15 of the Craziest Psycho’s in Cinema!
We all love a good villain, so without further ado – and in no particular order, here are 15 of the craziest, most unhinged and most dangerous screen psychopaths of all time!
Max Cady: “I am like God, and God like me. I am as large as God, He is as small as I. He cannot above me, nor I beneath Him be.”
Max Cady is the murdering rapist antagonist from the book “The Executioners” by John D Macdonald. He is portrayed by Robert Mitchum in the black and white 1953 version of the film “Cape Fear”, and Robert De Niro in Martin Scorsese’s 1990 remake of the same name.In all versions of the story, Max is released from Prison for rape and holds a grudge against the person who he believes put him there, Sam Bowden. Max begins to torment Sam and Sam’s family, poisons their dog and makes thinly veiled threats of rape against Sam’s teenage daughter.
Norman Bates: “People always mean well. They cluck their thick tongues and shake their heads and suggest oh, so very delicately…”
From Alfred Hitchcock’s infamous 1960 slasher “Psycho.”, the clue to Norman is in the name of the film! Norman is the mild-mannered custodian of the “Bates Motel”, who seems to have a very strange relationship with his mother, and has a penchant for wearing women’s clothes. He was played by Anthony Perkins in the original film, and also played by Vince Vaughn in the shot-by-shot remake by Gus Van Sant (The less said about that atrocity the better!). Marion Crane, on the run from her boss after stealing money, is the first to fall prey to Norman’s strange idea of hospitality, and comes to a bloody end whilst taking a shower, in what now has become one of film’s seminal scenes.
Reverend Harry Powell
“I can hear you whisperin’, children, so I know you’re down there. I can feel myself gettin’ awful mad. I’m out of patience, children. I’m coming to find you now.”
Rev. Harry Powell is the main antagonist from the fantastic 1955 American thriller directed by Charles Laughton (his first and only film he directed – a crying shame.) Based on the Dave Grubb novel of the same name, the story focuses on a minister-turned-serial killer who has the words “love” and “hate” tattooed on his knuckles. He marries the widow of his old cell mate in an attempt to learn the whereabouts of $10,000. But 3 young children stand in his way and must be hunted down and dealt with! The character is based on the real life serial killer Harry Powers.
Tommy DeVito : No, no, I don’t know, you said it. How do I know? You said I’m funny. How the fuck am I funny, what the fuck is so funny about me? Tell me, tell me what’s funny!
Tommy Devito – the mafia hood from Martin Scorsese’s seminal 1990 Gangster Movie. He’s a short (never tell him that) and he’s not funny (never tell him he’s funny either – in fact, never talk to him.) Based on the true character of Thomas DeSimone, who one day – walking down the street see’s a stranger across the road. “Watch this!” He tells his friend Henry Hill, pulling out a gun and shooting the stranger for now reason whatsoever. “That was Cold Blooded!” Henry says.
“Well I’m a cold blooded cat!” Tommy replied.
Joe Pesci practically reprised the role for his character Nicky Santoro in 1995 for Scorsese’s “Casino”.
Annie Wilkes: “I’m your number one fan. There’s nothing to worry about. You’re going to be just fine. I will take good care of you. I’m your number one fan.”
Anne Wilkes in the character from the 1990 American Crime thriller Misery, directed by Rob Reiner and based on Stephen King’s 1987 novel of the same name. It stars James Caan and Kathy Bates as Anne.
In the story, Annie saves best selling author, and main protagonist Paul Sheldon for a car wreck after he breaks both his legs. Professing to be Pauls “Number One Fan”, Annie keeps him prisoner in her bedroom, and just to make good and sure he won’t escape, takes to his legs with a sledgehammer – in a scene which makes me shudder no matter how many times I watch it!
Michael Myers (No relation to the Austin Powers and Shrek Comic Actor) is a psycho who borders on the supernatural. He first appeared in John Carpenter’s 1978 horror flick “Halloween”. After murdering his sister when he was just a child, Michael spends several years in an asylum, before escaping and returning to Haddonfield to take out his murderous rage on towns teenage population, wearing an iconic white mask which bizarrely, (and not many people know this) was a cast made of the face of Star Trek’s own Captain Kirk, William Shatner.
Myers went on to appear in 7 more Halloween films (Halloween 3 breaks from continuity and doesn’t feature Michael.)
Mrs. Voorhees: [high voice] Kill her, Mommy! Kill her! Don’t let her get away, Mommy! Don’t let her live!
Mrs. Voorhees: I won’t, Jason. I won’t!
Much like his Michael Myers counterpart in the Halloween series of films, Hockey-mask-sporting Jason Voorhees (mostly just known as “Jason”), is a non speaking, supernatural relentless serial killer. From the Friday the 13th series of films, he really should be dead by now, but always seems to survive. In the original film, Jason began life as an off-screen, mentally-disabled young boy (who was dead.). But from small acorns, big trees grow, and Jason became a fully fledged, indestructible machete-wielding mass murdering maniac.
“A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.”
