This feature was originally published in 2015.
Quentin Tarantino loves to write some awful characters. What’s going on in this guy’s head? Is he okay? Who knows? I’m not Tarantino’s therapist! But there is something innately alluring about the evil we see on screen. Although we hate to admit it, there’s a certain sexy charm to some characters that shoot and kill for fun. Hell, why else would we go to the movies if we didn’t enjoy them deep down? Charm, if you ask me, is the most dangerous trait a character can yield. And a gun.
Still, there are some characters that are so disgusting, so far from human decency, they’re unforgivable. Those are the characters that stick with us, whose every shot or punch or sword swipe are stained with charmless sin. They beg to be hated. So, since I’m not personal friends with Tarantino and am just a lonely film critic, I wrote a list. In anticipation of Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood, Tarantino’s latest venture involving the dark and deviant, here’s a definitive list of his eight most hateful faces to date.
08. Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen)
Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Mr. Blonde’s a smooth-talking psychopath, sadistic in every way, and no doubt one of the most violent Tarantino characters, especially when you include the countless murders happening off-screen throughout Reservoir Dogs. But what separates him from so many of Tarantino’s other creations is that he kills for fun.
Look how he tortures police officer Marvin Nash! As Nash insists he knows nothing about a setup, Mr. Blonde simply replies, “I don’t give a good fuck what you know, or don’t know, but I’m gonna torture you anyway, regardless. Not to get information. It’s amusing, to me, to torture a cop.” It’s entirely exploitive. Blonde is just that twisted.
Still, he’s not without his charm. Like most on-screen psychopaths, there’s a sexy charisma to him, even when he’s slicing Nash’s ear off and dancing to Stealers Wheel. He’s cool and collected, but vicious and insane. He has an undeniable magnetism, even if he’s a top-of-the-line madman.
07. Ordell Robbie (Samuel L. Jackson)
Jackie Brown (1997)
Ordell Robbie is a black market gun dealer in Los Angeles who likely cries himself to sleep while combing back his ridiculous hair. Played with just the right amount of arrogance by Samuel L. Jackson, Ordell is a towering figure of ego throughout Jackie Brown.
In his first scene alone, he monologues for at least two minutes straight, a silent Robert De Niro at his side. You can just tell this guy loves the sound of his own voice, and that’s an ugly trait. Like, relax guy. Besides generally being an asshole, Ordell will kill friends and employees alike without batting an eye.
He’s got a “kill or be killed” mentality and uses it in full force. One of his only redeeming moments is when he finds out that Luis shot his little surfer girl, Melanie, and seems genuinely disturbed. But, eventually he dismisses it with the old, “If you had to do it, you had to do it,” and we’re straight back to square one: an unlovable son of a bitch.
06. Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio)
Django Unchained (2012)
Calvin Candie is a real bastard. He’s a wealthy slave owner who enjoys watching slaves fight to the death like sport. He’s a disgusting child of privilege and relishes in his own power, and there’s hardly a compassionate bone in his body. Candie is barbaric in his practices — just as happy to witness one of his slaves pull out another’s eye as he is to watch them be fed to the dogs.
In one of his most iconic scenes in Django Unchained, he smears his own blood all over Broomhilda’s face, trembling in rage. It’s pretty repulsive. I mean, who does that? But alas, he’s not the most hateful of them all. See, Candie is pretty vacuous. He’s a Francophile who doesn’t know a lick of French and continuously spouts ignorance. There’s something slightly sad about him when you realize who is really running his plantation.
It’s a stretch to say I have real sympathy for the guy, but there are definitely worse in the Tarantino universe.
05. Virgil (James Gandolfini)
True Romance (1993)
Virgil takes so much pleasure in killing, dragging things out and making them last in True Romance. He’s terrifying. When he greets Alabama in her motel room to find the stolen cocaine, he sits there, gun in hand, with a sinister smile on his face.
You can glean that something dark simmers within, thanks no doubt to the late James Gandolfini’s adrenalized performance, and when Virgil finally boils over, he unleashes a carnal violence and beats Alabama to a bloody pulp while laughing.
