: "You are one ugly motherfucker.

There is nothing more evil or frightening than a calm, no nonsense alien that decides to come to our planet to stalk and hunt down, The Most Dangerous Game style, a group of bad ass Commandos in the jungle. When I was a kid my mom wouldn't let me see movies like this at all--so I would always go around the corner to the kid's, whose name will remain nameless, (see Ma I don't rat out my friends) house. John McTiernan's classic action-Sci-Fi jungle romp was fun exciting and absolutely terrifying. Usually in horror movies the victims are dumb, un-athletic and you can just see the target signs on their friggin foreheads. They are normally pre-pubescent teenagers to boot. Now Predator is a completely different animal. In the beginning we see the crack commando team doing what they do best, killing with efficientcy and pure uninhibited testosterone. I mean who on this earth could actually kill Jesse Ventura's Blain or Sonny Landham's Native American badass Billy. How can any human being hope to snuff out Bill Duke's sniper hard charger, Mac. Well this Predator did it all, whacked the whole team one by one, and it was only through tactics and a mud camouflage that Arnold Schwarzenegger's Dutch was able to kill the ugly Motherfucker.

16). The Penguin (Batman Returns): You're just jealous because I'm a genuine freak and you have to wear a mask!”When people remember the Tim Burton’s Batman films, everyone talks about how great Jack Nicholson’s Joker is, or how surprisingly genius Michael Keaton’s casting was, or how hot Michelle Pfeiffer looked in that skin tight, black latex, get-up. But almost nobody gives Danny DeVito the proper credit for his performance as The Penguin in Batman Returns. So twisted, demented, and absurd you almost forget that it is teddy bear and fun drunk Danny DeVito behind all that grotesque make-up. DeVito, as The Penguin, gets to bite off a guy’s nose, call Michelle Pfeiffer a pussy, touch a really hot girl on her boob, and walk around in his long johns for 90% of the movie. I bet he had fun.

15). Captain Barbossa (Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl): "It'll be one pistol as before, and you can be the gentleman and shoot the lady; and starve to death yourself."Of course everyone loves Johnny Depp's scallywag pirate Captain Jack Sparrow, but who, at least in the first film, embodies true and complete badness and shows utter contempt for morality, who else but Captain Hector Barbossa from Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Jack Sparrow could be considered untrustworthy, selfish and a bit of a Brigand but he would never lay waste to Port Royale in the way that Barbossa and his pirate clan did. Geoffrey Rush's, Barbossa really encapsulates the vicious, cleverly funny and often times cruel nature of a pirate.

14). Damon Killian (The Running Man):

Ben Richards: “Killian... I'll be back!”

Damon Killian: "Only in a rerun.”

Wait, original Family Feud host and Match Game regular Richard Dawson? That Richard Dawson? YES. Isn’t he dead? NO. He’s very much alive and completely evil in the ahead-of-it’s-time, action-satire The Running Man. An absolutely genius bit of casting, Dawson plays Damon Killian, the sadistic, yet charming host and exec producer of The Running Man, a futuristic, post-apocalyptic game show where criminal contestants have to outwit, outplay, and outlast the The Stalkers, as they’re hunted for sport in front of a live studio audience. Survey says… it’s FUCKING AWESOME!

13). The Operative (Serenity): "I'm a Monster. What I do is evil. I have no illusions about it, but it must be done."Now those few of you who have seen the short lived television series Firefly and the subsequent film Serenity will no doubt agree with this pick as fervently as I have. It comes from the wonderfully sarcastic mind of Joss Whedon the creator and writer for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and it's spinoff Angel. The story of Firefly/Serenity follows a crew of smugglers aboard their Firefly class space vessel as they try to protect themselves and there friends from one of the greatest allies or greatest enemy in all the 'verse, depending on which side you are on, The Alliance. The Alliance is not necessarily evil they help when they can but their covert operatives are a little less gray and a whole lot of bad. Chiwetel Ejiofor plays the Alliance Operative in the film as a half Samurai/philospher with a penchant, as he puts it, for killing anything that gets in his way including children. You see he is a zealot, someone who believes so strongly in what he is doing he has no problems snuffing out an entire planet if he feels his so-called freedom is threatened. He is tough, he is smart and the most intriguing thing--he has a conscience he just chooses not to use it.

12). Carter Burke (Aliens): You know Burke, I don't know which species is worse. You don't see them fucking each other over for a goddamn percentage.”

A lot of people argue that Paul Reiser played a better bad guy in Bye, Bye Love. I have not seen that film, so I am not at liberty comment. But what I can comment on is his performance as Carter Burke, The Company middle-man who’s secretly up to no good, in Aliens. Reiser’s Burke progresses from a good guy, to a smug weenie, to a treacherous bastard. By the end, you’re on your feet clapping when the character is delivered his just desserts.

