30 Days of Madness – The Recap

Well, friends and foes, April has drawn to a close. And with it, we bring down the curtain on Volume 1 of the Celebration of Wickedness, our delightful look at some of my favorite baddies in movies, books, and comic books (cuz they’re different, dammit!).

I learned a few things over the last 30 days and I think you did too. I learned that you guys really like the darker stuff; you learned that I have some issues I should probably talk to someone about. And that I’m not getting enough sleep. And that I’m still bitter about Teddy Ruxpin more than 25 years after the fact (freaky fucking bear!)

But the last 30 days was about more than bad guys; it was about a boy with a dream, a big dream—ok it was about me trying to prove that I could complete a literary triathlon and keep my day job, see my children, hug my wife, and take a shower. The goal was to write a 50,000 word novel, a 100 page script, and 30 days of 500-word blogs. That was the goal. So how did I do?

I, uh, well, um, see what had happened was…I failed. Kinda. I didn’t hit my 50,000 word goal for a novel—I hit 13,041 words and got a great beginning for a new story. I didn’t reach my 100 page goal for the script either—I got about 37 pages and it got waaaaayyy too personal for me to share with you guys right now. I gotta protect the innocent. But it is a story that certainly is going to be told. I did hit my 30 days of blogging, completed the A to Z Blog Challenge (and then some) and got to get into the psyche of some incredible villains along the way.

Did I win my own challenge? Nope. But I got something greater: you. You guys love your bad guys! You came out in droves for the Amityville Horror, argued with me about the Hulk, shared my sentiments about Darth Vader. I had someone say I was jealous of Robin because I could appreciate how the Joker killed him (yeah right—I never wanted to be Robin: I can’t be only one who thought Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson were fighting more than crime together, can I?). But you guys LOVE this stuff! Who knew?

And so, I’m gonna give you more.

Coming this summer, Celebration of Wickedness VOLUME TWO! (VOLUME TWO! echo…) I have new slate of dastardly deviants, of monsters and miscreants to explore. We’re gonna talk about Norman Bates, the original psycho; Chucky, the serial killer trapped in a damn doll; Wile E. Coyote, the most ingenious, persistent canine ever (and one of the few black cartoon characters in Looney Tunes. Y’all do know he was black, right? Like Daffy and Tom from Tom and Jerry, right?). For you sci-fi addicts, we got the Borg, the Terminator and HAL 9000 (I’m afraid I can’t do that, Dave). We’ll have Bill Lumbergh, Michael Corleone, and Ed Rooney. And from the comics come Green Goblin—the criminal that turned Spiderman into a killer; and Doomsday, the guy who stomped a mudhole in Superman’s ass. Literally. We got his daddy in Volume One; the Antichrist, Damien Thorn, will be part the Celebration in Volume Two. It’s gonna be fun.

And you can weigh in. Shoot me an email, send me a private message, chat me up, shit, send a smoke signal—tell me who you’d like to see in the Celebration. Wanna talk about those bad-ass kids in Village of the Damned? Say so. Did Se7en mess you up like it did me? We can do that. Who do you wanna see?

Finally, I also have to thank each and every one of you who took the time to read my little soliloquys over the last 30 days, or commented on my take on some of our favorite villains, who simply spread the word to your friends. I sincerely appreciate it. And…scene. That’s enough sap for one day.

Thanks again, everybody. Tomorrow, I’m taking the day off. Catch ya in a couple!

Celebration of Wickedness Day 30B: GENERAL ZOD

I already told you that I’m no fan of DC Comics (they have continuity issues I cannot wrap my head around) and everybody is named Something-Man, This-Power-Girl. There’s even a Something-Lad—Lad? Seriously? In 2012? Can’t do it. But that’s beside the point. I am a fan of General Zod as portrayed in the magnificent Superman II by Terence MF Stamp.

