The 10 Most Mental Movie Psychics

Tuesday, November 3, 2009 at 1:07 pm
By Shane Rivers

This Friday sees the release of The Men Who Stare at Goats, a comedy about a special group of U.S. psychic soldiers who practice their skills by staring at goats until they’ve killed them with their minds. Sound crazy? Well, you ain’t seen nothing yet, dear reader. The movies have been filled with all manner of deranged and powerful mentalists, and I’ve compiled this list which I like to call The 10 Most Mental Movie Psychics. Since the slang form of “mental” can mean either “awesome” or “insane,” I thought I’d include a little of both.

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Enjoy, and remember…these are not the droids you’re looking for.

Name: Darth Vader
Appeared In: Every Star Wars movie in one form or another
Played By: David Prowse/Hayden Christensen/voiced by James Earl Jones
Why They’re Mental: For a moment, let’s forget all about the shiny black armor and the creepy breathing apparatus. Darth Vader is a Dark Lord of the Sith, which means he’s tapped into the psychic force which exists all around us. Sure, wimps like Yoda use it for healing and tossing items around, but those who’ve crossed over to the “dark side” get to do cool stuff like choke people without even touching them. He gives his pregnant wife a taste of this psychic medicine, plus Vader does us all a favor and whacks a Jedi temple full of little apprentices called “younglings.” The latter didn’t require any psychic abilities, but it sure moved him up a notch or two in my book. I’ll stop it there, as a complete list of Lord Vader’s awesomeness could fill up pages.

ironside-scannersName: Darryl Revok
Appeared In: Scanners (1981)
Played By: Michael Ironside
Why They’re Mental: Darryl Revok is a rogue psychic intent on creating an army of mentalists (or “Scanners”). He first demonstrates his boss abilities by taking down a fellow Scanner at a press conference and making the poor chump’s head explode. One of the greatest kills in movie history, the effect was achieved by loading a fake head with animal innards and then blasting it from behind with a shotgun. Revok also has assassins at his disposal, which instantly increases anyone’s cool factor. But the biggest moment for Revok comes during his climatic showdown with Scanner/rival/brother Cameron Vale. The villainous Scanner offers Vale a chance to join in his mad schemes, and our so-called hero responds by hitting Revok in the head with a brick. Big mistake, as anyone will tell you that Michael Ironside’s head is strictly a brick-free zone. Sufficiently pissed, Revok unleashes his psychic mojo, telling Vale, “We’re gonna do it the Scanner way. I’m gonna suck your brain dry.” What follows is a psychic throwdown of epic proportions, with veins popping, clothes bursting into flame, and plenty of creepy sounds to let us know that mental powers are being unleashed. Sadly, Revok loses in the end, but his head-popping rampage still marks him as one of the 10 most mental movie psychics ever seen.

Name: Tommy Ray Glatman
Appeared In: Dreamscape (1984)
Played By: David Patrick Kelly
Why They’re Mental: First off, if David Patrick Kelly is playing a character, you can be pretty certain that he’s going to be a murderous little weasel. This time around, he takes on the role of Tommy Ray Glatman, a sociopath with the ability to project himself into the dreams of others and kill them by inducing fear to the point of a massive heart attack. After teaming up with the shadowy Bob Blair (Christopher Plummer), a man who may be tied to the CIA, Glatman is sent after the President of the United States (Eddie Albert). Luckily for the former star of Green Acres, psychic Alex Gardner (Dennis Quaid) is a bit more high-minded than the sadistic Glatman. Their showdown takes place in the mind of the Commander-in-Chief, with the villain eventually taking on the form of a giant snake-man to terrorize Gardner. The good guys prevail, but Tommy Ray gets to demonstrate just how creepy he can be before heading off to that big dreamscape in the sky.

Name: Carrie White
Appeared In: Carrie (1976)
Played By: Sissy Spacek
Why They’re Mental: Talk about a shitty childhood! Poor Carrie White has a religious nut for a mother who won’t even tell her about menstruation, her English teacher mocks her, the other students hate her, and she’s even got John Travolta on her case. Luckily, she’s also got some badass psychic powers to even the score. As these frightening abilities begin to grow, Carrie slowly starts taking control of her life. And just when everything is looking peachy…she gets drenched with a big ‘ol bucket of pig’s blood on prom night. That tears it for Carrie, so she naturally starts offing classmates and teachers. Travolta’s dance moves do him no good against the raging psychic, and Carrie eventually returns home and collapses her home on top of her and her nutso mother. The poster girl for out-of-control teens, the image of a wide-eyed, blood-soaked Carrie still manages to give me the creeps.

