Archive | April, 2013

Top 10 Creepiest Sci-Fi/Fantasy Villains

10 Apr

Please note that this is not a list of the BEST villains in Scifi/Fantasy, just the creepiest. These are the insidious shadows and barely-suppressed manic grins that make your skin crawl. What’s really surprising about this list is how many of these are from network television shows, and how they’re way scarier than most horror films.

 

10. The Hitchiker, The Twilight Zone

And then he asked for spare change. The horror!

For those of you who are too young/uninformed to know what this entry is but still hate M. Night Shyamalan, I have good news: The Twilight Zone made a metric fuckton of scary (for the ’60s) TV episodes that outtwisted M. Night way before his movies even got terrible. One of my personal favorites is “The Hitchhiker,” the story of a woman who keeps seeing the same creepy homeless man no matter where she drives. Naturally she has to drive on the most deserted roads and of course she has to stop and get out of her car at several points, because this was back when we all wanted our cars to use a tank of gas over the course of five miles or so.

Twilight Zone: Brought to you by Ford.

What makes it creepy: Society and its multitudinous civilians have given us the impression that we’re always safe, that help is never that far away. This episode shrinks that feeling of safety down to two areas: 1) The inside of an otherwise empty car and 2) Moving. If you don’t have both those things, you’re suddenly not safe. Don’t drive at night after this episode.

 

9.The Puppetmaster/Bloodbenders, Avatar: The Last Airbender

Everyone’s favorite grandmother

“The Puppetmaster” was just about the creepiest episode of children’s television I’ve ever seen. It happens in Season 3, around the time the writers realized that if Katara could “bend” her own sweat, she could probably do it to other bodily fluids as well. So did they depict her stopping a hemorrhage? Blowing awesome snot rockets? Introducing the most creative form of birth control ever?

NO. They gave us a creepy-ass old woman who could literally control people by bending their blood.

What makes it creepy: She can control people by bending their blood. Also, it looks really painful. Or maybe arousing?

Guess where she sent all the blood in this picture?

 

8. Hands of Blue, Firefly

Stopped being a proctologist after all the “Hands of Brown” jokes

I don’t know what these men are technically called. I’d prefer they stay nameless, but we’ll call them the fanon-deemed “Hands of Blue” for clarity’s sake, which is better than “Blue Myself  Twice”

Not the same.

Firefly was cancelled much too young, but one good thing that came out of that was never knowing what these guys really wanted. Having them stalk our heroes through the episode “Ariel” and killing their own men while River freaked out was confusing enough to be really, really creepy. It’s all based on knowing the victim’s reaction rather than the villain’s motivation, so you never know what will happen next.

What makes them creepy: They seem to be immune to their own weapon. Unlike Men in Black, when they set off their flashy-thingy, they wear no protective gear. They look like humans, they wear no armor, but they’re curiously emotionless as everyone around them pukes blood out of every orifice.

 

7. The Pale Man, Pan’s Labyrinth

“The fuck?”

Pan’s Labyrinth took fantasy and mythology and made it insidious and terrifying. All of it reflected the horror of the real world happening outside of Ofelia’s addled little mind. Nothing was creepier than the Pale Man, an emaciated creature that sat and starved at a feast, the only thing on its plate being its own eyes. It mirrored Ofelia’s stepfather, who kept an abundance of food locked in a barn, waiting for people to try and take it so that he could kill them.

What makes it creepy: 

Exhibits A – M

Enough. Fucking. Said.

 

6. Vasha Nerada, Doctor Who

The most primal of fears.

The “Silence in the Library” and “Forest of the Damned”, Steven Moffat’s two-parter mindfuck really dug into the most basic human fear: the fear of the dark. The Vasha Nerada are sentient shadows that latch onto a host and strip them of their flesh. You never know which shadow might have an aerosol piranha in it, and you never see it coming. You just look down and suddenly you have two shadows. And then you know you’re dead.

What makes it creepy: I always thought I was afraid of things that might be hiding in the dark. Now I’m afraid of the dark itself.

 

5. GLaDOS, Portal

“Cake followed by light bondage?”

Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System (GLaDOS) is creepy the same was HAL is creepy in 2001: A Space Odyssey. It’s terrifying to imagine our robotic creations trying to murder the tits out of us. What GLaDOS has on HAL is the format of Portal itself. You think you’re just playing a typical puzzle game and she’s the annoying Navi telling you what to do. It’s helpful, but bland, and she even has the cool, neutral robotic voice.

Then she starts slipping in little things that make you wonder, like “Cake and grief counseling will be available at the conclusion of the test.” Then you start seeing stuff like this:

The brilliant idea that was ruined by a thousand memes.

Then she starts trying to kill you.

What makes it creepy:  The fact that since it’s a video game and not a movie, you have to play her psychotic little game. It’s like the difference between taking a roller coaster ride in a haunted house and walking through one on your own two feet.

