Whether action films, comedies, dramas or psychological thrillers, Hollywood has given moviegoers plenty of memorable screen villains over the decades. Especially when it came to the 1990s.
Here's a look at 25 of our favorite bad guys and girls who we've had a good time hating on.
Is there a more incompetent pair of bad guys than Harry (Joe Pesci) and Marv (Daniel Stern)? There might not be. However, there also might not be a more hilarious pair of villains. Especially when it comes to the fact that a young boy is able to outsmart them in many ways. Even better, we get to see more of Harry and Marv in the sequel to the classic original film starring Macaulay Culkin.
There are certainly notable individual performances in this mobster classic. Of course, there are quite a few bad guys to choose from, as well. However, Joe Pesci's DeVito needs to be at the top of the list. Why? Well, because he's downright crazy. He's crued, vulgar and definitely dealing with some sort of small-man's syndrome. DeVito is almost comical when we think about it.
Based on the Stephen King classic novel and directed by Rob Reiner, the film was a huge hit thanks to Kathy Bates' Oscar-winning performance as maniacal fan Annie Wilkes. While nursing her incapacitated favorite writer (James Caan) back to help, Wilkes is so deliciously creepy and scary that it's often uncomfortable to watch. Yet, we can't seem to look away because Bates is so compelling in her signature role.
In terms of coolness, Bodhi (Patrick Swayze) is one bad guy who is easy to like. And easy on the eyes. In one of the his most popular roles, Swayze's character is one of a carefree criminal, who likes surfing and other thrill sports. FBI agent Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves) gets caught up in Bodhi's lifestyle while on the job, and ends up having a true sense of the respect for him -- perhaps for his outlook on life and living every day like it's his last.
With Nino (Wesley Snipes), it's always business, never personal. Unless, someone has done him wrong. The narcissistic Brown, leader of the notorious CMB (Cash Money Brothers), is all about money and power. He thinks he owns the New York City streets - and underworld, for that matter. When it comes to ruthless criminals, Nino is as good as it gets. And in the realm of Hollywood, looks good doing it.
We can go on for days dissecting Robert De Niro's legendary action career. But, his turn as the psychopathic, ex-con who's become quite a whiz on the law, and is now wants revenge against a public defender, is pure genius. De Niro is downright scary in this Martin Scorsese remake of the 1960s thriller. The Hitchcock-like vibe also adds to the intensity of De Niro's Cady.
Anthony Hopkins was not the first actor to portray the cannibalistic serial killer, but his is certainly the most memorable. It won Hopkins an Academy Award and has essentially defined his career. Lechter is a complex character, smart, witty and deranged. Horrifying without having to do much at all. A lot of that comes from Hopkins' brilliance, and makes Lecter perhaps the most memorable villain of the decade.
If we thought Arnold Schwarzenegger was a tough during The Terminator, Robert Patrick's updated goes one better in this sequel. He's a shape-shifting android menace that seems virtually unstoppable no matter how many times he's shot, mangled or melted. Talk about terrified. However, if there's another Terminator capable of stopping him, it's got to be Arnold's version, right?
Jennifer Jason Leigh is a magnificent actor, mostly because she always digs deep for a role. One of her best, spanning any decade, came as "Hedy," a new roommate of Allie (Bridget Fonda). Hedy becomes obsessed with Allie, and that's when Leigh's talent really comes out. The plot is nothing new, but Leigh's disturbingly entertaining performance sets it apart from other films with a familiar theme.
Peyton, and her alter ego, have endured a traumatizing past. So what better way to take a up a new identity and terrorizing an unsuspecting family for a taste of revenge. Rebecca De Mornay is stellar in the starring role as a twisted and certifiable woman who has seen her life unrival and knows no other way to keep herself hinged in one of the more popular '90s psychological thrillers.
Here's a fact: There are some who saw this slasher thriller back in early '90s who to this day still can't even say the name of the title without chills going down their spine. Tony Todd is disturbingly gripping and terrifying as one of the all-time scariest killers in the horror genre. Remember, don't say his name five times while standing in front of a mirror. Even if it's oh, so tempting.
Smart, sexy, a talented and certifiably diabolical. That's Catherine Tramell , the character who made Sharon Stone a star in this erotic, early '90s psychological thriller. Tramell is brilliant at keeping the audience and Det. Nick Curran (Michael Douglas) guessing. Which is why, while it seems obvious which direction the plot it headed, it has those watching so engrossed. Not to mention that infamous interrogation scene.
