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Top 10 Films Where the Villains Win

Joe Hincks

As Hollywood continuously churns out innumerable copies of films, but with different names, actors and cast, it can be difficult to find an original film where the normally, more interesting and charismatic villain succeeds in his goals, and evil triumphs over good. Here is a look at ten films where this occurs. WARNING: Spoilers. This list is essentially a list of spoilers so if you haven’t seen the films but plan on doing so, don’t read the description.

10

Matchstick Men

A phobic con artist, Roy Walker, and his accomplice, Frank, are about to pull of their next job when Roy’s estranged teenage daughter, Angela, arrives. Roy is an obsessive-compulsive agoraphobic, who is at first disrupted in his carefully ordered routine, but soon begins to enjoy the relationship that is developing with the daughter he never knew he had as she grows fascinated with his career.

Later on in the film, the mark of the con, Chuck, is waiting outside Roy’s house alongside a badly beaten Frank, Angela shoots Chuck and Roy sends her off with Frank into hiding until the matter has calmed down. Roy begins to take care of Chuck’s body who suddenly springs to life and knocks Roy unconscious. Roy awakes in hospital to find Frank and Angela missing. He slowly realizes that Frank has pulled a con on him, and after talking to his divorced wife, it is revealed that Roy’s actual daughter was a miscarriage and Angela was just Frank’s accomplice.


9

Brazil

In this endlessly bizarre, dystopian, sci-fi from the mind of Terry Gilliam, Sam Lowry is an ordinary (well, ordinary compared to the rest of the characters) bureaucrat living in this not-so-distant future country, who is employed to investigate a rather serious mix up, and becomes a public enemy.

Sam is captured by his old friend Jack Lint as he is now assumed to be a terrorist. He is taken to be tortured, but then Tuttle and members of the resistance against the government storm the chamber and rescue Sam. They flee in a hail of gunfire, and Sam and his love interest Jill, leave happily ever after and settle in the countryside. Except they don’t. It is revealed that this is all happening inside Sam’s head, who is actually sitting in the torture room now catatonic and a lost cause.

8

The Wicker Man

Speaking of course about the original here, this 1973 horror stars Edward Woodward as police sergeant Neil Howie. He receives an anonymous letter requesting him to journey to the Hebrides and investigate the disappearance of a young girl. Upon arriving at the island Summerilse, the devout Christian Howie is rather unnerved, to say the least, at the locals choice of a Celtic pagan religion.

Near the end of the film it is revealed that Howie was lured to the Isle by the islanders, who were successful in leading him to believe that a missing girl was being held captive against her will. Because of the dreadful harvest in the previous year, their religion calls for a sacrifice to be made, and Howie is just the right man for it. He is stripped naked, dressed in ceremonial robes, then dragged into a giant wicker statue which is then set ablaze.

7

Rosemary’s Baby

This classic horror from Roman Polanski revolves around a young couple who move into a new apartment with a sinister reputation. It was supposedly once possessed by cannibal murderers, witches, Satanists and a lot of other outstanding members of society. An array of strange things and creepy neighbors arise, and as Rosemary becomes pregnant she suspects that they may have plans for the baby.

As it happens, it turns out that Rosemary’s baby is actually the spawn of the Devil and all of her neighbors begin to scream “Hail Satan.” Then persuaded by one of her neighbors, Roman, Rosemary reluctantly decides to give in to her maternal instincts and is seen cradling the baby, “He has his Father’s eyes…”

6

One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Randle Patrick McMurphy has once again got himself in trouble with the law, and now to escape prison he pleads insanity. He then ends up in a mental hospital, where he meets a range of colorful and of course, insane characters, as well as the oppressive and degrading Nurse Ratched. Together, the inmates led by McMurphy go on a rebellious streak in protest of her.

After a night of drinking and women smuggled in by McMurphy, Nurse Ratched arrives to discover the mess the next morning. Billy, a stuttering and socially awkward man-child, at risk of suicide is discovered with a lady, the Nurse threatens to tell his mother. Left alone in the room for a few seconds, Billy consequently kills himself with a piece of glass. Horrified by this, McMurphy assaults and strangles Ratchet nearly to death. He is knocked out then taken away. Later, the chief, a giant, seemingly mute Red Indian discovers McMurphy with lobotomy scars, so he escapes in the way that McMurphy said he would.


