Aug 06 2012
Jonathan Pryce as Mr. Dark in Something Wicked This Way Comes
The traveling carnival is an utterly terrifying concept in itself. A group of strangers and outsiders travel from town to town, where they build a small amusement park for a week at a time, and then they move on. And carnies and oddities have always compelled and terrified people (please tell me you guys have seen the Tod Browning classic Freaks?) so it makes sense that this movie would be somewhat unsettling.
It may look silly by today’s standards, but when I was a kid, and I knew Mr Dark could probably charm my Mom, it messed me all up inside.
Obviously any character the late, great Ray Bradbury creates is going to be multi-layered and memorable, but Jonathan Pryce plays Mr Dark just subtle and charming enough that, at times, even we are fooled by him and we KNOW his intent.
While some members of the younger generation weened on torture porn might find this film slow and dull, Jonathan Pryce as Mr Dark just makes an already frightening subject matter even that much more foreign and overwhelming because he is everything a bad guys ISN’T supposed to be. He is charming, and well dressed, and dapper. So that alone charms all the adults. It is the children who see what he really is, and we, along with them.
The movie comes from a time when the posters were sometimes as breathtaking as the films themselves.
Mr Dark may not slash throats or watch people have sex from another room, but in some ways, he is the darkest character on the list because he takes something none of these others do: A child’s innocence.
Wow, I really can’t believe I just typed that.
Rutger Huaer As John Ryder in The Hitcher
I know I have talked about this movie and this man before, but I have to again, because it genuinely made that much of an impression on me. To me, Rutger Hauer was ruthless and without reason in this film. He puts the main character into some scenarios that are truly stomach turning. And there is a calmness to his insanity that makes him feel like the most calculating and dangerous man on the whole planet when you watch him.
Don’t let his steely blue eyes fool you, he is pure evil.
And I will give some credit to the reboot, which cast Sean Bean ( a pre-de-headed Ned Stark) as the lead, but nothing can touch the original. Just feel how tense this initial exchange is between C Thomas Howell ( the C Thomas Howell of my generation) and Rutget Hauer, just after Howell he picks him up:
What do you do once you realize you may have just picked up a psychopath?
This is the movie all parents should force their kids to watch when they first get their license to scare them into never picking up hitchhikers, or maybe even never driving for that matter.
Ben Stiller in Heavyweights. Ben Stiller as a roided out douche who picks on fat kids. You cannot fail with that formula.
Dad from The Lost Boys. Sure, he was only scary for about four minutes, but in those four minutes, he was scary as hell. Plus, that was a great plot twist.
And let us not forget he was trying to bang their Mom. That is EXTRA evil.
Tom Cruise as Vincent in Collateral. I hate Tom Cruise just as much as everyone else, but when he is good, he is good. And he was really good in this film as a emotionless assassin.
Ben Kingsley in Sexy Beast. The only reason this isn’t in the main list is because I would not have shut up about it. One of the best bad guys ever portrayed, hands down. You wouldn’t think Ghandi would be such a badass, but you were wrong. Weird Al called this years ago.
Angela Landsbury in The Manchurian Candidate. I want to make a “Murder She Wrote” joke here, but this role deserves too much respect for that. I still think of the Eleanor Shaw character as the ultimate dark matriarch. Kinda like Madea.
I’ll take “terrible ways to end an article” for 500, Alex.
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