Monday, November 25, 2019

Disnovember 2019 - Top 5 Disney Movie Villains



Well, here we are at the end of the inaugural Disnovember on Old School Evil and there’s just one more question I bet you’re asking – who are my favorite Disney movie villains?  With so many to choose from, this list was easily the hardest to write.  Do I pick the evilest or the most cunning or even the funniest ones? I tried to pick ones from across the board, like the one that made me laugh the most or made me outright hate them for the stuff they did.  I think I’ve got a great group here to fill your every need.  So let’s take a look at the worst of the worst!

Madam Mim – Sword in the Stone


There’s something incredibly gratifying when you have a villain who’s just crazy, who doesn’t have an evil plan, but just likes raising mischief wherever she goes.  When Arthur is turned into a bird and inadvertently makes his way into her cabin, she sings him a song about her powers and ow she plans to use them to kill him.  Merlin shows up to save him and gets caught in a magical duel with Mim, which she cheats in, of course.  I just like how she wasn’t even doing anything when Arthur shows up – she wasn’t planning an attack or anything.  She’s just hanging out, sees an opportunity to piss off her nemesis, Merlin, and takes it.  She’s just a simple, yet mad villain.

Judge Doom – Who Framed Roger Rabbit


Yeah, I’m probably riding the line including him in a list of cartoon villains, but when it’s spelled out in the movie that he is one, it counts.  Christopher Lloyd does such an incredible job spending most of the movie as the straightest of villains.  No sense of humor, not even a hint of a smile.  And then at the end of the movie, after surviving getting run over by a steamroller, he’s revealed to be a Toon himself and hams it up.  It’s such a huge turn, he would have easily gotten a spot on my Top 5 Villain Portrayals if only he’d actually said more once he starts trying to kill Valiant in earnest.

John Silver – Treasure Planet


I talked about this guy in the last list where he goes back and forth being a mentor to Jim Hawkins, then an enemy, and finally redeems himself at the end to save him.  Part of the reason I like him so much is that change, but the other part is how cool he looks.  The way they were able to combine the 2d and 3d animation in his arm and leg looked incredible.  I would still like the character if he was fully 2d, but he wouldn’t be this high on the list without it.

The Horned King – Black Cauldron


John Hurt does a fantastic job bringing to life the most grotesque villain has put out to date.  The Horned King is like nothing before or after it – a truly terrifying monster, his flesh mottled and rotten, his face constantly in a sneer.  Not to mention his plan to bring to life an army of undead warriors to take over the kingdom.  Like I said in previous list, there’s no wonder it took Disney so long to bring this out on home video.  It’s the first Disney feature to be rated PG-13 and most of that falls squarely on the Horned King’s ghoulish shoulders.

Lyle Tiberius Rourke – Atlantis


It’s no wonder that Atlantis is my favorite Disney movie.  Forgoing the songs and cutesy design of many of Disney’s previous movies, we’re presented with a story that has one of Disney’s highest body counts, with almost the whole crew of a massive sub dying on screen, not to mention most of Atlantis being destroyed in the first few minutes of the movie.
  
We’re introduced to Rourke as the commander of the ill-fated expedition, all business, barking orders all the time, but still taking time to show respect to his lost crew.  Only once they find Atlantis still living underground do we get a hint at his nefarious plan.  “This changes nothing.”  Finally stealing the crystal-infused princess at the end, he dooms all of Atlantis to death.  He turns on his second-in-command and tries to kill her.  And like he deserves, Rourke suffers two deaths at the end, turned into the monster he really is.  

So who are your favorite villains?  Do you like normal human villains like Cruella De Vil?  Magic-users like Jafar?  Or just crazy monsters like Chernobog?  Speak up and let me know!

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Disnovember 2019 - Top 5 Villain Deaths


Disney Movies used to have a problem – while trying to stay as family-friendly as possible, they still needed to kill the villain to get closure.  Obviously, the bad guy couldn’t die on screen, but the one way to get around that was a great fall until they disappeared.  Look at the evidence – Gaston from Beauty and the Beast, Rattigan from The Great Mouse Detective. Even the original Disney film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, has the Evil Queen falling off a cliff.  Disney has gone a long way to get past it lately, showcasing some surprisingly violent or gruesome deaths.  Let’s take a look at how close Disney’s come to torture porn, because there’s no question that these bad guys are freaking dead.