The first of two times we celebrate the great, and fictionally disturbing, work of John Malkovich. In this Clint Eastwood thriller, Malkovich's Leary is a former CIA assassin who also happens to be psychotic. He's intent on killing the president of the United States and Secret Service agent Frank Horrigan (Eastwood). Where not sure in what order, but he's poised to get it done.
Jamey Sheridan is deliciously evil as Flagg, the representative of a collective evil, in this TV miniseries version of the Stephen King classic book. While Flagg's physical presence is both frightful and a bit campy on screen, it's his omnipresence in the psyche and conscience of those vulnerable souls at a crossroads in this post-apocalyptic world that makes him most terrorizing.
Payne certainly is far from likeable, but the late Dennis Hopper is just so good in the role that it needs to be appreciated for the performance. In many ways, we downright loathe Payne for the hell he put Jack (Keanu Reeves) and Annie (Sandra Bullock) through. Plus, there might not be a better death scene of a villain in Hollywood during the 1990s.
Simba's uncle was power hungry and essentially jealous of his brother Mufasa -- and Simba's dad. In terms of animated bad guys, Scar is as sinister as it gets and easy for fans, of this popular film, of any age to see and understand that. However, Scar's also, though somewhat indirectly, turns Simba into the confident lion that he becomes over time.
While there seems no reason to celebrate anything about Kevin Spacey's personal life, his work on screen continues to resonate with filmgoers. One of his best came alongside fellow Hollywood heavyweights Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman. The evil that Spacey's John Doe exudes in this psychological crime thriller is off the charts without being over the top. Plus, who can forget Pitt's character yelling "what's in the box?"
No surprise that some of the actors and actresses on this list are among Hollywood's biggest and best. Legends on many levels. Edward Norton is certainly part of that group, and he excels as a tortured former altar boy, who is charged with murder and appears to be dealing with a multiple personality disorder. Norton's sampler is righteously believable as someone we want to believe in, but maybe not 100 percent.
Back to John Malkovich. He's played some memorably evil roles, but man, is Malkovich superior in this part of as the cunning criminal mastermind in a film that also helped cement Nicholas Cage as a Hollywood superstar. What's great about Cyrus is that he's calmly psychotic and supremely intelligent. Again, it's one of those roles that seems tough to see anybody else play.
Smug, arrogant and untitled. Those are just a few of the PG words to describe one Cal Hockley. Well played by Chicago's very own Billy Zane, Hockley really cares only about his fortune and living the good life, while looking down on others with lesser means than him. He doesn't even care about fiance Rose -- or really anybody else as we eventually see.
Any time we bring Gary Oldman into the conversation, whether playing a good or bad guy, he's likely to be on the list. As the ringleader in the hijacking of Air Force One, Korshunov can be menacing , and quite cunning. His plan is actually a rather good one, but of course, President James Marshall (Harrison Ford) is no pushover. Still, another stand out role on Oldman's resume.
Castor Troy is a diabolical, unhinged character . What makes him even more revered in the world of cinematic villains, is the performance that Nicholas Cage lent to the project. Honestly, can we see anybody other than Cage play this part? Known for truly getting into his roles, Cage is at his best here. Also, let's throw out an honorable mention toward John Travolta, when he takes his turn as the deranged terrorist.
There might not be a funnier villain in film history, let alone from the 1990s. At the end of the day, Mike Myers' Austin Powers' antagonist is pretty harmless. Yet, he's so much fun to watch and has becoming quite an iconic film character. We should also take the time to celebrate Dr. Evil's lackies -- "Number Two," Mr. Bigglesworth and, of course, "Mini-Me" (the late Verne Troyer).
Based on Marquise de Merteuil from the late 1700s' novel Les Liaisons dangereuses. Portrayed brilliantly by Sarah Michelle Gellar in the first and only good film in the series, Kathryn will use all the tools in her arsenal -- looks, brains, money, popularity -- to get what, and whom, she wants. While many won't agree with Kathryn's methods of existence, she looks good doing it.
While we might not have been rooting for Smith, his villainy is actually pretty cool. Especially the way Hugo Weaving played him. A smooth talker, full of quiet confidence . Not to mention his mad martial arts skills. It all made for some memorable action scenes in his massively popular Keanu Reeves-vehicle that kick-started the successful film franchise.
Jeff Mezydlo has written about sports and entertainment online and for print for more than 25 years. He grew up in the far south suburbs of Chicago, 20 minutes from the Mascot Hall of Fame in Whiting, Ind. He’s also the proud father of 11-year-old Matthew, aka “Bobby Bruin,” mascot of St. Robert Bellarmine School in Chicago. You can follow Jeff at @jeffm401.