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Thursday, June 24, 2004

A Wretched Hive of blah blah blah. 

Now that my long adventure into the wilderness of Birmingham, Alabamer has driven away most of my daily audience, I return to you with another list thingy. Other folks are doing it, so why not me? I'm a bigass trendhopper as it is.

But I don't really wanna do comic book villains. Their "greatness" is fairly scarce, and unless I want my list to sound like everyone else's (Bullseye, Kingpin, etc), I need to cast my net a bit wider. Movies, books, comic books, whatever... though I'm going to stay contemporary and pop culturey, because that's what this list calls for.

Here they are, in no particular order.

THE BASTARD HALL OF FAME

Herr Starr, from Preacher - He's so good because he's so lovable, in his totally misanthropic, bastardly way. He wants to bring the world to order, his order, and he'll turn himself into a monster if that's what it takes. He's pragmatic, he's smart, he's resourceful, and to say that he is ruthless would imply that he had scruples to begin with. He's also entertaining as shit.

Quote: "I... have an erection." When walking down a gauntlet of tanks under his command.

Robert Carlyle as Colqhoun/Ives, in Ravenous - Utterly convincing as the fate-fucked Colqhoun, utterly nefarious as the cannibalistic Colonel Ives. His clever turns of phrase and rather cavalier attitude toward the act of murder and consumption of his fellow humans make Ives a nasty, nasty, nasty man. Witness the pivotal scene at the mouth of the cave, where the whole movie takes a 90 degree turn and marches off in a whole new direction -- Carlyle, the music, the screaming, it all comes together in a chilling (and yet oddly humorous) sequence. In a movie with a number of strong (or at least colorful) performances, Carlyle surpasses them all.

Quote: "I said no food, I didn't say we had nothing to eat. You understand?" Explaining his tale of woe to Ft. Baxter.

Henry Fonda as Frank, in Once Upon a Time in the West - Shane had recommended Lee Van Cleef from The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly, but for my money, OUATITW is Leone's best Western, and Frank is by far his most memorable villain. I'm not going to get into the discussion about lovable Henry Fonda being cast as such a bastard being arguably the best stunt-casting ever, because I wasn't alive when the movie came out so I can't appreciate what a shock it was to the audience of the time. But this motherfucker did shoot a young boy in cold blood after said boy had watched his entire family get gunned down, and he did bang the Widow McBain while at the same time maneuvering to steal out everything from under her and perhaps murder her in the process. Oh yeah, Frank's a bastard, but he's clever, too, and as liable to bite the hand that pays him as the one he's paid to bite. Those blue eyes, man. Jesus christ.

Quote: "People scare easier when they're dyin'." That may not be exact, I haven't watched the movie in like two weeks.

Pennywise the Clown, from Stephen King's It - The clown that traumatized a generation. It's easy to freak a kid out with a clown, but even in the 6th grade I was pretty savvy to gimmicky horror stunts like that. Pennywise was no stunt. His balloons, his ripping off of little kids' arms, that old drawing of him on a unicycle juggling as behind him a building full of people burned... and that cover art with the green scaly hand! Mary mother of god! Maybe it's way too proletariat of me to love Stephen King's work, but whatever. I don't give a fuck. Pennywise is the real deal, and as anyone who's not been in a coma for the past ten years knows, Tim Curry did a pretty damn good job of bringing him to life.

Quote: "We all float down here." Gah!

The Cluemaster, from Batman titles - Nah, I'm just fucking with you.

Quote: Probably something lame.

The Strangers, from Dark City - I saw this movie on opening day, at like 11am. The theatre was mostly empty (as reflected by the box office receipts.) I was alone. The opening scenes: a confused man wakes up in a hotel room, unaware of who he is or how he got there, and finds the nude body of a carved-up woman by his bed. He gets a phone call from a panicky-voiced man telling him he must leave right now, and as the man flees down the hall, we see an elevator door open... and these motherfuckers step out. Tall, gaunt, pale as snow, dressed in black fedoras and longcoats like some goth kid's vision of Sam Spade -- I audibly inhaled when I saw them. Such raw menace. Sure, The Matrix came on some time later and effectively raped Dark City of its ideas and by extension its impact, but these guys still do it for me.

Quote: Ah... nothing comes to mind specifically, but put it in a creepy British accent, and you're good to go.

Emperor Palpatine, from The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi - When Darth Vader says you're not as forgiving as he is, you are one bad motherfucker. Sure, Palpatine is in the first trilogy a variation on the Cackling Villain, but fuck if he isn't the template on which all other Cackling Villains should be based -- a man of grand vision, immense power, and an undeniably corrupt, evil bent. He's remarkably effective in the newer trilogy too, though I seem to be the rare individual who loved Episode I and thought Episode II was strictly a'ight. No one seems to pick up on what he's doing, the audience least of all, but those who watch Episodes I and II with at least a little bit of their brain operating can see Palpatine tightening the noose around the doomed Republic. Every maneuver is planned, every misstep taken into account and prepared for; Palpatine has mastered that rare trick of taking over while convincing his enemies that they are coming out on top. Palpatine is a mastermind par whatever.

Quote: "So be it... Jedi."

The Smiler, aka Gary Callahan, from Transmetropolitan - Oh, what a bastard. What a total, irredeemable, evil, manipulative, hate-inspiring, loathsome, revolting piece of diseased pigshit. I hated this son of a bitch in ways I have never hated anyone else, real or fictional, and a lot of it has to do with the fact that though all those despicable traits combined into one person are cartoonish, they are all indicative of genuine trends in society. He is every last repulsive tic and foible of humanity, and they went and made him the fucking president. Spider Jerusalem's brand of heroism was virtually defined by his ability to go toe-to-toe with the most powerful man in the world, and you didn't have a comic without the Smiler. The fucker.

Quote: "Yes, General, I am masturbating into the American flag again. It relaxes me. Do you have a problem with it? Would you rather I used you?"

That's all for now. It's late, I'm tired, yadda yadda.

Welcome back to the Ragefuck.

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