Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Great (film) Debates vol. 8

Maybe there's something wrong with our species, but we seem to prefer villains to heroes. So let's go with that:

Who is your favorite film villain?



Panelist: T-Rav

Surely Dennis Hopper's Howard Payne in Speed. There's nothing complicated about him; he didn't have a bad childhood or a government that turned on him; he's just a jerk who wants money that isn't his, and he doesn't care who he kills to get it. Straight-up bad guy, and the wit and energy Hopper gives him makes him fun to watch, even though you don't ever want to root for him.

Panelist: AndrewPrice

Keyser Söze. We know nothing about him, yet we think we know everything about him. We spend the film staring right at him and don't even realize it. He tricks us into sympathizing with him, tells us nothing but lies, and yet when we learn the truth, we don't hate him. . . we admire him. There is no other villain like him.

Panelist: ScottDS

Another hard question. Getting my driver's license was easier than this exercise! [Smile] I've given it some thought and I would have to say Hans Gruber, played by Alan Rickman - his film debut! - in Die Hard. Suave, cunning, vicious, with a sonorous voice and a great tailor ("John Phillips, London."), Gruber is the leader of a band of German "terrorists" who turn out to be simple bank robbers. All goes according to plan until NYPD cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) gets involved. Trivia: Rickman's look of surprise as he falls from the building (onto an airbag) is real: he was dropped on the count of "two," not "three." Whoops! "I read about them in Time magazine."

Panelist: Tennessee Jed

Favorite film villain is Margaret Hamilton as the wicked witch of the east. Best cackle in film.


Comments? Thoughts? What would you choose and why?

100 comments:

ScottDS said...

Great choices! (I know, I say that every week.)

Re: Speed... when Cee Lo Green's song "F--- You" was released, I remember quoting one of Hopper's lines from this film: "In two hundred years we've gone from 'I regret but I have one life to give for my country' to 'F--- you!'?" Great movie. I was only 11 when it was released but by the time it came to HBO, my mom let me watch it. What's sad is, in this post-Bourne shakey-cam world of ours, action films from the 90s, like Speed, True Lies, and Executive Decision seem downright quaint! But we still enjoy them.

Incidentally, given the time in which I grew up, my first exposure to Hopper was when he played King Koopa in that awful Super Mario Brothers movie. I liked it back then but when I think about it today, I shudder! I need to catch up with some of his other work.

The Usual Suspects is a film I really need to watch again. It's on Netflix streaming (I'm not getting rid of it!). Leslie Nielsen did a bad movie titled Wrongfully Accused which was a Fugitive parody and the best scene in the film parodies the ending of Suspects. Man, when Chris McQuarrie won the Best Screenplay Oscar for Suspects, he was only 27!

I've only seen The Wizard of Oz once, back at FSU and the best reaction I heard was from someone else who had obviously never seen it before: "I would never let my kid watch that!" My mom still remembers being scared as a kid whenever the Wicked Witch would show up.

As for me, Hans Gruber just popped in there. I suppose Khan would've been another choice but he made his debut on TV. It helps that Die Hard is considered a modern action classic and even spawned a genre: Die Hard on a ____.

Floyd R. Turbo said...

Film villains....

1. Peter Lorre as Hans Beckert from Frtiz Lang's "M" (one of my all-time films)

2. Heath Ledger's Joker -- genius

3. Louise Fletcher as Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

4. Telly Savalas as Blofeld in On Her Majesty's Secret Service

5. Syndrome in The Incredibles

Tennessee Jed said...

My net provider is ATT. Due to widespread outages in Tennessee, I've been off line until now. Scott, I echo your comment T-Rav, my only problem with Hopper's character is I actually can't remember him in that role. I had a vague recollection of a guy who had been burned and was mad. Maybe, I am just not remembering all that well.

Andrew - hard to argue with Keyser Soze (I have never been able to figure out how to use the foreign punctuation feature on my Mac.) If you think about it, both your choice and mine have become iconic in film so they can't be all that bad.

Scott - I do love Rickman and this was the role that put him on the map. Overtime, Rickman began to, in my opinion, go a little overboard with the "camping it up." There was just the right balance in the original Die Hard. Plenty of menace.