No matter how you slice it, Zod’s been pissed for a while: whether you go with the comic version of him leading Krypton’s military and committing atrocities; or him having issues with how the Council did Non…and then committing atrocities; or Smallville’s genetically engineered, then sent back in time nonsensical portrayal—it all ends with Zod doing foul stuff on Krypton, getting imprisoned in the Phantom Zone (which is like the cornfield for you Twilight Zone aficionados—ha! I got to use the word aficionado), escaping the Phantom Zone, making his way to Earth where he gets Superman’s powers with none of the truth, justice and American Way jazz. And then he wrecks shop.

Now, I already told you, I’m looking at the Zod who screamed at Marlon Brando, “You will bow down before me! Both you, and one day, your heirs!” and then made good on it. I’m talking about the Zod who came to Earth and walked on water in front of Buford T. Justice (“Did that son’bitch just give me an order?”) I’m talking about the Zod who got on the news and called Superman out and then proceeded to whoop his ass through downtown Metropolis—which looks an awful lot like Gotham City. And New York. That Zod. He was an awesome Zod.

Here’s why he’s impressive: Zod is the most horrid version of Superman we can consider. He was even too bad for Lex Luthor—and Lex wants to kill Superman. He’s a direct affront to everything that makes us love Superman: Zod has all the powers with none of the humanity. See, that’s what Zod is really about: taking away that thing that makes Kal-El into Clark Kent, into one of us. Because beneath the cape, behind the S, is an individual who was orphaned, different and alone. Alone. There’s nothing else like Superman, not on Earth. Not in the universe. His planet is gone. His people are gone. He clings to the closest thing he can: us. And then only vestige of who he might be, what he could be, is a bulletproof megalomaniac clad in deep V’s and puffy sleeves. It’s only a matter of time before people—human beings—put two and two together and turn on Superman.

Zod isn’t about power (but he uses his so effectively); he’s about alienation. He’s about attacking the core of the Man of Steel. Think about it. He brings out the worst in Superman. Zod makes the world think Superman has abandoned them (when he was just getting some nookie); he beats the living shit outta Superman with powers humans worship him for having; there are instances in the comics where Superman has killed Zod (and the movie implies it). Zod takes this superhero and shows him a horrible mirror—turns a savior into a killer at worst, an apathetic god at best. Anything but human. Anything but one of us. When the dust settles, Superman is still different and alone. And now we all know it.

And one more thing, Zod had this amazing line: “Why do you say these things to me, when you know I will kill you for it?” That’s always been my favorite.

That’s it for the Celebration, at least for this volume. Its been a blast, ladies and gents, Sith and Jedi, wizards and muggles.

Catch ya later!

Celebration of Wickedness Day 30A: Ernst Stavro Blofeld #atozchallenge

I gotta stop this sleep deprivation thing. It’s really cramping my style. And it makes me FORGET TO POST ON ENTIRE DAYS.

Sorry about that. And welcome back to the final day of the Celebration of Wickedness, place where we celebrate the best of the worst. I am your host, the incredibly sleepy—but still spunky—Christopher Starr. Since my body decided rest was more important than posting yesterday, you get one more Two-Fer. First up is the most iconic of Bond villains—Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

Blofeld is the head of SPECTRE, a global organization bent on world domination—wait, that sounds like Cobra. And Hydra. And MAD. And Dr. Evil from Austin Powers. And Al Qaeda. Know why? Blofeld was that awesome. This guy was the villain in six different Bond films—two of them he didn’t even appear in and was still the villain. He bothered three different Bonds: he screwed with Sean “The Original” Connery in three movies; George Lazenby (who? Oh, the dude that only played in one James Bond movie…yeah, that guy); and Roger “Smooth As Silk” Moore. In any series that ain’t about the villain (like Friday the 13th, Halloween or Nightmare on Elm Street), no one appears six times. No one. Except Blofeld. And he’s raw enough to be rumored to appear in the upcoming Bond flick. You never know with this guy.

Ok, so let’s give him his due: Blofeld runs this global terrorist organization, right? He speaks about everybody in terms of numbers—he’s Number One (like Nelly), so on and so forth. He runs his shit like a business, making his folks do financial reports and shit. He kills his own people when they don’t act right—years before Darth Vader made it cool. His schemes are devilishly complex: he likes the “I got you hanging over a shark tank with bloody drawers and a rope that’s being burnt by a candle on the other side of the room, let’s see you get outta this shit” variety. He undergoes repeated plastic surgeries so you never get a good look at his face. He makes stunt doubles CONSTANTLY so, provided you can find him, you never know if you got the right guy. He won’t freaking die. EVER. Like a roach. And he made stroking a white cat cool.

