?When we ran our list of 10 Delightfully Hammy Villain Performances back in August, we didn’t pretend it was absolute. There are far too many gloriously goofy, outrageously evil, batshit insane bad guys of TV and film that we knew we couldn’t fit them all in one list. You guys knew it too, suggesting your favorites in the comments (and of course by “suggesting” we mean “screaming in all caps about how we missed so-and-so”). Between your suggestions and our favorites, making a second list of awesomely crazy evil villains was obviously a necessity.
Today’s villains come from the realms of fantasy, drama, action and of course science fiction, to further delight us with overly exaggerated, scenery-chewing bastard shenanigans. Some of the actors on this list are clearly having fun, while others are
making the best of an embarrassing situation. The overacting really
stands out in roles meant to come across as exciting, dramatic, or
frightening, and instead brings the audience on a journey over the
cliff-edge of convincing human emotion and into the realm of
It is time once again to put on your favorite evil goatee and start plotting, for this is Hammiest Villain Performances II: The Hammening!
10) Geoffrey Rush as Casanova Frankenstein in Mystery Men
Aside from having one of the best villain names ever, Casanova Frankenstein has the honor of being portrayed by Oscar winner Geoffrey-freakin’-Rush. We don’t know quite how he found his way into this film, but boy, we’re glad he’s here. Rush slums it up with glee as the stylish supervillain of Champion City and leader of the Disco Boys (Eddie Izzard provides a complimentary cheesy side-dish as Tony P., the most disco-obsessed of all henchmen). Probably the best thing about Casanova Frankenstein is his outrageously ambiguous accent, though.
9) David Bowie as Jareth the Goblin King in Labyrinth
David Bowie can sing, a fact as obvious as his generous natural endowments are in Jim Henson’s Labyrinth. While he is an amazing, god-like pop star, Bowie’s subtlety as a villain in this film can be summed up in one simple phrase: “Nothing? Nothing? Nothing, tra la la?!” Perhaps the line was an attempt to emote via music? We don’t know, but we do know that Bowie as the Goblin King is damned entertaining to watch. He disses Hoggle, scolds Sarah, bosses around goblins, and professes love with the enthusiasm of a kid starring in his first high school musical who is trying very hard indeed. Honestly though? David Bowie’s acting doesn’t have to be good quality. All he has to be is David Bowie and we’re there, glued to the screen to see what he will do next, and whether it is possible for his pants to get any tighter.
8) Dennis Hopper as King Koopa in Super Mario Bros.
Although it’s remarkably hard to un-see Dennis Hopper as Frank Booth from Blue Velvet, his performance as King Koopa in Super Mario Bros., a bizarre yet oddly endearing mess from the ’90s, is so goofy that we almost forget to be creeped out. Just try to watch him say “Goomba!” without being delighted. Hopper’s evil wackiness as King Koopa would only be matched when he went on to play Deacon in Waterworld. At least he got to wear a cool eye-patch in that one.
7) Mary Jo Pehl as Pearl Forrester in Mystery Science Theater 3000
Yes, all of MST3K falls under the hammy category, because it’s a damn enjoyable comedy show. But Pearl Forrester earns a special place on this list as an underrated, rare example of the lady mad scientist. Of course Dr. Forrester and TV’s Frank are what we call the best of the best, and defined the role of the Mads. But when Clayton Forrester’s mother officially took over, it became apparent that she was more than equipped to carry on with the mad science, making Mike and the bots subjects of her own warped experiments (which naturally include cheesy movies). Pearl wants to rule the world, and treats her interaction with the Satellite of Love as an unwelcome annoyance to be dealt with while she gets on with bigger and better plots. The PBS-style phone pledge to raise money, for example, is a special kind of evil. She even ended up the evil dictator of Qatar at the very end of the series, which we don’t like to think too hard about because it makes us sad.
6) Alan Rickman as Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
Who puts the “ham” in Nottingham? Alan Rickham! Rickman. Sorry. Alan Rickman. He proves to be a more adept thief than the titular character, singlehandedly stealing this entire film with his cackling, torturing, yelling and jumping. Even the peasants he oppresses cannot help but laugh at his antics. Rickman is a prefect fit as the villain in this fun bastardization of a beloved English folktale.
