The thing I love about kids is they’re essentially stupid. I should know, I used to be one. When you sit down to watch a flick with your kids it’s not like watching a movie with a bunch of post-graduate art students who want to ‘immerse themselves in stylistic dialogue’ or feel suicidal if it’s not ‘quintessentially Tarantinoesque’. Kids like it simple. They want goodies versus baddies. They want the goodies to look awesome and fall in love with each other and the baddies to look baaaaaad and die a horrible death until it really hurts.
The mark of a truly great kids movie is one which sends its target viewer to sleep at night dreaming about Princess Leia OR having nightmares that Darth Vader is outside their window and about to ‘get them’.
As my wife consistently reminds me I am, in fact, the biggest kid in our family, therefore, I feel sufficiently qualified to write this list of the nastiest ladies and naughtiest misters ever seen on the big screen.
SID PHILIPS – TOY STORY (1995)
The kid who tortures toys gets his comeuppance when he bites off more than his heavily braced teeth can chew and messes with the wrong cowboy pull string doll and Space Ranger action figure. On a related note, when I was a kid I swear blind my Evil Knievel winked at me once. Seriously.
BIFF TANNEN - BACK TO THE FUTURE (1985)
Hang on a minute? Biff’s the villain? He’s tall and handsome, likes fast cars, wears Levi turn-ups whilst running around school with his mates grabbing girls and lifting up their skirts (it was 1950’s America – it was completely fine to do that stuff back then). Whereas Marty McFly plays on a skateboard, his nerdy Dad read’s comic books and his best mate is a weird old man with long white hair called Doc? Hmmmm. Fuck this – Biff’s my hero!!
SHERE KHAN – THE JUNGLE BOOK (1967)
There’s a very strong argument to be made for any number of Disney villains meriting a place on this list – Scar (The Lion King), Cruella De Vil (101 Dalmatians) and Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty) to name but a few. Shere Khan may not enjoy as much screen time as his contemporaries and he is certainly not as complex or interesting. However, in George Sander’s voice over performance, we have the most villainous sounding villain in the history of animated film. That, in my book, makes it a done deal.
ACE MERRILL - STAND BY ME (1986)
A young Kiefer Sutherland produces a solid performance as Ace in this brilliant ‘coming of age’ movie. Ruling the roost over his gang armed only with an evil stare, harsh language and the occasional game of mailbox baseball. The film climaxes with one tormented kid standing up to Ace and giving him a taste of his own medicine. “Suck my fat one, you cheap dime store hood” – definitely a line which will only work in the movies. Trust me.
HARRY & MARV – HOME ALONE (1990)
Slapstick comedy – guaranteed to make kid’s laugh out loud. And nothing makes my kids piss their pants more than seeing the hapless burglars, Harry & Marv, chase after Macaulay Culkin whilst tripping over toy cars and getting smacked in the face with an iron. Comedy gold.
QUEEN GRIMHILDE – SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS (1937)
The term ‘grow old gracefully’ gets kicked into touch by the wicked Queen in Walt Disney’s first feature length animation and arguably most frightening to date. No pretty little stepdaughter’s going to piss on this cougar’s doorstep.
Despite numerous attempts, nobody does the evil witch better, creepier, or sexier (is that weird?) than the original. Alright maybe Charlize Theron – just.
MAJOR ARNOLD TOHT - RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981)
Ronald Lacey – the bloke who played ‘Harris’ in Porridge – pulled off a career defining role as the evil Gestapo interrogator with a strange line in travel coat hangers. Movie law dictates the more evil the villain, the more grisly demise imposed upon them. And you can’t get much worse than being melted to death by the man upstairs.
CHILD CATCHER – CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG (1968)
A pretty safe bet as an ever-present on all lists relating to movie villains who scare the shit out of kids. The Child Catcher was not actually in the original Ian Fleming novel but created by none other than Roald Dahl – scriptwriter for the movie and no slouch when it came to writing with children in mind.
Any plans to bring the stage adaptation more up to date would probably have to start with swapping lollipops for mobile top-up cards and/or 20 Lambert & Butler.
WICKED WITCH OF THE WEST – THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939)
After retiring from acting, former kindergarten teacher Margaret Hamilton was a very popular guest speaker at schools across America. Inevitably she would be asked to perform a few lines followed by the legendary cackle of her most famous movie incarnation. When she duly obliged it would often be met by stony silences in auditoriums packed with ashen-faced school kids as the realisation dawned on them that the Wicked Witch of the West was standing right in front of them. Any more questions for the nice lady, kids?
DARTH VADER – STAR WARS TRILOGY (1977 – 1983)
The ‘Sithfather’ of movie villains. It’s difficult these days to remember just how frightening the Dark Lord was as we now live in a world where we know he was originally a decent man just trying to get by in the galaxy with a wife and kids on the way until his best mate chopped his arms and legs off and left him to die next to a lava flow. To be fair that would test most people’s faith in humanity.
But before George Lucas pissed on his life’s work, in the original Star Wars trilogy we bore witness to Darth Vader in his most twisted and evil form. You couldn’t even pull up a little too close to Hoth in your Star Destroyer without him force choking the fuck out of you. Although in that example old wighead Bronson had that coming for years – especially for what he did to Ant Jones and Danny Kendall. The bastard.
Any Harry Potter fans wondering how on earth Lord Voldemort hasn’t made this list – the guy had eight movies to kill a short-sighted kid armed only with a stick. And failed. Get over it...