Seth Rogen’s upcoming August 2023 adaptation of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles serves as proof that the famed stoner comedy actor/filmmaker can find laughs everywhere. This is likely because comedy is extremely versatile as a genre and what might seem contradictory often works completely well within its wide-reaching parameters.
It’s also a mistake to think that a great villain can’t exist within a comedic film. Some truly evil characters have existed in comedies over the years and this typically has the potential to heighten the laughs within those films. These truly evil bad guys, however, have left audiences laughing through their horror and wishing for their defeat.
Danny McBride – This Is The End (2013)
This 2013 hit from Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg featured celebrity friends playing exaggerated versions of themselves, while stuck together in James Franco’s house during the apocalypse. There are plenty of laughs, and a big part of this is due to Danny McBride, who wastes no time in overstaying his welcome.
McBride’s arrival in the house isn’t exactly appreciated by the others, and he does everything from stealing water to refusing to work before being kicked out. From that point onward, he establishes himself as an apocalyptic warlord of sorts who keeps Channing Tatum as a sex slave and yearns to kill his former friends. Definitely evil stuff.
Harry (Joe Pesci) – Home Alone (1990)
A classic in every sense of the word, Chris Columbus’ Home Alone was an instant blockbuster upon its release. Though the film delivers on its primary goal of being a heart-warming Christmas story, Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern give the film its unique twist as two dim-witted burglars.
While Harry (Pesci) and Marv (Stern) work as a team, it’s Harry who’s the mastermind. Marv does whatever Harry says and Harry’s desire to burgle at all costs is unsettling. He’s willing to torture and kill a child for money if need be. It’s all set up for laughs, of course, but the evil undercurrent of Harry’s character is pretty disturbing.
Dom Woganowski (Chris Elliot) – There’s Something About Mary (1998)
The Farrelly Brothers found huge success with There’s Something About Mary, solidifying their places as the kings of gross-out comedy. Decades after a major embarrassment, Ted (Ben Stiller) can’t get his high school crush, Mary (Cameron Diaz), out of his head. As a result, it isn’t long before he sets off to win her over.
The film’s finale reveals that Ted’s best friend Dom (Elliot) has been secretly stalking Mary since college, forcing her to change her name and move cities. On top of this, Dom is married with children and treats his wife like a hired servant. He’s a genuine scumbag, betraying everyone he can to win back a woman who wants nothing to do with him.
Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon) – The Princess Bride (1987)
Widely considered one of the best comedies of all time, The Princess Bride is a fairy tale with plenty of charm. At its heart, it’s a love story between former farmhand Westley (Cary Elwes) and a young woman called Buttercup (Robin Wright), whose love is threatened by Prince Humperdinck, heir to the kingdom of Florin.
Humperdinck doesn’t care for Buttercup, he simply wants to use her as a pawn in his bid to gain even more power. First and foremost, however, he’s willing to kill Westley, sending him to the Pit of Despair. His willingness to kill others and destroy lives is pure evil and Humperdinck wears the designation as a badge of honor.
Baron Wolfgang von Wolfhausen (Jürgen Prochnow) – Beerfest (2006)
The Broken Lizard comedy troop was responsible for a handful of stoner comedies in the 2000s, most notably their 2001 cult hit, Super Troopers. Beerfest sees brothers Jan and Todd Wolfhouse form a team to compete in a secret international beer drinking competition in Germany.
Baron Wolfgang von Wolfhausen oversees team Germany, and his grudge against Jan and Todd goes beyond the competition into messy family history. This causes him to do some pretty low stuff – like calling the guys’ grandmother a whore, desecrating their grandfather’s ashes, and even ordering the murder of Jan and Todd’s friend/fellow teammate.
Joe Mentalino (Mike Starr) – Dumb & Dumber (1994)
Another Farrelly Brothers mega-hit, Dumb & Dumber brought Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels together as two utter morons mixed up in a kidnapping plot. There’s an endless stream of hilarity throughout the film, but of course, every story needs an antagonist. Joe Mentalino takes up this role alongside his criminal associate, Karen Duffy.
Audiences learn early on that Joe suffers from an ulcer and that he’s constantly popping pills to deal with it. He’s been sent to kill Lloyd and Harry (Carrey and Daniels) by kidnapper Charles Rocket – a task he seems to relish. After befriending the pair, Joe’s evil plan is to put rat poison in their drinks, but unfortunately for him, the poison is mistaken for his pills.
Stay Puft Marshmallow Man – Ghostbusters (1984)
Few comedies found the sort of lasting and dedicated fanbase as Ghostbusters has. Though subsequent sequels and an ill-fated reboot haven’t been as successful as the original film, fans are content to continuously revisit this classic. The film’s finale is a superb one, with the Ghostbusters fighting for New York City.
It’s during this battle that the now iconic Stay Puft Marshmallow Man emerges. Technically he’s a manifestation of Gozer, the god of destruction, but Stay Puft has forged his own identity over the years. Stay Puft is somewhat adorable even as he plows through New York City, but make no mistake about it, this dude just wants to destroy everything and everyone.
Dr. Evil (Mike Myers) – The Austin Powers Films (1997-2002)
One of many roles that Myers plays throughout the Austin Powers series, Dr. Evil is an amalgamation of the best and most ridiculous James Bond villains. He’s constantly trying to take over the world, but his plans are often out of step with the modern world he inhabits. All the same, he’s able to cause some pretty significant carnage.
Consistently failing to kill Austin Powers despite countless opportunities, Dr. Evil’s desire to control the world is the stuff that evil overlords are made of. He’s unhinged, to say the least, and when audiences are given a chance to learn about his childhood, it’s clear that his upbringing was anything but the “pretty standard stuff” that he writes it off as.
Satan (Dave Grohl) – Tenacious D And The Pick Of Destiny (2006)
In addition to a successful career as a comedic actor, Jack Black has also made a name for himself as half of the real-life rock duo, Tenacious D, alongside fellow comedic actor Kyle Gass. The band’s 2006 cinematic debut involved a humorous premise that incorporated trying to pay their rent and rocking out against the prince of darkness himself.
When it comes to evil, it’s hard to imagine a bigger source than Satan. He’s hilariously portrayed in Pick of Destiny by Foo Fighters lead man, Dave Grohl, but that doesn’t make him any less sinister. Satan wants to take KG (Gass) back to hell with him to serve as a sex slave and as if that isn’t evil enough, remember that he pretty much invented the concept.
Ferdinando Cefalù (Marcello Mastroianni) – Divorce Italian Style (1961)
Filmmaker Pietro Germi’s Italian language comedy might not be for everyone, but it’s well worth a look. The film follows the brilliant Mastroianni as Ferdinando, a married man who falls in love with his teenage neighbor (and cousin), Angela. It’s a disgusting premise that Germi somehow manages to pull off.
Because he wants to be with Angela, Ferdinando decides that he must murder his wife. He proceeds to launch a twisted campaign to see the deed through. Despicable and immoral in every possible way, Ferdinando’s perverse nature fuels this black comedy, which manages to keep audiences laughing despite his utterly evil desires and pursuits.
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