5

The Silence of the Lambs

A young FBI cadet, Clarice Starling, is tasked with collaborating with a manipulative and genius serial killer Hannibal Lecter. They are to try and catch another killer, Buffalo Bill, a man who captures then skins his victims to form a selection of coats made from women’s skin.

After Lecter’s escape from a “secure” cell in Tennessee, Clarice investigates the hometown of the first victim of Bill. She winds up inside Bill’s home while a SWAT team enter the wrong house. She draws her weapon as Bill escapes to the basement and then pursues him carefully. The lights go out leaving Clarice in complete darkness but she eventually kills Bill. Days later, she receives a call from Lecter in the Bahamas, now at large. He puts down the phone remarking “I’m having a friend for dinner” then pursues the prison doctor along the road.

4

Fight Club

An unstable insomniac and a charismatic soap salesman named Tyler Durden team up, after the insomniac’s house is mysteriously destroyed. Together they create a secret fight club and the insomniac is now able to get some sleep. As the club expands, so to does the philosophy behind it until the insomniac begins to believe it is out of control.

While tracing Tyler’s steps around the other fight clubs he has set up, the insomniac gets an eerie feeling of déjà vu. He remembers everywhere he is going until one of the participants in the club identifies him as Tyler Durden. He and Tyler are the same person. Durden has set up plans to bring down headquarters of several major credit companies to cripple finance networks. The insomniac attempts to disarm bombs set up to destroy the buildings when he is knocked out by Tyler after an imaginary and awesome fight. After destroying the illusion of Tyler by shooting himself, the insomniac is unable to stop the bombs and Tyler’s plans are fulfilled.

3

Memento

In what could be the most unchronological film ever, an ex-insurance investigator, Leonard Shelby, can no longer create new memories after an assault where his wife was killed and he took a hard knock to the head giving him this bizarre defect. Memento shows two storylines, one in color going backwards from the moment Leonard kills his friend Teddy and the other showing a phone conversation Leonard has with a mystery person in normal time.

When the two stories collide, Leonard has killed the man who he believes is John G, his wife’s killer, in an abandoned building. After muttering the word “Sammy” (a man with a similar condition, who Leonard only talks about to people he’s met), Leonard realizes he must have killed the wrong man. Under pressure, Teddy reveals that Leonard’s wife actually survived but died of an insulin overdose described in the Sammy story and that Leonard deliberately created an unsolvable puzzle to give himself purpose. So Leonard uses the license of Teddy’s car as a clue to find the “killer” which will eventually lead to Teddy’s death.

2

Se7en

Two homicide detectives pursue a serial killer who targets people who have committed one of the seven deadly sins, using inventive and often genius ways to kill them. First comes the sin of Gluttony as Mills and Sommerset discover the body of a morbidly obese man who has been forced to eat spaghetti hoops to death.

Near the conclusion, all but two murders have been committed, Mills and Sommerset await for news on the next but the killer, John Doe, then hands himself into the police covered in blood. If the detectives take him to the next two bodies he says he will confess to the killings. At the outskirts of town a van arrives with a mysterious package to be delivered to this location at this time. Sommerset opens the box and recoils in horror at what he sees. Straight away he rushes to Mills shouting at him to put his gun away. Doe reveals that he has killed Mills’ wife and the child inside her. Stricken with grief, Mills executes him. Doe himself was envy and in killing him, Mills was wrath, thus completing Doe’s “masterpiece.”

1

The Usual Suspects

After a truck hijacking, five men are arrested and brought to be investigated. All of them are not guilty and are released but then decide to plan a revenge operation against the police. The job is pulled off, but then the five discover that the legendary master criminal Keyser Soze believes each of them have wronged him and desires something back. The “payback job” doesn’t go well as 27 men are left dead on a destroyed ship.

We learn all of this by the testimony of one of the conmen, a quiet man with cerebral palsy named Verbal Kint, who is one of two survivors on the boat. After telling his story, agent Kujan, the man Verbal is talking to, concludes that Dean Keaton, another one of the five criminals, is Keyser Soze and lets Verbal go. As he leaves, Kujan discover to his horror that the story relayed to him was actually made up from things Verbal saw on the wall behind him, and as he runs around looking for Verbal a fax come through with the artists impression of what Soze looks like from the other survivor. It is a drawing of Verbal. Now clear of the station Verbal begins to walk normally and gets into a car with his associate and drives off.

Notable Omissions: Primal Fear, Chinatown and a few others. These were not included as I have not yet seen these films.