Five Truly Underappreciated Bad Guys in Movies

You guys can all keep your protagonists. You know, the good guys with the dashing good looks and odd propensity to get out of inexplicably tough scenarios with little so much as a scratch? I’ll side with the bad guys, anytime. They may not smell as good, and they may not always come up on top, but they are often something the good guys aren’t. Memorable.

Who quotes Clarice from Silence of the Lambs? No one. People quote Hannibal. Who quotes Luke Skywalker in any way other than to mock his girlish whining? No one. They quote Darth Vader. That is just my point. The bad guys are often cooler, but not all of them get the recognition that they deserve. Here are five bad guys who I think deserved just a little more attention from us cinephiles.

Nathan Baesel as Leslie Vernon in Behind The Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon

I have no idea why I have not spoken of this film before now. That was a huge error on my part and one I cannot really explain. Having been breast fed by eighties slasher movies as a child, this movie is the most genuine love letter to slasher movies ever made, even surpassing the brilliant Tucker and Dale Vs Evil. And the entire movie is carried by one character: Leslie Vernon, who is played with gusto by Nathan Baesel. And everything from his mask to his charisma is perfect.

“Mommy, that strange man is standing outside in the fog again…”

The whole movie is filled with wonderful surprises and Easter eggs for the horror fan, and I do not want to say too much in risk of ruining this masterful film, but I will atleast divulge a bit about the story. Behind the Mask is a faux documentary that takes place in a world where all the fictional killers from the classic slashers you know and loved are real. A film team is following Leslie Vernon as he does his killings and explains his motivations and methods. It is funny in some places, and genuinely dark in others.

If you like horror, there is no way you will not like this film.

What is really interesting about this character is just how likable he is when he is being interviewed between killings. He explains his process, and he treats killing much in the same way any artisan would treat their craft. Once you realize that every thing he told the crew was all part of a setup for a plan that I won’t ruin here, you realize this guy transcends his “slasher” status.

I compare him to a slasher version of Heath Ledger’s Joker. Every single thing he is doing and that happens is ultimately part of his “plan”.

A great film and a great character too few of you know about.

Ray Liotta as Peter Davis in Unlawful Entry

Most people don’t remember this movie for some reason, and I thought it was pretty creepy. It stars Kurt Russell and Madeleine Stowe as a couple who experience a break in at their upscale Los Angeles home and Ray Liotta plays the cop who takes a special interest in the case and the couple.

” you think Joe Pesci is funny HOW???”

Now I do understand Ray Liotta is scary and intimidating in anything he plays, but there was just something even more unsettling about thinking of a guy like that getting paid to wear a badge and “protect” people. You get some insight into the fact that something is off with this guy pretty early on, and it only builds. Toward the end it plays out typically, but there was one scene that really messed me up and stuck with me.

The scene when Ray Liotta breaks in their house at night and watches the couple have sex from outside their bedroom door.

That is both gross and terrifying. Nothing kills a hot moment of passion more than Ray Liotta’s skin complexion.

That moment alone earns him a spot on the list.

Plus, anything with Kurt Russell is somewhat good.

Julian Beck as Reverend Kane in Poltergeist 2

I know this movie sucked, overall. And I know it didn’t hold a candle to the genuine scares and originality of the first Poltergeist, but one thing always stood out to me. Not only did it stand out to me, it kind of haunted me for many years.

Reverend Kane. There is just something about him that looked genuinely evil and dead to me. And there was good reason for that, he was dying during the entire production.

No, seriously. He was.

And if you doubt any of that, just look at him. LOOK AT HIM!

That is not makeup or special effects. That is a dying man, slamming on your screen door, telling you you’re gonna die.

And you know what did it for me? The scene when he is banging on the screen door, screaming. It just feels like he knows he is going to die and he is projecting the shit out of that onto them. If you can watch the scene where he is yelling ” You’re all gonna die in there!” and not slightly shudder knowing he died before filming even stopped on this movie, than you may dead inside. Wow, I just used every tense for the word die in one sentence.

The movie sucked just enough to offset how bad Reverend Kane freaked me out.

I understand this movie has a scene where a kid’s braces attack him, so it has no place on a list involving anything good or memorable, but I can still see Julian Beck’s dead eyes and tight, dried lips curling back to reveal his old person teeth as he forced out his lines like a parched, dying cackle.

And wouldn’t you know it, he was always sort of creepy.

Similar Posts


  1. Great list, Remy; Hitcher and Under the Mask are real stand outs, and I like how you thought outside the box with Something Wicked…

    And the finish was hilarious, because I saw the picture before I read down to it and spent the whole Angela Lansbury paragraph thinking “where the $#@% is he going with this that leads to Madea?”

  2. @Steve, Thanks,man! I am quite proud of that caption, actually. Hahaha.
    @ Ria, thank you very much. As great as this line of work is, the one drawback if you usually only hear from people when they think you messed up, so to hear from someone who actually likes what you did is a pretty awesome feeling, thanks for giving me that!

  3. Excellent list!! Its nice to see that some under the radar/lesser known films get some love. Under the mask is still a gem I’m glad I took a chance on. Something about it has a Funny Games feeling to it. Not that they’re on the same level by any means, but both are movies that can be kindof…unsettling. keep it up!

  4. Another psuedo-documentary movie about killing that is really good is Man Bites Dog. It’s a french movie about a serial killer being followed by a film crew filmed in black and white (if that doesn’t get the film hipsters running to the video store I don’t know what will… what’s that? Video stores don’t exist anymore? Damn you, Netflix!). I watched this movie on a whim while working at a video store and was very happy with the result. The movie starts with the main character killing a woman on a train then moves to him talking to the crew about how you can figure out the weight needed to weigh down the bodies of men, women and even children. It’s dark and funny and even sad at certain times.

  5. I always felt the 80’s gave us such great character antagonists but maybe it was just writing back then. I think I am the only one that wishes for a Blu-ray edition of Something Wicked This Way Comes. I actually owned that poster at one time but lost it in a move and I completely agree, you never see poster art like that any longer.

  6. @mutant turd: Man bites dog is a Belgian film. Not that this affects your post at all, but it’s something that makes me have a reason to be proud as a belgian citizen. But it was indeed an amazing film!

  7. @MutantTurd, Man Bites Dog was amazing. That first scene on the train with the old lady had me thinking I just watched snuff, messed me up for a spell.
    @JoshuaBrown, I hope for the sake of good horror every single person who reads this clicks on that. As much as I curse sequels, I LOVED that movie (so much so I made a replica Leslie Vernon mask I made hanging on my office wall) I will DEFINITELY willingly contribute to that, thank you so much for posting that.
    @Lola, come by sometime, I’ll watch it with you!

  8. I can’t believe you put a massive Game of Thrones spoiler without any warning in this article! I thankfully have watched the season already but geez that could be very unfortunate for those who haven’t!

  9. Why does everyone hate Tom Cruise? He’s a good actor in good movies. It can’t possibly be the religion thing, can it? I thought we were better than that. If there’s a scandal I missed fill me in, because otherwise I just don’t get it.

    Oh, and good list, by the way. I’ve made a mental note to at the very least check out “Behind The Mask”.

  10. @Lola, Behind The Mask was on Netflix Instantwatch last I checked. What a great movie! It progressed so well and Leslie was so good, wasn’t he? Props for featuring that movie man

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.