Warnings: One entry is pure nightmare fuel, I’m afraid. But do not worry—I will warn you before it shows up.
Five Bad Guys Who Made Their Forgettable Movies Unforgettable
Folks, sometimes a movie is bad or bland or forgettable. It happens. Some people make a movie with high hopes that it will be grand and it just fades away into obscurity because things happened to make it suck. Most of the time, those movies come, they flop or do mediocre business, and then they just recede quietly into the night, to be mentioned occasionally when somebody says, “Wasn’t that one guy in that one movie?”
But sometimes, something extraordinary occurs. Everything may still suck, the movie may be bland and boring, it may all still be bad…but the villain comes through to save the day. The filmmakers cast that one brilliant actor who fills the role like he was born to do it. Suddenly, the banal, trite, mediocre, or rotten film, while remembered for being a total stinkbomb—is suddenly rendered incredibly awesome because it had a fantastic villain in it. Well, here are my top five.
Despite the fact that this movie was a serious money-maker, between Bella Swan trying to get herself raped and dead and Death By Striptease (no, seriously—it happened), I think plenty audience members in New Moon were just about ready to ditch and go home—or would have already, had it not been for Taylor Lautner’s pecs. That is, until Michael Sheen showed up.
He walked in with that gorgeous, silky black wig, those shined shoes, that brilliant suit, those red contacts, and some Italian phrases. Believe me—I did not necessarily want to like him. I not only hate the movie, I hate the source material. Canon Aro is a tenth-rate phony villain made of wet cardboard, with little motivation beyond “Evil will always triumph because Good is dumb”. But somehow, some way, Michael Sheen took the lame-ass mustache-twirling Dumbledore-wannabe Aro and turned him into a scenery-chewing, sexy, LIKEABLE villain. He oozed charm and class from every pore, put the moves on everyone he looked at, and tore the heads off of insubordinates for fun. The fact that he had some of his lackeys pile-drive Edward Cullen helped, too. However, in spite of that, he still manages to captivate his audience by rubbing his hands together that way and forcing uppity hypocrite vampires to their knees in front of him—where they belong.
#4. Lord Darkness
You did not see this movie for pretty unicorns, that sexy black dress, and Tom Cruise (okay, maybe you went a little for the black dress). You went for TIM CURRY AS THE DEVIL. From the massive black horns to the cloven hooves to the glowing eyes, everything about Lord Darkness is creepy and scene-stealing. He says his lines in that deep, reverberating voice, those fangs jutting out every time he grins. Without Darkness, this film might not have been the breakout role for Tom Cruise that it was—because when it comes to Legend, Darkness is the one that everybody thinks about.
Fern Gully: The Last Rainforest is an anvillicious film with one message in mind: pollution is bad. And they beat you over the head with that until you have a concussion. In fact, the message was so anvillicious and irritating that it’s widely regarded as a sappy, sugary film that is just plain irritating with its constant lectures that come every two minutes and never stop, either. But yet again, Tim Curry saved the day—and in this case, it was pretty bad news for the film itself.
Hexxus is the embodiment of evil pollution, threatening to destroy the rainforest and all of its pretty fairy inhabitants. Except not only is Hexxus’s animation and dialogue some of the best, they also voiced (and sung!) him with Tim Curry—and suddenly the general message to the audience became, “Pollution is COOL and it is SEXY and it is AWESOME—POLLUTION ROCKS!!!” And if you need further proof of this statement, just watch him sing “Toxic Love”. Then try to deny that you want to get it on with an oil slick.
#2. The Sheriff of Nottingham
Kevin Costner was in this movie? Who cares! Alan Rickman is in it and he plays a guy who cancels Christmas and can’t rape a woman with all that racket going on outside! Anybody who watches Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves spends most of their time wondering when the Sheriff of Nottingham is gonna show up again. Here is a movie that was literally saved by the villain—without Alan Rickman totally hamming it up and being allowed to run free and wild with his character, this movie would have been a failure in every way possible. I mean, come on—look at these quotes!
