10. Robert DeNiro as Travis Bickle in TAXI DRIVER
DeNiro's no slouch when it comes to being cast as a crazy person (CAPE FEAR for starters), and thanks to TAXI DRIVER he gave millions of men something to say while staring sternly at themselves in the mirror. Less a cold-blooded killer than vigilante with a cause, you can just about see the loose screws dribbling out of Bickle's mohawk.
9. John Travolta/Samuel L. Jackson as Vega/Winnfield in PULP FICTION
Travolta's Vincent Vega and Jackson's Jules Winnfield are so charming, so likeable, so lushly-haired, that you might forget the characters are actually ruthless paid killers. And — like it or not — this Oscar-nominated part returned Travolta to superstardom.
8. Christoph Waltz as Colonel Hanz Landa in INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS
Austrian moviestar Christoph Waltz crashed Hollywood as the cruel, calculating, Jew-hunting Nazi, Colonel Hans Landa. Nazi Jew-hunter is never a role you want to say somebody was "made for," but it's impossible to imagine INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS flying without him. From the first scene's excruciating slowness through the sadistic interrogations to his final astonished pleas, Waltz was a revelation to audiences — and The Academy.
7. Dennis Hopper as Frank Booth in BLUE VELVET
David Lynch was reluctant to cast the notorious Hopper as Frank Booth, an amyl-nitrate sucking small-town psychopath who terrorizes Isabella Rossellini, Kyle MacLachlan, and the dreams of just about anybody who has ever seen BLUE VELVET. But nobody could have nailed the tweaked and sadistic Booth like Hopper, or made lines that can't be repeated on these pages such enduring entries to the cultural lexicon."Dennis was Frank," Lynch said. "Luckily he was also someone else too." Phew.
6. Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance in THE SHINING
Never one to be dull, Nicholson has also played all manner of nut jobs. But nothing in his spikes the psycho-meter like ax-wielding Jack Torrance. Sure, blame it on the hotel, blame it on those creepy little ghost girls, blame it on writer's block or the ocean of blood streaming out the elevator, but when Jack chases Shelley Duval through the ice maze, it's like he's chasing us, and we don't understand, so we're crying, and it's very, very cold.
5. Martin Sheen/Sissy Spacek as Kit/Holly in BADLANDS
Before Mickey and Mallory raised hell in Natural Born Killers, a young Terrence Malick directed Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek through a spree modeled after the real-life pair of Charles Starkweather and Caril Fugate. Sheen's James Dean-worshipping Kit and Spacek's childlike Holly blast their way through nowheresville (and one of the weirdest soundtracks ever), camping out in trees, kissing like sloppy teenagers, shooting strangers, and inspiring what is widely considered Bruce Sprinsteen's best record.
4. Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter in SILENCE OF THE LAMBS
Even if the plot of SILENCE OF THE LAMBS centered around catching the skin-caped and crotch-tucked ghoul Buffalo Bill, there's no question which killer steals this show. Anthony Hopkins' cannibalizing, other-man's-face wearing Hannibal Lecter was scandalous and inscrutable and true enough to earn the actor an Oscar and make him — and his character — household names.
3. Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh in NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
The Coen brothers are responsible for some memorable killers, but Javier Bardem's Prince-Valint-dooed Anton Chigurh stands out. Embodying the unstoppable force of evil that runs through the work of the Coens and Cormac McCarthy (who wrote the book), and wielding &mdashl; among other weapons — a compressed-air cattle stunner, Chigurh stalks the desert collecting dozens of souls. For the part Bardem achieved the immortality of an Oscar.
2. Charlize Theron as Aileen Wuornos in MONSTER
Charlize Theron donned freckles, fraying hair, and 40-extra pounds to play real-life John killer Aileen Wuornos. Body manipulation aside, Theron's skillful alchemy of brutality, tearful pathos, and paranoia was so mesmerizing and disturbing that audiences left the movie with feelings they really did not want to feel. Another Oscar-winning, career-making role, and definitely the most complex on the list.
1. Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates in PSYCHO
Corpse shrine in the basement? Check. Likeable at first, if a little bit nervous and peculiar? Check. Taxidermy? Yup. Multiple personalities? Gigantic steak knife wielded by cold, personality-less monster? Did somebody say "horror movie staples?" While credit for the Ur film psychopath may go to Peter Lorre or even Robert Mitchum, there can be no denying who its Abraham was. Sure, Anthony Perkins never found a role to match this one, but isn't it because, well, he was Norman Bates?