I consider myself a pretty big movie buff. I don't often delve into the exceedingly obscure Z-movies that Greasnin subjects himself to for our entertainment, but I do watch a lot of mainstream movies. Many of these are quite bad, and many of the bad ones are the way they are because of a single villainous character; a foil for our heroes so preposterous, ill conceived, or poorly acted that they poison everything they touch. Bubbling with this painful knowledge, I decided to distill it and unleash it on an unsuspecting public much like a milkshake made out of my own vomit.
Keep in mind that the movies on this list are not necessarily the worst - or even that bad - but they each feature at least one villain of preeminent shittiness. I have also omitted an entire spectrum of movies of such low quality that the villains can't be distinguished from the overall amateurishness of the films they are in.
10. Mola Ram
Movie: "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom"
Horrible Dialogue: Drop [the stones], Dr. Jones! They will be found! You won't!
Reasoning: The worst thing about "Temple of Doom" was Kate Capshaw. She is so aggressively unlikable in her role as Indiana's love interest-cum-annoyance that even swapping Mola Ram with Nazis probably could not save the movie. Unfortunately, Willie is not the villain of "Temple of Doom", which leaves me to direct my ire at Mola Ram and his cult of brain-eating pagans. In the original "Raiders of the Lost Ark" there was such a stunning cast of miscreants that it should be no surprise Mola Ram and his crew can't match up. What is slightly surprising is that Mola Ram is not even half as good as a minor bad guy in "Raiders". He doesn't even compare to the beefy Nazi who met his end in a propeller blade or the evil monkey that tried to poison Indy.
9. Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg
Movie: "The Fifth Element"
Horrible Dialogue: Father, by creating a little destruction, I am, in fact, encouraging life! So, in reality, you and I are in the same business!
Reasoning: "The Fifth Element" is an over-the-top science fiction comedy and Gary Oldman is an actor who has made his reputation by playing larger-than-life villains like Dracula and the nefarious Beethoven. The two seem like a match made in heaven. Instead, Oldman comes off as a hybrid of Hitler and J.R. Ewing who has a tendency to wear plastic hair-pieces and costumes that would be considered too garish for a Fellini movie. Sure, Oldman may not be so bad when compared to say Tom "Tiny" Lister - who has difficulty even completing sentences in his role as the President - but rest assured he is miscast. I would be willing to wager that Luc Besson's stage direction for Oldman on the set of "The Fifth Element" was something like "think Nuremberg rally with rockets". Don't even get me started on Chris Tucker.
8. The Architect
Movie: "The Matrix: Reloaded"
Horrible Dialogue: You have many questions, and although the process has altered your consciousness, you remain irrevocably human. Ergo, some of my answers you will understand, and some of them you will not. Concordantly, while your first question may be the most pertinent, you may or may not realize it is also the most irrelevant.
Reasoning: There are moments in cinema history when something you are watching is so bad your jaw literally falls open with disbelief. The scene in "The Matrix: Reloaded" that introduced the Architect is definitely the most recent of these for me. The actor does as good a job as can be expected, and I suppose the idea of Colonel Sanders ruling over an artificial reality is at least original, but the script…oh lord, the script. As soon as The Architect begins speaking you can expect "look how smart I am" quasi-intellectual shit to flow like a river. While the Architect's role in the movie is brief, and he isn't exactly a villain, the dialogue between the Architect and Neo is so bad he had to be included on the list. Why would one computer speak more intelligently than another? I'm sure the answer to this question involves a Dungeons and Dragons hodge-podge of mythology and a few "Reader's Digest" deep thoughts ripped from the back cover of a self-help booklet sold for 99 cents at the checkout at Wal-Mart.
7. The Merovingian
Movie: "The Matrix: Reloaded" and "The Matrix: Revolutions"
Horrible Dialogue: It's like wiping your ass with silk!
