A Face Only A Mother Could Love: Five Visually Terrifying Movie Villains

remy swagger

Do you know most of the reason Ted Bundy got away with so many of his atrocious crimes initially was because he was considered a very good looking man for his time period (the ugly 80’s, as I so affectionately call them)? You see, we are a visual society, and we want everything laid out for us in as simple a manner as possible. Think about someone like Ozymandias from Watchmen. No doubt that his dashing good looks were a key element used in disarming us to just how evil (?) he really was. But in some cases of fiction, there is no mistaking the bad guys from the good guys, because the bad guys look so, well, BAD.

When evil looks like what we are taught evil is supposed to look like, it makes it that much easier for us to avoid it. But if a character is completely vile, without a single redeeming quality, and he looks absolutely horrifying, that only adds to our fear and apprehension about that person, making the performance resonate even more with the viewer. Here are five examples from film where it wasn’t exactly hard to tell the bad guys from good guys, and it wasn’t exactly easy to shake those bad guys from your mind’s eye after having seen them.

Tim Curry as Lord of Darkness in Legend

remy on a monday

This picture is awesome if you imagine him singing Bohemian Rhapsody, which would be fitting as well for its subject matter.

In all my life, I have yet to have the visuals of this character, played with unrelenting conviction by Tim Curry, surpassed in any movie. Never have my eyes seen evil so perfectly represented on screen. He is, and always will be, what I imagine the Devil to look like. And though I know he is “The Lord of Darkness” in Legend, we ALL know who Curry is portraying. Dick Cheney. Okay, that joke might have been funny seven years ago. MIGHT have.

I know there have been MANY version of Satan portrayed on-screen, and often in many different visages (I loved DeNiro in Angel Heart as well), but Curry commands your attention when he is on-screen in this film like few other characters ever have. And everything, from his off-putting elegance to his sexuality, which really shouldn’t work with that aesthetic,  just somehow merges perfectly to make one of the most memorable and scary characters ever cast to film. And to top it all off, he totes steals Ferris Bueller’s girlfriend from a super effeminate Tom Cruise.

ULTIMATE pimp move, right there. Scientology is STILL pissed.

Gary Oldman as Mason Verger in Hannibal

remy on a sunday

Still more attractive than Anne Hathaway.

I want to begin this by making a disclaimer that people who were maimed in accidents are not monsters. Some circumstances are beyond our control, and just because someone is scarred or disfigured does not make them “scary” or bad. The thing is, Mason Verger WAS scary. He was bad, in the worst ways possible, so to fear him on all levels, makes sense.

Okay, so maybe the character in mention here was pretty much a vegetable in terms of what he can do to you, physically, remember what it says in the title of this article: VISUALLY terrifying. Any person who can look me in the eyes and say they could walk into a room, not knowing Mason Verger was in there, and NOT react to seeing him by slightly peeing or letting out a whimper is a liar. Unless they work in healthcare, in which case, this just part of their rounds. But for the rest of us, this guy is unbelievably disturbing. Again, my apologies if that comes off as insensitive.

Honestly, I just never got over this makeup job. You look at this character, covered in practical,  old school, makeup  and you measure it against a CG character like Two-Face, who is ALSO supposed to all scarred up, and you realize, old school special effects will ALWAYS win. Also, super memorable performance (as always) from Oldman here. He was confined to little in the sense of what he could convey under that makeup, and did a fantastic job of conveying that evil and madness to all of us.

Linda Blair as Regan in The Exorcist


That is the same face I make when I fart and I don’t want my girlfriend to know.

I already spoke in depth this week about how I feel about this movie here, but I will reiterate it right now. Linda Blair’s role in The Exorcist is one of the scariest roles ever committed to film, and the film has almost the exact same impact on me now as it did when I first watched it, decades ago. It scares me, almost relentlessly so. Just the idea of evil using pure innocence as its vessel, and ultimately, defiling the innocence of that girl, USING THAT VERY GIRL, was and still is, astoundingly unsettling to me.

From the things that come out of her mouth, to the perfect makeup job and practical effects (except for the “kinda cheesy but still scary” head spin), this movie was a horror movie perfect storm. Every single element came together to make this an experience most would find unforgettable. And here I am, years after the fact, still talking it up as if it came out yesterday, proving that they did something right with this film. But a child masturbating with a crucifix? I am still shocked that this movie got made, to be honest. So messed up.