Oh yeah, and he killed James Bond’s wife. Right after he married her. And drove the getaway car.

Ernst Blofeld is not just impressive because he’s persistent, smart, cold-hearted, calculating, diabolical, or because he has a beautiful shaved noggin. It’s because he’s an icon. You don’t hear that about villains often but it’s true. Villains from GI Joe to Inspector Gadget to Austin Powers to Ceelo Green on the Voice have taken bits and pieces of Blofeld to add to their own legend. They said imitation is the sincerely form of flattery. Blofeld must be truly flattered.

In every other instance of a villain we’ve looked at in the Celebration, there has been an emotional attachment to the work at hand. They care about it. They’re invested in the success of their diabolical schemes or their revenge or their power play or the destruction of their hero. But Blofeld is cold. He is surgical in his approach. Like Spock as a killer. No rage. No anger. The level of his evil is delivered by his icy monotone and it only makes him more sinister. That he does it all stroking that damn cat is what makes him iconic.

And now, for your finale of the Celebration of Wickedness Volume 1, and the Letter Z for the A to Z Blog Challenge: General Zod!

Celebration of Wickedness Day 28: TEDDY RUXPIN #atozchallenge

I’ve been around my share of bears in my day. Oh no, not real ones! I’m not crazy; I’m referring to the talking, necktie-wearing, pick-a-nick basket stealing, snuggly-soft, shirt-no-pants variety. These guys, I’m generally cool with. Sure, Pooh had an unhealthy addiction to honey; Yogi was a petty thief—and a repeat offender; the Snuggle Bear fought the Battletanks, lost, was rebuilt into a bionic bear…and lost again.

But there’s been one of these muthafuckas I’ve hated for years.

When I was 12, a company called Worlds of Wonder decided the thing that was missing in little kids’ lives was a bear that would talk back to them. That could read stories to them. So they made one. Around the holidays in 1985 came this talking-ass, creepy-ass, storytime-ass bear, Teddy Ruxpin.

Now you might be thinking, “Dude, it’s a toy. It’s a teddy bear.” And if you were there, your face is all wrinkled up with “C’mon man, Teddy Ruxpin was awesome!” Yeah, whatever. Teddy Ruxpin scared me. That’s why I’m pissed. Read the paragraph above-I was 12, right? Far too old to be creeped out by some talking bear in a short set. Okay, so let me tell you what happened.

Back in the glorious days of the 80s, when they had entire TV shows dedicated to what the upcoming fall cartoons would be, when Molly Ringwald proved you didn’t have to be buxom to put lipstick on with your boobs, back when someone had the bright idea that shoulder pads were sexy—back in the fantastical 80s there used to be multiple toy stores. Toys R Us actually had competition and one of those stores was Children’s Palace. Now, being 12 and in the 80s and in between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi (which meant we hadn’t confirmed if Darth Vader was Luke’s dad or not), my brother and I were infatuated with all things Star Wars. On Saturdays, we’d take our allowances and go and buy a starship (him) and a playset (me).

On one of those fateful Saturdays, we went to Children’s Palace eager to buy a TIE Fighter and a Hoth world playset. I get in the store and there are aisles—AISLES—of Teddy Ruxpins. Hundreds of them. It was a little creepy. But that wasn’t what did it. I saw all those bears, had seen the commercials and watched Teddy reading stories to little kids and I stood in front of one of the boxes and said, “I thought he was supposed to come to life! He doesn’t do anything! Ol raggedy bear!” I must have been too close to one of the demo bears because Teddy woke up. He woke up! His eyes rolled around and he looked at me and said, “Hi! I’m Teddy Ruxpin. Will you be my friend?”