Turb - some excellent choices, although I didn't get thesame charge out of Telly Savalis as Blofeld that you did. I think there are two reasons why that is the case. First, as a long time devotee of the Bond novels, I had a mental picture of Blofeld that was NOT him. Second, by that time, Savalis was pretty well known. I don't know if this was pre-Kojack or whether this came from more recent viewings of OHMSS. I am not dissing his performance as much as stating why it simply didn't work as well for me as some others.

I think for the panelists, it is interesting to see how our choices tend to show influence by our age. Floyd has multiple choices (dodging the rules is a favorite past time at this site.) However, you truly do run the gamut of Lorre to Ledger; whew! ;-)

Tam said...

George Hearst played by the guy who played George Hearst on Deadwood, pretty much any villain played by Alan Rickman or John Lithgow and I loved Gary Oldman as Dracula.

AndrewPrice said...

Great choices everybody!

Here's a question though... what happened to Darth Vader? On the one hand, I think one of us would have listed him a couple decades ago, but on the other, I wonder if the prequels didn't ruin him?

ScottDS said...

Jed -

I'm actually surprised when I see other panelists choosing more recent movies, actors, etc. I always assume I'm the youngest and that my choices will be the most recent but even today, I'm wrong! Both Andrew and T-Rav's picks come after mine.

I'm surprised this is only occurring to me now but another great choice would be Robert Mitchum in The Night of the Hunter.

Andrew -

Darth Vader honestly never occured to me. However, I am able to separate the originals from the prequels (much to Lucas' chagrin, I'm sure!) so he's not ruined at all.

P.S. The second part of that interview is up on RLM.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I hate to admit it, but I enjoyed Super Mario Brothers. I can't explain it, but I liked it.

Regarding "f--- you," yeah, we've come a long way. So much for the idea that "progress" is always good.

You do need to see Usual Suspects again. It's truly a masterpiece in many, many ways. It's one of those movies that leaves you thinking "I wish I'd written that," which is some of the highest praise I can think of for a film.

Oz is a great film and it's amazing how many cultural references it contains. I would say that every single scene has a line or an image in it that's made it into our culture.

AndrewPrice said...

Floyd, Who loves ya baby! I really like Savalas in everything I've seen him and he was a great Blofeld, even though I didn't care much for Lasenby as Bond.

Ledger as the Joker is another great villain. What an amazingly complex portrayal! He's one of the few villains that you feel is truly dangerous in the free world, i.e. it feels like he's really out there somewhere.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I the ages are actually only slightly involved. Soze is 1990s, but I'm older than both Scott and T-Rav, who chose from the 1980s.



(P.S. I have to import symbols from word or steal the characters from someone on line to get the foreign characters.)

AndrewPrice said...

Tam, That was Gerald McRaney, "Major Dad" and before that "Simon and Simon"!

He is a conservative Republican!!!!

ScottDS said...

Andrew - Speed is from 1994. I was the only one who chose 80s.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, For years, Vader was the top of everyone's list. I think he was even voted the greatest villain by AFI -- or it was Margaret Hamilton? But I think he's slipping and I think that's because the prequels have damaged his legacy.

It is interesting to me that you picked something from the 1980s (and so did T-Rav). I was expecting something "younger" from you guys. I wonder if that's an indictment of modern movies, that you both are looking back into the 1980s? And I wonder how much TV rerunning films has to do with that?

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Was it? Huh. I thought it was late 1980s. My calendar must be off this morning, I'll have to reset it! ;-)

Floyd R. Turbo said...

Darth Vader...

That's like answering "Jesus" in Sunday School (we Baptists call it "the Sunday School" answer -- which may be a broader phenomenon than that of course).

Of course Darth Vader! :-)

AndrewPrice said...

Good point Floyd, Vader does seem to be a bit too easy as an answer! I wonder if anyone else falls into that category as "too obvious"?

Ed said...

Andrew, How about Barack Obama? ;)

I always thought the coolest villain was the Nazi in Raiders of the Lost Arc who got the staff of Rah burned in his hand (don't know his name).


You should ask "weakest villain" in the future.

Ed said...