5. Shan Yu – Mulan

After their supposed defeat high in the mountains, Shan Yu and his remaining Huns have infiltrated the Chinese Emperor’s palace.  Shan Yu loses the Emperor because of Mulan’s involvement and realizes she’s the cause of the avalanche that killed most of his troops.  Their fight takes them to the very top of the palace where a Mushu-guided firework carries him into a nearby tower filled with gunpowder and fireworks.  A massive explosion follows without a trace of the Hun leader anywhere.



Dying in a fiery explosion is one heck of a way to start off this list.  It’s such a decisive end for the villains like there’s no way you can doubt he was dead.  The fact that it happened on screen as well, not just seeing some small part of it while the rest is hidden from us.  It also ranks high on the list considering the previous movies (1996’s Hunchback of Notre Dame and 1997’s Hercules) had villains die by falling, even though the former fell into a massive fire, and the latter – not really a death, mind you – fell into a pit of lost souls.

4. Sykes and his dogs – Oliver & Company

Fleeing from the brutal loan shark Sykes, Fagin takes his animal crew through the New York streets before steering into the subway.  Sykes follows in his massive sedan, shredding his tires on the rails.  When Penny falls off the cart onto Sykes’s car, Oliver and Dodger fight the loan shark’s Dobermans, DeSoto and Roscoe. Both dogs fly off the back of the car and are electrocuted n the subway’s third rail.  Sykes continues his chase, even when a subway car barrels toward him, turning his car into a fireball before sending it crashing into the river.  



Replacing homeless kids with cute puppies and kittens made Oliver & Company one of my favorite Disney flicks.  And I’m not sure how unpopular this opinion is, but I like Billy Joel’s soundtrack way better than any of Elton John’s stuff.  Anyway, even though Sykes’s death happens just off-screen, we still see the fiery explosion of his car immediately after it leaves the picture.  While this normally wouldn’t register that high for me, the fact that we see one of his two dogs get electrocuted on the rails (we only see the second dog fall and hear the surge) pushes it near the top for me.

3. Rourke – Atlantis: The Lost Empire

Even after watching the Heart of Atlantis change Princess Kida into a living crystal, Rourke’s plan of selling the kingdom’s treasure hasn’t changed.  Rourke and Milo’s fight on the hot air balloon during their escape breaks the glass on Kida’s chamber, which Milo uses to cut Rourke’s arm.  The energies within the chamber consume Rourke, turning him into a crystal as well.  Milo’s relief is short-lived as Rourke unleashes an unnatural scream and lunges across the balloon’s structure.  The shifting weight brings Rourke up into the balloon’s propeller, shattering the villain.



I love the fact that Rourke gets two deaths.  You expect Rourke’s transformation to kill him, it certainly looked painful enough as it happens.  But then he keeps coming before being torn apart by the propeller.  Either one of those would have been bad enough but putting them together is just adding insult to injury.  And I love it.

2. The Horned King – The Black Cauldron

Using the power of the Black Cauldron, the Horned King has brought to life his army of undead warriors. As our heroes watch in horror, their cowardly friend Gurgi summons up all his courage and plunges into the cauldron.  Purified by his sacrifice, the evil magic is reversed.  The Cauldron-born are destroyed and the Horned King is sucked into the Cauldron, his decayed flesh ripped from his bones before his skeleton is pulverized.



There’s not one thing about the Horned King that belongs in a Disney movie.  He’s got an incredibly ghoulish look, with rotten skin and half his face eaten away.  His plan is to revive an army of skeletal warriors that immediately murders his henchmen.  And then there’s his death, which is the most graphic we’ve ever seen.  It’s no wonder this movie took thirteen years to be released on home video.

1. Clayton – Tarzan

As Tarzan and Clayton’s final fight leads them further up in the trees, the hunter’s losing his cool.  Tarzan gets Clayton’s shotgun and after threatening to use it against its owner, he breaks it in half.  Reduced to using his machete, Clayton chases Tarzan through the vines, slashing wildly.  Tarzan tries to stop him as the vines catch around Clayton’s neck, but it’s too late. Clayton cuts through the last vine holding him up.  He drops down out of the tree, the vines strangling him.



While Clayton’s death isn’t nearly gruesome as some of the other deaths on this list, I just love the imagery of it.  Most of Disney’s fall deaths are shown from above as the body disappears out of view, but here we see it from below, the machete falling into view right as the lightning strikes, showing his limp shadow.  There’s something almost beautiful about it.

