It’s essential for an action movie to have a great villain. The role is supposed be, above all, the main foil for your story’s do-gooder protagonist, but a truly memorable villain is far more complicated and engaging. Everybody remembers Darth Vader, quasi-brainwashed father of Jedi, right?
Unfortunately, sometimes the follow-through on making a believable bad guy gets lost along the way, and the antagonist of the story becomes a bit too far fetched. Occasionally, the off-kilter baddie is something to be The evil snowman in Jack Frost or a faux superhero like the Toxic Avenger actively try to be in on the bad guy joke. Other times, villains are obviously exaggerated to overplay their enemy roles. But then there are the ones that teeter on the edge of absurdity, either because they’re so outrageous that it works or that they’re so outrageous that they’re simply memorable.
Here’s 10 of the most ridiculous in cinema history.
10. Bullseye in Daredevil
Sure, there was cool scene that saw Colin Farrell’s hammy character kill an annoying goon in a bar with a paperclip doesn’t make up for the fact that, like the rest of the movie, the villain in the woeful 2003 big-screen adaptation of Daredevil is patently nonsensical. The pitch meeting about what could have been a Punisher-esque hard-ass vigilante probably went something like this: “His name is Bullseye, so he can throw stuff very, very, accurately. Get it? Get it!?” It didn’t help that the film starred Ben Affleck running around in red leather, but Bullseye is the main reason Daredevil is considered a very forgettable comic book adaptation.
9. The Snakes in Snakes on a Plane
Let it be known: If your movie is based entirely on a joke, the movie itself will probably be a joke too. Snakes on a Plane does admittedly bask in its B-movie glory — who wouldnt want to watch Samuel L. Jackson scream “I have had it with these motherfucking snakes on this motherfucking plane!” over and over again? — but it barely rises above it. The simple idea of snakes running (or crawling?) amok on a plane is audacious enough of a concept, but Snakes on a Plane is exhibit A of when you shouldn’t let the internet dictate what your movie should be like.
8. Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg In The Fifth Element
It’s hard to be more ridiculous than Chris Tucker’s infamously unrestrained performance in director Luc Besson’s bizarrely ubiquitous 1997 sci-fi actioner, but Gary Oldman takes it to the next level. Maybe he was inspired by how over-the-top Besson allowed him to get in 1994’s The Professional, but Oldman’s southern fried space bad guy is like if Snidely Whiplash’s South Carolinian brother time travelled to the future and blasted off to another universe. The performance is great in an out-of-this-world bad way.
7. The Three Storms in Big Trouble in Little China
John Carpenter’s 1986 cult classic tall tale is supposed to be exaggerated. What else would explain an unexplained ancient monster just walking around the sewers of San Francisco? The thing is that the sorcerer’s three heavies — known as the Three Storms, whose powers represent thunder, rain, and lightning — tip past the hyperbolic action and wind up being too much. In the film’s climax, when Thunder inexplicably balloons in size and explodes to fend off Kurt Russell’s macho protagonist Jack Burton, you don’t even need to ask yourself why. You’re too busy wondering how this movie and these three ever made it to the screen in the first place.
6. Chucky from Child’s Play
Of all the gimmicky horror villains, of which there are many, the voodoo serial killer’s spirit that manifests into an evil children’s doll named Chucky is probably the most ridiculous. Horror schtick of this variety is usually saved for micro-budget schlock, and yet auteur-friendly United Artists and Hollywood studio MGM decided they wanted to get into the outrageous horror movie kitsch business and release Child’s Play. Chucky works in part because of how inherently absurd the idea of an evil doll is. Too bad the sequels couldn’t manage to balance it all out like the original.
5. Jason Voorhees in Jason X
Like some screenwriter realizing venomous snakes let loose on a commercial flight could make for an interesting debacle, so too was the idea behind the tenth movie in the seemingly unending Friday the 13th series. After Jason went to hell in 1993’s Jason Goes to Hell, the only other conceivable place to let this abused camp counselor’s son run wild was in outer space. This interpretation of Voorhees was, like most of the ridiculous villains on the list, made with a winking nod to its own stupidity. How else would Jason suddenly turn into an even more unstoppable serial killer cyborg in the film’s climax? At least there’s that.
4. Terl from Battlefield Earth
A lot of ink has been spilled explaining how this train wreck of a movie was made, though not as much ink it took to print Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard’s thousand-page source material tome. But the attention to the disaster is very important because it highlights John Travolta’s embarrassing performance as lead villain Terl, a 9-foot tall alien creature called a Psychlo, even more. From the platform shoes, the space biker get-up, the conehead, the natty dreads, to the borderline obscene codpiece, Terl has all the makings of a memorably preposterous bad guy.
3. The Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers in C.H.U.D.
How can you beat cannibalistic humanoid underground dwellers? Unfortunately these freaks of the subterranean city are schlocky horror movie fodder, but the idea behind homeless people terrorizing New York’s citizens after being turned into radioactive monsters by errant toxic waste is better than most other craptastic low budget horror movies out there.
2. The Leprechaun from Leprechaun
The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is filled with blood. 1993s Leprechaun is perhaps best known as actress Jennifer Anistons film debut, but it also can boast about its folkloric baddie’s kitschy novelty. The Leprechaun of Leprechaun is the perfect distillation of other ridiculous villains. There’s the character’s unreasonable longevity like Jason (How has there been seven Leprechaun movies?), not to mention the fact that in the fourth installment he went to space; there’s the childlike innocent found in Chucky; it has a dumb costume like Terl; and was lazily contrived, like the snakes from Snakes on a Plane, except in this case the screenwriter was inspired to create an evil irish mythical creature after watching a Lucky Charms commercial.
1. Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man in Ghostbusters
No villain is more outrageous than Mr. Stay-Puft. He’s ultimately effective because of the ironic switcheroo that sees Dan Aykroyd’s character trying to think of the most innocent thing in the world to conjure before New York City meets its untimely doom. It also makes for an explosive — and sticky — finale. But imagine trying to convince a movie studio that the centerpiece to your big effects-laden comedy would be a humongous Godzilla-like monster made from marshmallows? The reboot notwithstanding, an idea that crazy simply wouldn’t be able to make it to the screen today.