Scott and Tam, I think any villain Rickman has played is great. I really like his Snape.

ScottDS said...

Andrew -

I've often been accused of looking at older films (not to mention films from my childhood) through rose-colored glasses. This probably deserves a separate article but it's a fair question: is it nostalgia or were films simply better back then (pre-2000s)? Of course, the last decade has given us many great films and I confess I don't make it out to the theater very often (I'm content to wait 99.9% of the time) but it's something that I think about.

As for TV, that helps, but in the case of Die Hard, it's a modern classic. On the commentary for the (underrated) third film, the screenwriter says that films like that are for you and me what westerns were for Jed and LawHawk. They're part of our mythology.

Tennessee Jed said...

Scott , Andrew,; what you will find is that DECADES tend to blend together once you hit . . . . years old. Still, I commend you on the Bob Mitchum "Night of the Hunter" thought. I recently saw that, although after we made our picks.

To me, it is interesting what our mind comes up with and why. I just happened to be thinking about Ridley Scott just now, and that reminded me of what a good job Joaquin Phoenix did in Gladiator. Although he is probably not up with some of the roles mentioned here today, Steve Martin did a fantastic job as a villain in Spanish Prisoner.

kristina said...

all good picks, a BIG plus one on Margaret Hamilton, when you're a little kid that wicked Witch is one scary lady. also yes on Mitchum in Night of the Hunter; relentless.

I'd also add Mrs. Danvers (REBECCA) Norman Bates, Uncle Charlie (Joseph Cotten in SHADOW OF A DOUBT), and I'm partial to western movie villains, especially Henry Fonda in ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, Lee Marvin in LIBERTY VALANCE but also Alex Nicol in MAN FROM LARAMIE, who is one of the most bratty, cruel and immature grownups I've ever seen in movies...

also Verbal/Keyser Soze has that fantastically memorable line that I love to quote, that's the essence of modern villainy in the form of ideology and revisionism, and that's "The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist."

Tennessee Jed said...

Tam - John Lithgow makes a great, great villain!

Tennessee Jed said...

Scott - I have always assumed T-Rav to be in the 10-12 range, but who can really know for sure?

One guy that belonged at or near the top, but I had to let go was Tony Perkins in Psycho. Norman Bates is a great and scary character, but since he is crazier than a loon, I don't know if he is a true, evil villain in the classic sense.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, Weakest villain might make an interesting question or maybe most disappointing?

I'm a big Rickman fan too.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I honestly don't think the last decade has been good for film at all. The 1990s were great (a real high water mark), but the 00's were garbage and the 10's don't look like they're going to get any better. I think the death of independent film is to blame there.

Modern mythology. Hmm. There is something to that. I wonder if we could track by generation what films they put into that category?

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, The years are already running together for me! It's amazing how your perception changes.

I liked Gladiator a lot, and what I liked best was the very ending. I thought watching Crowe just simply overpower him and kill him in such a non-spectacular cemented that movie as something special. That scene continues to stand out for me as one of the great endings to a film. I still recall everyone in the theater holding their breath at that moment. Very impressive.

Outlaw13 said...

Kim Jung Il in Team America.

I'm so ronry!

Fernand Mondego as played by Guy Pierce in The Count of Monte Cristo, I really like that movie and love the revenge that Dantes exacts at the end.

AndrewPrice said...

kristina,

Shadow of a Doubt was my first "non-famous" Hitchcock film (i.e. not Rear Window, North By Northwest etc.). I was very impressed and I've loved all of his other films since. My favorite is Rope.

That is a fantastic line by Soze! I think the whole character is truly incredible. In many ways, he's the perfect portrayal of Satan. I don't care for the over-the-top, loud and obnoxious versions given by actor like Al Pacino in Devil's Advocate, but a character like Soze really fits the bill perfectly. He IS the silver tongued devil who needs nothing more than deception to lead man astray. It's chilling.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, Who do you think was a better serial killer? Perkins as Bates or Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter?

AndrewPrice said...

Outlaw, I like Monte Cristo a lot, plus I'm a fan of Pierce. He really won me over in L.A. Confidential and I've liked everything he's done since.

Outlaw13 said...

