Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Scariest Women in Literature


Loren reminded me earlier this week of one of the scariest women in literature. In this case, a movie: ANIMAL KINGDOM

Jackie Weaver plays Smurf Cody, one the most diabolical characters in a movie loaded with them.

[after the death of yet another one of her children]

Janine Cody: [crying] I'm having trouble trying to find my positive spin. I'm usually very good at it. Usually it's right there, and I can just have it. But I'm having trouble finding it now.

Who else ranks as the most evil women in books or movies?

31 comments:

Georges Damian said...
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Georges Damian from Vermont said...
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Charles Gramlich said...

Kathy Bates in misery. Damn she was good in that role. scary good.

I sure wish these captcha phrases weren't so hard. here's my third attempt.

pattinase (abbott) said...

It took me six times yesterday. I need to change to word press if I can find some help for it.

Chris said...

Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest needs mentioning, doesn't she?

I'm halfway through The Brat by Gil Brewer, and so far the narrator's wife, Evis, seems to be quite diabolical as well.

George said...

Lady Macbeth has to rank right up there. And MOMMY DEAREST presents a frightening portrait.

jessethebassman said...

Brigid O'Shaughnessy in Maltese Falcon has to be way up there. I just watched Fritz Lang's Human Desire, starring Glenn Ford and Gloria Graheme, and Gloria's complex character is really, really dark. It's a relentlessly bleak film through to the last frame, when Gloria is murdered by her demented husband (Broderick Crawford) after she has finally pushed him way too far, meanwhile, Glenn Ford, who had an affair with her and almost got sucked all the way in, is at the opposite end of the train, oblivious to the killing, smiling because he's decided to go with the "good" girl, and fade out.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Phyllis Dietrickson, DOUBLE INDEMNITY.

katelaity said...

I'd go with Tamora in Titus Andronicus (outdone only by Aaron's gleeful joyful evil -- what a great speech) or maybe Grendel's mother, whom the poet has some sympathy for yet maintains the clear horror Beowulf has facing her.

And yeah, definitely migrate to WP. I'm glad I did some time back when Blogger first got wonky.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I don't think I have ever seen Human Desire. Love Gloria Grahame. And Brigid is a prime example. Amazing.

I will if I can figure it out.Not too good with technical stuff. I have never seen TITUS. A real gulf.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Regan MacNeil was just a young girl but she scared the hell out of me in "The Exorcist."

sandra seamans said...

Ingrid Magnussen, the mother in White Orleander.

Richard R. said...

Betty Davis played a few really nasty women, as I recall, maybe in The Little Foxes or another?

pattinase (abbott) said...

Prashant-good point, scary isn't necessarily intentional.
WHITE OLEANDER-oh, when a bad woman is in control of kids-that's worst of all. What a demon.
Bette Davis was probably bad more than anyone. THE LITTLE FOXES for sure and OF HUMAN BONDAGE to name two.
I still have nightmares about NURSE RATCHED.
Kathy Bates was perfection in that role.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Would Scarlett O'Hara count?

Deb said...

Scarlett is not scary, IMHO. She's willful and determined, selfish and spoiled, but she's not really scary--certainly not in a Nurse Ratched way. I think of scary characters as those who abuse those in their power. The nun in The Magdalen Laundries was so scary because she was abusive and all if the mechanisms in her society supported her abuse.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Oh, THE MAGDALENE SISTERS was one of the scariest movies I have ever seen. Religion mixed with pure evil are dreadfully scary.

Anonymous said...

Patti, my first thought (after Medea) was DOUBLE INDEMNITY too. But yes, Kathy Bates was memorably cuckoo in MISERY.

Jeff M.

Todd Mason said...
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Todd Mason said...

Cruella de Ville is, of course, rather a parody of this kind of villainess.

Cinderella's stepmother, among so many stepmothers collected by the Grimms, are also hard to exceed, till one gets to the cannibalistic witches...

Actual female villains usually do seem to outdo most fictional ones...unless, for example, the Countess Bathory legends are out of whole cloth. But she and her analogs in literature, and various vicious female heads of state and women behind the thrones, occasionally making their appearances thus, certainly come to mind.

For some, of course, the Jeanne D'Arcs of the world are the scariest, not least for what their success suggests about men and women. Or the Emma Goldmans, for what that says similarly in terms of the threat of a good example...

pattinase (abbott) said...

How about the old woman who lived in a shoe? Because she's short on food, she beats her kids?

Loren Eaton said...

Man, that part in Animal Kingdom where she so nonchalantly puts out a hit on J. Chilling.

Todd Mason said...

I had managed to completely forget the beatings in "The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe"...though the Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly, and didn't stop there, is certainly fresh in the memory.

Irena, particularly in the original of CAT PEOPLE, is another who is scary as hell without being Too evil...I think I'll take even Smurf over Irena when she's Upset.

pattinase (abbott) said...

She is the all times scariest for me.

Anonymous said...

How about Ken Bruen's Vixen? Brrrr.
Michel

Ed Gorman said...

Been fifty years since I read it but the woman in Of Human Bondage. The thing is Somerset Maugham truly hated women so maybe the muse he based her on wasn't quite all that bad.

Al Tucher said...

Hope Emerson as Rose Given in CRY OF THE CITY. Jake Hinkson just wrote about her in Criminal Element:

http://www.criminalelement.com/blogs/2012/08/noir-goon-squad-hope-emerson-jake-hinkson-feminism-film

pattinase (abbott) said...

I am trying to remember his other books, Ed. Been so long since I read him. I have fond memories of CAKES ALE.
Have never read that one, Al. Nor Vixen, Jeff.

Naomi Johnson said...

Myra Savage in Mark McShane's SEANCE ON A WET AFTERNOON. Evil woman.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I've only seen the movie but my god, she was evil. I bet the book is great.

Cap'n Bob said...

The housekeeper in REBECCA.

Ma Green, the woman who ran an orphanage in a Little Orphan Annie continuity.