I screamed. Like a girl. High and loud. And I ran. I ran deep into Children’s Palace, yelling about Teddy Ruxpin coming to life, thinking that he was possessed like something out of Poltergeist. No, I don’t want to be your fucking friend. No, I don’t wanna read a story. I wanna buy my Hoth world playset with snowsuit Han Solo and go home. Look at that—my big ass hugging my dad because I was scared of Teddy Fucking Ruxpin.

I lost all my cool points that day. I’ve been mad about it ever since.

Freaky fucking bear.

Say what you wanna say. I don’t care. He’s my villain because he scared the shit outta me.

PS: YES! Entertainment re-released Teddy Ruxpin for some ungodly reason. That fun factoid makes the damn bear my Y in the A to Z Challenge. Tomorrow is A to Z Free Day. For the Celebration, though, we’ll be looking at one of the recognizable and influential Bond villains, ever, Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

Celebration of Wickedness Day 26: PET SEMATARY

I’m cheating today—today is supposed to be my W day in the A to Z Blog Challenge and I’m supposed to be writing about the Wicked Witch of the West from the Wizard of Oz. But the truth is, I hate that movie. I’ve always hated it and, next to The Sound of Music, it is the one film I will actually get up and walk away from (well, that, and Escape from LA—that’s the only movie I ever left a theater behind). I got nothing on the Witch—she rides a broom, she tries to set the Scarecrow on fire, she hates Toto, she has an issue with water (and probably is FUNKY), and she has an army of Monkeybats at her disposal. That’s about it.

So, instead of me making crap up, I invited a friend to the Celebration: I am honored to introduce poetess, novelist, author, essayist (God, I feel like a slacker—I’m not done yet), blogger, academic, Ph.D. candidate, Audreyanna Garrett. And since she loves the dark stuff as much as I do she’s gonna talk about PET SEMATARY.

Pet Sematary is one of the scariest movies I remember seeing as a child. As much as I loved watching scary movies, I would find that they were not that scary. This movie was the foundation for determining whether a movie was actually scary or suspenseful. I think we get scary confused with suspense and surprise. Of course the ability to scare has elements of surprise, however it also has everything to do with shock and creativity.

My father first introduced me to this movie when I was about 11 years old and I still hold this movie in my TOP 5 on the list of the SCARIEST movies of all time. Pet Sematary was one of those movies that you had to be prepared for anything. Stephen King had a great idea to develop a story around the chemicals in the fertilizer in a Pet Sematary and it’s ability to bring life back to the dead. It introduced the idea of bring loved ones back from the dead and it also diffused the thought that it was a good idea. As you empathized initially with the loss of such innocence, we learned very quickly why that was not the best idea.

As much as we love our loved ones, bringing back from the dead isn’t always the best possible option. Sometimes we have to learn to leave well enough alone.

I could not contribute to the Celebration of Wickedness without discussing Pet Sematary. The characters, story and plot (THANK YOU STEPHEN KING) are awesome and this movie goes down as one of the TOP FIVE SCARIEST MOVIES OF ALL TIME.

I hope you watch it and enjoy!

Thanks, Audreyanna! For me, this was one of those “Dude, do you seriously think this is a good idea?” type of movies. Made it a little hard to accept. Until the kid got hit by the truck. (Of course, in my crooked little way, I thought that part was funny) But as a parent, I can understand the anguish that would go along with your child’s death. And the lengths we would go to in order to make it right. When the Celebration comes back for Round Two (consider this an announcement) we can discuss how deadly the boy really is—he’s like 2 feet tall, like Chucky!

I discovered my passion for writing early, and developed a relationship with a pen and paper before I had many friends. Writing was my way of expressing how I truly felt without dealing with the misinterpretation so often encountered when trying to express myself verbally. I started with a journal, my journal housed my poetry and my poetry and thoughts developed into blogs. I have established and maintained three blogs to date. Each blog encompasses a different chapter of my life, utilizing trials and joys of my journey to exhibit my growth process.

Through my work, and all future literary projects, I seek to motivate, encourage, support, spread love and provoke conscious thought into the lives of many.