Andrew, speaking of L.A. Confedential the bad cop played by James Cromwell...damn, I hated that man in that movie.

AndrewPrice said...

Outlaw, Yep. What's funny is that before that, I always thought of him as a good guy, a guy who couldn't really play bad characters. But boy does he ever come through as a rotten SOB!

Floyd R. Turbo said...

Scott... not only is Die Hard a modern classic... it is in the top 5 Christmas movies of all time.

Outlaw... didn't like Cromwell Boy-O? He was evil -- great villain.

AndrewPrice said...

Floyd, At one point, I was trying to come up with a list of the top Christmas/Holiday films and it's amazing how few there are. And yes, strangely, Die Hard is a Christmas film. . . somehow.

LawHawkRFD said...

I like villains who can also be heroic. So my choice is Gen. James Mattoon Scott (Burt Lancaster)--misguided patriot, courageous warrior, and enemy of the Constitution. Given our current Commander in Chief, ma;ybe Scott was right. LOL

DUQ said...

No love for the Stay Puft Man?

T-Rav said...

Great choices, guys!

I can't really comment on Keyser Soze, as I haven't seen that movie yet, but I definitely agree on Alan Rickman. Interesting tidbit about the drop scene, by the way. I didn't know that.

On the Wicked Witch, I'm practically the only person I know who wasn't freaked out by her and/or the flying monkeys when I was a kid. Either I'm braver in a special way than most or I'd already been desensitized by other scary stuff. I have no idea which.

Tennessee Jed said...

Andrew - tough question. my gut reaction is Perkins as Norman Bates. I was about 11 or 12 when I saw Psycho. I had read the book by Bloch (I think.) The point is, that was probably my first memory of someone playing a person with multiple personality diorder. The eye shifting was tremendous. I wonder if, Edward Norton drew inspiration for his role in Primal Fear. Hannibal Lector, though a great character, feels just a hair more "fictional" to me.

Tennessee Jed said...

T-Rav - you are unquestionably desensitized by the other stuff.

T-Rav said...

Andrew (and Floyd), I considered going with Darth Vader or maybe Ledger's Joker, but my answers have been tilting a bit toward the sci-fi/fantasy side, so I thought I should mix it up a bit.

That said, I think Ledger probably set the bar for all time. What he came up with was such a demonic tour de force I don't think it can ever be equalled. I still remember watching TDK in theaters on opening night, and when the Joker asked "How about a magic trick?" and then impaled that man's head on the pencil, everyone in the audience gasped and let out a nervous breath. Totally set the tone for the rest of the movie.

T-Rav said...

Jed, I would respond to your insulting "10-12" remark about me, but my mom says I have to get off the computer now and do my homework, so nyah nyah nyah :-)

(Seriously, I am younger than Scott, though not that much younger--I think.)

Tennessee Jed said...

Outlaw - you considered Kim Jong Il in Team America to be a villain? Come on, he suckered MATT DAMON, and fed Hans Brix to the sharks. That makes him something of a hero in my book.

Tennessee Jed said...

Rav, Andrew, and Scott - Hawk and I both consider the whole lot of you to be whippersnappers, by cracky.

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ, LOL! Nice choice!

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, T-Rav, Scott, et al., Age is in the mind, right?

T-Rav, I think you're about 10 years younger than Scott, who is about 10 years younger than me.

Jed, Whippersnappers! LOL! I sense a "I had to walk to school uphill both ways in the snow" speech coming on! Ironically, that's one T-Rav will never be able to give. He'll have to talk about using keyboards to browse the internet. ;-)

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, Seven Days In May was a fascinating movie. Unfortunately, it seems to have become the foundation for how Hollywood views the military today.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, See the film.... see it now.... grrrr.

On the desensitized point, that's an interesting point. We've talked about this before that some films just can't shock you when you didn't see them when they were new, but I wonder if there's a desensitivity issue for modern generations since we've seen so much depravity on film? Maybe nothing shocks us anymore?

That would be bad news for Hollywood. They might actually have to start writing films again.

LawHawkRFD said...

Andrew: If age is in the mind, what are those wrinkles all over my face? And what's with that turkey neck? If it gets any worse, people will start mistaking me for a shar pei. But I do have a young soul. LOL

ScottDS said...