So which villain did you think had the best death?  Do you prefer the more gruesome demises?  Or the most poetic justice?

Monday, November 11, 2019

Disnovember 2019 - Top 5 Villain Portrayals


One of the things I love most about animation is that a character can look like whatever you wanted.  There were no limits.  If your movie was about a living blender, you just drew the blender, maybe slapped a face on it, and there you go.  But that only gets you half way to a good character – the other half, usually at least, is an excellent voice actor, someone who can really emote with just their voice.  I’ll be honest with you, a good vocal performance in an animated movie has a much higher chance of bringing me to tears than any live-action performance.  And if they can do that, just imagine how much they can terrify as well.

5. George Sanders – Shere Khan – The Jungle Book
I really do love a smooth-talking villain, someone who can seduce a victim while sharpening their claws.  In The Jungle Book, George Sanders pull this off perfectly with Shere Khan, the tiger with an obsession with killing the human Mowgli.  Giving the Bengal tiger a British accent honed over decades in film and television work gave him a regal tone.  Besides having experience with playing royalty as the titular role in King Richard and the Crusaders, he had played a popular villain the year before Shere Khan when he was cast as Mr. Freeze in Batman (1966).
Favorite line – “You're trying my patience. Five, six, seven, eight, nine, TEN!”


4. Pat Carroll – Ursula – The Little Mermaid
There’s something to be said when you can tell had a good time.  Familiar to a few of us doing voices in cartoons like Pound Puppies and Foofur, Pat Carroll has a much longer filmography than anyone on this list.  Surprisingly, she’s still playing Ursula to this day in Kingdom Hearts.  She exemplifies the manipulative witch so wonderfully, and unlike most of them before her, she doesn’t play the quiet evil like Maleficent or the crazy evil like Cruella De Vil.  She just enjoys being evil, and that’s great in my book.
Favorite line – "Oh, no, no, no, no, no. I can't stand it! It's too easy! The child is in love with a human. And not just any human. A prince!"


3. James Garner – Lyle Tiberius Rourke – Atlantis: The Lost Empire/Brian Murray – John Silver – Treasure Planet
I couldn’t choose between these two heel turns.  Both of these actors do a fantastic job playing the supportive characters to our main men, whether they’re in a leadership or mentoring role.  And then halfway through the movies when they show their true colors, the changes each character makes are different but equally great.  Garner’s Rourke shifts ever so slightly to still trying to be friendly but never dissuaded, while Murray’s Jones becomes over-the-top villainous, while still being reluctant to hurt the one person standing in his way.  Both portrayals really make their villains stand out from the rest of Disney’s obviously evil bad guys.
Favorite line – From Rourke: “It takes a lot to get under my skin, but congratulations, you just won the solid-gold kewpie doll.”


2. Keith David – Dr. Facilier – The Princess and the Frog
Here I am talking about Keith David again.  I could listen to this guy narrate pigs having sex and I’d still be cool with it.  I really enjoy how quickly he shifts from his cool persona to anger so quickly and back, like when he explains that he can’t use voodoo on himself.  It’s certainly different from the voices I’m used to hearing from him, but it’s a blessing because it tells me he could do absolutely anything and I’d still love him.
Favorite line – “Come on, Tiana... You're almost there."



1. Eartha Kitt – Yzma – Emperor’s New Groove
This is the biggest surprise for me.  Famous for her portrayal as Catwoman in Batman ’66, (the second Batman bad guy to make this list!) nearly 35 years later, here she is “scary beyond all reason.”  She plays a completely over-the-top villain, making up an incredible plan to get rid of her emperor that just sounds funnier the angrier she gets.  I just love hearing her complain about her imbecilic assistant, Kronk.  The only thing funnier than her normal voice work is the high pitch once she changes and how she just accepts it.
Favorite line – “I’ll smash it with a hammer!”


So do you have any favorites?  Do you like Jeremy Irons's Scar or Tony Jay's Frollo?

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Disnovember 2019 - Top 5 Villain Songs


A long time ago on the blog when I was doing my villain retrospect series, one thing I’d never do is Disney stuff.  I can’t even remember my reasoning, maybe the focus on humor over action, but whatever it was, it was a bogus excuse.  With the wide selection of villains to choose from either their movies or the television shows, it was a daunting task to pick my favorites from either of them.  But this month I christen Disnovember because I’m going to be taking a look at the bad guys from the cinematic ventures.  I want to consider a few different facets of the nefarious evil-doers, so each week of this month will have a different list. We’re starting with something that doesn’t apply to all villains this week – their songs!