Sheriff of Nottingham: [to a wench] You. My room. 10:30 tonight. [to another wench] You. 10:45… And bring a friend.
Sheriff of Nottingham: I will cut out your heart with a SPOON!
Guy of Gisborne: Why a spoon, cousin? Why not an axe?
Sheriff of Nottingham: Because it’s DULL, you twit. It’ll hurt more.
Mortianna: …recruit the beasts that share our god.
Sheriff of Nottingham: Animals?
Mortianna: From the North.
Sheriff of Nottingham: You mean… CELTS. They drink the blood of their dead.
Mortianna: Yoke their strength.
Sheriff of Nottingham: Hired thugs… Ahh, brilliant.
Sheriff of Nottingham: What a beautiful child. So young, so alive, so unaware of how precarious life can be. I had a very sad childhood, I’ll tell you about it sometime. I never knew my parents; it’s amazing I’m sane.
Sheriff of Nottingham: Now I have heard that Robin Hood may still be alive. Either tell me where he may be hiding, or you will all hanged and we will catch him anyway and do the same thing to him.
Sheriff of Nottingham: [after he stabs Sir Guy of Gisborn] At least I didn’t use a spoon.
Sheriff of Nottingham: Wait a minute. Robin Hood steals money from my pocket, forcing me to hurt the public, and they love him for it? That’s it then. Cancel the kitchen scraps for lepers and orphans, no more merciful beheadings, and call off Christmas.
* * * * * * *
Now. There is one more on this list. Just one more—and, yes, once again it’s Tim Curry. I will acknowledge there to be a pattern here—he has a knack for turning villains into Awesome. But remember that warning up there, for disturbing images? It wasn’t for Lord Darkness. It’s for this one. The previous four villains were all made famous or sympathetic by being unintentionally charming or cool or awesome or funny or sexy. This last one isn’t. I think you will know exactly who I am talking about when I give you the more specific warning.
DO NOT SCROLL PAST THIS POINT IF YOU ARE TERRIFIED OF CLOWNS.
Look at him.
No, seriously. Look at him. Just LOOK AT HIM.
You can’t, can you?
Tim Curry played Pennywise the Clown in a terrible, forgettable, badly-done TV adaptation of Stephen King’s IT. That is one of his books that should never be adapted for television—it’s way too long for a big-screen movie, much too involved with so much of the story involving mental images and power of the mind and connections and stories spanning years worth of time, which is way too hard to translate to the screen, and way too foul and perverse for a miniseries (underage sex in a sewer. The end). But they tried anyway, and the end product was a hacked and slashed mess with the majority of the story and message and theme and really good stuff removed for time constraints, and anything else cut for the sake of being made for TV (did I mention underage sex in a sewer?). This one was definitely a movie that would have faded away and nobody would have been the wiser that it even existed.
Except they cast Tim Curry as Pennywise.
Folks, the entire cast of the film was terrified of him. No joke—nobody would hang out with him while he was in costume, and half of them wouldn’t even approach him when he was out of it. And that is not unfounded terror—just scroll up and take a look at him again. I am not scared of clowns and am glad to have been blessed with avoidance of that phobia, but…
PENNYWISE THE CLOWN IS FUCKING TERRIFYING.
Even people who have never seen the adaptation refer to Pennywise. Halloween costumes of freaky clowns are modeled after Pennywise’s face. When people—any people, whether they know the movie or the story or not—when they think of scary clowns, he’s the one that comes to mind. And I don’t think anybody is unfamiliar with Tim Curry’s pure evil and high-octane nightmare fuel recitation of Stephen King’s famous line: “They float…they all float…and when you’re down here…you’ll float too.”
You’re completely freaked out now, aren’t you? No, don’t you try and lie and say you aren’t. You are. You can go hide under your bed now. I am already way ahead of you.