Most Terrifying Or Unsettling Movie Lines Uttered By a Villain
Recently I rewatched David Fincher’s Se7en and at the end of the movie, Kevin Spacey’s serial killer Joh Doe uttered one pretty unsettling sentence – “She begged for her life and the life of the baby inside her. Oh…! He didn’t know.”. This line coupled with Spacey’s performance sent chills down my spine. So I started wondering what other lines from movies had similar effects on audience and I started researching what are the most terrifying or unsettling lines from the movies?
From Kevin Spacey’s John Doe in Se7en, Anthony Hopkins’ Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs, Zodiac killer, Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight to Javier Bardem’s Anton Chigurh in No Country For Old Men and Christoph Waltz’ Hans Landa in Inglorious Basterds, let’s take a look at the most terrifying or unsettling movie lines uttered by a villain.
What is the most terrifying or unsettling line of dialogue ever uttered by a villain?
In David Fincher’s excellent thriller, which is, by the way, the best movie about serial killers, Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman are playing cops David Mills and William Somerset trying to catch a serial killer (Kevin Spacey) who is using the seven deadly sins as his motives. At the end of the movie, killer surrenders and three of them are driving to the middle of nowhere to find the last victim. After delivery guy arrives with a box and a shocking revelation that Brad Pitt’s wife’s head is in it Spacey utters a disturbing line:
She begged for her life, and the life of the baby inside her. Oh…! He didn’t know.
Although appearing for only 10 or 15 minutes of screen time Kevin Spacey stole the movie in each scene he appeared. Besides the above mentioned line, let’s not forget his monologue about his victims or when he said “I tried playing husband… it didn’t work out. So I took a souvenir… her pretty head.”. This wasn’t the only praise-worthy performance from Spacey in 1995 as he won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in Bryan Singer’s masterpiece The Usual Suspects.
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Movie with one of the most famous fictional serial killers Hannibal Lecter, here played by Anthony Hopkins, is full of unsettling lines. One of them is a scene between Lecter and senator whose daughter was kidnapped by a serial killer:
Hannibal Lecter: Tell me, Senator: did you nurse Catherine yourself?
Senator Ruth Martin: What?
Hannibal Lecter: Did you breast-feed her?
Paul Krendler: Now wait a minute…
Senator Ruth Martin: Yes, I did.
Hannibal Lecter: Toughened your nipples, didn’t it?
Paul Krendler: You son of a bitch!
Hannibal Lecter: Amputate a man’s leg and he can still feel it tickling. Tell me, mum, when your little girl is on the slab, where will it tickle you?
As I said, this wasn’t the only one, as Lecter throws some terrifying lines every now and then.
A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.
I do wish we could chat longer, but…I’m having an old friend for dinner. Bye!
The Silence of the Lambs is one more movie that deserved a place on our list of best movies about serial killers.
The Shining (1980)
In this Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of Stephen King’s novel, Jack Nicholson is playing Jack Torrance, a writer who goes to an isolated hotel with his family and starts losing his mind. In one scene Jack Torrance tells the following line to his wife Wendy:
I’m not going to hurt you. I’m just going to bash your brains in. I’m gonna bash ’em right the fuck in!
And of course, let’s not forget one of the most famous quotes of all time, uttered by Nicholson after breaking a door with a hatchet and sticking his head through the hole:
One more movie on our list directed by David Fincher (Se7en, Fight Club, The Social Network, The Game), Zodiac is a thriller based on true events that tell a story about the Zodiac Killer, an unidentified individual who terrorized Northern California in the late ’60s / early ’70s. Zodiac is also one more movie that deserved a place on our list of best movies about serial killers.
In one scene mother is driving through the night with her baby on the back seat and stumbles upon Zodiac Killer in the middle of nowhere. After messing with her tire she pulls over and he offers her the lift to the nearest gas station. She gets in his car and after exchanging a couple of lines with the killer, the baby starts crying. After that Zodiac killer calmly utters the line that gave me chills:
Before I kill you, I’m going to throw your baby out the window.
The Dark Knight (2008)
The Dark Knight, probably the best superhero movie of all time, was praised by critics and audience for direction, script, and performances but probably the best thing was Heath Ledger’s portrayal of Joker who won posthumous Academy Award for the Best Supporting Actor.
After he’s caught, Joker utters following monologue to Detective Stephens in the interrogation room:
Do you want to know why I use a knife? Guns are too quick. You can’t savor all the… little emotions. In… you see, in their last moments, people show you who they really are. So in a way, I know your friends better than you ever did. Would you like to know which of them were cowards?
And a little bit of trivia for you. Did you know Heath Ledger is one of only four different actors who won an Oscar for the same role?