I may be a whippersnapper but it's gotten to the point where even I find myself saying things like, "These kids..." For the record, I'm 28. I turn 29 in January.

Not to go off-topic but a Best Buy ad from September 1996 was recently posted online. I was Bar Mitzvahed five days before this ad was out!

Other thoughts...

Great calls on other films and villians. And yes, Die Hard is totally a Christmas film! The second film takes place at Christmas, too. I know it's not as beloved as the first film but, man, is it fun!

The Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man was just a manifestation. :-D The real villain was Gozer, though I admit Vigo the Carpathian from the second film scared the s--- out of me when I first saw it (I was six). When I finally convinced my parents to rent the tape, I had my mom skip all the Vigo scenes. I've been fine with the film for years but it was touch and go there for a while!

I've actually never seen Team America. I know, I know!

Future T-Rav said...

When I was your age, we didn't have these fancy touchscreen monitors plugged into our brains! We actually had to reach out our hands and punch keys to get to where we wanted on the Internet! Now get off my virtual lawn!

T-Rav said...

Personally, I think most of our movies, as is the case with most things today, suck. All people care about today is how much action and how much CGI crap they can stuff into the next summer blockbuster, and it's increasingly turning me off. I still haven't seen any of the Transformers movies, for example, and I don't have any plans to.

I think the reason many of us chose from the '80s and early '90s is because they still focused on building up tensions between the heroes and villains, rather than playing everything out on a computer screen. Take Speed. You've got an actual bus, actual people in it, Keanu and Dennis actually conversing...much better than the generic 3-D movie today.

Future Andrew said...

I'm not letting any whippersapper put a modem in my head.

... a modem.

... yeah, we had those when I was young. In fact, I was around before everyone had a computer.

.... no, there weren't any dinosaurs.

.... no, Obama sucked worse than they say in schools.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I thought you were 30. Apparently, I'm older than I thought. :(

I thought Viggo was great. He's a very creepy villain. In fact, I know a couple people who won't watch the movie because they think it's a too much horror.


T-Rav, I agree. I think films today are made using the corporate model and that means absolutely no risk. So you get recycled plots, cliches and CGI. Anything else would be too risky.

T-Rav said...

By the way, since people brought up Norman Bates v. Hannibal Lecter, I'm going to (possibly) start a small war here: I think "Silence of the Lambs" is overrated. Yes, I said it. I don't think it's a bad movie; I think it's a good one, overall. But when you take away those amazing scenes between Lecter and Agent Starling, and some of the memorable catchphrases, is it really that great? Just saying.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed and T-Rav, I actually prefer the portrayal of Hopkins to Perkins, though I haven't cared for the Hopkins-immitators.

On Silence of the Lambs, I don't think its overrated. I think it has been overwhelmed however. Every cop show started to copy it's style and every serial killer movie copied Hopkins' portrayal. So while I don't think it's overrated, I think it is getting lost among all the imitators.

Tennessee Jed said...

Ironically, my oldest son is Andrew's age, and my youngest a year older than Scott. I liked Seven Days in May as well, Hawk. Burt Lancaster is one of the most underrated leading actors, in my opinion. Elmer Gantry, Local Hero (if I ever happen to do another review, I'd do this one) and Doc in Baggar Vance (a reprise of Field of Dreams role).

BTW, Did I ever mention that when I was a kid I actually had to walk to school?

LawHawkRFD said...

Tennessee: I used to tell my kids about my walks to school in the snow and sleet, so quit complaining. That worked until they were old enough to realize I went to school in a suburb of Los Angeles. But it was only fair, since they were always asking me about what it was like living in the olden days. Today, I'm waiting for their kids to ask them what is was like living in a primitive world without cell phones and I-Pads.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed and Lawhawk, I did actually walk to school up and down big hills each way... and in the snow... lots of snow.


Jed, I never thought much of Lancaster either way until I saw Elmer Gantry. He was great in that and it gave me a new appreciation of his talent.

ScottDS said...

Andrew -

Yes, you're older. :-) In fact, I remember when you mentioned you were turning 40 and I was surprised how much closer in age we are than I'd thought.