Everybody now: “Locksley! I’ll cut your heart out with a SPOON!”
5) Jean Marsh as Queen Bavmorda in Willow
Jean Marsh deserves nothing but praise for her amazing performance as the psychotically evil Queen Bavmorda in the 1988 fantasy Willow. This is the same woman who scared the crap out of us as Mombi in Return to Oz and also appeared as Sarah Kingdom and Morgaine in Doctor Who, alongside the first and seventh Doctor respectively. With such a background, how could she not absolutely rock the role of an evil queen hell bent on the destruction of an innocent, chubby-cheeked baby? As Bavmorda, Marsh seems to have taken a page out of each female Disney villain and cranked the cruelty and malice up to eleven.
4) Jeremy Irons as Profion in Dungeons & Dragons
Imagine for a moment being cast as the villain in a medieval-style fantasy film. You are, of course, prepared to stomp around and shout a lot and act blatantly evil so no one in the audience will be confused about who the bad guy is. Then at some point you realize what a clusterfuck the film will be; that your henchman has blue lipstick and they couldn’t get Eddie Murphy for comic relief so it’s Marlon Wayans instead. Also you’ll be yelling about rods. A lot. What to do in such a plight? Bring the ham. Jeremy Irons brings it and brings it, ensuring that, if the audience isn’t impressed with the movie, at least they won’t be bored.
3) Pretty Much Everyone Who Ever Played The Master in Doctor Who
The Master is a role made for ham. This character has a strong legacy of nefarious shenanigans; of all the cheesy and monstrous beings that have menaced The Doctor, only The Master is truly able to match wits and attitude with our hero. We want to talk about more than one Master without getting too carried away, so only some of the more memorable actors who have taken on the mantle of the rogue Time Lord get a mention here. The first Master was Roger Delgado, he of the badass mustache who was known to wield a sword or two. Anthony Ainly followed in his footsteps, increasing the high camp, Snidely Whiplash-style awesomeness; he menaced the Fifth Doctor with Kenneth Branagh-style flair. Then there is Eric Roberts from the ’96 Doctor Who movie, he who wears his sunglasses at night and shall not be discussed further. John Simm finally brought back the humor and the evil in his stint as The Master, managing to steal every scene he is in and thankfully distracting us from some truly confusing and awkward plots, and dancing his way into our hearts to the Scissor Sisters.
2) Raul Julia as M. Bison in Street Fighter
OF COURSE M. Bison is on this list! What, you still REFUSE to ACCEPT his GODHOOD?? Okay, okay, we get it. Beloved actor Raul Julia’s M. Bison is a finely crafted work of ham, a sheer masterpiece of so-bad-it’s-good-ness. He dramatically pontificates about his vision of a better world of Bisonopolis. Not since Colderidge’s “Kubla Khan” has there been such an evocative and emotionally stirring vision of a personal paradise. We must agree with Zangrief’s assessment here: “Beautiful.” Julia’s performance becomes progressively more amazing throughout this film. You think you’ve hit the pinnacle of cheesy villainy in the “but for me it was Tuesday” spiel, only to be proven wrong as M. Bison gloriously elevates above all expectations in electromagnetic boots. It is a shame that Raul Julia is no longer with us, but we like to imagine that even now he is arm-wrestling Ricardo Montalban in Hammy Villain Heaven.
1) Charles Middleton as Ming the Merciless from Flash Gordon
Ming the Merciless is the prototypical bad guy. He embodies a legacy that began in Flash Gordon comic strips and film serials from the 1930s with the inimitable Charles Middleton playing the role (he was maliciously tenting his fingers long before Mr. Burns came on the scene). Ming’s character is so hammy that he makes any vegetarians in the immediate vicinity nervous. With his lavish court, army of robot-knight goons, and sweet robe and collar, Ming is the consummate, Platonic ideal of all things villain. He drops bombs on cities and sleazes on Flash’s girlfriend Dale with incredible panache and flair. Do not fuck with Ming, for though his palace is wobbly cardboard, his power is great.