The Lord of The Rings Trilogy, The Hobbit Trilogy (2001-2014)
This guy is pretty much the embodiment of pure evil. Heck, for the majority of the movie, he’s not even an embodiment… just an evil evil all-seeing eye.
City of God (2002)
First among villains that scared the sh*t out of us, since he’s an unpredictable monster in what’s not strictly a monster movie.
Cape Fear (1962 & 1991)
Max Cady is relentless, literally going to the ends of the earth for revenge. And he’s terrifying in the process.
The Dark Knight (2008)
There’s reason Batman and the Joker have been antagonists for the better part of a century: because the Clown Prince of Crime laughing chaos is the perfect foil to Batman’s grim, studied quest for justice.
The Reverend Harry Powell
The Night of The Hunter (1955)
We’re not sure we’ve ever enjoyed hating a movie character more than this self-righteous, yet utterly despicable reverend. Man, we really want to smack him in the face.
The Silence of The Lambs (1991) and sequels
Dr. Lecter enjoys fine music, is soft spoken, and sympathetic, yet he eats people’s body parts and has to be kept fully restrained. Yet… we still kinda like him. Hannibal’s complexity makes him one of the greatest movie villains of all time.
It’s rare to see an honest dose of humanity mixed in with movie villains, much less in 80-year-old films about child murderers, but when we see Hans Beckert’s clearly trapped in his own psychological prison, it changes the entire tone of the story, and that certainly makes it worth a shot on our list.
No Country For Old Man (2007)
Perhaps the only thing more terrifying than realizing the humanity in the villain is coming face-to-face with an utter lack of humanity. And that’s what Javier Bardem manages to portray an Anton Chigurh.
Norman Bates is certainly a psycho, but it’s a chillingly human kind of crazy. He’s a nice young man who loves his mother, but in the most twisted way imaginable.
Blue Velvet (1986)
Looking at Frank Booth’s twisted perversions is almost, just, maybe like looking into a dark mirror at ourselves. And that’s what makes him the most frightening – and greatest – villain in movie history.