“Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” is not a statement you should take lightly, and nobody shows this better than reality TV and some of the best blockbusters of all time. Since I hate reality TV, I’m just going to jump right into the movies. Here are my favorite female villains of all time:
5. The last spot should go to Cruella De Vil based on her name alone – didn’t anyone teach them about subtlety? That aside, Cruella earned her stripes – er, spots? – in villain history in this movie. I’m particularly looking at Glenn Close’s portrayal of the villainess in the 1996 adaptation. Not only is she completely comfortable with killing innocent puppies just to add to her wardrobe (not to mention any other creature with a healthy coat of fur), but she’s completely insane. The Devil must have taken her soul a long time ago. *cue theme song* Cruella De Vil, Cruella De Vil, If she doesn’t scare you, no other evil thing will…
Best Line: “You’ve won the battle, but I’m about to win the wardrobe!”
4. Very few characters – in books or on the big screen – can boil my blood like Dolores Jane Umbridge. I think the reason I hate her so much is that she actually believes, without a doubt, that what she stands for is absolutely correct. Oh, what hubris. What ignorance. Umbridge starts off harmless enough, though that doesn’t excuse her talent for annoying the crap out of me. But then she starts to really bare her fangs – particularly in Harry’s direction – and she starts getting a taste for blood. Umbridge is Rowling’s comment on governmental corruption, and the statement in poignant: no matter if you believe you’re doing the wrong things for the right reasons, they are still the wrong things. Because, in the end, there really was no difference between Voldemort and the Ministry of Magic, except that one was at least honest in his desires for world domination and the suppression of Muggles.
Best Line: “The Cruciatus Curse ought to loosen your tongue.”
3. Some of the most frightening villains I’ve ever seen appeared in my childhood. Ms. Trunchbull was one of those villains. She’s one of the scariest, cruelest, most inhuman bad guys from my younger days. I still can’t believe she threw that girl out by her pigtails…and kept her job. However unrealistic that might be, some of the scenes in Matilda are so intense. One of my favorites is when Matilda has to steal the doll back from Trunchbull…right out of her own house!
Best Line: “They’re all mistakes, children! Filthy, nasty things. Glad I never was one.”
2. How can any list of the best villainesses not include the Wicked Witch of the West? She’s terrifying – her green skin, the way she cackles, her complete disregard for any life other than her own (and her sister’s). She tries to stop Dorothy and her friends at every turn and she nearly succeeds. What really got me as a kid were her minions – those flying monkeys are freaky. But the scariest scene for me was when she had Dorothy locked up in her tower, especially when Auntie Em’s image turns into the witch’s. It always gave me the heebie-jeebies!
Best Line: “Those slippers will never come off, as long as you’re alive. But that’s not what’s worrying me. It’s how to do it. These things must be done delicately!”
1. Okay, my number one villainess was decided well before I even thought of the other four. O-Ren Ishii deserves this spot above anyone else for the simple reason that she would kill all of the others in order to claim the trophy anyway. In Kill Bill: Volume 1 we get her incredible back story. Her parents were viciously murdered in front of her when she was nine. It took her two years, but she got revenge on the man who did it. She stuck a sword through him and blew off the heads of two of his bodyguards. By twenty, she was an assassin for hire. And at age 26, she became the leader of all leaders in underground Tokyo. The best thing about O-Ren is that she doesn’t mess around. She’s not a stupid villain. She takes care of those who oppose her without batting an eye. (All Boss Tanaka had to mention was her Japanese-Chinese-American heritage and he, quite literally, lost his head.) She also keeps the crazies close (Gogo is seriously demented) and has a huge band of samurai sword wielding subordinates to keep her safe. I’m convinced that the only person who was capable of defeating all of them was the Black Mamba herself, and even she almost didn’t live through it. In the end, though, it was down to O-Ren and the Bride, and this is my favorite part about this particular villain – she can handle her own. Not only that, but she recognizes when she is up against a respectable foe. Although, none of that helped her in the end…
Best Line: “Silly Caucasian girl likes to play with Samurai swords.”
I had a bunch of runner ups – some Disney villainesses, and even a few more characters from Kill Bill, but I’m happy with my list. What about you? Have I missed any good ones? What are some of the female antagonists that always scared you as a kid?
Make sure you stick around for Friday! I’ve got the lovely Jessica O’Neal over here, taking on my villainesses with her list of awesome heroines. It’s going to be a close fight!