Struggle. It’s at the heart of every great story and the conflict can be what decides which movies make it big and which ones bomb. Perhaps that’s why we love a good villain. They challenge our heroes, force them to reach new heights, stretch them beyond what they thought was possible. Whether it’s a superhero fighting to save the world or just the boy trying to get the girl, nothing gets us more excited than rooting for someone we love and watching them triumph over adversity.

Which is why, when a villain falls flat, we hate it. It’s disappointing to see a character that is supposed to be intimidating wind up flat, one-dimensional, or worst of all, non-threatening. The supervillain with the unclear plan and vague threats, the generic ‘boss’ archetype that never seems to do anything but be gruff, the “scary” horror monster that’s actually cute and gets more laughs than screams.

At a certain point, though, you just have to reward badness. A good movie villain will be revered. An average movie villain will be forgotten. A truly horrible movie villain, though, will wind up in lists like this one.

 

10. Pennywise – It

You can’t really fault Tim Curry for this one. He played the part to perfection. There isn’t anyone on earth who could genuinely blend affable and unnerving so brilliantly. Even without all that makeup, even in something as innocuous as Home Alone 2, he can’t help but look fairer and feel fouler. He’s perfect to play a killer children’s entertainer.

Which is why it’s so disappointing that the bulk of this miniseries consisted of a scary clown that didn’t do much. We see early on that the evil in Derry is willing to kill children, but after one vicious attack on Georgie early on, most encounters with this supernatural creature don’t really go anywhere. The clown spends more time frightening the children with threats, balloons, and bad jokes than doing any murdering. Any real violence is directed towards unlikable characters that we fail to sympathize with.

The disappointment goes even further when it’s discovered that the monster is actually a giant spider in the sewer. Up until this point, the metaphorical manifestation of childhood fears could at least have been argued as a theme, but the final confrontation hearkens much more to the cheesy creature flicks of the 40s and 50s than the deep and carnal fear that exists within everyone of things that go bump in the night. The miniseries might have achieved critical acclaim, and Stephen King certainly enjoys a nice throne in the kingdom of suspense and horror writing. However, as for this adaptation, the villain falls flatter that it should if it wants to keep people shaking for 195 minutes.

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This article was first posted on December 5, 2012