A Career Woman – My Top 15 Villains

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Today I present a short film I finished back in college, my Film 2 final assignment. The class was expected to write a five-page script, produce and direct the story and photography, as well as digitally edit the footage. I shot A Career Woman on Kodak 16mm film with an Arriflex 16 SR2. Working on film was delightful, the perfect reason to mention it when I can. I miss it!

Damara: Jannelly Avelaine
Dean: Tino Sutras
Lauren: Veronica Cancio De Grandy
Assistant Director: Pablo J. Cervino
Assistant Camera: Beverley Harris-Alvarez
Script Supervisor: Donisha Prendergast
Sound Recordist: Miguel Peralta
Boom Operator: Solange Gomez
Gaffer/Grip: Matthew Boda

Confession: I usually cheer for the “bad guy”, especially if they’re an impressive villainess. My character Damara was an attempt at a femme fatale who succeeds, like Catherine Tramell in Basic Instinct. Female antagonists have always enticed me more and I love to read, watch and create them. Women’s history, their physicality, what they can wear and their civil battles will always keep the gender more interesting, attributes that are a perfect skeleton for a villain/vigilante. Thinking about it, most of my favorite evildoers are women.

I’ll take this opportunity to share my top 15 villains, characters I admire and reference as if they were world-saving heroes. Majority are from motion pictures and do represent the three main decades I’ve been around for, 1990’s to the present. In putting this list together, I’m fully aware there are other characters worthy of a typical countdown, but I rather curate something more personal. The fictional people below are in my genes and knowing them is getting to know me.

– 1 –

Catherine

Catherine Tramell

Motion Picture: Basic Instinct
Written by Paul Verhoeven
Produced by Alan Marshall
Directed by Joe Eszterhas,
Cinematography by Jan de Bont
Edited by Frank J. Urioste

Portrayed by: Sharon Stone

Synopsis:
Catherine Tramell is a highly intelligent author of crime novels that seem to mimic her life. Her recent book’s main death scenario becomes reality when her rock star lover is murdered in bed, stabbed relentlessly with an ice pick. Nick Curran, the homicide detective put on the case, played by Michael Douglas, falls into the spiral of ‘who really did it?’.

Tramell’s mind is her greatest weapon, which is all she needs to distort the rules of fiction. She’s able to manipulate everyone involved with her sexuality, lies and fearlessness. Catherine can easily drop people and lure them back when she wants. Her beauty and fortune allows her to be with whoever she wants and anyone can easily become a victim to her charms. Instinct also holds an iconic scene: the hypnotic interrogation flash, though my favorite is right before when she’s picked up. I knew then she was going to have a lot of fun.

– 2 –

Nancy

Nancy Downs

Motion Picture: The Craft
W: Peter Filardi/Andrew Fleming
P: Douglas Wick
D: Andrew Fleming
C: Alexander Gruszynski
E: Jeff Freeman

Portrayed by: Fairuza Balk

Synopsis:
Natural-witch Sarah Bailey (Robin Tunney) moves to LA and is befriended by social rejects at her Catholic high school, introverted burn victim Bonnie (Neve Campbell), swimmer Rochelle (Rachel True) who is dealing with racism and their unofficial depressed leader Nancy Downs. They’re Wiccan practitioners seeking a “fourth” to complete their coven. Sarah gives them the power needed to become one with their God, change wrongs in their lives, yet is faced with her sisters’ growing egos, disagreements and her own insecurities.

Nancy had me when she yanks on a noose in her school locker, considering a full figured security guard as the coven’s fourth. She is a sad soul, overly entitled, sensitive and impulsive. When she’s enriched with power, her intent is set loose in town and wreaks havoc, dressed fabulously from start to restraints. My explanation of her is off-putting but she does it so well. Balk did her justice! When I think of Nancy, it’s usually one of the two scenes below, both unbelievably crazy and amazing, though the second is a SPOILER (which is worth waiting for).

