Disney villains come in all shapes and sizes. They sport wide evil smiles and even more evil plans. Some make you laugh, some make you angry. Then there are the villains that cause you to avoid the darker corners of Disney World, hoping that you never have to see them again. These are ten such villains, ten Disney villains that will chill you to the bone.
10. Sark (Tron)
Sark, the underling to the grand evil mastermind, MCP. Don't let that fool you, though. Sark is the program in charge of the gaming division, the gladitorial arena where slave programs go to die. Sark not only does his job well, but also seems to take great joy in this position. He is judge and executioner with no mercy or sense of forgiveness.
David Warner's portrayal as Sark is much more horrifying than voicing MCP simply because Sark has a human face and form that is putting forth the deadpan, emotionless performance. This plays on the uncanny valley phenomenon, but in reverse. We're seeing this human form with a human face that feels pain and goes through some sense of impatience (and thus MUST be feeling some kind of emotion), and we want to see Sark react in human ways and make human choices. He doesn't though. That only adds to the sense of evil nature to him. Sark has his orders and he will follow them, no matter what. Sark is a robot wearing a human face, he has an army, and his programming is to kill Flynn.
9. Maximilian (The Black Hole)
Most of the time, when a sci-fi film has a giant killer robot, it's controlled by the main bad guy. Thus, the way to stop the evil marauding robot monster is to stop the bad guy. What would happen if the robot threw up a proverbial middle finger and didn't stop? Well, you'd get Maximilian from The Black Hole.
Maximilian is Doctor Reinhardt's right hand robot. It follows his commands pretty closely, unless the command goes against its silent and murderously xenophobic nature. Maximilian is the quintessential idea of the loyal sidekick that will eventually betray you in the most horrifyingly brutal way, and I do mean brutal. Not just by Disney standards either. During one scene, the protagonists decide to try to stop Dr. Reinhardt from completing his stereotypical, mad scientist "I value science over humanity/ what shade of gray on the black and white scale is this" plan. Maximilian decides to stop them by attacking. Dr. Reinhardt commands him to stop. Maxi-boy replies by shoving a blender head into the character's chest, turning his torso into hamburger meat, and then throwing him across the room! In another scene, this crimson behemoth abandons his creator, who is in peril, simply because it wants to kill the good guys. Maximilian is the mind of a three-year-old child that has decided to see how far he can get away with not minding Daddy in the hulking, red, nigh-indestructable body of a monster! Run... Run fast... Keep running. Don't stop. Never stop.
8. The Man With Red Eyes (A Wrinkle in Time)
All of your life, you're told that you're special. That you are much more intelligent than most kids your age and that you could have a truly bright and beautiful future. Then you meet that one person. That man that everyone told you to stay away from. This man is nice to you and agrees with everyone else. You ARE special. He's charismatic and says that he wants to help you reach your full potential. Little do you know that this man is everything that you've been warned about and only wants to use your potential for dark purposes.
Through most of A Wrinkle in Time, the protagonist is warned about The Black Thing. That it only wants to eliminate creativity and replace the world with a boringly homogenized and soulless husk. When he meets the big bad, though, The Man with Red Eyes is charismatic, inviting, and tries to convince the protagonist that it only wants to help him grow in potential. The protagonist originally thinks that he is challenging the big bad guy... and winning. Little does he know that his every effort is actually working against him and he is being led right to where The Man With Red Eyes wants him to be. I can think of nothing more terrifyingly poignant in our time than to be told that you are special for most of your life, and then find someone more special than you and wants to use your talent against you.
7. The Supreme Leader (Captain EO)
The entire concept behind the Supreme Leader is very much dated in the mid 80s. No, not in the synth-pop, shoulder pads, and big hair sort of way. What most people that were around in that era would refuse to acknowledge is that art in the 80s had some truly dark and horrifying sides. Film was no exception. This was the era that brought us Xenomorphs, the Nightbreed, and Cenobites. The Supreme Leader's dark, mechanically monstrous nature is really a reflection of the darkest idea of what evil could be. Anjelica Houston played the part very differently than the other roles that she is known for playing in fantasy/horror movies. Instead of playing smoulderingly sultry, the Supreme Leader is very spider-like in her movements. Which makes sense because of the design of the character is very spider-like.
The Supreme Leader's design was spawned from the imaginations of George Lucas and Rick Baker. They were most definitely channeling H.R. Giger in their design. She is a mass of black cables, piercing blades, and what might have been a beautiful woman once, but suddenly decided to become a bio-mechanical spider-monster instead. Aside from the typical comic book super villain demeanor, the Supreme Leader is quite possibly one of the darkest and creepiest members of the Disney Pantheon. Of course, the movie being 3-D and those twitchy fingers certainly help her get that role.
6. Mr. Dark (Something Wicked This Way Comes)
The devil is portrayed in many different and opposing ways in Hollywood. None have been so used than the role of Mr. Dark in Something Wicked This Way Comes. The character has been portrayed in various movies, books, and TV shows such as Needful Things, Monsterville: Cabinet of Souls, Carnivale, American Horror Story, and even parodied in a popular episode of Rick and Morty.
