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Ten Deep 9.12.13: Top Ten '80s Movie Villains
Posted by Mike Gorman on 09.12.2013

" Top Ten 80s Movie Villains"

Movies from the 1980's are known for having some pretty outlandish plots, terrible special effects, memorable fashion choices and hair that both the men and women would like to forget. They are however also known for producing some of the most memorable movie villains of all time and this week in Ten Deep we take a look at the best bad guys from the decade of shoulder pads and John Hughes flicks.

10. David and the Lost Boys from Lost Boys

It goes without saying that I am a huge fan of this film if you have been following my path at 411Mania over the past few years but that does not diminish the fact that the lost boys of Lost Boys were fantastic villains that represented a shift that was occurring in how vampires were represented on film. No longer was the vampire the dour loner instead they were roaming, in a pack, reveling in their power and darkness. And as Kiefer Sutherland himself says in the clip below, there were no characters dressing like them at the time.

9. The Heathers from Heathers

A few months ago I almost fell out when I heard a passerby comment to a friend, "So I saw this movie ‘Heathers' the other night and it totally rips off ‘Mean Girls.'" Once I got over believing that someone could actually say that out loud I realized it was in a way a compliment to the bad girls of Heathers. They are the original "mean girls" and they take that mean to a new level. You start to cheer on Winona Ryder and Christian Slater as they start to exact their dark revenge on the Heathers. Though much like many headed dragon of myth, Hydra, Ryder & Slater learned that as soon as you take down one Heather another rises to take her place.

8. Jareth from Labyrinth

Jareth is the Goblin King and master of The Labyrinth in the Jim Henson directed film of the same name. Most attention given to this film falls upon the fantastical creations of Henson's workshop but David Bowie's performance as Jareth is one of the film's guiding forces. Jareth is the apparently human leader of the goblin horde and Bowie portrays him as both maniacally evil and weirdly sympathetic. Jareth is a villain that seems to fall in love with his victim in his own twisted way. It took an over the top real life character like Bowie to bring this cinematic character to life.

7. Hans Gruber from Die Hard

Hans Gruber comes from the "evil German villain" school of thought and plays into all of the stereotypes while transcending them in an amazing performance by Alan Rickman. Bruce Willis' John McClane needed a worthwhile adversary and he was presented one in Gruber. The true genius of Gruber was how he masqueraded his heist at the Nakatomi building as a terrorist incident. The character played on fears to achieve his own ends, and like most great villains his demise came in a glorious ending. In the clip below, hear Rickman's take on that final fall.

6. Ivan Drago from Rocky IV

If the Gruber – McClane pairing danced around international rivalries, Ivan Drago's assault on Apollo Creed and Rocky Balboa dives straight through the Cold War itself. Drago is a caricature of America's fears of the Russian "monsters" out there in the 80s and is possibly one of the most hated movie villains of all time for American audiences. He was a literal giant looking to knock down every American hero placed before him. We got a real look at his power in the demonstration sequence below.

5. Biff from the Back to the Future series

I chose Biff not just because he deserves a spot on this list himself, but because he is an excellent representative of the many jerk jock/prep/cool kid villains that existed across the 80s movie spectrum. Biff himself is a constant thorn in the side of Marty McFly no matter what decade he is running through. There is an immortality to Biff as he seems to be reincarnated in every generation of his family. One thing was certain, when Biff hit the screen you knew that someone was in for an onslaught of his trademark put downs, which just happen to be collected below.

4. The Terminator from The Terminator

The Terminator, in the film of the same name, is an unrelenting juggernaut with a laser focused mission of destruction. Throughout the film he transforms from simple villain to deadly force of nature that seems completely unstoppable. By the film's climax you are left wondering how Reese and Sarah will ever be able to escape the creature's pursuit. The Terminator also resonated with audiences somehow and his lines became supremely quotable as the character entered our pop culture lexicon.

3. Principal Rooney from Ferris Bueller's Day Off

If you were to ask Principal Rooney if he was a villain he would probably take great offense at the thought, but in a world where Ferris Bueller is the undisputed hero amongst heroes, Rooney can't help but be seen as the bad guy in the adventures within Ferris Bueller's Day Off . Ferris just wants to have fun and Rooney just wants to catch him breaking the rules. What pushes Rooney into true villainous territory in my mind is the extreme lengths he will go to in his obsession with Ferris. Of course these choices do end up getting him in trouble, and kicked in the face. I guess the moral of the story is, never accept the warm gummy bears from the little kid's pocket, right?

2. Cobra Kai Dojo from Karate Kid

Some of the very finest jerks the films of the 80s have to offer show up here as a group in the number two selection of the day. The Cobra Kai goons and their sensei cause all kinds of trouble for poor Daniel-san throughout the Karate Kid, on and off the martial arts mat. From their first antics early in the film to the climaxes terrible "Sweep the leg!" moment, Cobra Kai is nothing but trouble. Hard for them to be anything but bad with 80s villain mainstay Billy Zabka in their midst. In the 80s, Zabka took the a-hole roles to new levels!

And lastly…

1. The Joker from Batman

The 80s were almost over when this villain first flashed his twisted grin on the big screen, but don't hold that against him. For many fans of the Batman mythos, Jack Nicholson's turn as the green-maned, white skinned Joker is the definitive performance of the role to this day. Nicholson's Joker was over the top, wacky and downright terrifying at times. In a film called Batman, the Joker proved that sometimes top billing doesn't mean you steal the show. A definite product of the times, this Joker was by no means subtle and was totally memorable. It took the decade to nearly end for the best of the best to appear but I think you'll agree he was worth the wait.

Mad that I left out Lo Pan from Big Trouble in Little China? Upset that the Fratelli's from Goonies were overlooked? Let me know about it!

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