I've still never seen Silence of the Lambs but it's one of those films where I've seen it parodied soooo many times, I can probably do a good job of piecing it together.

A couple other suggestions:

-Biff from Back to the Future... though I've read a few comments that ask, "In the restored 1985, if George McFly needs an auto-detailer, would he really hire the man who almost raped his wife in high school 30 years earlier?" :-)

-Jack Lint (Michael Palin) from Brazil... a great example of the banality of evil

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, It's the top hat on my avatar, it makes me look older than I really am! ;-)


Yeah, it always struck me as strange that he would have much to do with Biff. Of course, it's also highly unlikely that Biff's personality would change the way it does.

If you want to talk about the banality of evil, my favorite villain is Mr. Bartholomew from Rollerball.

T-Rav said...

LawHawk, it's too bad you became a conservative, otherwise you could tell them you used to walk through the snow to school in L.A. before the global warming hit. :-)

Andrew, I like the movie, don't get me wrong, it's just that I don't see it as a four-star film. It sometimes seems to me like the Lecter scenes and the search for Buffalo Bill and his victim are happening in two different movies. It doesn't feel like the former really belong, except maybe to liven things up (so to speak). I don't know. It's a good movie, and Hopkins' performance was certainly Oscar-worthy, I'm just not sure it deserves all the raves.

Tennessee Jed said...

T-Rav - I have a curious thought about "Silence of the Lambs." If it hadn't won the best picture oscar, nobody would even raise that question. However, your point made me think of something that is often overlooked in rating of films. That is, whether there is a built-in-bias about what kind of film should win best picture. On the surface, it SEEMS like a good film of kind with an exceptional acting role by Hopkins. My point is, it is a great film because it never tried to be anything other than what it was, and it accomplished that extremely well. So I would disagree that is over-rated per se. Maybe something doesn't need to be epic to be best of the year?

I'll admit that a film that had a harder story to bring to the screen, including great period costumes, etc. might beat it out if it was great in it's class. Perhaps it is like judging figure skating. Which is better, a technically harder performance with a flaw or two, or an easier performance executed perfectly. Probably no right answer.

Outlaw13 said...

I know this was on TV and not the movies but I thought the guy who played Charles Manson in Helter Skelter couldn't have done a netter job...absolutely freaked me out.

Outlaw13 said...

Looked it up it was Steve Railsback

AndrewPrice said...

Outlaw, When I think of Steve Railsback, I think of Lifeforce a pretty cool vampire movie.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I think the problem with rating films is there are too many ways to look at films. Should you judge the film stronger if it gives exactly what you expected or if it gave you something unusual? How do you really compare a comedy to a drama? Etc.

I think another issue to consider is that we seem to rate things on a curve. Thus we will rate an over-achieving crappy movie higher than we will rate and under-achieving super film.


T-Rav, I agree that the non-Hopkins scenes don't seem nearly as good as the Hopkins films. But I would stress that there is a "first-ness" to consider here. You're looking backwards at decades of films who copied what they did and improved it. This film really was different than anything that had come before it. So it wasn't as big of a problem as it might be now.

AndrewPrice said...

Actually, let me clarify -- others may disagree that Lifeforce is a cool film.

I like it. I like the concept and the execution, but it's not a very popular film.

Tennessee Jed said...

Outlaw - I agree with you about Steven Railsback. He was as good as it gets as Manson. Then he did a great job as "Prew" in a t.v. re-make of "from here to eternity" with William Devane which I actually liked better than the original. I was hooked on Railsback by then, but his career never really took off. Lots of smaller roles, particularly on network series t.v. He did play Ed Gein and was creepy in that role as well.

Tennessee Jed said...

Andrew - i agree about rating. Clearly there are great films and there crappy films and most people can agree objectively. But often, we try and split the hair just a tad too fine.

T-Rav said...

Jed, that's a good point. Much of the film is rather low-key and doesn't try to be ostentatious in any respect. It's very good at what it does, I'll agree; I just wouldn't give it a perfect 10. But then not everyone thinks that either, so it's not an important point.

Personally, I would hate to have Ebert's job and try to decide how many stars to give a film. There's so much variance it's nearly impossible to come up with a cut-and-dried rubric.

