One of my three favorite movie genres is fantasy films. In many cases, the presence of a good villain is a key factor in my appreciation of a film. Here are my top 10 favorite villains in fantasy films. Note: I don’t include witches (there are so many I’ll have to do a separate post), and I don’t include monsters (my villains have to be vaguely human), and I don’t include villains from science fiction films.
1. Voldemort (Harry Potter series, 2001-2010) – Of course “He whose name must not be spoken” is number one on my list. Without Voldemort, the Harry Potter series really wouldn’t have a plot. Great portrayal by actor Ralph Fiennes. The no-nose look is kind of creepy.
2. The Witch-King of Angmar (Lord of the Rings series, 2001-2003) – This was the guy who rode on top of the dragon thing. Definitely one scary dude. He was also called Lord of the Nazgul. He was the chief servant of Sauron (the Big Eye).
3. Jareth the Goblin King (Labyrinth, 1986) – Played by actor David Bowie, Jareth wasn’t terribly menacing even though he kidnapped Sarah’s (actress Jennifer Connelly) infant brother. But Jareth was the most interesting character. This movie is my favorite Jim Henson / Muppet movie.
4. Lord of Darkness (Legend, 1985) – A very evil guy although his evil was tempered somewhat by his love/desire for Princess Lili (Mia Sara). Things don’t look very good for Jack (Tom Cruise) but luckily he has a unicorn’s horn and there’s a happy ending (even for the unicorn).
5. Loki (Thor, 2011) – I’m not a big fan of super hero movies but Thor is more fantasy than super hero in my opinion. I found Thor himself (played by Chris Hemsworth) mildly annoying, but I thought the performance of Loki (Tom Hiddleston) was interesting and very nicely done.
6. Governor Odius (The Fall, 2006) – I really like this movie even though Governor Odius (actor Daniel Caltagirone) has a relatively small part in the plot. Most of my friends don’t like this movie too much, but it’s one of my favorite fantasy films and Odius’ attempts to cause problems for Roy and Evelyn are just evil enough to drive the movie sub-plot.
7. Lo Pan (Big Trouble in Little China, 1986) – Lo Pan is the evil, ancient sorcerer who needs a Chinese woman with green eyes to release him from a curse. Jack Burton (Kurt Russell) is overmatched but gets some lucky breaks and defeats Lo Pan in the end.
8. The Kurgan (Highlander, 1986) – Soooo, Conor MacLeod (played by Christopher Lambert) is an immortal where, uh, well, it doesn’t matter. Lots of heads getting chopped off because, uh, well, never mind. The Kurgan (Clancy Brown) is a bad guy. Very bad.
9. Mola Ram (Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, 1984) – Mola Ram is part of the ancient Thuggee cult. I vividly remember the scene where he rips someone’s heart out of their chest and causes it to burst into flames. Ouch.
10. Evil (Time Bandits, 1981) – Yes, his name is just Evil. Pretty much all you need to know. This is a crazy Brit movie from director Terry Gilliam. An 11-year old boy has all kinds of adventures in space and time with a bunch of dwarves who’ve stolen a map from The Supreme Being.
Kaecilius (actor Mads Mikkelsen, “Dr. Strange”, 2016) – The primary bad guy, but he didn’t have much personality.
Count Olaf (actor Jim Carrey, “A Series of Unfortunate Events”, 2004) – I’m not a Jim Carrey fan, but Carrey is excellent here and I think this is his maybe his best performance.
Percival Graves (actor Colin Farrell) and Gellert Grindelwald (actor Johnny Depp, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”, 2016) – At some point before the events of the movie, the evil Grindelwald killed or kidnapped (never explained) Graves and assumes his identity.
Captain Hook (actor Dustin Hofman, “Hook”, 1991) – Excellent performance by Hoffman and on a different day he’d be in my top 10.
Captain Vidal (actor Sergi Lopez, “Pan’s Labyrinth”, 2006) – This was a very dark film in part because Vidal was truly an evil psychopath.
Imhotep (actor Arnold Vosloo, “The Mummy”, 1999) – I felt sorry for Imhotep at first but after he cruelly killed some of the American explorers, I had no sympathy for him. Excellent film.
Pennywise the Clown (actor Bill Skarsgard, “It”, 2017) – I really, really don’t like clowns. Of any kind.
Zaren and Sonoy (John Dall and Frank DeKova, “Atlantis the Lost Continent”, 1961) – Zaren is an evil advisor to the emperor of Atlantis and Sonoy is an evil astrologer/sorcerer. One of my favorite movies of the 1960s.