I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder if Orion. I’ve watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tanhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time like tears in rain. Time to die.
With those final words, Blade Runner’s Roy Batty cements himself as one of cinema’s great villains (and indeed, since the plot revolves almost entirely around his actions and desires, one of its greatest villain protagonists). As he dies on that rain-lashed rooftop, we understand exactly why he became the way he was. Under different circumstances, he might have been the hero of the story.
The following three villains are nothing like Roy Batty. These bad guys revel in their own wickedness; they might even consider kicking puppies a hobby. And while they’re not the most morally complex bunch, their unwavering devotion to depravity makes watching their exploits an absolute delight.
1. Darryl Revok, Scanners: I honestly can’t remember what Revok hoped to accomplish in this early Cronenberg film–something about mutating babies in the womb and building a psychic army, I don’t know. What I do remember is the thrill he seemed to get out of using his powers to explode heads. Michael Ironside’s little sideways smirk and constant Kubrick Stare communicate pure sadistic joy. You sense his menacing presence long after he leaves the screen.
2. The Kurgan, Highlander: This amoral Immortal lives for the battle–the rush of taking a fellow warrior’s head and raping his woman before his blood cools. Between battles, he unwinds by making lewd gestures at nuns and mocking priests. Clancy Brown’s aggressive, over-the-top performance makes it easy to love-to-hate this ancient swordsman.
3. Angel de la Guardia, Cronos: The primary antagonist of Guillermo del Toro’s take on vampire mythology is a schoolyard bully all grown-up, a common thug with delusions of refinement–vain, ambitious, and just plain mean. He wants his uncle to hurry up and die so he can inherit his vast fortune–and he thinks nothing of venting his frustration on an elderly antique dealer. I find it tragic that the talented Ron Perlman so often finds himself typecast as the uncultured tough guy, but let’s face it–he was born to play this role.
[Originally written June 25, 2012.]