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Friday, October 25, 2013

Chilling Portraits of Scary Villains

 By Linda Lovely

October conjures up thoughts of Halloween candy, ghosts, goblins, and all things scary. And that has me thinking about the villains in my three work-in-progress manuscripts and three published novels. Here’s what they have in common:

Gender—I seem to believe in equal opportunity when it comes to villains. Females are the primary villains in half of my books/manuscripts. Gender may influence how they go about achieving their goals, but the evil women and men share many of the same personality traits.

Appearance—None of my “major” villains look scary. In fact, they tend to be attractive if not downright handsome/beautiful. Their good looks provide a mask for their frightening personalities and evil intentions. I have allowed myself to have some fun with their villainous sidekicks/henchmen, making their outward appearances flawed and frightening.

Personality Traits—Whether male or female, my villains seem to share certain personality traits. They are arrogant, greedy, self-centered, determined, smart, and ruthless.

Motives/Goals—I’ve worked hard to ensure my villains all consider themselves heroes/heroines of their own stories. They have reasons for doing what they do. Of course those reasons may not be rationale or socially acceptable but they’re valid in their minds. Their motives include power, money, promoting an idea/ideology, revenge, lust, and love. That last one “love” may prompt them to do unspeakable things to anyone they perceive as harming their loved ones.   

Chilling Villains from Novels/Movies
Here are some of my nominees for chilling villains that have haunted me long after I read the book or saw the movie.
Hannibal Lecter, The Silence of the Lambs
Annie Wilkes, Misery
Dr. Christian Szell, Marathon Man
Eleanor Iselin, The Manchurian Candidate
Noah Cross, Chinatown
Nurse Ratched, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
Norman Bates, Psycho
Practically the entire cast of Gone Girl


What villain gives you the biggest chills?

12 comments:

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Linda,
Nice blog. There is nothing like a truly evil villian. I love them.Besides, where would our stories be without them?

Cheers

Margaret

Polly Iyer said...

Good blog, Linda. Got me thinking. I have a few in my own books, but Mrs. Danforth from Rebecca came to mind. She was pathologically evil.

Robin Weaver, Author of Blue Ridge Fear said...

Good blog. Hannibal Lecter still freaks me out--nothing scarier than a villian with brains.

Alyssa Maxwell said...

Yes, great post and I agree that the scariest villains are the ones with brains and a sense of entitlement, and let's not forget a certain charm. Here's my addition to the list: Voldemort!

Ashantay Peters said...

The Emperor in Star Wars. Not only evil, but physically repugnant and reminiscent of a CEO I once knew.

Thanks for getting me thinking about villains! And Happy Halloween -

Paty Jager said...

As a child the Abominable Snowman in Rudolph scared me. I don't like scary anything. As a young adult I read a thriller writer until she got into the head of her villain and I couldn't read any more and don't like any of the scary TV shows or movies. Half the commercials I have to close my eyes. I do write nasty people in my books, because the readers expect it from the villains these days. But as long as I'm in control of them, I can handle it.

Linda Lovely said...

Patty, YES, it does help to have total control of your villain. Another reason to be an author. Polly, Ashantay and Alyssa--agree with all your additions. And, yes, Robin, it's the brainy ones you have to worry about most.

Diana Mcc. said...

I'd say Hannible Lecter! He is the one I'll always remember. Scary indeed!

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Two of my September releases have nasty villains.
The Third Eye: A Pine Barrens Mystery
http://www.amazon.com/The-Third-Pine-Barrens-Mystery/dp/1432826980/

has a vicious murderer and also a nasty bully as evil characters.

Harlequin Worldwide Mystery published DEATH LEGACY, a romantic suspense thriller which features a frightening assassin as well as a double agent who is also a killer.
http://www.harlequin.com/storeitem.html?iid=28798&cid=337

Linda Lovely said...

Jacqueline, will definitely check out your new releases and your Harlequin Worldwide Mystery. I THINK Harlequin will publish my mystery, NO WAKE ZONE, in January, 2014, since they published DEAR KILLER in January, 2013.

Patricia Gligor said...

"Misery" is one of my all-time favorite movies and Kathy Bates is an incredibly talented actress who played a very scary part. To think that she was an author's "fan." Hmm. As an author that makes me a little nervous. :)

Judith Ashley said...

I'm with Paty...the only one of the movies I've seen was Psycho. My mom and I went and I had nightmares for weeks afterward.

I did watch all the Star Wars movies and the first Harry Potter none of the others in that series. I do better with 'evil' if it is not in a contemporary setting. In other words, I've read a few historical novels from the Regency period on back (not forward) that if set in contemporary times I'd never pick them up.

And I see no value in so much of the shows on t.v. - so much death, destruction, violence---I don't understand how people are entertained by these shows. And there are some commercials that are following suit...I also close my eyes!

Obviously a thought-provoking post, Linda.