Audreyanna’s everywhere but, here’s how to catch up with her:
Website: www.audreyannawrites.com
Blogs: www.theverticalperspective.blogspot.com, www.soulpoetspeaks.blogspot.com, www.audriwrites.tumblr.com
Twitter: @audriwrites
Facebook: www.facebook.com/audriwrites

You can also find her books on Amazon

Celebration of Wickedness Day 23B: CLUBBER LANG

This is my favorite part: “Hey Woman! Hey Woman! Listen here. Since your old man ain’t got no heart, maybe you like to see a real man. I bet you stay up late every night dreamin’ you had a real man, don’t ya? I’ll tell you what. Bring your pretty little self over to my apartment tonight, and I’ll show you a real man.” That real man is our Letter T (for Mr. T.) in the A to Z Challenge and the only man to beat the cowboy shit outta Rocky Balboa: Clubber Lang.

Rocky Balboa is an American icon, a testament to that can-do, against all odds spirit that makes this country great. Now I’m a Rocky fan. I’ve seen 5 out of 6 movies in the theater; I own the blu-rays. I have a Rocky T-shirt. My dog’s name is Rocky. I don’t always work out but when I do, it’s to the Rocky theme (stay thirsty, my friends). I’ve used Rocky lines on my wife (I don’t tell you how to be a woman; don’t tell me how to be a man).

So I walked into Rocky III thinking I was gonna see Sylvester Stallone whoop on some no-name dude with a funny haircut. I already knew Rocky was gonna win—his name is on the title, right? I mean Rocky was all impressive beating up sides up beef in the cooler. Until I saw Clubber Lang beating up sides of people in the ring during his montage. He knocked some poor sap completely out the ring! You hear what I said? OUT THE RING! You train for, what, 8-10 months, maybe more, to get into ring with some cat for him to punch you out of it? This was the equivalent of Mike Tyson before Tyson was boxing.

Clubber Lang was something special. Aside from the fact that his mama named him Clubber, take a look at his stats: he mounted an aggressive and successful campaign for the title and told anybody who would listen what he was doing (I want Balboa! You hear that, old man! You tell Balboa to come here!) He did it all by himself (I live alone. I train alone). And he knocked Rocky out in two rounds. Two! When Rocky fought Apollo Creed the first time, they went 15 rounds and it was a split decision. And they each spent 6 weeks in the hospital. The second time, they went the full 15 rounds again and Rocky beat Apollo on the count. Clubber comes out and lays Rocky’s shit out all across the canvas and killed his manager in the process in less than 6 minutes.

The truth is, Clubber Lang broke Rocky. He broke his body, his mind, his spirit. And then he talked shit about it.

I’m talking classic lines like “I don’t hate the man but I pity the fool,” and “I’m gonna beat you like a dog! A dog!” He said, “I’m gonna torture him. I’m gonna crucify him. Real bad”—as though there is moderate crucifixion, medium torture. This crap happened before the fight, during the fight, after the fight. On TV. Cross country. In the locker room before the rematch. In the ring before the fight started. Called out Rocky’s woman. Tried to fight Apollo during introductions. This cat never shut up and had the muscle to back up everything he said. It was an impressive, systematic, methodical breaking of a man. It took a cross country flight to South Central and two muscle-bound men in mesh half-shirts playing in the ocean to get Rocky back in the ring.

Why is Clubber Lang one of the best villains? He broke the hero. He broke an American icon. He broke a man with a statue. Kicked him when he was down. And got a cartoon and a breakfast cereal out of it. You gotta tip your hat to that.

And so, we are back on our regular schedule. Tomorrow is Kyzer Soze from the Usual Suspects.

Celebration of Wickedness Day 23A: HANNIBAL LECTER

I know I said there’s no rest for the wicked but apparently I was wholly mistaken because I fell asleep without getting yesterday’s post out. Dammit! So I guess you get a two-for-the-price-of-one or a buy-one-get-one-free or whatever.

The first entrée in our delicatessen of detestable deliciousness (you like that alliteration, don’t ya?) is the guy who took cannibalism from the leather mask-wearing hillbilly set and brought it into the big city, federal prison-style: Hannibal Lecter.

“Hello Clarice.” Remember that? Gives you the willies, huh? I don’t even know what he said about fava beans but I know I’ll never eat them.

