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rumble54daddyo

Most Frightening Villain Of All, Ever

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Most of the best actors in film history have delineated monstrous villains -- frightful villains. Some -- like Jimmy Stewart -- have only hinted at deranged villainy, ala his beautiful Anthony Mann westerns.

 

But THE scariest villain of all time?

 

My choice -- Mitchum, as Max Cady in "Cape Fear."

 

The great filmmaker Martin Scorsese remade this film, and did a superior job in many ways. BUT -- Scorsese cast the greatest actor of our time, DeNiro, as Max Cady -- and his whole film fell down. DeNiro isn't even a fraction as terrifying as Mitchum. DeNiro's Cady is a monster, as surely as The Wolf Man or Godzilla or Jaws, right down to the Freddie Krueger he-ain't-dead-yet ending.

 

Mitchum -- and I'm a horror-film buff, a suspense-film buff, a crime-film buff name it, I've seen most of'em -- is the scariest thing I've ever seen on film. Purely human, and purely evil. I do not know what the hell the man had inside himself, or whether it was sheer talent. But he unleashed it.

 

The only performance I've ever seen that was in the same league was Cagney's Cody Jarrett -- but even Cagney never plumbed the depths of human evil like Mitchum.

 

Watch the film again, if you can. Somehow, some way, Mitchum plumbed the depths of the worst of us. He captured, for all time, what we tell ourselves that we don't want to be

 

Cape Fear, indeed.

 

rumble54daddyo

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Mrs Iselin (Angela Lansbury) in THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, truly the most chilling character ever committed to film. No one, and nothing, else even comes close.

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Boy howdy. Excellent choice. A great actor in an astonishing part. Pure evil.

 

But -- as far as frightening goes --she lacked the sheer physicality of Mitchum's imminent evil.

 

By that I mean -- if left to your own devices, who could you physically overcome -- Lansbury's Mrs. Iselin, or Mitchum's Max Cady?

 

My answer would be that Lansbury, although undoubtedly a superior actor to Mitchum, and by God there aren't many, could not present the awful physical threat that Mitchum did as Max Cady.

 

Mrs. Iselin is even more evil than Max Cady. She is horrendous, monstrous, evil to the core, and it's a towering performance, up there with the best we've ever seen. The question is -- was she more frightening than Max Cady?

 

rumble54daddyo

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darth-vader1.jpg

 

Mitchum is great in Cape Fear and Night of the Hunter, but I don't find him all that frightening.

 

When I was little, I used to think Darth Vader was the most frightening villain of all time. Then I found out who was holding Vader's leash. That character was played by a little-known Shakespearean-trained actor very few people had ever heard of - and yet he's still the most frightening villain of all time for me, because he manages to undermine that which should be most precious to all intelligent beings: democracy.

 

Runners-up? Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter and Kevin Spacey as Keyzer Soze. I would never want to get on their bad side.

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Jesus wept. Horrendous.

 

I only went with "Cape Fear" becaus it was a realistic suspenser, and not a unique adult fairy tale.

 

"Leaning ... leaning ... leaning on the everlasting arms ...."

 

BRRRR-R-R.

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Beautimous choices, and great reasons why -- although they're pretty modern movies.

 

Still -- hard to beat.

 

How about Peter Lorre in Fritz Lang's "M"?

 

Way ahead of its time -- and Lorre putting a human face on sheer evil. Great, great actors, like Hopkins, Spacey and Lorre can do that -- and make you question where your sympathies lie.

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Damn. Nearly a checkmate, if not completely checkmate, pal.

 

88 years later, and "Nosferatu" is STILL the scariest vampire movie ever.

 

Not in the least due to the scary, scary Max Schreck -- who, to this day, makes you believe he was actually a vampire.

 

I LOVE Bela Lugosi, and I'm a Tod Browning fan -- but compared to Murnau & Schreck, "Dracula" was an old-dark-house mystery.

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> {quote:title=rumble54daddyo wrote:}{quote}

> My answer would be that Lansbury, although undoubtedly a superior actor to Mitchum, and by God there aren't many, could not present the awful physical threat that Mitchum did as Max Cady.

> rumble54daddyo

 

If all you can conceive of is physical threats, then you have no concept of what real villainy is.

 

Apart from her masterminding the Red Chinese brain-washing of her own son to make him the assassin of a newspaper publisher, a senator, the senator's daughter (whom that son had just married), and a presidential candidate to put her nincompoop, demagogue of a husband at the top of the national ticket (how's that for physical threats?), Mrs Iselin figuratively grabs her own son's balls and sucks them up though his throat when she plants that kiss on his mouth, all in the name of her imperial ambitions.

 

Max Cady, and everyone else, are two-bit street thugs by comparison.

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Look, I'm sorry -- I was trying to present the most frightening villain.

 

If I've given the impression that my only criterion was physicality, then we're both on the wrong track. Godzilla has us loused up in that department.

 

As far as portrayals of evil go, Dame Judith Anderson or Dennis Hopper might have us BOTH loused up.

 

I was talking about sheer fright -- excuse me if I wasn't.

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Well movie villians don't "scare", just intrigue me. I might say when I was much younger, The Tall Man in "Phantasm" was a scary villian.

 

tallmanrocks.jpg

 

I'm afraid that *real life* has cornered the market this time.

For me the real frightening villian is the President of North Korea. ( Hollywood has its work cut out for them. )

 

*Kim Jong-il*

kimjongil.jpg

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Cagney, Mitchum, Lansberry, Lorre, Hopkins. Their characterizations of evil are right up there. For the times in which those movies were made, those actors showed us the worst personification of evil we had ever seen to that point.

 

HOWEVER, (and before you point out that this movie is not and never will never be a classic as those mentioned earlier, let me apologize in advance) none of them can touch Heath Ledger's performance in the recent Batman: The Dark Knight. His scene in the hospital with Two-Face is one of the most chilling things I've seen any actor do - ever. Ledger's overall performance in that movie, of course, rightly earned him an Oscar. It is already a classic. It was a '10' in an otherwise '2' or '3' movie.

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Patty McCormack as "Rhoda Penmark" in The Bad Seed (1956).

 

I watched The Bad Seed the last time TCM broadcast the thing. Patty McCormack's performance convinced me Patty person MUST be evil. However, I recently watched Patty McCormack play a telepathic teenager in the One Step Beyond episode..."Make Me Not A Witch" (1959). Patty McCormack was just as nice as could be and I decided Patty was just acting when she did the Rhoda role.

 

Rusty

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If looks could kill...Jack Nicholson as "Jack Torrance" in The Shining (1980).

 

I have a personal connection with Nicholson's Jack Torrance character. A few years ago, when my week always included "hangover Saturday" and one or more freshly scrubbed Jehovah Witness/LDS teens rang my doorbell at eight o'clock in the morning and I answered the door and I looked at who was on my doorstep and evil thoughts seized my concious...well, I'm sure that to those young folks, I must have looked just like Jack Torrance after his possession by the Overlook hotel's bad spirits. I know I looked something like Jack Torrance in The Shining because those young doorbell ringers would just throw their Watchtower or Book of Mormon at me and run away.

 

Rusty

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