If you haven’t read Watchmen, the best graphic novel of all time, or watched the movie, please be aware of spoilers. After figuring out that Adrian Veidt aka Ozymandias is behind everything, Rorschach and Nite Owl confront him to stop him from executing his insidious plan. After explaining his plan to them, Veidt utters the following lines that take you by surprise as we are so used to villain’s monologue before our hero stops him in the last minute.
Adrian Veidt: The Comedian was right. Humanity’s savage nature will inevitably lead to global annihilation. So in order to save this planet, I have to trick it… with the greatest practical joke in human history.
Dan Dreiberg: Killing millions?
Adrian Veidt: To save billions. A necessary crime.
Rorschach: You know we can’t let you do that.
Adrian Veidt: ‘Do that’, Rorschach? I’m not a comic book villain. Do you seriously think I would explain my master stroke to you if there were even the slightest possibility you could affect the outcome? I triggered it 35 minutes ago.
No Country For Old Men (2007)
In this adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s novel of the same name, written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, Javier Bardem plays a creepy killer Anton Chigurh. He was so convincing and menacing in the role that he received a considerable amount of praise for his performance and won Best Supporting Actor Academy Award. At one moment in the movie, he stops for gas and what starts as a simple conversation with gas station owner quickly turns into a really tense and unsettling scene. But the moment that sends a chill down my spine was when Chirugh uttered the line “What’s the most you ever lost on a coin toss?”.
Anton Chigurh: What’s the most you ever lost on a coin toss?
Gas Station Proprietor: Sir?
Anton Chigurh: The most. You ever lost. On a coin toss.
Gas Station Proprietor: I don’t know. I couldn’t say.
Anton Chigurh: Call it.
Inglourious Basterds (2009)
In this Quentin Tarantino’s masterpiece, Austrian actor Christoph Waltz gave us one of the best movie villains of all time. He was so perfect and unforgettable in the role and each scene with him was pure gold and somewhat unsettling. In one moment he’s so charming and cheerful while in the other he transforms into a dangerous and terrifying man you don’t want to mess with. Every interaction with him is so full of tension like for example a restaurant scene in which he’s interviewing young Shosanna (Mélanie Laurent) whose family he killed at the beginning of the movie. He orders her milk and strudel, talks with her about her theater, and then at the end of the scene utters the line “I did have something else I wanted to ask you.” followed by uncomfortable silence. It’s not so much about the line, but the way Waltz delivers the line and look he gives Shosanna. Throughout the movie, we are not sure if Landa knows who she is but this moment seemed to end all doubts on the matter.
Col. Hans Landa: I did have something else I wanted to ask you.
[Landa watches Shosanna in silence]
Col. Hans Landa: But right now, for the life of me, I can’t remember what it is. Oh, well, must not have been important. Till tonight.
[He leaves. Shosanna lets out an emotional sigh of relief and starts crying]
The Usual Suspects (1995)
Another great performance from Kevin Spacey in 1995, was in this thriller by director Byran Singer (X-Men, X2: X-Men United, Apt Pupil). After believing that his character Verbal Kint was a small-time crook, at the end of the movie in a shocking twist that is one of the best of all time, it is revealed that he’s actually this extremely dangerous and ruthless crime lord Keyser Söze. In the end montage, after fooling everybody, we see him leaving a police station and entering the car. Over the montage, we hear different lies he’s been telling to the cops and ends with chilling line – “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist”.
Verbal: After that my guess is that you will never hear from him again. The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist. And like that… he is gone.
In this Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece, Joe Pesci was great and terrifying as mobster Tommy DeVito which won him a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award. In one of the best scenes in the movie, they are sitting in a restaurant and after Tommy tells a funny story, Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) tells him he’s a funny guy. What follows is a really uncomfortable and tense scene. “What do you mean I’m funny? Funny how? I’m funny how, I mean funny like I’m a clown, I amuse you?”
Henry Hill: You’re a pistol, you’re really funny. You’re really funny.
Tommy DeVito: What do you mean I’m funny?
Henry Hill: It’s funny, you know. It’s a good story, it’s funny, you’re a funny guy.
Tommy DeVito: What do you mean, you mean the way I talk? What?
Henry Hill: It’s just, you know. You’re just funny, it’s… funny, you know the way you tell the story and everything.
Tommy DeVito: Funny how? What’s funny about it?
Anthony Stabile: Tommy no, you got it all wrong.
Tommy DeVito: Oh, oh, Anthony. He’s a big boy, he knows what he said. What did ya say? Funny how?
Henry Hill: Jus…
Tommy DeVito: What?
Henry Hill: Just… ya know… you’re funny.
Tommy DeVito: You mean, let me understand this cause, ya know maybe it’s me, I’m a little fucked up maybe, but I’m funny how, I mean funny like I’m a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh, I’m here to fuckin’ amuse you? What do you mean funny, funny how? How am I funny?