Over the years, we’ve seen so many serial killers on screen and read about them in real life so much that they have a profile well all know: he was quiet, kept to himself, right? Then they dig back in his past, talk to his mama, and realize the guy used to torture kittens and spend leisurely Saturdays at Chuck E. Cheese without any kids. And when it comes to film portrayals of serial killers, this is pretty formulaic, right? These guys come in two varieties: the knife-wielding, faceless, voiceless immortal force of nature that racks up the endless body count WITHOUT AN ARREST; and the grocery-store clerk, photo booth attendant, security guard based on a real-life John Wayne Gacy-Ted Bundy-Green River Killer type.

And then there’s Hannibal Lecter.

Hannibal Lecter doesn’t meet any of these stereotypes. He is a psychiatrist. His vocation is to make people embrace their vulnerabilities, have them look inside and embrace their truest selves. He profiles criminals for the FBI. Hannibal helps makes humans human again. He’s supposed to be one the good guys. Instead he kills people. And then he eats them.


I don’t think I’m making myself clear. This cat uses his knowledge of the human psyche to figure out what makes people tick, how to get under their skin, how to make them unbalanced. He toys with people. Hannibal Lecter profiled a serial killer for the FBI for crimes he was actually committing, tried to kill an FBI agent, then manipulated another serial killer to massacring said FBI agent’s family. He escaped from a maximum security prison where he was bound, chained and had a face-mask—by eating a man’s face and listening to classical music. He screwed with Clarice Starling enough to get her to talk about the damn lambs, drugged her, tried to brainwash her, then made her eat her partner’s brain!

The only good thing to come out of Silence of the Lambs, aside from Hannibal Lecter entering the pantheon of fantastic villains, is Buffalo Bill doing that freaky cross-dresser dance and “It rubs the lotion on its skin, or else it gets the hose again.” Yeah, try getting that out of your head.

In the end, what makes Hannibal Lecter such an amazing villain is that he keeps you, the reader (or the movie viewer) off balance. The heroine is off balance. You certainly don’t read about Hannibal and believe he’s actually going to get caught. Nothing is what you expect from this cultured, learned, intellectual—certainly not that he’s a psychotic cannibal with a medical degree. He acts crazy but he’s not. He’s lucid. This is intentional. It doesn’t fit, this individual and his crimes, and you cannot help but to watch. Like a fly caught in a spider’s web—you know how it’s going to end but you can’t look away.

And, because of that movie, I have never had a glass of chianti.

That said, we move to Round Two! My prediction for the next post: Pain. Here comes Clubber Lang!

Celebration of Wickedness Day 21: SCAR #atozchallenge

Disney makes movies with characters that experience some pretty horrifying deaths. Have you ever thought about that? Bambi’s mama got shot, the barracuda killed Nemo’s mom and siblings, the Beast got shanked, Ursula got stabbed by a boat. If you sit and watch with your kids one day, you might be a little appalled at the wanton violence and blatant disregard for life in Disney movies.

Now, throughout the celebration, we’ve had the opportunity look at a couple Disney villains: specifically a puppy killer and a truly wicked stepmother. Dastardly characters indeed. But, if we were looking at this through our Nancy Grace lens, Cruella DeVille and the Evil Queen are only guilty of Attempted Murder: the 101 Dalmatians lived to fight another day and Snow White got her prince (I’m not sure this is a good thing: everybody thought Snow was dead. Doesn’t that make the prince a necrophiliac?). Try as they might, they were unsuccessful. And like Brandy said, Almost doesn’t count.

But then there’s Scar, brother of the king in The Lion King. This cat (literally) is a true criminal. In the Shakespearian sense. He partners with an army from another land, masterminds the deaths of his brother and his nephew, takes over the pride lands only to run it into the ground. But that’s not the best part. Scar took matters into his own hands and personally murdered his own brother.

On screen.

This part is significant. The Lion King is the highest grossing hand-drawn animated film in history, earning nearly $1B in revenues. It’s won 2 Oscars, 6 Tonys and a Golden Globe. Everybody knows about the “Circle of Life” and people of all ages suddenly became Elton John fans. Millions of people—millions of kids—have seen the movie; millions of people have been affected by it. Millions of people got to watch Scar kill his brother on screen.