ScottDS said...

I watched Lifeforce a couple years ago and it totally wasn't what I expected it to be. I was expecting something claustrophobic and creepy along the lines of Alien but instead I got a British vampire movie! With a Patrick Stewart cameo!

Steve Railsback was in a bizarre cult film titled The Stunt Man. I watched it ten years ago when the DVD was released and I didn't get it. It's one I need to see again. It's probably best remembered for Peter O'Toole's Oscar-nominated performance as a megalomaniac film director.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I had the same experience. We went to see it in theaters thinking it was about aliens that got aboard the space shuttle -- kind of a version of Alien set in near-present times. But it was something else entirely.

I like it. I think the effects are a bit campy at this point, but its plot is solid (with some neat ideas). The acting is good (kudos to Patrick Stewart). And the sense of horror it generates is pretty good if you get into it. I think it's under-appreciated... though probably not by much. ;-)

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, The thing about reviewing is that it's easy to fake what most of them do. You just give a quick plot synopsis stopping right before the ending, give a quick blurb on one of the actors, and then tell people if you liked it or not. And a 1-4 scale really is so broad as to be meaningless -- horrid, bad, good, really good... you don't even need to try to be objective or explain your criteria.

I will give Ebert credit for having a lot more skill than 99.9% of the other reviewers -- he understands a lot of the art of films. But the rest are getting away with faking it.

I would rather discuss something about these films that struck me as interesting, as I do in my discussions here.

USArtguy said...

Lots of great choices, too many to comment on, but I'll toss one into the mix: Rutger Hauer's "Roy" from Blade Runner. He's the villain to be sure, but one you pity as the story unfolds, almost liking him in the end.

AndrewPrice said...

USArtguy, Great choice! Roy is an amazingly complex villain who finds redemption at the very end. What a brilliant character!

ScottDS said...

I'm enjoying this conversation.

A few more (just perusing my collection)...

-Judge Doom in Who Framed Roger Rabbit... (as I mentioned in Andrew's review of the film, despite the talk of a sequel, I doubt we'll ever see one, which would be a shame since I'd love to revisit these characters)

-The Terminator in the first film and the T-1000 in the second film

-John Doe in Se7en (Kevin Spacey sure had an exciting 1995!)

-Clarence Boddicker in RoboCop... Two words: "Bitches leave."

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I thought Robert Patrick was the coolest villain in the series. Don't get me wrong, I thought Arnold was great, but Patrick was just so much better. The rest are kind of a waste.

Judge Doom! LOL! Christopher Lloyd impresses me in almost everything he does. He should have a better career than he currently does.

USArtguy said...

Another android bad guy that should get honorable mention, though it's been so long since I saw the movie my memory's fuzzy, Yul Brynner as the gunslinger in West World.

AndrewPrice said...

USArtguy, Good call! He was the first relentless killing machine. And I think Yul is a heck of an actor.

T-Rav said...

Robert Patrick in "Terminator 2" was just all kinds of awesome. I think he personified that cold machine approach to his mission even better than Arnold did in the original.

Ditto on Christopher Lloyd (the awesomeness, I mean). Although, this will always be how I remember him: "1.21 gigawatts!"

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, That's how I think of Lloyd too at this point. But at one point, I knew him as "Jim from Taxi." When he played a Klingon in Star Trek III, the moment he opened his mouth you actually heard several people in the theater say "Jim?"

TJ said...

There are some great choices here, but I'd like to add a few more to the mix:

1. Rutger Hauer as the main terrorist in Nighthawks - he still freaks me out.

2. Gary Oldman in Air Force One.

3. Alan Rickman as the Sheriff in Prince of Thieves - yes it was a bit over the top, but he was just so good in that one. I also really thought he did an excellent job in Die Hard. I like him in most everything I've seen him in. In a completely opposite role, I really liked him in Sense and Sensibility.

4. Bruce Dern in The Cowboys - I have never liked him since that role!

AndrewPrice said...

TJ, Good call on Nighthawks! I thought he was great in that. I also Bruce Dern as a villain in almost anything he's done. There's something about him that makes him very believable as a bad guy. And shooting the Duke?! That's just wrong!

