Darth Vader is perhaps the most widely recognized villain in the history of cinema...and for good reason. Vader is the ultimate destroyed and twisted soul. A walking, (heavily) breathing testament to the seductive dangers of Evil itself.
One of cinema's first mass-murders, this one also had the distinction of being a CHILD-murderer and molestor. Doesn't get much more evil than that. Peter Lorre gives a stunning performance as the universally feared and loathed Hans Beckert.
Perhaps the most terrifying thing ever featured in a "childrens' movie" Gmork, like Darth Vader, is actually just the face of a Greater Evil.
Gmork is a sinister, sardonic, cackling vampire-werewolf with a growl that seems to emerge from a bottom-less well of pure and unadulterated hatred for all things living, beautiful, and good.
In short he is the PERFECT ambassador of Evil, specifically an evil known in this film as "the Nothing"-- a slyly brilliant concept at the heart of this movie that owes a debt to existensial philosphy. Here, "the Nothing" is the direct opponent of imagination and hope- a life-erasing, all-consuming force of apathy and despair.
Before his career in stand-up comedy (See Nightmare on Elm Street 2 through...forever) Freddy Krueger was one of the most diabolically ingenious horror creations to ever hit the screen. The razor-fingered ghoul--that's right, RAZOR-FINGERED GHOUL-- haunts teenagers in their dreams, terrorizes and eventually murders them in their sleep. Talk about evil.
Bela Lugosi's corny, genteel, smooth-talking, uber-Romanian Dracula is beyond iconic in the way its influence has endured over the years. And he can turn into a fishing-line suspended bat that bounces up and down just outside mansion windows!
Mrs. Danvers, played by Judith Anderson, is one demented, scheming, utterly wicked force of villainy in this great, gothic tale. (Can you guess which one she is???) Hitch brings his talents to American soil for the first time.
Easily one of the greatest alien creations in movie history, the Predator creature is at once futuristic and tribal, a fearsome and savage hunter, and a wizard with sophisticated technology. It's heat-vision and impressive cloaking device were innovative and will remain vivid in our memories for years to come.
So I lied. Someone does do crazy just as well or better than Jack. And that's Dennis Hopper. This time it's as the highly disturbed Amyl Nitrite huffing, Pabst Blue Ribbon swilling, Freudian clusterfuck of a monster named Frank Booth.
The Soviet Hockey team was America's most feared villain in all of sports. Bigger, stronger, faster, and better than everyone, they absolutely dominated the world of hockey for nearly two decades. Yeah, they were a bunch of fuckers alright.
With a name like HANS GRUBER you better be a real villainous bastard. Alan Rickman doesn't disappoint.
Some of the most memorable and often most purely evil of the villains in cinema. Consideration here relies heavily on depth and development of character, with a few exceptions where sheer diabolical energy may supercede all else.
Anti-heroes are distinct from pure villains, and will hopefully get their own list soon :)
It should also be noted that I've only drawn from films I've actually seen AND enjoyed.
As always, suggestions and feedback are welcome and appreciated. Thanks for viewing!