11). Dr. Janosz Poha (Ghostbusters II): "Let me tell you something here, there are many perks in being the mother of a living god. I'm sure we could get a magnificent apartment, car, free parking..."
Yes Ghostbusters II, got a problem with that? Janosz Poha, as played by Peter MacNichol is brilliantly funny, and as we will establish delightfully evil. Janosz is the funny smelling little museum curator who lives on the Upper Vest side of NY. He also has a creepy obsession with Dana Barrett and once he has been possesed by Vigo his eyes act like a spine chilling set of high beams, he flies and honestly looks like the scariest Au pair I have ever seen. He is also a hilarious foil for Bill Murray's Venkman. Say what you want about Vigo and the general plot for Ghostbusters II but leave Dr. Poha alone for you are like the buzzing of flies to him.

10). Prince Humperdinck & Count Rugen (The Princess Bride):
“Tyrone, you know how much I love watching you work, but I've got my country's 500th anniversary to plan, my wedding to arrange, my wife to murder and Guilder to frame for it; I'm swamped.”

“Get some rest. If you haven't got your health, you haven't got anything.”

And the award for Best Closet Gay Evil Duo in a Children’s Fantasy Film goes to… Prince Humperdinck and Count Rugen in The Princess Bride!!! Chris Saradon plays the fiendishly foppish Prince Humperdinck and Christopher Guest plays his number two, the cold hearted Count Rugen. I know this is a little bit of a cheat, since there are two of them, but they’re really like Peanut Butter and Jelly. You can’t have one without the other and together they are delicious… deliciously evil that is!

9). Johnny Ringo (Tombstone): "I want your blood. And I want your soul. And I want them both right now!"

When you think about the awesome western Tombstone you first think about Val Kilmer's performance as Doc Holliday, then you move to Kurt Russell as an amazing Wyatt Earp but most people forget about bad ass Michael Biehn's Johnny Ringo. Sure he didn't get to deliver some of the great lines that Doc Holliday got to, but that's because he was more the strong silent type. Johnny Ringo was basically The Man With No Name, y'know from those Clint Eastwood Spaghetti Westerns, except of course Johnny doesn't really care about the little things, like y'know, morality. One of my favorite sequences in the movie is the scene where the Cowboys are enjoying a little theatre, about Doctor Faustus and the Devil. Curly Bill says to Johnny "You know what I'd do? I'd take that deal n' crawfish, then drill that ol' devil in the ass. What about you Juanito, what would you do?" Ringo, has that great fearless look in his eyes and says, "I already did it." Ringo was just like Holliday, smart, tough and as Earp asks Doc what makes a man like Ringo do the things he's done, Holliday replies, "A man like Ringo has got a great big hole, right in the middle of him. He can never kill enough, or steal enough, or inflict enough pain to ever fill it....He wants Revenge--For being born."

8). Ed Rooney (Ferris Bueller's Day Off): “I did not achieve this position in life by having some snot-nosed punk leave my cheese out in the wind."

Real life creep Jeffrey Jones outdoes even himself in 80’s teen-comedy classic Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Jones plays indignant high school Principal Ed Rooney, a guy with a severe superiority complex and a proverbial ruler stuck up his literal butt. Knowing what we know now about Mr. Jones makes the character of Rooney even more of a sleazeball. I mean just imagine what could’ve happened if he had caught up to Ferris that fateful day off? Not so damn funny anymore, is it?!?

7). Roy Batty (Blade Runner): "I want more life Fucker!"Another film that I saw as a child that kind of freaked me out was Blade Runner. Darryl Hannah as Priss wearing that crazy outfit with the fro and the black eye makeup really made her look nuts. But the thing that gave me a chill was watching Rutger Haur's Roy Batty stalk Harrison Ford's Deckard in J.F. Sebastian's domicile and then later on the roof in the pouring rain. Batty is a sympathetic villain as his only true goal is to find a way to extend his life a few more years. Batty is a replicant, or an android and he's not too happy about that. He's super strong and super smart and in his desperation for a cure to his condition he is extremely deadly. Watching Batty howl to the moon with Priss' makeup running down his face and the crazed look in his eye, honestly scared the shit out of me.

6). The Cobra Kai (The Karate Kid): “We do not train to be merciful here. Mercy is for the weak. Here, in the streets, in competition: A man confronts you, he is the enemy. An enemy deserves no mercy.”

Sensei John Kreese and his punk minions Johnny, Bobby, Tommy, Jimmy, & Dutch – The Cobra Kai. A buncha bullies clad in black Gis, The Cobra Kai viewed Karate as a weapon, instead of an art. Of course they were just a misguided band of angry teenagers, led down the wrong path by militaristic dickhead of a sensei John Kreese, played with wrathful brilliance by Martin Kove. Unfortunately for skinny Jersey kid Daniel Larusso (Ralph Macchio), he falls in love with the wrong girl at the wrong time, and proceeds to have his ass handed to him on a plate for about 120 minutes of a 127 minute film. Eventually, good karate triumphs over evil karate and everyone goes home happy. Props to Billy Zabka, who plays the Cobra Kai leader Johnny, for selling one hell of a crane kick to the face. Stuntmen are for the WEAK!