You didn’t get to see the bullet physically pierce Bambi’s mother’s heart. You didn’t get to see the barracuda actually eat Nemo’s family. But you got to watch Scar plunge his claws into Mufasa’s wrists; you got to watch Mufasa fall into a valley of stampeding wildebeasts and get trampled to death; you got to watch Simba beg his dad to wake up—it was like the last scene in The Champ. And you got to watch Scar blame Simba—a child, mind you—for his father’s death. That’s fucked up. And it happened in a kid’s movie. It was so bad, I actually got upset: I kept waiting for Mufasa to wake up and come back. I was pissed all the way until I saw that bird singing the Negro spiritual, “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen.” That part was funny.

Scar is cool, calculating, ambitious, wrangles an army of henchmen, and has a wonderful English accent—he’s the feline version of Ernst Blofeld, right? (Blofeld is the quintessential Bond villain—we’ll talk about him later in the Celebration). But what makes Scar truly a vile character is he gets his hands dirty. For all his refinement, he literally has blood on his hands. He murdered Mufasa and tried to kill his son. Three times. He emotionally abused a kid who was trying to comprehend his father’s death. He’s a murderer, a tyrant, a heartless bastard. All of this makes him a spectacular villain period. What makes him exceptional is that this is the villain in a children’s movie.

The A to Z Challenge takes another break tomorrow but you know how we feel about breaks: they’re for suckers. Tomorrow we’ll look at the character that made a nation frightened of fava beans: Hannibal Lecter.

Celebration of Wickedness Day 20: VOLDEMORT #atozchallenge

Welcome back boys and girls, ladies and gents, wizards and muggles, the villain for today’s Designated Day of Misery (I stole that) is Tom Marvolo Riddle, known to his friends as Lord Voldemort.

Unless you can’t see, read or understand braille, you know who Voldemort is—he’s THE villain in the Harry Potter series. I’m gonna say now, I’ve only read four of them (but I have seen all the movies—does that count?). He attends Hogwarts, learns that you can become immortal by committing murder, splitting your soul and putting it into other objects. He begins this campaign of conquest, slaughtering all those who get in his way until he meets a lil boy named Harry who, when Voldemort dispenses the Killing Curse, reflects it off his noggin and wishes Voldy to the cornfield. And all this is before the books get started. For the rest of the series, he is trying to restore his power and exact revenge on the rugrat who ruined it in the first place.

The entire series is spent on Harry learning his powers and Voldemort regaining his. The noseless wonder spends his time living out the back of somebody’s head, messing with young girls from the pages of a tawdry diary, and killing Edward Cullen (thank you, God!) until he can finally get his body back and exact revenge on the kid who screwed up his plans.

Voldemort is the anti-bullying poster child. You remember that creepy kid with the greasy hair in junior high that nobody wanted to have lunch with? Or that weird guy in the third cubicle on the left at your work? You know who I’m talking about. What’s his name—Eric? (“You invited Eric? You said he gave you the creeps!”) Yeah, that guy. Leave his ass alone: for all you know, he’s trying to split his soul in half so he can live forever. Ain’t no telling what he’ll do to you.

To date, there have been millions of words written about Voldemort, his impact on literature, the threat he poses to good Christians. Whatever. I’m not intent on dissecting those. Here’s why he’s awesome: Voldemort spends the entire Harry Potter series—7 years—working to regain his powers, to achieve his greatness solely so he can destroy Harry Potter and get back to business. This cat is driven. He is focused.

He’s so focused that even when defeated, the victors are too scared to speak his name. There is not another soul in history, real or imagined, who inspired so much fear people wouldn’t even say his name. Because they knew he was driven enough to come back. Think about that. Not even Jesus’ disciples where wholly convinced he’d be coming back. And he was the Son of God. Voldemort’s people know he’ll be back, they know he’s gonna pick up where he left off so they keep the band together, maintain the Deatheaters, and make a little kid’s life miserable, all at the whim of a guy who’s a Kuatu stunt double. (For you uninitiated, Kuatu is the tiny Siamese twin leading the Martian resistance in Total Recall.)