SPOILER VIDEO BELOW

– 3 –

Courtney

Courtney Shayne

Motion Picture: Jawbreaker
W: Darren Stein
P: Stacy Kramer/Lisa Tornell
D: Darren Stein
C: Amy Vincent
E: Troy Takaki

Portrayed by: Rose McGowan

Synopsis:
Courtney Shayne is the evil stepsister to the high school clique ‘the Flawless Four’, including Julie Freeman (Rebecca Gayheart), Marcie “Foxy” Fox (Julie Benz) and the most beloved, Elizabeth “Liz” Purr (Charlotte Ayanna). For her 17th birthday, equipped with disguises, rope and duct tape, Purr’s friends decide to kidnap her out of bed for a surprise breakfast. As a fun touch, Courtney uses a jawbreaker to gag Liz. When it’s time to pop the prank, the trio find their friend dead due to a sweet asphyxiation. The girls panic and need to think of a plan. Ms. Shayne pitches a rape-homicide and does everything possible to pull it off and maintain the story, even transforming witness/creepy Liz admirer Verne Mayo (Judy Greer) into Vylette, Purr’s “replacement”, to conceal the truth. The group slowly dismantles as the investigation goes on and prom night approaches.

I adore Ms. Courtney Shayne! Her perspective on life hooked my cheek and reeled me into her web of lies. Courtney uses savage morals to get through the last of high school without a manslaughter charge, no matter the price, no feat spared. Plus, some of the best tag lines and explanations come out of her mouth. My favorite scene and the perfect glimpse of Courtney Shayne’s intelligence and eloquent persuasion is when she tells “Vylette” her stance on eating in public. I completely agree with her!

– 4 –

Akasha

Queen Akasha

Novel: The Queen of the Damned by Anne Rice
Motion Picture: Queen of the Damned
W: Scott Abbott/Michael Petroni
P: Jorge Saralegui
D: Michael Rymer
C: Ian Baker
E: Dany Cooper

Portrayed by: Aaliyah

Synopsis:
Apart of a phenomenally written franchise and portrayed on screen a couple of times, this particular installment tells the story of an ancient royal of Earth’s vampire race, Queen Akasha, with her companion King Enkil, terrorized the world until the couple bore of it and took long bat naps, trusted to Marius de Romanus (Vincent Perez), a trusted legend and Lestat’s (a main character throughout the series) creator. Lestat (Stuart Townsend), violin player turned rock star wakes Akasha twice with his music, the first incident actually causing Marius to abandon him. The second time inspires the mad Queen to walk her Kingdom and rule the world again, a decision that forces others out there coffins to stop her.

I was Akasha’s at first sight in the movie adaptation and get very emotional and passionate when I talk about her. She is a lethal character that lives by allegiance or death, offering a fun or brutal ride. Her origin and story should have been the focus!

My mother and I saw this flick in the theater and both of sat up when Akasha was on screen. Her time in the flesh: LEGENDARY!

I still get goosebumps and beg to be imploded from a fierce hand wave. Aaliyah impressed me, perfectly expressing the Queen’s elegance, grace and deadly birthright and will. We all lost an actress on the rise to serious a career.

– 5 –

Fester_&_Debbie_Addams

      Debbie Jellinsky

Motion Picture: Addams Family Values
W: Paul Rudnick
P: Scott Rudin
D: Barry Sonnenfeld
C: Donald Peterman
E: Jim Miller/Arthur Schmidt

Portrayed by: Joan Cusack

Synopsis:
The second film of the close-knit dark humored ghoulish family, Addams Family Values introduces their new addition, Pubert. Professional widow Debbie Jellinsky steps in as nanny when the family stops hunting for one, all scared away by Pugsly (Jimmy Workman) and Wednesday’s (Christina Ricci) baby homicide failures. She gets the job and has her eyes set on Fester (Christopher Lloyd), the rightful heir to the family fortune. Morticia (Anjelica Huston) and Gomez (Raul Julia) approve the match, blind to Jellinsky’s real intentions that test the family’s love and loyalty.

Charles Addams is one of my favorite cartoonists and illustrators, the father of The Addams Family (1938), which spawned fun cartoons, TV series and films. Debbie Jellinsky is a modern addition who fits right in, her morals and tolerance are off-kilter, full of drama, theatrical, dangerous and has killed every man she married, which ideally, makes her perfect for Fester and his family. Yet, she’s in it for the money and tries to murder him several times. Her interactions with Fester are hilarious and her frustration becomes a character of it’s own. She’s never had to work so hard but her drive keeps ticking. I’d love to show my favorite scene as the main clip but it’s a SPOILER. So I have the next best one.

