It is always fun recalling the hair-raising scheming of bald bad guys in cinema. These hairless hooligans make for entertaining film fiends that take being naughty on the big screen to a whole new level of devilish delight. Whenever chaos and corruption is in the mix one can count on these balding bad apples to take it to the level of insanity. Now granted that there are other Bald Baddies of the Big Screen that are just as worthy as making anyone’s top ten list besides the selections that being profiled in this column. In any event, let’s just take a gander at the follicle-challenged foes in this serving of badness and baldness, shall we?
Here are The Top Ten Bald Baddies of the Big Screen (in alphabetical order):
1.) Ernst Stavro Blofeld from You Only Live Twice (1967)
There have been many menacing James Bond villains that have challenged the engaging super spy with dastardly plans for world domination but budding heads with the mastermind behind the evil organization SPECTRE in Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Donald Pleasance) is something that just cannot be taken lightly. Blofeld proves to be the ultimate master manipulator as he has his eyes set on igniting a global nuclear war and of course ensuring that Agent 007’s head is served on a silver platter as well. Unforgivable and relentlessly sinister, Blofeld is the fitting fiendish figurehead to oversee the twisted operations at SPECTRE. Also, being in cahoots with the scar-faced Bald One proves to not be so enterprising after all. Why? All one has to do is ask the likes of femme fatale Helga Brandt about Blofeld’s insidious gesture in feeding her to a pool of piranha or his deadly disposal of Mr. Osato. Blofeld is indeed a piece of work.
2.) Dr. Evil from Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)
Thirty years after Donald Pleasance made his notorious mark as the nefarious James Bond agitator Ernst Stavro Blofeld, ex SNL alum Mike Myers decides to engage in some wicked satire by creating the off-kilter likes of Dr. Evil–an obvious and free-spirited parody of Blofeld and all the villainous vermin that participated in the over-the-top spy genres of the 1960’s and 1970’s. Dr. Evil, along with his sidekick in the diminutive devil Mini Me, had just as much passion in disposing the pesky Austin Powers and taking over the world as Blofeld did when dealing with the dashing Bond. The only distinction was that Myers’s Dr. Evil was able to wink at the audience in jest while proceeding with his doomsday daffiness. From the mod wardrobe to the whacked-out wickedness, Dr. Evil was actually the bothersome baldie that audiences rooted for because he was in on the inside joke about the ridiculing of movie misfits and how arresting and asinine they can be in the repetitive realm of spy cinema.
3.) Colonel Walter E. Kurtz from Apocalypse Now (1979)
There is nothing more devastating than the horrors of war and all its intensity and insanity. The same thing can be said of renegade Col. Walter E. Kurtz (Marlon Brando), the fear-inducing face that fronts the atrocities in Frances Ford Coppola’s Vietnam War vehicle Apocalypse Now. Kurtz was a haunting and daunting ex-Green Beret thrust into “the heart of darkness” in the Cambodian jungle. Kurtz is wanted by his pursuer in one Captain Benjamin Willard (Martin Sheen) as they hunt down the delusional military man gone completely off-the-wall. Also Kurtz is a target of an assassination one wonders whether a bullet could end the misery and madness of a man that has succumb to his deepened demons. Indeed, war is hell but for Kurtz…hell is merely a Disney amusement park ride where the excitement is highlighted by lunacy and everything else that is inhumane.
As Guns N’ Roses once sang in lyrical conviction: “Welcome to the jungle…”
4.) Don Logan from Sexy Beast (2000)
Ben Kingsley’s Oscar-nominated turn as the cunning and calculating gangster Don Logan in Sexy Beast has to be without a doubt one of the most riveting and roguish criminals to bless the big screen. Logan is acidly cocky and a habitual rule-breaker who knows no bounds and does not care.
Narcissistic, perversely polished and methodically malicious, Don Logan’s penchant for mayhem is almost automatically instinctual for a misguided man that lives by his own kind of corruptible code. Hence, there is a bizarre sense of loyalty and ritualistic obedience that Logan lives by and will die by that defines and decorates this self-involved, stylish sociopath beyond repair. Don Logan is a demented one for the ages, folks.
5.) Lex Luthor from Superman–The Movie (1978)
The Man of Steel’s arch nemesis Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) was actually a criminal mind of impeccable taste. Luthor loved to wine, dine and casually plot his next caper in either handing Superman more turmoil than he can bargain for or take out his colorful criminality on the world. Luthorr was fascinating because he was articulate, sophisticated, well-read–an all-around urbane rabble-rouser that used crime and punishment as his artistic license in the same way that Picasso used his brush to paint a lavish portrait. Lex Luthorr was probably the only mortal menace that knew how to get under Superman’s skin and yet not bat an eyelash in the process. Hackman aptly captured the smarmy bald-headed badass with delectable tastes in grand-scale disorderly conduct.
With assisting cohorts in the bumbling Otis and sultry Miss Eve Teschmacher at his side, Luthorr felt empowered to launch a nuclear missile while orchestrating Superman’s demise through a drowning (with kryptonite wrapped around his neck) as the dirty deed is in motion. Lex Luthor is a toxic pest…and a well-spoken one to boot.