But there’s something interesting about Virgil, specifically how he takes a moment to reflect on what it’s like to kill someone. We get a glimpse of the person he might’ve been before murder became poetic and entertaining to him. He’s undoubtedly despicable, but that one meditative moment elevates him from being just another mindless killer. Having said that, he’s still awful. I hate him.
04. Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah)
Kill Bill: Vol. 1 & 2 (2003/2004)
The Kill Bill movies have their fair share of evil killers, but none as smug and hateful as Elle Driver, aka California Mountain Snake. There is absolutely nothing appealing about her, except maybe that she’s hot. She’s full of rage and pride and even killed the legendary master Pai Mei after he ripped out her eye because she was being disrespectful. So what does she do? She poisons him. If you ask me, that’s not even an impressive way of killing someone. It’s cowardly and sneaky and just makes her even more detestable.
Her ruthlessness is only worsened by how arrogant she is, a conceited smile on her face as she watches her many victims die. It’s aggravating. There’s just something about her. She has so much misplaced ego, and it makes her final scene so damn satisfying. When Beatrix Kiddo snatches out her remaining eye, she writhes on the floor, screaming in pain, swinging blind, still trying to fight. It’s truly pathetic. It’s perfect. It’s what she deserves. God, I hope she’s dead.
03. Maynard (Duane Whitaker)
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Oh, Maynard. What a disaster of a person. Who raised this pervert? What made him so twisted? Many might point to Zed as the obvious prick from Pulp Fiction’s vast selection of sinners, but hear me out: While Zed is a perpetrator of the depraved, Maynard is the real facilitator of evil. He sets everything in motion, like the puppet master of disgust. Remember, kids: there is no Zed without Maynard.
Imagine how many people stumbled into his pawnshop, decorated with weapons, and imagine how many he’s dragged into his makeshift torture chamber! He’s clearly got a history as a certifiably dangerous douchebag, which many Tarantino characters do, but Maynard’s got zero charm. Honestly, the most intriguing thing about him is his hesitance to wake up the sleeping Gimp, which isn’t saying much.
He’s just a mouth-breathing creep who waits for victims to fall into his trap. The sicko doesn’t seem to even be very proactive about his perversions. Maynard is nefarious and lazy! Awful.
02. Col. Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz)
Inglorious Basterds (2009)
“Oooo, that’s a bingo!” We’ve got ourselves a number two bad guy. A guy so infuriating it’s a wonder we can endure a whole film of him. Col. Hans Landa is the merciless and loathsome Jew Hunter. He’s a compassionless killer, and it’s revealed that his only true allegiance is to himself. Besides his endless acts of murder and, you know, the whole Nazi thing, Landa is just so obnoxious. He laughs a little too long at his own remarks and tends to speak in soliloquies. Landa knows when he’s made someone uncomfortable, and he pushes that button to his satisfaction.
He’s increasingly indulgent in his acts of cruelty, taking his time getting to the point of violence so his victim is wholly aware of his power. It’s so easy to hate him, especially when he goes about rewriting his name in history, arguably stealing credit from all of the Inglorious Basterds’ hard work. That is so shameful. But, I have to admit, his verbal dexterity and knowledge of language, paired with his negotiating power and wit, is quite impressive. Still a dick, though.
01. Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson)
Django Unchained (2012)
Can I be frank? Now, I’m not a particularly violent person. I’ve never hit someone and have always used my words instead of my fists. But man, what I wouldn’t give to punch this dude straight in the face. Stephen is Calvin Candie’s senior house slave and the true master of Candyland. He’s the despicable brain of the operation, the man behind the curtain, a traitor in every sense. Stephen doesn’t just do what he must in order to survive, he thrives on the pain of others and perpetrates a vicious cycle of violence and horror.
He’s born into a certain status in the Candie house and thus believes he’s untouchable. And unfortunately, he kind of is. He deceptively runs the place, playing the character of a harmless, rickety old man, while in truth, he is a dark and perceptive antagonist who spoils Django and Schultz’s plans. Like, seriously man? You couldn’t take a chill pill and let that slide? Ugh. He has no redeeming qualities at all. Everything about him is repellent and repugnant, and he sparks a violent rage within me that is shocking.
Stephen … is the absolute worst.