– 6 –

urban-legend-horror-review-9

Hooded Killer

Motion Picture: Urban Legend
W: Silvio Horta
P: Gina Matthews/Michael McDonnell/Neal H. Moritz
D: Jamie Blanks
C: James Chressanthis
E: Jay Cassidy

Portrayed by: Watch to find out!

Synopsis:
A group of students at a New England university are slaughtered one by one, revealing suspicious connections between everyone, pushing them to investigate each others pasts and current activities. The villain is inspired by popular urban legends and reenacts them, playing a twisted game for revenge.

Growing up, my mother allowed me to watch all sorts of films, especially the genre we love in common: Horror! Urban Legend is among the most memorable with terrifying scenes, authentic and rigorous deaths true to there folklore, characters deserving of serial execution and a stunning killer reveal with a lovely motive that won me over. I did not expect the result and recommend it for movie night in the dark, certainly for Jared Leto, Tara Reid, Rebecca Gayheart, Alicia Witt, Michael Rosenbaum, Joshua Jackson, Robert Englund or Loretta Devine fans. The opening scene sets the tone and is a slasher Hall of Fame-r.

– 7 –

Tiffany (H)

Tiffany

Tiffany Ray

Motion Picture: Bride of Chucky
W: Don Mancini
P: Grace Gilroy/David Kirschner
D: Ronny Yu
C: Peter Pau
E: Ranky Bricker/David Wu

Portrayed by: Jennifer Tilly

Synopsis:
There are two images above but they are of the same person, before and after. The blonde bombshell is from Bride of Chucky  the fourth movie of the Child’s Play/Charles Lee “Chucky” Ray slasher franchise.  As a man, Chucky (Brad Dourif) was known as the “Lakeshore Strangler”, a thieving serial killer. He is pursued by the police, shot and chased into a toy store. Coincidentally, he dabbles in voodoo and is able to leave his dying body and possess a child’s doll. A few flicks later, his old girlfriend, Tiffany Ray tracks the doll down and brings her man back. The reunion goes sour and Chucky is forced to kill her, yet gives Tiffany the same courtesy, partnering up again to find new bodies.

Child’s Play is my childhood’s traumatic horror film, which was heightened when I received a My Buddy doll, the perfect inspiration for life-like nightmares and pranks. The addition of Tiffany really revived the series and added a cool comedic edge, acting as Chucky’s bubbly and gruesome female counterpart. She’s a psychopath with love on her mind, extremely sensitive and impulsive but does have a drop of good, her greatest weapon. I believe Jennifer Tilly was the prototype for the character, her voice, body and attitude, along with a touch of Marilyn Monroe and torment, makes Tiffany loveable and scary. Human to doll, Tiffany’s rebirth is epic. “Barbie . . . Eat your heart out!” is one of my favorite lines of dialogue and use it every appropriate moment.

– 8 –

Ingrid

Ingrid Magnussen

Novel: White Oleander written by Janet Fitch

Motion Picture: White Oleander

Synopsis:
Astrid, a young teen, must experience adolescence in California’s foster care system due to her mother’s earned murder conviction. The broken family communicates through letters and mom, Ingrid, is still able to influence her daughter with her harsh personality and attitude, as Astrid is passed along between several foster-mothers. She is forced to raise herself and choose whom to be, while having to endure extraordinary moments and the greatest mental battle: Does Ingrid love her?

The icy Ingrid Magnussen fully represents the name of the book, a beautiful yet poisonous flower that grows abundantly, one she loves to have around the house in glasses of milk. I debated her existence on my villain list because of the novel’s subject matter and emotional relationship, written beautifully by Fitch. Ingrid can be compared to Joan Crawford, lost in her hierarchical ego and fearlessness, capable of shocking behavior.

Unlike Crawford, Magnussen doesn’t abuse Astrid and is more sisterly, but does abandon her for petty reasons. Ingrid is a mother as much as she can be with pen and paper and is actually successful by becoming the little devil on Astrid’s shoulder. Yes, she does sound terrible but I was enchanted by her speech and broken rules. The dynamic between these two characters is a bittersweet and intense roller coaster.