I’ll be the first one to admit I’m not musical in any regard. I don’t listen to a lot of music myself, and I can’t even tell you if a song is good or not.  All I know is these songs are the ones that send chills up my spine when I hear them.

5. Savages – John Ratcliffe – Pocahontas

As the final battle comes close in Pocahontas, Radcliffe’s colonists and Powhattan’s tribe prepare for war, both sides singing half of the anthem.  Axes are sharpened and cannons are loaded. Natives dance around the fire.  As the song goes on, the two armies march towards the battlefield where John Smith is due to be executed.  Pocahontas breaks in, trying to reach her lover before his brains are bashed in.



When I made up this list, I wasn’t sure of duets with the protagonists of the movie would have counted as villain songs, but considering I like this song a ton more than Ratcliff’s “Mine, Mine, Mine,” I figured it deserved a spot.  While I’m far from a fan of this movie, “Savages” is a part I always enjoy.

4. Trust in Me – Kaa – The Jungle Book

While sleeping in the trees, the massive python Kaa sneaks up on Mowgli, intent on hypnotizing him before swallowing him whole.  His first attempt fails, but when he finds Mowgli alone in the woods later, he hypnotizes the boy again, this time adding in the dreamy tune, “Trust in Me.”  The perfect lullaby, Mowgli’s lured into sleep, being rocked in a hammock made of Kaa’s own coils.



The Jungle Book’s soundtrack is one of the best ones out there with a lot of enjoyable songs and only one real stinker (I never cared for the vultures’ song at the end).  It even has two villain songs with this one and King Louie’s “I Wanna Be Like You.”  The latter is a real fun song, but the former is easily more villainous.  Even better, being sung by Winnie the Pooh’s Sterling Holloway is just icing on the cake.

3. The Mob Song – Gaston – Beauty and the Beast

After learning about the Beast from Belle’s magic mirror, Gaston riles the townspeople up into a frenzy, singing about the threat he could pose to their children and homes.  The mob hold up their pitchforks and light their torches before marching to the castle.  As bash the door down and sing about storming the castle, the refrain goes up, “Kill the Beast!”



This song has the same back-and-forth energy of “Savages”, but I do enjoy this one a little more because of how manipulative Gaston is without knowing anything of the enemy.  There’s something crazy about how manipulative he can be, turning their fear into a fervor strong enough to storm the castle.  While Gaston’s song in the beginning could be called a better song, the inherent evil quality of this one with the Kill the Beast refrain tops it for me.

2. Poor Unfortunate Souls – Ursula – The Little Mermaid

When Ariel seeks help from Ursula to marry Prince Eric, she’s told there’s a simple price for the Sea Witch’s assistance – her voice!  Ursula extolls her generous virtue, how she’s helped mermaid and merman alike, these “Poor, Unfortunate Souls,” using her magic to make their dreams come true.  Over the course of her song, as she pressures Ariel to accept the terms, Ursula knows she’s got her when she brags to her eels that she’s “on a roll!”



Who didn’t expect this song to show up on here?  It’s been one of the most popular villain songs ever and on everyone’s favorites list you see online.  Do I even have to list why this song rocks?  The way the energy of the song ramps up until Ursula’s basically screaming at Ariel to sign the contract?  Her “body language” crack?  Everything about this song is just the best.

1. Friends from the Other Side – Dr. Facilier – Princess and the Frog

Seeing his opportunity to take control of New Orleans when a handsome prince visits, Dr. Facilier lures him in with a card reading while his shadow trips up and kicks the prince’s servant, Lawrence.  The Shadow Man discerns Prince Naveen’s financial situation with the use of tarot and concocts a plan:  turn him into a frog and replace him with his puppet, Lawrence.  After shaking both of their hands together, the transformation is complete thanks to help from his friends on the other side.


I love everything about this song – the high and lows as he reads the cards, Facilier’s comments during it, the huge tonal shift after the handshake.  But most of all, I love Keith David’s smooth voice.  I’ve been a huge fan of his work since Gargoyles, so for him to finally make his way into Disney’s theatrical works - and as a villain no less - made me extremely happy.  I never expected him to have a song of his own, but I was so satisfied that he sang it himself instead of a stand-in.

So what are your favorite villain songs?  What villain do you wish got a song of their own?