Year In Review: The Bestest and Baddest Villains of 2011

Chris Cooper (The Muppets)

How do you hate the Muppets? Mind you, I’m not talking about the movie (hence my conspicuous lack of italics). I mean how evil do you have to be in order to be the guy who is actively seeking to bring harm and financial ruin to a bunch of lovable sock puppets? That’s exactly the question answered by Chris Cooper in, you guessed it, The Muppets. Cooper artfully plays a caricature of villainy elegantly capped off with his hysterically dispassionate, “maniacal laugh, maniacal laugh.”

PigBat Flu (Contagion)

As if we don’t have enough problems blasting us from outer space, now two different species of terrestrial animals are colluding to bring about our downfall? I’m not so much incensed by this rampant virus killing off almost the entirety of Earth’s population, that I understand. But when you can make a handrail on a subway car as terrifying as chainsaw-wielding Hannibal Lecter riding a flaming werewolf, that’s devilishly impressive.

Sergei Katsov (A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas)

*SPOILER ALERT* Sergei Katsov earns his purchase on this list as much on the basis of the actor playing him as for his dastardly deeds. Granted, this Russian mobster did try to set fire to a couple of put-upon stoners as they were lashed together–thankfully Waffle Bot was there to save the day–but that is completely overshadowed by the fact that he is played by Elias Koteas. It’s one thing to be a despicable gangster, but it’s quite another when that gangster used to be a sporting-goods-wielding hero defending New York City alongside the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Oh, Casey Jones, how far you have fallen. Editor’s note: I could not find a picture of Koteas in AVHAKC3D. Can you?

Lake Sharks (Shark Night 3D)

Everyone knows to never, EVER go swimming in the ocean; or as I call it, the deep blue killing field. However, lakes are safely devoid of sharks, right? WRONG WRONG SO VERY VERY WRONG! Shark Night 3D proves that the only thing worse than one shark in a lake is all of the fucking sharks in the world in a lake. Only a one-armed teen with a spear stands a chance against the lake sharks…is possibly the greatest sentence ever.

Kyung-chul (I Saw the Devil)

I’ve said it before, and I will say it again: the Koreans are really pissed off. From the Vengeance trilogy to Chaser, nobody does hard-to-watch violence like Korea. In I Saw the Devil, one of the best films of the year in my nowhere-near-humble opinion, a government agent loses his girlfriend to a psychotic killer’s sadistic habits. What makes Kyung-chul, played by Oldboy‘s Min-sik Choi, so evil is his near-apathetic detachment from his heinous deeds. The film is actually a fascinating deconstruction of good and evil as the victimized secret agent proceeds to engage in a game of catch and release torture with the killer.

Magneto (X-Men: First Class)

I know what you’re thinking, “but he’s a good guy for most of X-Men: First Class.” And you’re right, though your incessant mental whining is unbecoming. However, as any one who has ever read a comic book, Greek tragedy, or even the back cover of The Dark Knight can attest, the most interesting villains are often the ones who begin life as the hero. Michael Fassbender gives us a Magneto we not only sympathize with, but also root for even when his means drift into a morally gray area.

The Pissed Off Tire (Rubber)

The world is a pretty messed up place, I think any given reality TV show would serve as evidence of that. But I think we can all agree that things have taken a left turn into totally fucked when inanimate objects become sentient and develop a knack for telekinetic homicide. Rubber is a wild experiment in absurdism and makes a nasty villain of a castoff piece of garbage.

Lipstick-Face Demon (Insidious)

Haunted house movies are a dime a dozen. The setup is usually the same: family moves in, figures out house is haunted near the end, struggles to escape with their lives. James Wan’s Insidious is decidedly different because, as it’s catchy tagline espouses, it’s not the house that’s haunted. The demon most responsible for the supernatural torment this family endures, apart from bearing an unfortunate resemblance to Darth Maul, is one of the freakiest specters in filmdom. One of his earliest appearances in the film, as he stands motionless in a darkened corner, is an image I will never be able to rid from my mind…or my nightmares.

Teenagers (Tucker and Dale vs. Evil)

I think it’s safe to assume we all fear teenagers. They’re rude, they’re hormonal, and they want nothing more than to kill you. Or at least, that is the situation facing Tucker and Dale, a pair of good-natured bumpkins just trying to enjoy a quiet weekend at their vacation home. A group of teens get it in their heads that Tucker and Dale are mass-murdering rednecks and decide to take them out. Luckily, they prove to be far more adept at finding creative ways to accidentally kill themselves in the process.

Shoddy Construction (Final Destination 5)

What’s that you say? You’d argue that death is the villain in the Final Destination franchise? I’d be inclined to agree with you…if you weren’t wrong. While the doomed dupes in the film play up the “death is picking on us” angle, the fact of the matter is that the real villain in this series is shoddy construction. A screw loose here, a split table leg there, and suddenly you’ve set the Rube Goldberg machine of death in motion. It’s too bad for our “heroes” that the entire world was apparently put together by drunk interns on a deadline.

Catch up with the rest of our 2011 Year In Review

Brian Salisbury has been a film critic and internet gadfly for six years. He is the co-host of FSR's Junkfood Cinema podcast and the co-founder of OneOfUs.Net. Brian is a cult film and exploitation buff who loves everything from Charlie Chaplin to Charlie Bronson.

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