First featured in Thomas Harris’s 1981 novel “Red Dragon”, the first time Hannibal Lecter was seen on screen was the 1986 film “Manhunter”, with Brian Cox in the role. However, the most famous incarnation of Hannibal the Cannibal was in the 1991 Jonathan Demme film “The Silence of the Lambs”, when Anthony Hopkins took on the role. In the book, Lecter is described as a “Sociopath” because “They don’t know what to call him.” In the film, Clarice Starling simply admits “They don’t have a name for what he is”. Whatever he is, never eat anything he serves you.
“You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? Then who the hell else are you talking… you talking to me? Well I’m the only one here. Who the f**k do you think you’re talking to? Oh yeah? OK”
Travis Bickle, the main protagonist from Martin Scorsese’s (again!), bleak neo-noir psychological thriller “Taxi Driver”. Obviously traumatised by the vietnam war, Travis becomes so disillusioned by his City and all the “whores, skunk pussies, buggers, queens, fairies, dopers and junkies” who live there. Finally snapping, he begins a one-man mission to clean up the city and find retribution by either assinatiing a senator or, next best thing, saving an underage prostitute (a young Jodie Foster) from her pimp/boyfriend (Harvey Keitel), and giving her the chance of a better life. Almost relatable, Travis is one of the more sympathetic nut jobs on this list.
“You’re the problem! You’re the fucking problem you fucking Dr White honkin’ jam-rag fucking spunk-bubble! I’m telling you Aitch you keep looking at me I’ll put you in the fucking ground, promise you!”
Don Logan, the getting-on-a-bit, but definitely off-his-rocker, gangster/robber/hit-man from the 2000 Jonathan Glazer mob movie “Sexy Beast”. Sent to Spain to enlist his old mob-mate “Gal” into pulling the old “one last job”, Don is masterfully played by Ben Kingsley. You can be sure a character is bad news when he manages to put the shivers up Ray Winstone. If you ever find yourself next to him on a plane, don’t ask him to put out his cigarette. He may just do that – “on your eyeball.”
John Doe: It’s more comfortable for you to label me as insane.
The antagonist from the 1995 Mystery Thriller “Se7en”, directed by David Fincher and starring Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman and the actor we don’t talk about anymore, Kevin Spacey as “John Doe”. John Doe is a villain obsessed with the seven deadly sins. Wanting to send a message that enough is enough, society must stop tolerating sins, John Doe starts a masterful game of cat-and-mouse with two police detectives, resulting in a very dark, very disturbing, and very brilliant finale.
“All it takes is one bad day to reduce the sanest man alive to lunacy. That’s how far the world is from where I am. Just one bad day.”
― Alan Moore , Batman: The Killing Joke
Now for the Joker we could pick almost any incarnation, across multiple films and graphic novels. If we focus only on the films, the two best performances are those by Jack Nicholson in Tim Burton’s “Batman” (1989) and Heath Ledger’s in “The Dark Knight” (2008). I am torn to which one is the best, as I think they are both excellent. We shall ignore the abysmal Suicide Squad Film. Becoming insane after falling into a tank of chemical waste, which turns his skin a chalky white, The Joker embodies pure evil and would just as soon kill you as tell you a joke.
Alex Forrest: [to Dan] Well, what am I supposed to do? You won’t answer my calls, you change your number. I mean, I’m not gonna be ignored, Dan!
Alex Forrest, the unhinged femme-fatale from Adrian Lyne’s 1987 thriller “Fatal Attraction”. The Psycho who gave rise to the term “Bunny Boiler”.After a casual weekend affair with Dan Gallagher (played by Michael Douglas), Alex gets dangerously obsessed with him, and won’t admit to herself that the affair is over. Turning up unannounced, threatening suicide, threatening violence against Dan’s family and even going as far to murdering that poor little rabbit! Glenn Close has come out and said her character isn’t a villian, but a victim of her own mental problems, but whatever the case – This psycho won’t be ignored!
Patrick Bateman: I like to dissect girls. Did you know I’m utterly insane?
Patrick Bateman, the snazzy, well groomed, materialistic investment banker from the 2000 Mary Harron film “American Psycho” and the Bret Easton Ellis novel. Played by Christian Bale, Patrick is the narrator in his own story. Openly doubting his own sanity, Patrick is an unreliable narrator – does he actually commit the horrendous murders or are they all in his mind? Patrick is the personification of 80’s corporate greed and excess – a faceless world where even his friends are confused as to who is who, up to the point where they simply, no longer exist.
Amy Dunne: We’re so cute. I wanna punch us in the face.
Like Alex Forrest, here is another female villain with “Borderline Personality Disorder”, Amy Dunne is played by Rosamund Pike in the 2014 David Fincher Drama “Gone Girl”, based on the book by Gillian Flynn. Due to the complexity of the film, it’s hard to describe this character in any detail without giving important plot points away, but suffice to say Amy Dunne is “Gone”. What is most disturbing about the film is the reaction of some audiences, with some women actually justifying her actions on social media.
Are we a generation of psychos?