6.) A.J. Maggott from The Dirty Dozen (1967)
When describing military malcontent A. J. Maggott (Telly Savalas) from director Robert Aldrich’s wartime drama The Dirty Dozen, one can summon the uneasy feeling of queasiness for this despicable deviant. Maggott was an unapologetic scoundrel with a sinister chuckle and ugly disposition to match. Granted that none of Major John Reisman’s (Lee Marvin) criminally recruited rogues were what you would call choir boys. They were far from that labeling. But Maggott made the other eleven unruly members look like ADD-inflicted boy scouts in comparison. Evil-minded and tawdry, Maggott was a twisted misogynist and off-balanced religious fanatic that certainly did not practice the strict disciplines of spirituality that he preached. Maggott was a danger to himself and his troupe not to mention any skirt that he was exposed to at the moment. Unsteady, diabolical and detached, A.J. Maggott definitely had the appropriate surname that embodies what this hairless huckster was about in soullessness.
7.) Ming the Merciless from Flash Gordon (1980)
When Queen’s late frontman Freddie Mercury enthusiastically yelps the catchy lyric “Flash…ah ha…savior of the universe!” in the sci-fi action-adventure Flash Gordon’s theme song you know one thing is for certain–there is a frightening force out there looking to destroy every man, woman and child. Thus, we must know that studly New York Jets quarterback Flash Gordon (Sam J. Jones) is working the galactic sidelines trying to tackle the grand presence of one Ming the Merciless (Max Von Sydow), the no-nonsense would-be ruler of the entire universe.
Ming the Merciless aptly lived up to his alliterative moniker. He was humorless, stoic, blood-thirsty and bossy. And this was when he was in kind of a playful mood! Ming was not exactly a fan of human beings on Earth. To confirm this fact the maddening Ming always uttered in disgust “those pathetic earthlings” so one must realize that this is not exactly an endearing pet name for us all back on our beloved planet. Ming was convincingly nasty but does score some points for being a space-aged fashion plate. One wonders if he ever raided Elton John’s dressing room en route to snuffing out Flash Gordon and his entourage.
8.) Count Orlok from Nosferatu (1922)
Sure, nowadays in the millennium age pop culture is saturated with the genre of vampirism. In fact, the preoccupation with vampires were ubiquitous in movies, TV, literature and music throughout the decades so this is nothing new in terms of recognizing this blood-sucking bad boy phenomenon. In a few years from now it will be a century since a celebrated “wannabe” Dracula in the classic German director F.W. Murnau’s black and white grainy masterpiece Nosferatu was introduced to the masses in the form of Count Orlok, a gangly and balding blood biter with distracting pointy ears and uneven pinching fangs to match. Count Orlok, as played by Max Schreck, was an awkward-looking lanky specimen that may have been inspired by Bram Stoker’s iconic literary blood-sucker but noticeably did not possess Dracula’s matinee idol appearance (as audiences would come to be familiar with in horror cinema) equipped with slicked back robust jet black hair and an eerie swagger that drew some lovely ladies into his deadly arms. Still, the hideous hairless hunched-back neck-muncher was the precursor to all the plasma pests in future Movieland to seduce and suck the life out of their delirious victims.
9.) Pinhead from Hellraiser (1987)
Okay, Hellraiser’s Pinhead was not totally bald per se…unless you want to count the technicalities of him sporting shock-inducing metal pins that are casually embedded in the skull of this macabre monster with the fetish for killing on a whim. Pinhead was surreal and sensationally scary in his abilities to make the audience squirm on command. Never mind the fact that Pinhead had committed the torturous acts that are by nature enough to denounce (or declare “deviously delightful” depending on your point of view) but one would automatically shake in their seats just watching this walking pale pin-cushioned punisher exact his stomach-churning rage on the prey that crosses his path.
Clive Barker’s creepy Cenobites-bred creation was portrayed by actor/occasional makeup artist Doug Bradley through eight bone-chilling installments featuring this frightfest fiend (Stephan Smith Collins assumed the role in Hellraiser: Revelations). To tag the penetrating Pinhead as one of cinema’s hellish wonders is definitely recognizing the understatement of a lifetime.
10.) Derek Vinyard from American History X (1999)
Edward Norton’s well-deserved Oscar-nominated turn as the vile neo-Nazi skinhead Derek Vinyard in director Tony Kaye’s brutal and honest racial drama American History X is a telling tale of the familial embracing of brainwashing, disturbing ignorance and volatile hatred within the realm of an angry, sick-minded rebellious tattooed thug and his despicable learned behavior of intolerable and instability. As a result of Vinyard’s racial hostility that led to the killing of two black men and his eventual imprisonment where he would find some solid redemption, American History X and it’s lead antagonist takes us on a dangerous and explosively sordid story where the frailty of humanity gives in to the flagrant ugliness of inhumanity. As detestable and indignant that American History X can be in its slimy skin, it is a resourceful reminder that there are countless Derek Vinyards out there roaming the globe with the same kind of dismissive sensibilities and deadly detachment looking to implode.
Norton’s Vinyard is a life-long product of listening to the intolerable spewing of a filthy-minded racist father and eventually the opportunistic race-monger mentor Cameron (Stacy Keach) whose woefully misguided influences register with wayward youths such as Derek looking to sulk in a disenfranchised mode if only to try to hold on to something that fuels their poisonous need to lash out at an unsuspecting society they can dump on ominously. Thankfully, Vinyard receives a wake-up and learns behind bars the destruction and damage of his inconceivable actions. Of course when baby brother Danny (Edward Furlong) takes to heart Derek’s former deranged stance for hating non-white people perceived as “sub-human” the high stakes to save Danny from his previous path of racial depravity is crucial. Derek Vinyard is a reformed balding bad boy but in his heyday he was the kind of misplaced social monster that would trivialize the beasts you would routinely see at the local cinemaplex.