My point here is this, Voldemort is awesome as a villain because he is going to get what he wants. Period. There’s no stopping him, not even death. Not even his soul. Think about that: Voldemort risks his soul—he splits it—for the sake of being immortal. He commits the unthinkable—or tries to—so he can live forever. There are few characters in literature who are willing to go to the lengths Voldemort does and that willingness is attractive. People join him because they realize that he cannot be stopped, because they know that he’s going to achieve what he wants. They’re scared of that kind of focus. They know it is better to be on the side of inevitability than against it.

Take a look at Voldemort. Learn from him. Give your villains and your heroes that clarity of purpose, that focus. Make their aims so basic and ensure they are wholeheartedly committed to their cause. Even if it means their very souls. That is how you make an enduring character.

Tune in tomorrow for my favorite Disney villain, Scar. Be Prepared!

Celebration of Wickedness Day 19: THE EVIL QUEEN

This woman tried to kill her stepdaughter because the child was prettier than she was! I can’t even give you a good, “Welcome to the Wickedness” intro because today’s villain takes the cake on fuckedupedness. We’re talking about the Evil Queen from Snow White and she takes villainy to unprecedented heights.

Let’s face it, there are often good reasons to kill someone (and I’m marginally serious here): they stepped on your brand new kicks, they put your baby in the back in the ballet recital, they cancelled Friday Night Lights. Look, no matter how seriously or insignificantly you value life, I’m certain you never really considered killing someone because they looked better than you, right? Have you? Oh dear God, you have…we’ll talk about this later…

We all know the Snow White story by now. Snow White is a beautiful maiden with pale skin and a short bob who can sing to the animals and make them clean up for her. Her stepmother is the Queen—and is not a bad looker at all—who has a magic mirror that she consults to feed her fragile ego. When the mirror suggests that Snow actually has a little something something on her stepmother, the Queen sets about killing her. She took the word of some RANDOM DUDE and decided murder was best. Doesn’t this sound like an episode of Snapped? The Queen hires a guy to do the vile deed; he takes Show White out to do the deed but, once he beholds her beauty, can’t bring himself to kill her so he sets her free. Snow White stumbles upon Little People, Big World and hangs out with the dwarves until the queen disguises herself as an old woman and brings a poison apple. Apparently the queen hadn’t dusted off her magic skills in a little while because the apple doesn’t kill Snow, just puts her in a coma and the dwarves end up killing the Queen.

Now, I’m no fan of this movie—I think I’ve seen it once because my daughter loves it. I don’t actually care if the Queen kills Snow White or not. The whole singing to the animals thing just bugs me. But something has to be said for the fact that Disney—America’s family film studio—Disney decided a shallow, cruel, vindictive, narcissistic woman that tried to kill the protagonist for being prettier than her was the best way to launch the first full-length animated feature EVER. This woman set the bar and NO ONE can touch it.

I like to imagine my villains talking as though they were in a prison yard, sharing those “what are you in for?” stories. “I’m here for killing puppies and turning them into coats,” says Cruella. Nice opening. “I bite women, suck their blood and turn them into immortal zombie creatures,” Dracula counters. Impressive. “There’s this guy from another world, and he’s stronger and faster than the rest of us and, even though he says he’s a good guy, I don’t trust him. I’m trying to kill him,” and Lex Luthor enters the fray. “I tried to kill my stepdaughter,” says the Queen, “because she’s prettier than me.” And we have a winner!

In the end, the Evil Queen is one of the most incredible villains because no one has a reason for villainy as shallow as hers. That’s it. Her rationale for murder is one of the most callous and inhumane we’ve seen, and we’ve looked at puppy-killers, child-eating clowns, and a child-molester turned nightmare. I don’t even know what to say to take from her as a writer: my imagination isn’t that cold.

So that’s my letter Q. Tomorrow, we’re bringing out one the most popular villains in literature and film: He Who Shall Not Be Named—Tom Riddle AKA Lord Voldemort!