Another video, another re-working of an old list. Yes, like all human beings, I can be fickle. But I also gave myself new criteria for this one, and like my list of animated villains, I ignored the ones who made their first appearances in a comic book.
25. The Phantasm
"Mask of the Phantasm" is still my choice for best Batman movie of all time. A big part of the reason for that is its villain, the Phantasm. A shadowy figure from Bruce Wayne's past who is now targeting Gotham City's most infamous crime lords. While I'm not all that concerned about spoiling a movie that came out in 1993, for the benefit of those of you who have not seen it I'll keep a lid on it.
24. Grand Moff Tarkin
The only "Star Wars" villain you will see on this list. Darth Vader was ruined by a poor showing in "Return of the Jedi" long before the prequels were a gleam in anybody's eye, and the Emperor was too stupid to win. Grand Moff Tarkin classes the joint up with a cold efficiency and subtle brutality as only Peter Cushing could deliver. Even in a galaxy far, far away... Tarkin's menace feels real.
Galvatron is on here partly for nostalgia. He endeared himself to me by brutally and quickly killing Starscream proving himself to be superior to his "past life." He then went on to fight for his freedom after being enslaved by a chaos god, before being utterly broken. Throw in a great design, a cool transformation and a terrific vocal performance by Leonard Nimoy when he's not being directed by Michael Bay and you have a memorable Decepticon warlord. The season of the cartoon show set after the movie made him even more memorable.
22. Tom Powers
The central message of this movie is that crime doesn't pay. This is a movie that has been remade and duplicated a thousand times over. It was made in 1931, so it might be old hat, but it's legacy is very important. James Cagney plays our villain protagonist who belittles his law abiding brother, is spoiled by his elderly, doting mother (think Aunt May on steroids) and learns the hard way that crime doesn't pay, and ends with one of cinema's most legendary closing shots. Plus, who doesn't love the scene where Tom Powers shoves a grapefruit in his girlfriend's face? According to Cagney, Mae Clarke's ex-husband had the grapefruit scene timed, and would buy a ticket just before that scene went onscreen, go enjoy the scene, leave, then come back during the next show just in time to see only that scene again.
20. Professor Ratigan
19. The Witch King of Angmar
The Terminator was scary because it was a killing machine that would not stop until it accomplished its mission. Now imagine you have nine of them... riding on either horses or winged Fell Beasts. Now imagine their leader is being fueled in power by an evil demigod. The Witch King of Angmar is the second most evil being in Middle Earth. A cruel sorcerer and unstoppable warrior. He is capable of leading a small squad of troops on a tiny mission, or being general of vast armies. Fear is his greatest weapon... it emanates from him and all in service of his dark master.
18. Jimmy Conway
17. Norman Bates
16. The Shark
15. Hans Landa
14. Saruman the White
13. Antonio Salieri
12. Jack Torrance
11. Hans Gruber
10. The Alien
9. Norman Stansfield
8. Hannibal Lecter
6. Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow
4. William "Bill the Butcher" Cutting
When I hear the word "evil" nobody personifies it as perfectly as the Dark Lord Sauron. A maiar spirit who gave himself over to evil itself, you can view him as a demigod... as a fallen angel... but Sauron is pure evil. Cruelty, malice, a will to subjugate all life. He has thousands of followers at his command, who worship him as their god-king. Those he cannot seduce to evil (as he did with Saruman), he'll drive insane (as he did with Denethor). His very gaze can cause despair as he sees all within his tower. The One Ring is merely an extension of Sauron... and all who possess it will be destroyed from within as it seeks to find its way back to the hand of its master. Sauron was originally motivated by a love of order as he sees free will as chaotic and seeks to enslave all life on Earth before looking at his creator and showing him what he has done to all of creation. The two most iconic symbols of his power are the Great Eye, seeing all there is to see; and Barad-dur, an impossibly high tower held up by Sauron's will alone... in the land of Mordor, where the shadows lie. He may not be the embodiment of all evil, but Sauron is truly evil's greatest servant.
1. Michael Corleone
"It's not personal, it's just business." While that was true most of the time, a lot of the time he was just kidding himself. It was the greatest performance of Al Pacino's career, and the greatest film Francis Ford Coppola has ever directed. To this day, everything stands the test of time and it will continue to do so for generations beyond.