Reasoning: While the Architect prompted a reaction of disbelief the Merovingian stimulated a much more primal response of pure horror. Appearing onerously in both Matrix sequels, the Merovingian is a cartoon diagram of a European filled in with the usual stoner musings of the Wachowski brothers. In "The Matrix: Reloaded" the Merovingian appears to twirl his mustache and utter one of the worst lines ever spoken in an above Z-grade film (see quote). In "The Matrix: Revolutions" he returns with his gorgeous doofus of a girlfriend inhabiting a teenage boy's fantasy of an industrial club while chomping on olives and vaguely hating America. The Merovingian is the single worst thing in either of the final two Matrix movies and his elimination from both would likely have added a star to most reviews. If the Matrix movies had not been so obsessed with couture I have no doubt that the Merovingian would have been costumed in a black beret and striped t-shirt with a loaf of bread under one arm.
6. Elijah Price (Mr. Glass)
Horrible Dialogue: Now that we know who you are, I know who I am. I'm not a mistake.
Reasoning: M. Night Shyamalan is quickly proving himself to be one of the most overrated film makers in the United States. Back when "Unbreakable" came out he was still riding high on the success of "The Sixth Sense" and audiences initially flocked to his latest movie. Oddly enough I consider "Unbreakable" to be his best film to date, but there is no denying the ruinous ending provided by the unveiling of Samuel L. Jackson's Elijah Price as the villain. For those of you unaware of this spoiler consider yourself lucky; it will only steel your spirit for the crushing disappointment of the last five minutes of the film. Another dismal aspect of Mr. Glass is that Shyamalan obviously wrote the role specifically for Jackson immediately after watching either "Pulp Fiction" or the infinitely inferior "Shaft". Whichever it was, Shyamalan felt compelled to mar an otherwise compelling character with a number of Jacksonlicious trash-talking diatribes. Yes, we know Samuel L. Jackson is a bad motherfucker, but we don't need you to rub our nose in it just because you can. As an aside, Mr. Glass had pretty stiff competition for this spot from the aliens from the Shyamalan movie "Signs", which apparently took planetary invasion tips from the Wicked Witch of the West.
5. Flying Piranha
Movie: "Piranha 2: The Spawning"
Horrible Dialogue: Skreeeeeeeeeeee! (shrieking as it is jumping out of a corpse on an autopsy table and flying out an open window)
Reasoning: The first terrible non-human villain on the list comes to us courtesy of James Cameron by way of Roger Corman. Many of you may know by now that Cameron's inauspicious debut as a director was doing a follow up for Corman to his riverine Jaws-ripoff "Piranha". As bad as Piranha was, the piranhas in the sequel took the series to all new heights of idiocy. In addition to being preternaturally voracious, the evil fish in the sequel also sported wing-like fins and were capable of incredible feats of flight. Come to think of it, I wish more sequels would latch on to the concept of taking the villain from the first movie and giving it the ability to fly. Imagine how much more enjoyable "Jaws 2" would have been with panicked teenagers diving into drainage ditches to avoid the mercilessly swooping Jaws. Try to picture the Blob oozing out of a movie theater and disappearing into a low-hanging cloud or Orson Welles in "The Third Man 2: Die, Third Man, Die" rocketing into the sky accompanied by the startling sounds of a zither. Maybe the winged piranha is simply misunderstood.
Horrible Dialogue: I loved my daughter. But the abomination growing in her womb was a betrayal of me and the coven. I did what was necessary to protect the species. As I am forced to do yet again.
Reasoning: Kate Beckinsale in latex couldn't even make a dent in the awfulness that was "Underworld" and high among the reasons the film was so dismal was arch-vampire Viktor. For those of you not familiar with the film, it details a silly war between a group of bourgeois vampires and their feral werewolf enemies. Beckinsale is one of the top soldier vampires and Viktor is the off-and-on ruler of the vampire cabal. The movie is riddled with clichés and none is more terrible than the aristocratic villain Viktor who comes across almost as terrifying as the Count from "Sesame Street". His character is at times so cartoonish that I was expecting him to suddenly begin hawking cereal with a pink Frankenstein's monster and a blue stoner ghost. I guess we'll have to wait for "Van Helsing" to see that.
3. Sir August de Wynter
Movie: "The Avengers"
Horrible Dialogue: You will buy your weather from me! And by God you'll pay for it.
