Top Ten Most Terrifying, Despicable and downright fun to loathe Movie Villains.

Kendall Rivers
8 min readJan 11, 2021

When it comes to villains in films over the last 5 decades we’ve been given some real doozies. But I want to particularly focus on the brutal baddies that both terrified and memorized audiences. These are the bad guys that not only brought out our hate but actually scared us, almost making us wet our pants like toddlers. These are the top 10 movie villains that had us at the edge of our seats when they entered the screen and whose performances were so palpable and so visceral that it followed their actors for most of if not the rest of their careers.

10. Deebo: Friday films.

Sadly we lost Tiny Lister Jr. on December 10th 2020, the iconic actor who played Deebo in the classic Friday films. What makes Deebo so scary is the fact that we all have known a Deebo through childhood or even in adulthood. A very real character that bullies you and does it simply because he can. As a kid Deebo made me squirm and it was because he was a nasty, mean, gigantic bully who even had his own Jaws like theme music whenever he entered the scene or was about to do some Deebo bullying.

Tiny Lister Jr. had a wrestling background and the movie utilizes that in the big fight scene between Craig and Deebo at the end of the movie.

R.I.P. Deebo.

9. Freddy Kruger: Nightmare on Elms Street movies, Freddy Vs. Jason.

Robert Englund’s iconic horror villain has been terrifying audiences for decades. Freddy was a sadistic and ugly looking mofo and if his appearance wasn’t enough to terrify you then perhaps the fact that he literally goes into your dreams, kills you in them and you end up having died a gruesome, bloody death in real life might make you at least shudder.

8. Eleanor Iselin: The Manchurian Candidate. (Original)

For everyone who knows Angela Lansbury as good natured amateur sleuth Jessica Fletcher you will be shocked with how brilliantly she embodied the sadistic, cunning, incestuous and downright evil Mrs. Eleanor Iselin from 1962 classic The Manchurian Candidate. Before Livia Soprano as the worst of all mothers, Mrs. Iselin put down her flag and claimed that victory. You’re terrified for her son Raymond as you watch this vile woman brainwash and manipulate her son into assassinating the president of the United States, but maybe even sicker than that displays a certain physical attraction to her own son which could possibly hint at sexual abuse Raymond endured as a child. A performance so good, Ms. Lansbury was surely robbed by the Oscars back in 1963.

7. Annie Wilkes: Misery.

Kathy Bates’ psychotic super fan Annie Wilkes was the nightmare of every celebrity embodied by this sicko nurse who holds up author Paul Sheldon(James Caan) in her cabin and makes his life a living nightmare. Annie’s psychotic behavior and creepily cheery smile is enough to give a kid nightmares for years. Kathy Bates won the Oscar for her portrayal and it was at the time one of the few ever Best Actress Oscars ever won for playing an evil character.

6. The Terminator: The Terminator 1984.

The role that launched Bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger to super stardom. His steely, cold and deadly lethal Terminator was the first and frankly best Terminator of the franchise. While I like most people love Terminator 2 and how they made Arnie the good guy, I still have such affection for his terrifying cyborg from the future wreaking havoc in 1984 and hunting down Sarah Conner to kill her before she gives birth to John Conner.

5. Thanos: Avengers: Infinity War.

It took about 10 years for Thanos to come through with his master plan to “balance the universe” but when he did in Avengers Infinity War he shook up the MCU like no villain ever had before.

But while Thanos is cutthroat, dangerous, a literal giant and has the deep menacing voice of nightmares, he’s also ambitious, highly intelligent, passionate and super motivated. It’s his good points that make him so scary and so dangerous more than his obvious evil qualities because his determination, conviction and passion for what he’s doing drives him and it’s that conviction that allows him to win at the end of the movie, something never seen before in a comic book superhero movie. But unlike the other monsters on this list Thanos actually has real feelings and does have a genuine love for Gamora that is actually one of his biggest weaknesses though the fact that he actually kills Gamora to achieve what he wants shows his true dedication and that dedication is downright horrifying:

And if that’s not enough to scare those watching, perhaps it’s that he does THIS to the mighty Hulk that’ll do it:

4. Chucky: Chucky movies.

I remember distinctively as a little kid catching a scene of 1988’s Child Play on cable that my Uncle was watching and when I saw Chucky charred up and wielding a knife towards that little boy I screamed like a banshee. Chucky has terrorized everyone for decades now and is one of the most evil, twisted and actually sadistically funny villains of all time, and what’s even worse is that he actually found a bride to spend the rest of their lives together murdering and causing mayhem… Hey, even sadistic evil dolls need love too, y’know.

3. Bane: The Dark Knight Rises.

For my money, if a villain can send chills down your spine by just appearing in the scene causing you to look away then that’s a true deadly force of nature and Tom Hardy’s Bane from The Dark Knight Rises had that effect on me every time he showed up.

Was it his presence? The music that played whenever he showed up? or that voice? I’d say it was all three, but especially when he literally snapped Batman’s back which was the unthinkable:

2. O Dog: Menace ll Society.

Larenz Tate’s O Dog may be young and he may not look like the most threatening thing on the surface but just try O Dog one time and see what happens to you. What makes this young kid from the hood so terrifying isn’t his size but his unpredictable, reckless, psychotic and thoroughly emotional outbursts of violence. He kills without real reason or remorse and that makes him such a terrifying presence whenever he’s on screen.

The role so haunted audiences that it took a while for anyone to see Tate outside of O Dog:

Larenz Tate is one of our most versatile actors having starred in or been apart of such films outside of Menace such as Love Jones, The Inkwell, Why Do Fools Fall in Love, Biker Boyz, Dead Presidents etc. and even has a recurring role on the 50 Cent produced Power. The brother has gone places and will continue to do so.

  1. Tommy Devito: Goodfellas.

I had a hard time choosing between O Dog or Tommy for the number 1 spot since both are so similarly reckless and sociopathic killers who kill without reason or remorse, but Joe Pesci’s performance of Tommy Devito from the classic mob movie Goodfellas is one of the finest and scariest performances onscreen and it was done with such expert skill that you forget that this fictional version of Tommy (The real Tommy DeSimone who Tommy was based on and was even worse from what I’ve read) was not actually there with you as you’re watching so it’s safe to stay where you’re seated.

Tommy might have been even more reckless than O Dog and was certainly more seasoned and a professional killer as opposed to a wild psycho kid running the streets. The classic “Am I funny” scene is one of those scenes where you are frozen in fear of what was gonna happen. It was expertly shot by Scorsese and played by Pesci, Ray Liotta and the extras:

You can’t be anymore of a sociopath than after having murdered another gangster and keeping his body in the trunk of your car you have a nice, chatty meal with your mother as if you didn’t whack a guy not ten minutes ago:

Tommy’s ability to be a sweet and charming son to his mother hiding his sociopathic tendencies expertly is apart of what makes him so terrifying. It’s the ones that smile at you and make you feel comfortable that are the scarier bad guys than the ones who threaten you outright with a loaded gun screaming your ear off.

Tommy was such a hot headed and evil son of a bitch that you can’t help but cheer when he finally gets his just desserts:

And like Tate, the role of Tommy Devito followed Pesci’s career. He even did another great turn as a real wack job in Scorsese’s 1995 mob movie Casino.

If anyone deserved an Oscar for his role it was certainly Pesci. Very well earned:

Well, I hope you enjoyed delving into the worst of the worst and if you haven’t seen any of these movies on the list what are you waiting for?



Kendall Rivers

Kendall is a screenwriter who’s a huge fan of classic tv and movies. He enjoys creating good stories and characters.