There is a motion picture adaptation but, of course, the original work is superior. I did appreciate the casting choice and the performance given for Ingrid was stellar. I love Michelle Pfeiffer! She has it all: talent, conviction, exquisite beauty and grace. Thinking about it, I’m not sure who else could play this role. I would love to be apart of the audition process!

– 9 –

2655025-nomak

Jared Nomak

Motion Picture: Blade II
W: David S. Goyer
P: Peter Frankfurt/Tomas Krejci/Patrick J. Palmer/Wesley Snipes
D: Guillermo del Toro
C: Gabriel Beristain
E: Peter Amundson

Portrayed by: Luke Goss

Synopsis:
In the second of three movies inspired by the original comics of the character, Blade (Wesley Snipes), a vampire slayer, though part vampire himself, must take on a new race of bloodsuckers named Reapers, which are growing rampantly, led by Jared Nomak, a descendant of royal bloodline. As the clan gets stronger, another undead group helps, new and old friends get involved, yet the fight ultimately lies between Blade and Nomak.

The Blade movie trilogy had many interesting details and people but the actual character is a bit disappointing. In all his final fight scenes, he has difficulty and I cheer for the villain by default. Jared Nomak was a clear stand out for me. The Reapers are tough creatures to battle and elevate the vampire realm, Nomak’s history is very interesting, visually appealing and talented in combat. He is successful accomplishing most goals by masterfully utilizing his supernatural strengths to have everything fall in place. I can never forget Jared and Blade’s last brawl, which is a SPOILER. So, check out their first round during a pivotal scene in the movie.

– 10 –

Jenny

Jenny Hager

Novel: The Strange Woman written by Ben Ames Williams

Motion Picture: The Strange Woman
W: Herb Meadow
P: Jack Chertok/Eugen Schüfftan
D: Edgar G. Ulmer
E: Lucien N. Andriot
E: John M. Foley/Richard G. Wray

Portrayed by: Hedy Lamarr

Synopsis:
Jenny Hager, a beautiful yet cruel girl, daughter to an abusive drunk father (Dennis Hoey), marries the richest man in her village (Gene Lockhart) and becomes the most influential wife in town (New England, 1800s). She actually helps the community with her husband’s money and resources. Behind his back, she plots his assassination, uses and disowns her stepson (Louis Hayward)(former childhood sweetheart) and commits adultery (George Sanders), causing quite the scandal.

Jenny can be sweet and polite or mean and nasty in a flash, always indulgent in her selfish ways. Aside from the trouble she causes and her elegant and alluring dark heart, Hager did help people, is loved by the community and considered a decent woman of the time. Hedy Lamarr, considered the most beautiful woman, gave a flawless performance, playing angel and demon with ease. Her wagon scene is over the top yet drop dead gorgeous!

– 11 –

max1151088193-front-cover

The Victor

Motion Pictures: Wild Things
W: Stephen Peters
P: Steven A. Jones/Rodney Liber
D: John McNaughton
C: Jeffrey L. Kimball
E: Elena Maganini

Portrayed by: Watch to find out!

Synopsis:
Sam Lombardo (Matt Dillion), popular Florida high school counselor, is accused of rape by two students, spoiled brat Kelly Van Ryan (Denise Richards) and trailer trash Suzie Toller (Neve Campbell), rivals due to their popularity status. The details of their stories coincide and bring Lombardo to trial, yet crumble when under pressure. It gives Sam an opportunity to sue Ryan’s family and walk away with a hefty settlement but his reputation is tainted forever. Everything is not what it seems and a closed case, lead by detective Ray Duquette (Kevin Bacon), becomes a deadly game with an off-shore account as the prize.

The story was full of twists and turns. Everyone becomes a suspect and what follows does not paint a clear picture of ‘who really did it?’ or ‘What’s really going on?’ until the very end. I had fun keeping up with this mystery and pleasantly pleased with the victor, left wanting to accompany the sailor wherever they go.

