?The 1980s were a golden time for sleazy people. Ronald Reagan was in office, power business suits were all the rage and greed was good. While corporate-minded douchebags swindled, lied, and cut throats at every company they could, 1980s action films were quick to capitalize on the middle class resentment of these assholes, and filled their action movies with some of the scummiest characters ever committed to celluloid for the sole purpose of being hated and loathed — and, not infrequently, gloriously killed off.
Now, being a bad guy isn’t enough to just qualify you as being a sleazebag. Mr. Joshua, in Lethal Weapon, is evil, but in the end, he’s just a guy doing his admittedly nasty job. What we’re talking about is the real low, scum sucking, ego-tripping, do-anything-for-a-buck types. Vindictive. Slimy. Sell their own mother if they thought it would make them a buck. Screw over everyone and anyone to get ahead, and never lose a second of sleep. People like these nine guys.
9) Lt. Eckhardt in Batman
is the first of a series of Harvey Bullock replacements in the Batman
movies, but he may just be the sleaziest. Eckhardt is a hard-living cop
who’d as soon put his cigars out on Gotham reporters than answer their
questions. He’s also on the take for crime-boss Carl Grissom. But when
Eckhardt has a confrontation with “A-1 nutboy” and Grissom henchman Jack
Napier, he ends up making the sleaziest and stupidest move of his life.
Eckhardt informs Grissom of Jack Napier’s relationship with Grissom’s
girlfriend, inadvertently paving the way for Jack’s change into The
Joker. It was a slimy move for sure, but Eckhardt always had a problem
thinking about the future.
8) Walter Peck in Ghostbusters
Walter Peck thinks he is better than anyone else. It’s clear in the way this EPA agent refuses to call Peter Venkman by the proper title of “Doctor,” even after he learns of Venkman’s degrees in Psychology and Para-Psychology. And when Peck helps usher in a potential supernatural catastrophe by shutting down the Ghostbuster’s Containment Unit, he refuses to accept responsibility for it. Thankfully, dickless here, was kicked out of the Mayor’s office just in time to get the fluffing of a lifetime from the exploded Stay-Puft Man.
7) Biff Tannen in the Back to the Future Trilogy
Biff Tannen, the date-rapingly awesome bully of Hill Valley High, received one of the greatest gifts of all time: A sports almanac from the future that shows the final results of every event for the next 50 years. So what does Biff do with his newfound shot at fame and fortune? He buys a casino and forces his high school love interest to get gigantic fake boobs. No matter the year, Biff Tannen is always a sleaze. And he’s also usually covered in manure.
6) Professor Joe Butcher in License to Kill
?Professor Joe Butcher is a televangelist, which goes a long way to making him seem sleazy already. But Butcher’s religious broadcasts and his meditation sanctuary are actually fronts for drug kingpin Franz Sanchez. Butcher’s calls for donations are actually coded messages that set prices for drug distributors across the world. Even more amazingly, his meditation center is actually a facility that hides cocaine in gasoline. You don’t need to be Richard Pryor to know that putting expensive drugs in a highly combustible substance is a bad mix. Prof. Joe, though, stays out of the way of the drugs and instead focuses on forcing himself on ex-CIA agent Pam Bouvier and stealing her money. Bless his heart.
5) Stathis Borans in The Fly and The Fly II
Stathis Borans is the former lover and current boss of Veronica in The Fly. We learn all this information when he uses a set of Veronica’s keys to break in her apartment and take a shower while he thinks she is out. There has never been a character that has been as sexually harassing as Stathis. At every opportunity, he reminds us that he would like nothing more than to be foul on Geena Davis’ Veronica. He is so repugnant that when the Brundlefly eventually vomits acid on Stathis’ hands and legs, the audience is less disgusted and more happy that this totally obnoxious jerk finally got a little something that was overdue in coming to him.
4) Terry Silver in The Karate Kid Part III
Terry Silver was created for the people who thought that the over-the-top theatrics of original Karate Kid villains Johnny and Kreese were too subtle. Terry Silver is a Vietnam vet who establishes a plan to corrupt Daniel Larusso to the Cobra Kai side of martial arts in retaliation for Kreese’s humiliation at the hands of Mr. Miyagi. In some ways, he’s the Emperor of the original Karate Kid trilogy. We’re not sure if that analogy speaks less of Star Wars or Karate Kid. Karate Kid Part III goes out of its way to establish how sleazy Terry is within the first two minutes of his appearance. He’s rich, has a butler, wears an awful pony tail, and oh yeah…he dumps illegal nuclear waste. Captain Planet had less ridiculous bad guys.
3) Carter Burke in Aliens
When you look at the group of characters sent to the terraforming colony in Aliens, one man stands out. Carter Burke. Burke is a company man, not a marine. He isn’t physically imposing or tough, but he does have one skill that everyone else on the team lacks: he is an amazing liar. Burke is responsible for the deaths of the entire terraforming colony by ordering the employees and crew to investigate the site of the Alien eggs from the first film. And when his initial plan to escape with an Alien sample fails, he lets two Facehuggers loose in Ripley and Newt’s room so that he can later abscond with fresh samples. Burke doesn’t care about any other human on his mission. He just wants to make money for his corporate masters so he can shine in their eyes. As punishment, when Burke was killed, he was reincarnated into a pretty awful NBC sitcom with Helen Hunt.
2) Bob Morton in Robocop
Bob Morton steals Murphy’s body, cuts off all extraneous organic pieces and melds him into a cybernetic being so he can become Robocop. In any other film, this would land him a role as the chief villain. Everyone else in Robocop is so repugnant that Bob come across as a slightly misunderstood good guy. Bob doesn’t care that he’s destroyed the remains of Murphy’s life. He really doesn’t care about helping the city of Detroit. All Bob really wants to do is move up the corporate ladder and step on Dick Jones’ face while he’s doing it. At least Bob left this planet doing what he loved most, snorting lines off of hookers’ bosoms while Red Foreman murders him.
1) Harry Ellis in Die Hard
When we first meet Ellis, he’s nose deep in a pile of cocaine in Holly Gennaro’s office. Pretty classy move, especially considering that Holly is not in her office and everyone knows that her estranged husband, John McClane, is on his way to the room. Later, when terrorists take over their building, Ellis attempts to become the White Knight of the evening. If by White Knight, you mean he makes an ill-conceived attempt to negotiate with terrorist mastermind Hans Gruber. Ellis tells Hans that he can deliver him John McClane. It’s never really clear what Ellis is going to get out of the deal, but all he specifically asks for is a Coca-Cola. That’s right. Ellis sells out the greatest action hero of all time for a can of Coke. Pretty crappy deal. At least Ellis gets murdered to the sound of John begging people to admit that he never knew this gigantic sleazebag in the first place.