Outlaw13 said...

Gene Simmons in the Tom Selleck movie Runaway was a great villian. I think he also played a bad guy in another movie the name of which escapes me right now.

AndrewPrice said...

Gene Simmons? Of KISS! I don't think I've seen that one.

rlaWTX said...

my vote (in addition to y'all's): The Alien in Aliens (the 1st I saw of the series & the best & has the underrated M Biehn) is just scary. and Will-Not-Die!!!!!!

Ledger's Joker - top spot forever
Alan Rickman in both Die Hard and Robin Hood (with a spyooooon) - awesome in totally different ways
Rutger Hauer is just scary.

Silence of the Lambs was one creeeepy movie - and I had read the book. I've never sat all the way through Psycho...

Phoenix in Gladiator (love that movie) is creepy, never-be-in-a-room-alone-with-him-ever, but the character is too pathetic for true villainy.

kids these days...

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, Phoenix was creepy and not very "strong" as a villain, but I thought his evil was more effective because it was truly insidious and hateful. I don't know that I've hated a villain more.

tryanmax said...

I'm going to toss out Brick Top from Snatch. He's just...'orrible!

tryanmax said...

Oh! I totally forgot Cruella DeVille. I mean, she kills puppies, man!

AndrewPrice said...

Cruella DeVille! LOL! Yep. A dirty puppy killer... there's nothing worse on the planet!

In terms of Disney villains though, I've always been partial to Sher Kahn in Jungle Book. He's just great in every way!

tryanmax said...

The Jungle Book just never did much for me, so I can't really comment.

I remember as a child being truly frightened by the wicked queen in Snow White and Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty. In general, Disney villains aren't as interesting as they used to be.

But I think the one Disney villain that is impossible to top is the Devil from Fantasia. I mean, it's the Devil. There aren't a lot of places to go after that.

AndrewPrice said...

True on both counts. Disney villains used to be much more menacing and therefore interesting. Today they're all pretty cardboard.

And yeah, there isn't really much after the devil in terms of evil. That's pretty much as far as you can go with that!

The moment I always remember from Fantasia, by the way, is the hippo flying through the air and that poor crocodile having to catch her. You just know it's not going to go well when she finally arrives. LOL!

Outlaw13 said...

In the live action Disney movies of the 70's there were the same 7 guys who were in every movie. The standard bad guy was played by Cesar Romero (The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes which starred Kurt Russel) He even came complete with the Scooby Doo line, "and I would have gotten away with it too if it wasn't for you meddling kids!"

Gene Simions (of KISS) was also in the Rutger Hauer vehicle called Wanted Dead or Alive were he played a terrorist.

Here's a scene of him in Runaway with Tom Seleck.

http://youtu.be/PZOXTnveWOc

AndrewPrice said...

Outlaw, Interesting, I've never seen that. And that is indeed Gene Simmons!

On the live action Disney stuff, yeah the villains were kind of lousy. But it was fun. I really liked Boatnicks with Phil Silvers as the main bad guy.

I recall Wanted Dead or Alive. Hauer had quite a few films around that time. I enjoyed most of those.

Cheryl said...

Edward Norton in Primal Fear!

He was despicable!!

Cheryl said...

Tim Roth as Archibald Cunningham in Rob Roy!

AndrewPrice said...

Cheryl, Good one! That first sword fight Roth has is just incredible. He's surprising, sadistic and sinister.

I'm a fan of both Roth and Norton and have liked everything they've done.

Kenn Christenson said...

Being a BIG Untouchables fan - De Niro's Al Capone has to be one of the best villains put on film.

The scene where Capone cries during an opera, but smiles upon learning of Malone's death was a perfect illustration of this twisted character's makeup.

AndrewPrice said...

Kenn, Excellent selection! That's one of those "picture is worth a thousand words" moments where they never could have conveyed that with dialog. That's a great bit of film making!

tryanmax said...

/Not sure if he is truly a villain, but he sure is villainesque. What about Les Grossman from Tropic Thunder

AndrewPrice said...

Good question! He's definitely an ass, but I don't know if he's a villain. Still, that's one of the funnier "villain" portrayals you'll ever see!

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