Heath Ledger as The Joker in The Dark Knight


His lips are only cut like that because his jaw dislocates so he can swallow a Batman whole.

I know anytime we talk about the Joker, some haters come on the thread and say he gets way too much credit for his performance, and we are all whipped into a fervor because of his death and not the actual performance, but there are also people who say bacon sucks, so honestly, fuck some people. You are entitled to your opinion as I am, mine, but in this case, people who think Ledger was overrated as The Joker are wrong. There. I said it. Someone had to.

What I say, and what stands as truth is, that performance gave everyone who saw it chills, and yes, his death added to that, but even had he not died, I can promise Heath Ledger’s performance as The Joker not only forever redefined the character (gone was the genuine humor and insane laughs, replaced by a sort of manic, drug induced, whimpering laugh. The true cackle of a madman) but redefined just how chilling and effective the bad guy can be, and how, in some cases, the bad guys are WAY more charismatic than the good guy.

But again, remember the name of this list, VISUALLY TERRIFYING. And if you saw this dude coming at you in an alley, mumbling to himself, his greasy, green hair swinging in his eyes like live, writhing tentacles, you would most certainly know that your life expectancy just decreased by about 87%.

Christopher Lloyd as Judge Doom in Who Framed Roger Rabbit


Can’t. Stop. Watching.

Yup. I went there.

Shoutout to Unreality readers for reminding me his last name, which I called Plummer earlier cuz I am an ass, but I digress.

No idea why they wanted to make a bad guy sofa king scary in a kid’s movie (oh wait, Disney loves traumatizing kids, I forgot that for a second) but those final ten minutes of Roger Rabbit, when Doom is revealing his plot about he killed Eddie’s brother, and then his real form starts to present itself, it is seriously an incredibly scary and unsettling moment for adults and children alike. The idea that cartoons could want to commit genocide against their own kind is sorta heady, and you add to that the blatant psycho side, and that God-awful voice, and you have the makings of a visually terrifying movie villain, Disney or not. And did I mention that VOICE?  Oh my god, THAT VOICE!!!!!

I may get made fun of slightly for this one, but I am standing by it.


I just peed a little, proving this still has a profound affect on me.

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  1. Folks, folks, folks … Anne Hathaway is Katherine Heigl-in-training. She ain’t ugly, per se, but the joke is funny.

    Only one above I get jazzed about is Tim Curry. The rest? Meh.

    No love for Jeff Goldblum falling to pieces in THE FLY? Really?

  2. I thought you were trolling about the Hathaway thing and I mentally read the insult in Roger from American Dad’s voice. I imagine your feelings are like Pierce from Community’s hate for Billy Joel; irrational and hilarious. Keep it up.

    I think people hopped on the Dark Knight bandwagon and pretended that TDKR was actually a good film largely based on residual feels from Ledger’s death, but to take anything away from his performance is just silly. It was awesome.

  3. DON’T YOU KNOW ME BOY!!???!!

    Couldn’t agree more about Tim Curry.
    I got your back on the Ann Hathaway joke too. She Hath-a-way of being considered hot/talented for no reason.

  4. The mutants from Alexander Aja’s the Hills have Eyes made me very uneasy, starting with the rapist dude, and the one with the harness and rubber jonny, hell even Ruby who was the nice one irked me.

    Also, I just cant get over Pinhead. The only thing which ameriorated Pinhead effect was the just awfully bad Hellraiser movies.

    Also Pennywise might look like fucking Bozo but as a coulrophobia suferer (possibly because of IT and fucking Clown House), he is still the most terrifying villain I have ever seen in film.

  5. I agree that the Joker is a fantastic villain and not overrated at all, however I wouldn’t agree that he’s that visually terrifying. I think that same look on someone else would not have been effective.

    Not sure about the Hathaway joke, her acting is meh but she’s not ugly.

  6. The ringwraiths in Ralph Bakshi’s 1978 The Lord of The Rings scared the crap out of me. I can still freak out a friend of mine by doing their voice. “Come back, come back, to Mordor we shall take you!.”

  7. Not bad, except for one thing:

    Anne Hathaway is gorgeous, and it just wasn’t funny regardless of my opinion.

    Great call on Tim Curry as The Devil. EPIC costume win for an evil character.

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