Henry Hill: Just… you know, how you tell the story, what?
Tommy DeVito: No, no, I don’t know, you said it. How do I know? You said I’m funny. How the fuck am I funny, what the fuck is so funny about me? Tell me, tell me what’s funny!
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)
One more movie on our list directed by David Fincher is The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, a psychological crime thriller based on the novel by Swedish writer Stieg Larsson. It tells a story about journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) who, with the help of computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), is investigating what happened 40 years ago to a woman from a wealthy family. Near the end of the movie, Blomkvist is captured by a killer Martin Vanger (played by Stellan Skarsgård) who utters the following lines.
Martin Vanger: Let me ask you something? Why don’t people trust their instincts? They sense something is wrong, someone is walking too close behind them… You knew something was wrong but you came back into the house. Did I force you, did I drag you in? No. All I had to do was offer you a drink. It’s hard to believe that the fear of offending can be stronger than the fear of pain. But you know what? It is. And they always come willingly. And then they sit there. They know it’s all over just like you do but somehow they still think they have a chance. Maybe if I say the right thing? Maybe if I’m polite. If I cry, if I beg. And when I see the hope draining from their face like it is from yours right now. I can feel myself getting hard. You know, We’re not that different, you and I. We both have urges, satisfying mine requires more towels.
In this thriller by director John Boorman, four friends are going on a canoeing trip into the American back-country. A trip they’ll never forget. In the middle of the movie two of them are captured by a couple of hillbillies and what follows is one of the most disturbing and shocking scenes in the history of cinema. Bobby, Ned Beatty’s character, is getting raped and if that wasn’t enough rapist says following lines to his victim.
Mountain Man: I bet you can squeal like a pig. Squeal. Weeee. Squeal louder. Louder! Louder! Louder! Get down now, boy. There, get them britches down. That’s that. You can do better than that, boy. You can do better than that. Come on, squeal. Squeal. Weeeeeeee!
Mountain Man: Weeeeeeee!
Léon: The Professional (1994)
In Luc Besson’s best movie, a professional assassin Leon (Jean Reno) takes 12-year-old girl Mathilda (Natalie Portman) under his wing as her family was murdered by corrupted DEA agents led by Stansfield (Gary Oldman). At the end of the movie, Stansfield is coming for Leon and Mathilda with a SWAT team, and after seeing they won’t be an easy target yells following line.
Stansfield: Bring me everyone.
Stansfield man: What do you mean “everyone”?
It’s not so much about this line, but the way Oldman delivers it.
Or a scene between him and Mathilda in the DEA office.
Mathilda: You killed my brother.
Stansfield: I’m sorry. And you want to join him?
Stansfield: It’s always the same thing. It’s when you start to become really afraid of death that you learn to appreciate life. Do you like life, sweetheart?
Stansfield: That’s good, because I take no pleasure in taking life if it’s from a person who doesn’t care about it.
In Ridley Scott’s epic historical drama Gladiator, Russel Crowe plays Maximus, a former Roman General who seeks revenge against the corrupt emperor Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) who murdered his family and sent him into slavery. He’s forced to fight as a gladiator and rises through the ranks of the arena to avenge his family. After Commodus learns a true identity of a mysterious gladiator, he utters the following lines to provoke him.
Commodus: What am I going to do with you? You simply won’t… die. Are we so different, you and I? You take life when you have to… as I do.
Maximus: I have only one more life to take. Then it is done.
Commodus: Then take it now.
Commodus: They tell me your son… squealed like a girl when they nailed him to the cross. And your wife… moaned like a whore when they ravaged her again and again… and again.
Reservoir Dogs (1992)
In Quentin Tarantino’s excellent directorial debut, Mr. Blonde, played by Michael Madsen is holding a cop as a prisoner in a secluded warehouse and is trying to get information out of him. When the cop says he doesn’t know anything, Madsen responds with the following lines.
Marvin: I already told you I don’t know anything about any fucking setup; you can torture me all you want.
Mr. Blonde: Torture you? That’s a good idea. I like that.
Mr. Blonde: Listen kid, I’m not gonna bullshit you, all right? 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. You can say anything you want cause I’ve heard it all before. All you can do is pray for a quick death, which you ain’t gonna get.
That whole scene, starting with mentioned dialogue, to Madsen singing and dancing to Stealers Wheel’s Stuck in the Middle with you, followed by cutting a cop’s ear was pretty disturbing.
From Kevin Spacey in Se7en, Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs, Joe Pesci in Goodfellas, Javier Bardem in No Country For Old Men or Christoph Waltz in Inglorious Basterds, there were a lot of actors that did a terrific job and gave us memorable villains and disturbing, but unforgettable, quotes.
What do you think? Do you agree with our list? What are the most terrifying or unsettling lines of dialogue uttered by a villain in your opinion?
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