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Most evil character ever

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What character would you consider the most evil character ever in film, and why? Not which character was the "best villain" - Khan, for example (from STII:TWOK) would probably not make this list, even though he ranks pretty high as far as cool villains go. I mean, which character portrayed evil at its darkest?

Is it a character with no redeeming qualities?

Or one who overcomes their redeeming qualities, quenching what light they do have?


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Two immediately come to mind:

Silence of the Lambs: Hannibal Lecter

The Highlander: The Kurgan

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Well, there's that little girl in The Ring ...

This might overlap with the "most amoral characters" thread, but I'd nominate Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. She certainly overcomes her redeeming qualities by quenching everyone else's light!


"The most important thing is that people love in the same way. Whether they are monarchists, republicans, or communists, they feel pain in the same way, as well as hatred, jealousy, fear, and fear of death. Whether you are a deeply religious man or an atheist, if you have a toothache, it hurts just the same." - Krzysztof Kieslowski

"...it seems to me that most people I encounter aren't all that interested in the arts. Most of the people who are my age ... appear to be interested in golf, fertilizer, and early retirement schemes.... I will stop caring passionately about music, books, and films on the day that I die, and I'm hoping for Top 100 album polls in the afterlife." - Andy Whitman

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I understand the difference between this question and "best villain," but is it different from "most amoral character"?

The two most stunningly amoral characters I have ever encountered were not in film, but in literature.

One is Graham Greene's six-toothed mulatto in The Power and the Glory, a relentlessly venal and nauseatingly ingratiating character with a limitless capacity for treachery and self-interest (the version of the character in John Ford's 1947 The Fugitive, a cleaned-up and watered-down reimagining of Greene's story, doesn't compare).

The other is Count Smokrev in Michael O'Brian's Father Elijah, a dissipated old heathen of almost satanic ferocity whose debate with Father Elijah is a nearly Dostoyevskian highlight of that book.


“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

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If we're talking about evil characters in literature, I would have to include Iago from Othello . There's no struggling like Angelo from Measure for Measure . There's no explanation given. He's just evil through and through.

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I'd go with Iago as well if we're including the theatre.

If not, I'd nominate the whack job Kevin Spacey played in Seven. I walked away from that movie feeling soiled and deciding I never wanted to see it again -- and I mean that as a compliment.


It had a face like Robert Tilton's -- without the horns.

- Steve Taylor, "Cash Cow"

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I hate to give him any sort of acknowledgement--I don't want to hurt his feelings any more than the American public already has, the poor, poor, poor man...

But Mickey and Mallory in Stone's Natural Born Killers pretty much did it for me. I left there hating Ollie for putting that out.

Too bad he's defecting to France.


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David Thewlis' Johnny in Mike Leigh's Naked

Really? Even more than Greg Cruttwell's character?


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My sister and I had this exact converstaion yesterday. Our agreed conclusion:

Ted Levine as "Buffalo Bill" in Silence of the Lambs.


"The things we enjoy are channels through which the divine glory strikes us, and those who love and delight in any good thing may yet learn to love God." --Gilbert Meilaender

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Dracula's pretty evil in Bram Stoker's Dracula.

You're talking about the Coppola one right? What disappointed me in that movie -- well, the list is pretty long, actually -- but my main complaint was that I thought they tried really hard to make him *sympathetic* and *romantic* instead of evil. Which drove me up the wall.

That and Keanu's english accent...


It had a face like Robert Tilton's -- without the horns.

- Steve Taylor, "Cash Cow"

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How about the character Peter Cook plays in Bedazzled? Well, maybe not.


A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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You're talking about the Coppola one right? What disappointed me in that movie -- well, the list is pretty long,  actually -- but my main complaint was that I thought they tried really hard to make him *sympathetic* and *romantic* instead of evil.  Which drove me up the wall.

Thank you. I've been saying that for years. Glad someone else feels the same way.


"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
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Anyone ever see Pacific Heights? I would have to say that Micheal Keaton's Carter Hayes was so subtly evil that, while I enjoyed the film, I cannot watch it at all and never have since I saw it in first run. Makes me question whether I should indulge in rental property even today. By comparison, Hannible Lector is over the top.


"During the contest trial, the Coleman team presented evidence of a further 6500 absentees that it felt deserved to be included under the process that had produced the prior 933 [submitted by Franken, rk]. The three judges finally defined what constituted a 'legal' absentee ballot. Countable ballots, for instance, had to contain the signature of the voter, complete registration information, and proper witness credentials.

But the panel only applied the standards going forward, severely reducing the universe of additional basentees the Coleman team could hope to have included. In the end, the three judges allowed about 350 additional absentees to be counted. The panel also did nothing about the hundreds, possibly thousands, of absentees that have already been legally included, yet are now 'illegal' according to the panel's own ex-post definition."

The Wall Street Journal editorial, April 18, 2009 concerning the Franken Coleman decision in the Minnesota U.S. Senate race of 2008.

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A few poor examples come to mind. Keyzer Soze for one... Dracula in Nosferatu for another. The demon in Fallen is a good one, but if we allow demons or movies with Satan in them that breaks open a whole new category.

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The scientist in Event Horizon who's determined to take everyone to hell was pretty darn evil.

I'll also concur whoever meantioned the villain from Highlander

Obviously that piece of "pure, concentrated evil" from Time Bandit

"Mom! Dad! Don't touch that! It's evil!"

[touch]

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Aranovsky talked about Requiem for a Dream as a horror movie with the drugs as the monster. That's a pretty evil monster.


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Jason:

: Really? Even more than Greg Cruttwell's character?

Dude, after I read Jeffrey's post but before I read yours, that's exactly what I was going to write.

Dale


Metalfoot on Emmanuel Shall Come to Thee's Noel: "...this album is...monotony...bland, tripy fare..."

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Ralph Fiennes'  Amon Goeth in Schindler's  List.

Yes! Talk about a character who stamped out all hope of redemption for himself and others. He personifies the most evil aspects of Nazism and Anti-semitism. And yet there are amazingly human touches that prevent him from becoming so demonized we can't identify with him. In particular I'm thinking of his interview for a maid in which he refuses to get too close to a Jew because he's concerned that she might catch his cold. Chillingly effective!

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Ralph Fiennes'  Amon Goeth in Schindler's  List.

Yes! Talk about a character who stamped out all hope of redemption for himself and others. He personifies the most evil aspects of Nazism and Anti-semitism. And yet there are amazingly human touches that prevent him from becoming so demonized we can't identify with him. In particular I'm thinking of his interview for a maid in which he refuses to get too close to a Jew because he's concerned that she might catch his cold. Chillingly effective!

Im not sure I found any redeeming qualities about him--maybe Im afraid to. I guess I always viewed his behaviour related to the maid as his internal conflict between hatred of the Jews and his grandiose love of self. A character like that truly frightens me compared to the many villains and monsters that Hollywood may conjure up.

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Such an incredible performance by Ralph Fiennes, too. Ironically, I think that his character and performance is what saved that film from melodramatic blandness.

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As for Buffalo Bill - he's a psychopath, i.e. insane, not evil! When the bullet shoots through the window at the end and we see him gasping for breath like a fish in daylight, he's just pitiful. Scares the hell out of me though.


"There is, it would seem, in the dimensional scale of the world a kind of delicate meeting place between imagination and knowledge, a point, arrived at by diminishing large things and enlarging small ones, that is intrinsically artistic" - Vladimir Nabokov

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