Mr. Dark comes to town with his carnival. In this carnival, he is able to provided the deepest desires of anyone that attends. All they have to do is swear to eternal servitude to him. The film version was a fairly scary movie that's aimed at kids without truly terrifying you. This seems to personify the character of Mr. Dark. He wants to charm you and draw you in, but still can't deny his dark intent. Instead he embraces it and makes it part of his mystique. Does this sound familiar? It should. How many times have you noticed a friend falling for someone that you knew was toxic, but your friend was absolutely enthralled with?
5. Princess Mombi (Return to Oz)
The entire concept behind Princess Mombi (or Princess Langwidere, as she is known in the books) is just absolutely creepy as all hell. Drawing parallels to the Evil Queen from Snow White and Elizabeth Bathory, Mombi is a vain woman that tries to kidnap Dorothy with the intention to take her head and add it to Mombi's gallery of interchangeable heads. If that's not creepy enough for you, take into consideration the following scene: Dorothy must sneak into the gallery to steal the Life Powder from the cabinet that holds Mombi's original head. The scene really ramps up the tension as Dorothy finally opens the cabinet, gets the powder, then suddenly the head wakes up and bellows "Dorothy Gale" as if she were the Tall Man in Phantasm! All of the heads start screaming and the headless body suddenly jumps up out of bed and chases after her! That is straight out of a horror movie! I'm terrified just thinking about it.
4. Claude Frollo (Hunchback of Notre Dame)
There is something to be said about a man whose convictions are so strong that he is willing to do some truly horrible and terrifying things simply because he believes that he is right. Judge Frollo is just such a person. While it could be argued that the things that he does are more out of self-interest, his position and rank didn't come to him instantly. At some point or another, Frollo must have started his career with the best of intentions. Not only that, but his prayer in private shows that he is fighting an inner turmoil that is ripping him apart. While his greed wants him to go one way, his faith in religion is telling him that it's wrong. A man with that sort of power and prestige that is willing to do anything to hide his personal demons is a truly terrifying concept.
Not only that, but his character is the personification of a lot of real world issues with people placed in positions of power. His role as a villain while still having a socially acceptable justification (at least in his own mind) is a direct reflection of things like the Klan control over the south for so many years, Nazi control over Germany during World War II, as well the concept of absolute power corrupting absolutely in so many branches of government today. Watching Judge Frollo act shows the darkness within ourselves and the decision that we make for self-preservation that we try to justify as altruism. Judge Frollo is our own darkness that we refuse to acknowledge. Looking into that mirror is truly scary.
3. The Banshee (Darby O'Gill and the Little People)
In the 50s and 60s, Disney was the master of the family friendly film. Everything that they touched had a cuteness, humor, and charm to it. It's live action films were no different. Still, the Disney filmmakers were skilled directors, musicians, and actors that had no problem showing the audience the depths of their abilities. This fact that can best displayed in Disney's occasional use of crippling horror right in the middle of their most light-hearted films.
Towards the end of Darby O'Gill, the titular character's daughter is seriously injured. This summons the legendary Banshee to come and take Kate away in possibly one of the most truly terrifying scenes in Disney history. The Banshee is the epitome of Death and this is not held back in it's portrayal in this Disney film!
2. The Watcher (Watcher in the Woods)
I know, I know. You can't really call the Watcher a villain as to the (spoilers) nature of the reveal. That doesn't take away from the fact that this movie, and the 1976 book that it was based on, isn't creepy as all get out! Considering that the director, John Hough, is the same guy that brought us the Incubus, Legend of Hell House, and Howling IV, I'd say that there was a reason behind that. Oh, did I forget to mention that this is the original ending.
Listen to that score! Look at that... THING! The Watcher in the Woods is a horror movie through and through. It's disney lineage and family demographic doesn't change that one bit. The Watcher is intended to scare the audience. That's the nature of the film. Unfortunately, the ending was so scary that the film had to be pulled and a new ending shot. The one and only reason that the Watcher hasn't taken the number one spot is because the Watcher, while being scary as all hell, is as much a victim of the circumstances as the other members of the cast.
1. The Horned King (The Black Cauldron)
While Walt Disney Pictures injected just a little of its trademark humor into 1985's The Black Cauldron, it is still considered one of Disney darkest and least "Disney" movies to date. This is best illustrated in the movies main antagonist, The Horned King. Voiced by veteran actor John Hurt, the Horned King is a necromancer with aspirations of taking over the world by raising his army from the dead using the titular Black Cauldron. The Horned King was originally created by Lloyd Alexander as an antagonist for his Prydain Chronicles. The Horned King in the book is a large man in armor, huge crimson-stained arms, and a helmet that sports antlers. He is also just a general for the books' main antagonist, Arawn. The Disney film combines the two into one big skull-face, horn-headed tower of absolute nightmare fuel!
Which is probably why you won't find the Horned King floating around Disney's Not So Scary Halloween Party. He's too scary! Born in a time when the Disney Studios were trying new things and going through major changes, The Horned King doesn't exactly scream "marketable to kids." Even these days, villains that Horney (note to self: never call him that again) could hang out with, such as Capt. Barbossa or Chernabog, are marketable in some manner. The Horned King is everything dark and scary in the world mashed into one being and sent on a mission from Hell. Good luck selling plushies of that!
About the Creator
Lee Drake is a 16 year veteran of horror acting as well as a published author and very opinionated a-hole. Between dodging classes at Full Sail University, he spends time with his wife and daughters at their home in Orlando, Fl.