Reasoning: "The Avengers" took a much-beloved British spy-themed black comedy of the same name and in 89 minutes of running time guaranteed it will not be remade again for at least a century. The film's stars Uma Thurman and Ralph Fiennes are both renowned actors who approached the project with an understated affection for their roles. On the other hand, Oscar-winner Sean Connery wears his ridiculous villain role as a weather-controlling mad scientist like a pink fur suit that someone with a Bedazzler got a hold of. The script and direction for "The Avengers" are both abysmal, but it's Connery's Sir August de Wynter that deserves the most credit for completely destroying the film. Connery struts his way through the movie, pausing only to literally shout out one-liners that are also usually McBain-worthy puns, and inhabits the role with the measured restraint of a Norse berserker. Connery's turn as Sir de Wynter isn't just an embarrassment to himself; it's an embarrassment to the entire human race.
2. Voice on the Phone
Movie: "Phone Booth"
Horrible Dialogue: Isn't it funny - you hear a phone ringing and it could be anybody. But a ringing phone has to be answered, doesn't it?
Reasoning: Cinematic ne'er-do-well Joel Schumacher's "Phone Booth" comes from the same school of simplistic thriller effluent as "Speed" and "Speed 2: Speed on a Boat". The only positive thing I can really say about it is that at least it wasn't about a plucky female FBI agent/profiler/cop tracking down a serial killer. Among the many negative things I can think to say about it Kiefer Sutherland's role of "The Caller" is definitely the most loathsome. His zero-dimensional character is basically the hollow concept of a character made worse by the fact that it has been done many times before (and better) by movies like "Die Hard 3", which at least bothered to have the action move around and have the calls come for a reason. In "Phone Booth" we're left with Sutherland rasping menacingly about this and that accompanied by only the faintest of motivations. He exists as nothing more than a plot device and in a movie where the only other main character is confined to a 3x3 foot box that is totally inexcusable. As an added bonus he shows up at the end of the film to do absolutely nothing more than hint at a sequel. Perhaps we can look forward to "Phone Booth 2: Phone Booth on a Boat".
Movie: "Critters", "Critters 2: The Main Course", "Critters 3: You Are What You Eat", "Critters 4"
Horrible Dialogue: "Fuck!" (subtitled)
Reasoning: The toothy Furbys of the disconcertingly prolific "Critters" series would be on par with the flying piranha of "Piranha 2" had they first appeared in the movie "Gremlins 2". Instead they first appeared in "Critters"; a movie about a rapidly-multiplying clutch of fur-covered basketballs that crash land their spacecraft on earth and invade a barn to eat Billy Zane. The movie and its titular beasties (also referred to as "Krites" by alien bounty-hunter Ug) are a blatant low quality rip-off of "Gremlins" minus most of the humor and plus a whole bunch of gore. The Critters movies, hilariously enough, follow an almost identical arc to the equally maligned "Leprechaun" series. They begin with an earnest initial movie, follow up with a straight forward sequel, and then veer off to surreal "ghetto" and "space" themed outings. The only real difference between the two arcs is that somehow "Leprechaun" was considered a hot enough property to be worth two trips to the ghetto.
I am sure many of you have wildly different opinions about what villains are the worst. Feel free to email me and let me know; maybe I'll do a "SA Fan's Worst Movie Villains" article. Just don't email me bitching about how I made fun of Gary Oldman in "The Fifth Element".
More Horrible Demos
The rarely esteemed Dr. David Thorpe takes another journey through his mystical mail bag to offer critiques of a variety of unknown bands that sent him a demo. Your doctor has prescribed that you read it twice daily.
Well, I've had the misfortune of sitting around all day listening to the demos of terrible unprofessional bands, so imagine my delight when I had the opportunity to listen to the demo of a terrible professional band! The band's namesake, the deceptively female Aaron Marshall, is lucky enough to have sung with former members of Kansas and Molly Hatchet. This leads me to believe she is no stranger to the grand openings of strip malls, which will be highly beneficial to the future of her musical career.
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