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Rating Buffy Villains (From Worst to Best)

7 Apr

I can’t cover every Buffy bad guy in this post, and I won’t try. There are approximately a bajillion villains, including, at one point or another, every single good guy in the whole freaking show.

What,

You

Think

I’m

Kidding?

So we can’t rate all of them, although that would be fun. For the sake of brevity, we will be focusing on the Big Bads from each season. You may have noticed that all of the seasons (with the exceptions of Season 1 and Season 7) have two different Big Bads: an expected one and a “twist” that puts a personal spin on things. The combination as well as the overall value will be factored in here. Let’s start with the crap:

7. Adam/The Initiative

But mostly this guy.

It’s almost too easy to put this in last place. Aside from “Hush” and “Who Are You” there is hardly a single good thing about Season 4. Riley Finn, losing Oz, Riley Finn, Giles being irrelevant, neutered Spike, Riley Finn and Riley Finn are some major problems, but mostly it suffers from a relevant bad guy. The Initiative starts out as the villain in question. It’s a shady organization that reeks of government conspiracy that plays Frankenstein with demon body parts and inexplicably monitors its own soldiers’ bedrooms.

“I like to watch Riley having sex because of reasons.”

While it’s kind of interesting to imagine how the government would deal with a world of demons, mostly this breaks the line that the show was riding between camp and fantasy. It’s fantastical to believe in a world where demons are everywhere and no one notices.  It’s camp to acknowledge that people are being oblivious to something so obvious. It’s neither to suddenly involve the freaking CIA. The idea kind of falls short, because once the Initiative is shut down, the government goes back to pretending demons don’t exist, and we go back to the old format.

Mission accomplished!

And then there’s Adam, the true Big Bad, who has no bearing on Buffy’s life at all. They hardly ever interact, he reveals nothing about important characters, and he looks like he’s covered in tapioca pudding.

Also, remember his built-in floppy disk drive? Weren’t the ’90s adorable?

There’s no build-up with Adam either. He’s introduced with potential for some really fucked up Oedipal shit, but the first thing he does is murder Maggie Walsh and spend the rest of the season in the sewers. Not interesting, not relevant, and I don’t care if you’re referencing Mary Shelley. This didn’t belong.

6. The Master I’m not really sure why the Master is so low on this list. Frankly, there’s nothing wrong with him.

Except that pesky fruit punch mouth.

The Master is just the typical vampire villain. Creepy, gothic, inhuman and bat-like. He’s there to create the standard so that Joss could then break the rules and have fun with the tropes. But that doesn’t make the Master any more interesting. There’s no history to delve into, no humanity to explore. He kills minions who fail, he puts stake in the prophecy, he lisps over those fake fangs, yada yada yada. Let’s face it, we all skip this season anyway except for the episode “Angel.”

Because who doesn’t like watching a little statutory rape on network television?

5. The Trio/Dark Willow Let me start this one out by saying that I’m pretty torn on my stance when it comes to Dark Willow. On one hand, I like to see actors and characters given the chance to expand and to break out from their traditional roles. Joss is great at not letting anyone stagnate. That said, I think he was a bit off with this one.

Like when she suddenly started Palpatining all over the place.

The only point of making a character go bad is to show a compelling and even sympathetic reason for them doing so. So the writers killed Tara. And that felt like a cheap shot. It felt like they did it so they could let Willow go crazy. Willow had a great, subtle arc, going from a geeky spaz with no self-esteem to a brilliant, talented witch who was coming to terms with her sexuality. Then suddenly she was a soulless lightning wizard out to murder her friends. And the world.

The problem is that Willow already went crazy over Tara in Season 5, but in a believable way. It showed her power, recklessness, poor judgment and vindictive side without taking away her humanity. Season 6 took away the audience’s ability to empathize with her.

Which reminds of the most forgettable bad guy in this series, along the same theme.

Terrifying.

The Trio also attempted to remind the audience that demons are not the only sources of evil in the world. Human beings are evil all the time, for profit or glory or because they’re rapist dickbags. The Trio was a brave attempt at showing that. And I can certainly see why they went with Warren, who created sex slaves, lied to his girlfriend about it and always tried to get out of blame. But Jonathan? Really? Didn’t Buffy save him from suicide, causing him to recognize her contributions and choose to award her at prom in one of the sweetest scenes in the whole show?

“Nah.”

Even apart from all that, it’s insulting how Buffy could fight a god in the previous season and fail so miserably against three nerds. Pathetic.

4. The First I like the First. I do. A nameless, faceless nonentity that is the root of all evil and can take on the form of any dead person? That’s just brilliant.

buffy

And TWO Buffys? AHHHHHH!!!!

This was a great bad guy to go out on. It was desperate, it was heroic, and it created the most brilliant series finale I’ve ever seen. The bad guy was rooted in mythology and tradition and deep, primal fear, so of course Buffy had to take all of that history and completely fuck with it in order to beat the baddy. That was awesome. The only reason it’s low on the list is that it’s straightforward. And if I can’t deconstruct it, it’s going to be a middle list entry.

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