Stephen King has practically owned the horror genre since the release of his first novel, Carrie, way back in 1974. Now, 43 long years later, King’s work remains every bit as prevalent, with IT and Gerald’s Game being released this month. In that span of time, we’ve been treated to a plethora of great movie villains: Jack Torrance, Pennywise the Dancing Clown, Annie Wilkes, and a sexy 1958 Plymouth Fury, just to name a few. There have been so many great baddies, in fact, that several underrated Stephen King movie villains fall by the wayside.
Not on our watch.
Today we’re highlighting five villains from Stephen King films that don’t seem to get the recognition they deserve. Let us know some of your personal favorites in the comments!
5. George Stark (The Dark Half, 1993)
I recently saw someone comment that they didn’t even know The Dark Half had been adapted to film, and honestly? That’s a problem. Directed by the legendary George A. Romero, the film tells the story of a writer whose fictional alter ego manifests and seeks to take over his life. Timothy Hutton pulls double duty as Thad Beaumont, the protagonist, and George Stark, the film’s villain.
Hutton shines, particularly in the role of Stark, playing the part with an intimidating cockiness and an unhinged, violent personality. On the surface, George Stark is boss as hell (that means cool, you hip whippersnappers), dressing sharp and driving a badass car. Once you begin to peel back the layers of the villain though, “cool” has never been so goddamn frightening. If you haven’t seen The Dark Half, please do yourself a favor and check it out immediately. Not only does it feature one of the most underrated Stephen King movie villains, it’s one of George A. Romero’s finest films.
4. Mrs. Carmody (The Mist, 2007)
Hell hath no fury like the overly-religious, as evidenced by the bat-shit crazy Mrs. Carmody in Frank Darabont’s adaptation of The Mist. Played terrifyingly well by Marcia Gay Harden, Carmody creates an unbearable amount of tension as she establishes a following of extreme constituents among the confined civilians trapped inside the local supermarket. Carmody and her followers are so terrifying, in fact, that the core protagonists ultimately decide to take their chances on the mist and the monsters in which it occupies. Her eventual death elicits a relieved sigh, perhaps even a cheer, from the crowd- a testament to how horrifying of a character she truly is.
3. Lester Lowe (Silver Bullet, 1985)
If I had a gun to my head and had to convincingly claim Silver Bullet as my favorite Stephen King movie, chances are that I’d still bite the dust because my anxiety is FIERCE. However, I’d have been telling the truth. I love this film, and I especially love Everett McGill, who stars as Silver Bullet’s complicated werewolf villain. Part of the reason Lowe is one of the most underrated Stephen King movie villains is that he’s a reverend who genuinely wants the members of his community (mostly) to remain safe. McGill is terrific at highlighting Lowe’s hesitation to give into the killing, and conversely, he’s straight-up terrifying once he’s been pushed over the edge by that damn Marty.
Silver Bullet scarred me for life by featuring a villain who would otherwise be someone you should trust- a reverend. A man of the lord who is generous and active within his community. If the pastor is willing to go to such extreme lengths to kill a crippled young boy, God help us all.
2. André Linoge (Storm of the Century, 1999)
Okay, so Storm of the Century is technically a miniseries, not a movie. But this is my list and we’re playing by my rules and Linoge deserves to be here just as much as anyone else. Perhaps the most mysterious of Stephen King’s villains, Linoge leaves a lasting impression as early as his opening moments on screen when he menacingly states, “Born in lust, turn to dust. Born in sin, come on in,” just before killing an elderly woman with his cane. Her eye was hanging on her cheek, did you know that?
Over the course of 256 minutes, Colm Feore proves himself one of the most underrated Stephen King movie villains as his character turns the members of the community against each other and threatens to make each of them disappear if they don’t give him what he wants. Once the town caves to his demands, viewers are left with a burning anger in their stomachs- even though, deep down, we knew that Linoge would get his way no matter what.
1. Percy Wetmore (The Green Mile, 1999)
Pardon my language, but fuck this guy. The Green Mile is a film that features a character who raped and gruesomely murdered two young girls, but viewers find themselves loathing Percy, an officer of the law, EVEN MORE than said murdering scumbag. How? Good question.
He’s detestable. He’s entitled. He’s arrogant, he’s mouthy, he’s power-obsessed. He stomps the cutest little pet mouse you’ve ever seen in your life to death just to be an asshole, then he intentionally doesn’t wet the sponge of a convict who is being put to death by electricity- a convict who has made great strides to right his wrongs in life, and one of the most heartfelt characters of the film. Of all the Stephen King villains that have ever existed, Percy is quite possibly the easiest to hate. He’s undeniably one of the most underrated Stephen King movie villains.