– 12 –

Angelique

Angelique Bourchard

TV Series: Dark Shadows
Motion Picture: Dark Shadows
W: Seth Grahame-Smith
P: Christi Dembrowski/Johnny Depp/David Kennedy/Graham King/Richard D. Zanuck
D: Tim Burton
C: Bruno Delbonnel
E: Chris Lebenzon

Synopsis:
Dark Shadows is an adaptation of the popular TV series and tells the story of Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp) and his wealthy family, among the early American founders, who are tragically punished after he breaks an affair with a household staff member, Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green), for another woman, a sad mistake since Bouchard is not just a maid. She is a witch with a blasphemous temper, killing Barnabas’s parents and new lover and turns him into a vampire to spend eternity in a coffin, buried deep in the ground. Fast forward to the 1970’s, Collins is released by construction workers and goes home, finding his family lines lives on with a bunch of new relatives in his house (Michelle Pfeiffer, Chloë Grace Moretz, Gulliver McGrath, Helena Bonham Carter). They need his help since Angelique is still after the Collins name and surely interested when she hears of his escape.

Eva Green is one of my favorite actresses and I believe she can bring any character to life, especially those who are candidates for an insane asylum. She really becomes the person at hand and her resume has some pretty interesting roles. Angelique is relentless, allowed by great power and an envious soul, love or death on her mind the entire time, focused on what she wanted and torments this poor family beyond belief. Since she is all about winning Collins affection, her passion, poetic love and sinister might keep her on the offensive, striking low and hard. Bouchard broke my heart as she gave her’s to Barnabas.

– 13 –

TheDevil

The Devil

Motion Pictures: Bedazzled (1967)(2000)

W: Larry Gelbart/Harold Ramis/Peter Tolan
P: Trevor Albert/Harold Ramis
D: Harold Ramis
C: Bill Pope
E: Craig Herring

Portrayed by: Elizabeth Hurley

Synopsis:
Elliot (Brendan Fraser), a loser leading a boring life, is offered seven wishes by Satan herself in exchange for his soul. Cautiously, he accepts in hopes to spend some time with his dreamgirl. He quickly realizes the Devil has a great sense of humor, twisting her victim’s wishes into nightmares, forcing Elliot to figure what he really wants.

The original film is a lot of fun, but I do prefer the remake. Typically, hell’s ruler is shown as a man, the exact reason why I love Hurley’s performance and the redo entirely. She is naughty, sexy, creative and cool like I think Lucifer should be but, gladly, pushes it further. Of course, Elizabeth is still a reigning beauty. A hot woman does open up more doors of adventure and is very tempting, perfect for the iconic character in any story.

– 14 –

Katherine

Kathryn Merteuil

Novel: Les Liaisons Dangereuses written by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos

Motion Picture: Cruel Intentions
W/D: Roger Kumble
P: Neal H. Moritz
C: Theo van de Sande
E: Jeff Freeman

Portrayed by: Sarah Michelle Gellar

Synopsis:
Cruel Intentions is an adaptation of Les Liaisons Dangereuses and set in high school. It follows the rich and lonely step-siblings Kathryn and Sebastian (Ryan Phillippe)  and their love to play sinful games with others in their circle. When Sebastian falls for the new innocent girl next door (Reese Witherspoon), Kathryn sets her eyes on the pair and begins her plan of destruction.

Gellar, 90’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer, delivers a chilling and seductive performance as the extreme mean girl who is able to easily control her pawns with outlandish behavior. She didn’t have to do much, sat poised and posed from a distance, deep in her logic and upbringing, practically whispering her plot in the ears of those involved. It seems she has no limits, respects no lines, waging her self to Sebastian, her stepbrother.

– 15 –

Hannibal

Hannibal Lecter

Novels written by Thomas Harris: Red Dragon, The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal, Hannibal Rising

Motion Pictures: Manhunter, The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal, Red Dragon, Hannibal Rising

TV Series: Hannibal

Portrayed by: Brian Cox, Anthony Hopkins, Gaspard Ulliel, Mads Mikkelsen (above)

Hannibal’s legacy, filled with interesting characters and a gruesome hunger, will live on and hopefully be pushed further. My introduction to him is the film adaptation of Lambs with Anthony Hopkins. His stare scared me so much but I couldn’t look away. I read all the books, watched all the movies and now addicted to the show. The direction is off the rails, artfully done, but authentic to this great villain. The franchise should be studied in all literature and video production classes. It is one of the greats!

2 thoughts on “A Career Woman – My Top 15 Villains

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