The 80s was an awesome time for cinema. And awesome cinema needs that perfect villain to complete the story. Nothing makes you root harder for the hero than a villain you want to see taken down: it makes the triumph all the sweeter. It takes both great acting and great story writing to come up with an iconic villain, and all the artists that contributed to creating these villains that defined a decade should be commended.
The Best 80s Movie Villains
The 80s was a time when movies were becoming larger than life, and this of course was because of movie villains that were nothing short of legendary. Here are our picks for the top movie villains of the 1980s:
1. Darth Vader
What’s larger than life than a villain dressed all in black wearing a mask that helped him breathe, with an iconic voice? That’s right, we’re talking about Darth Vader. No list of great movie villains would be complete without that guy. And the fact that he turned out to be the protagonist’s dad all along made him all the eviler. He did show a ray of humanity when he saved his son’s life in the end, and for that, he’ll always be in our hearts.
2. Jason Voorhees
Slasher movies were becoming big in the 80s after the success of ‘Halloween’, and when the world was introduced to Jason Voorhees, we knew the genre would never be the same. Jason was an unstoppable killing machine. He laid dormant at the bottom of a lake after each defeat, but once he rose, the first thing he would do was look for a weapon so he could start killing people.
3. Freddy Krueger
No list of 80s villains would be complete without Freddy Krueger. The man literally made people afraid to fall asleep, after all Freddy killed you in your dreams so you couldn’t get away from the guy! The originality of a serial killer that gets you in your dreams puts Freddy on this list as “A Nightmare On Elm Street” is of course one of the most memorable scary movies of the 1980s.
4. Hans Gruber
Hans Gruber, the bad guy in ‘Die Hard’, played by the late great Alan Rickman, whose exit from the movie saw him being thrown from the top of a building. His battles with John McClane (Bruce Willis) were nothing short of legendary movie magic. In fact Hans Gruber is often cited as one of the greatest movie villains of all time, and his takeover of Nakatomi Plaza is one audiences have not forgotten.
5. Clarence Boddicker
Long before Kurtwood Smith played goofy “That 70s Show” dad Red Forman, he was Clarence Boddicker the man who shotgunned a cop to pieces: a cop who would be rebuilt into the iconic Robocop. Clarence Boddicker was a bad dude, and he lead a gang of vagrants and was also a contract killer for corporate scumbag “Dick Jones”, and his battles with Robocop were legendary.
6. Jack Torrance
Who could forget Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of Jack Torrance in Stephen King’s movie adaption of ‘The Shining’. I mean, it’s the role that really put Jack Nicholson on the map as a silver screen legend. Nicholson played a guy that hacked apart a door, trying to get into a room to kill his wife and kid. If that isn’t evil, we don’t know what is.
7. Johnny Lawrence
There were also some Iconic villains on the lighter side of cinema — guys who weren’t out to kill people, just to give our heroes a hard time. Johnny Lawrence, who picked on a timid Daniel Larusso in ‘The Karate Kid’, was one such memorable movie villain of the 1980s. His sensei was quite the villain himself: the lunatic John Kreese, who taught his students to show no mercy. However it was Johnny who would be the cause of Daniel San’s problems in this memorable 1980s classic, and that’s why we have given him a spot on this list.
8. Ed Rooney
And finally who could forget Ed Rooney, the principal who was out to ruin Ferris Bueller’s day off? The scene of him having to walk back to school in tatters, looking like an idiot, had audiences howling. Though he may not have wanted to kill our hero, he still remains a movie villain we remember and one that we were rooting hard against.
So there you have it, our top picks for the best movie villains of the 1980s. Take your pick of the litter: any one of these villains could still stand up to the best we have in today’s cinema. No matter which one you think was the worst, no one can deny that these bad guys are certain to stay in our memories for years to come.