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Melinda Lavine column: A Top 10 list of underrated movie villains

Here are a few of the sometimes unsung or forgotten antagonists in film.

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(Promotional photos)
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We all know Michael Myers and Freddy, but what about the underrated villains? As more of us will be spending Halloween at home this year, I thought I'd take a look at some film antagonists that might not lead the costume list. There are some whose tyranny flies over the cuckoo’s nest and under the radar, and others whose stories are more insidious.

MORE: From Pennywise to Hannibal, read my top villains of horror.

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"The Babadook." (Screen Australia)

10. Mr. Babadook

He’s tall, vocal, literate, but while this flying and morphing threat is a gentleman who always knocks first, once he’s in, his menacing claws, top hat and signature screech won’t leave.
WHERE TO WATCH: Amazon

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Nancy Allen as Chris Hargenson in "Carrie." (Red Rank Films)

9. Chris Hargenson

She throws shade like she throws tampons. With a major beef against the underdog, Chris is quick to recruit others in everything from rigging votes to animal slaughter. And, it’s her vendetta that ignites the prom night from hell.
WHERE TO WATCH: Amazon, VUDU

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Vilhelm Blomgren (left) as Pelle in "Midsommar." (A24)

8. Pelle

This sensitive and artistic Swede seems to have a knack for soothing the tormented, but don’t let the accent fool ya. Pelle may seem laid-back in linens, but he’s all too eager to sacrifice friendship for family.
WHERE TO WATCH: Amazon

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Red in "Us." (Universal Pictures)

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7. Red

The Leader of The Tethered, Red launches havoc on Adelaide and fam. With a strained voice, slippery fight moves and a helluva backstory, this villain doesn't want money; she just wants to take her time. And to cut paper doll chains.
WHERE TO WATCH: Amazon, HBO Now

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Louise Fletcher as Nurse Ratched in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." (Fantasy Films)

6. Nurse Ratched

With a devil horns ’do and steely blue eyes, Nurse Ratched conducts her own brand of humiliating psychotherapy, always with a cool demeanor and a perfectly starched uni. Louise Fletcher won an Academy Award as the tyrannical battle axe based on Ken Kinsey’s book, which also inspired a new Netflix series.
WHERE TO WATCH: Amazon, Netflix, VUDU

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The Rev. Henry Kane in "Poltergeist II: The Other Side." (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)

5. Rev. Henry Kane / The Beast

The emaciated cult leader stalked the Freeling family through three films and several astral planes, where he masterfully terrified in a ribbon tie, singing a hymn and in a mix of ’80s special effects. Oh, and um, don’t drink the worm.
WHERE TO WATCH: Amazon, Netflix

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The bride in black in "Insidious." (FilmDistrict)

4. Bride in Black / Parker Crane

This parasitic demon goes from bit part to star among the spawn terrorizing the Lambert family, and she needs little more than a dark room, a veil and a candle to do it. As the franchise progresses, so does her backstory and her invasions of personal space.
WHERE TO WATCH: Amazon

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Annie Wilkes in "Misery." (Castle Rock Entertainment)

3. Annie Wilkes

Kathy Bates snagged an Academy Award for her portrayal of this sadistic super-fan. This former nurse “saves” her fave author from a car accident and creates her own brand of muse. Don’t mess with her ceramics, Mister Man.
WHERE TO WATCH: Amazon

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Jack Nicholson as "The Shining's" Jack Torrance. (Warner Bros.)

2. Jack Torrance

Writer's block and a blizzard is enough to push anyone over the edge, amiright? Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of this Stephen King character is a mix of lunacy and rage in flannel. Even with a supernatural makeout sesh and ax practice, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. On repeat.
WHERE TO WATCH: Amazon

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Linda Blair as Regan MacNeil in "The Exorcist." (Warner Bros.)

1. Regan MacNeil / Pazuzu

Between projectile vomit, head spinning and a mean smoker’s cough, this 12-year-old’s demon possession is the ultimate Ouija board cautionary tale. Her harrowing run-in, based on a 1971 horror novel, spawned three sequels, a prequel, a TV series and a video game.
WHERE TO WATCH: Amazon

Have a favorite of your own? Email your picks to mlavine@duluthnews.com.

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Melinda Lavine

Related Topics: MOVIES
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