clichés, send for our free newsletter. But until then, here are six of the most dangerous characters in movie history.
Count Orlok, "
One mark of a dangerous movie character is when audiences begin to forget that he or she is a fictional character, and start worrying for their own safety in the event of a chance meeting. No actor embodies this idea more than Max Schreck, who played the titular vampire in "Nosferatu" so well that it's hard to imagine him as anything else. Which kind of sucks for him dating-wise, but everyone has to suffer for their art.
Tommy Udo, "Kiss of Death"
Richard Widmark's maniacal laughing villain in the 1947 noir "Kiss of Death" is by far the best thing about the movie. And unlike many movie bad guys, he seems legitimately dangerous, never more so than in the infamous scene in which he pushes an old lady in a wheelchair down a flight of stairs. Ah, it was a simpler time for America.
Hank Quinlan, "Touch of Evil"
Is there anything more dangerous than a drunken cop with too much power and not enough to lose? Not in Orson Welles' 1958 classic "Touch of Evil," in which the director piles on some padding in order to play the corpulent Quinlan – a fat and corrupt police officer who basically runs the small American town right along the Mexican border. His deadliest act is probably when he strangles small-time crime lord Akim Tamiroff just to frame a rival detective's wife. Yikes.
Norman Bates, "Psycho"
Here's a good life-lesson from "Psycho": Just because somebody looks harmless, doesn't mean he is. And this goes double for his frail old mother. Anthony Perkins plays the not-quite-right hotel manager with all the grinning charm in the world, which makes it all the more jarring when we find out what's really going on in his creepy old house.
Travis Bickle, "Taxi Driver"
A dirty white boy with a sleeping problem and access to all the weaponry he could possibly use: If that's not a recipe for danger, what is? And Martin Scorsese's "Taxi Driver" is basically one long slow burn as we watch Robert De Niro's Bickle go from slightly off to full-on violent psychopath, slaughtering anybody who gets in the way of his misguided quest to rescue a young girl prostitute. Or is it so misguided? That moral ambiguity is part of what makes Travis such a dangerous and unforgettable character.
Anton Chigurh, "No Country For Old Men"
Bardem in "No Country For Old Men" basically represents an unstoppable force of evil-someone so dangerous that even the people who hire him to do their dirty work are rightfully afraid of what he might do. His trademark weapons like a silencer-equipped shotgun and a portable cattle gun are as dangerous as he is, and often it's just a flip of a coin that decides if his victims live or die. You can't stop what's coming.