5). Gollum (The Lord of the Rings Trilogy): "We ought to wring his filthy little neck. Kill him! Kill him! Kill them both! And then we take the precious...and we be the master!"

Look at this guy--what is wrong with people when they say he's actually kind of cute. Is that before or after he strangles his best friend just so he can get a shiny little ring, or when, he lived in the Misty Mountains using the ring to trick people with riddles and then stalk them and eat them. If it wasn't for a resouceful Hobbit named Bilbo, Gollum would still be in drippy cave living out his Cannibalistic fantasies. Make no mistake the ring of power from the Lord of the Rings Trilogy holds a terrible sway over poor simple minded Gollum, but does that really excuse his behavior? Hell Bilbo lived with the Ring for 60 odd years and only then did it start to screw with him, so really what is Gollum's excuse. He's a petty, selfish miserable little toady and we love him in all of his badness.

4). The Fratellis (The Goonies): “The only thing we serve here is tongue! You boys like tongue?”

Before we fell in love with The Sopranos, we fell in love with The Fratellis – Mama, Jake, and Francis. The Fratellis put the funk in dysfunctional, a family so warped and twisted that they keep their deformed hulk of a son/brother Sloth chained up in their basement. Yes, it’s a kid’s movie! Led by sociopathic matriarch Mama, played by the gifted character actress Anne Ramsey, with her two favorite boys by her side, dimwitted Jake (Robert Davi) and weasely Francis (Joey Pants), they viciously chase our heroes The Goonies through the cavernous maze of boobie traps and pit falls in search of One-Eyed Willie’s hidden treasure. Over the course of the movie, The Fratellis store a man they’ve murdered in their freezer, threaten to puree a fat kid’s hand, and make a tied-up young girl walk the plank. Yeah, they could use some serious family counseling.

3). The Kurgan (Highlander): "Ramirez was an effete snob! He died on his knees. I took his head and raped his woman before his blood was even cold!"There Can be only one bad ass immortal and as much as I love the Highlander, Connor McCloud, it ain't him. The Kurgan, played by Clancy Brown is well...You read his quote. The ultimate warrior, if they had steroids back in the olden days of Scotland, I would've said that Kurgan was on some of that Balco crap. He has this deep dark voice and those crazy eyes, he's a madman I tell you. On top of that he can live forever and the only way you can get this psycho out of your life is to take a giant sword from the Middle Ages and slice his noggin off. When he isn't killing other Immortals, The Kurgan enjoys a nice drive in the country with Grandma on the hood of the car he just stole. He wags his tongue at her hoping that when she loses her grip that she'll get sucked underneath his Michelins. Crazy Bastard.

2). Biff Tannen (Back To The Future): “Since you're new here, I'm gonna cut you a break... today. So, why don't you make like a tree and get out of here?”

Everyone’s favorite big, dumb bully, Biff Tannen, played by underrated comedic actor Thomas F. Wilson. Jumble up his initials, you get WTF, as in What The Fuck happened to Thomas F. Wilson? The trivia section of his IMDB page says he paints portraits of children’s toys… well, I guess he’s got that going for him. Seriously though, the character of Biff Tannen is one of the great, iconic, baddies in cinema history. Wilson infuses him with a great mixture of intimidation and destiny… I mean density.

1). Khan Noonien Singh (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan): "You are in a position to demand nothing. I, on the other hand, am in a position to grant nothing."

And the most under-rated Villain in Cinema is......KHHHHHAAAN! That's right folks everyone's favorite genetic mistake from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Now most people look at Ricardo Montalban and say yeah he was funny but---. No question ol' Ricardo hammed him up a bit but if you look a little deeper you will see a guy who not only made Admiral James T. Kirk look like an unprepared school boy, he killed Scotty's nephew and had a hand in killing Kirk's number one science officer Captain Spock. And you know he did it all by barely lifting a finger. The entire film Khan is shoving torpedoes up the Enterprise's ass without any face to face with the plucky Admiral Kirk. Not to mention he put those little grub worm things in poor Chekov's ear. Now be honest, when you saw that for the first time it creeped you out a bit. I won't lie to you I was shoving a Q-tip in my ear for a few days after that scene. Khan is smart, angry and super strong (yes those are actually Montalban's actual pecs), and he's got some great dialogue to prove it.


So that's it folks, I hope you enjoyed Cody Dee's and Jeff's list of the most under appreciated villains. As always if you have some ideas of Villains we may have missed please leave us a comment letting us know. We would love to hear who you guys would pick. So from all of us at the Bucket have a safe and happy Halloween!

Jeff & Cody Dee Williams

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