Name: Gillian Bellaver
Appeared In: The Fury (1978)
Played By: Amy Irving
Why They’re Mental: Teenage Gillian makes the list strictly for her actions during the final minutes of The Fury. The rest of the film, she mainly plays the victim while Kirk Douglas runs around like a pistol-packing super-spy and shoots people. But once everyone she cares about is tragically killed, Gillian decides to embrace her powers and get a little payback. Approached by Childress (John Cassavetes), an intelligence operative with suspicious motives, Gillian feigns submission until she’s close enough to kiss him on the face. Big mistake, Cassavetes. This causes Childress to start bleeding from the eyeballs, and he stumbles around like a zombie from a bad Romero movie. She then cranks up her powers and causes the villainous Childress to explode, an event we get to witness in slow-motion from about 30 different angles thanks to director Brian de Palma.

dead-zoneName: Johnny Smith
Appeared In: The Dead Zone (1983)
Played By: Christopher Walken
Why They’re Mental: Any character played by Christopher Walken is strange enough, but Johnny Smith seems especially unhinged after waking from a coma and finding that he possesses psychic powers. While suffering from splitting headaches and perfecting his dead stare, Johnny saves a girl from burning alive, stops a serial killer, and almost saves a boy from drowning in a frozen lake (way to go, dad). But his biggest opportunity to do good comes after meeting U.S. Senatorial Candidate Greg Stillson. While shaking the politician’s hand, Johnny sees a glimpse of the future where Stillson, as President of the United States, starts World War III and tells his vice-president “The missile are flying. Hallelujah. Hallelujah.” Johnny tries to plug Stillson with a rifle, but he misses, prompting Stillson to use an infant as a human shield (which is captured on film). Knowing this act will wreck his political career and result in Stillson’s suicide, a mortally wounded Johnny smiles and passes away. Another mental mentalist from the mind of Stephen King.

Name: Charlie McGee
Appeared In: Firestarter (1984)
Played By: Drew Barrymore
Why They’re Mental: The third Stephen King character to make the list, little Charlie McGee is a cute kid with the terrifying ability to start fires with her mind. On the run with her psychic father, Charlie is pursued by members of The Shop, a sinister government agency that wants to study her for possible military applications. Heading up these efforts is John Rainbird, a Cherokee war vet played by George C. Scott (and his ponytail). This all culminates in Charlie’s father buying the farm, and the little girl decides to teach her pursuers a lesson they’ll never forget. Unleashing the full extent of her powers, she incinerates Rainbird and blows the hell out of anything in her path (even stopping bullets by the intense heat she’s generating). When Charlie’s through, The Shop is left needing a whole bunch of new agents, a truck, a barn, and a slick little golf cart. The lesson: don’t mess with a pre-rehab Drew Barrymore.

powderName: Jeremy Reed
Appeared In: Powder (1995)
Played By: Sean Patrick Flanery
Why They’re Mental: Locked away in the basement by his grandparents, the gentle albino dubbed “Powder” is eventually freed by Child Protective Services and sent out into the real world. Before long, one of his teachers realizes that his IQ is the highest ever recorded, and he’s got the ability to sense the thoughts of those around him. Jeremy’s also filled with an electromagnetic charge, which he uses to construct a mountain of silverware in the lunch room (pissing off a classmate who resembles Eddie Vedder), blow out light bulbs, revive a dead student, make a hunter feel the fear of a dying deer, and generally creep out most of those he comes into contact with. He does get to make out with the local hot redhead, though, before finally ascending into the heavens via a blast of lightning, so his time on Earth wasn’t a complete waste.

Name: John Murdoch
Appeared In: Dark City (1998)
Played By: Rufus Sewell
Why They’re Mental: Trapped in a place where nothing is as it seems, John Murdoch slowly begins to discover the secrets of the city’s overlords, a bunch of bald, leather-obsessed psychics known as The Strangers. With the help of a double-crossing doctor played by Keifer Sutherland, Murdoch realizes that his whole life has been a lie. Unleashing his psychic powers, he proceeds to toss pasty-faced bald guys every which way, until their leader steps up for a final showdown. Coming out victorious, Murdoch decides to fix the city, bring out the sun for the first time, visit the long-elusive Shell Beach, and presumably get a little from Jennifer Connelly and her giant eyebrows.

tetsuo-akiraName: Tetsuo Shima
Appeared In: Akira (1988)
Played By: Nozomu Sasaki/Jan Rabson/Joshua Seth (voice)
Why They’re Mental: A member of a Japanese biker gang known as The Capsules, Tetsou is a kid with an inferiority complex who both admires and resents best friend Kaneda (the gang’s leader). But that’s before his psychic powers begin to manifest – powers so awesome that they threaten to destroy the futuristic Neo-Tokyo. After being captured by the government, Tetsuo escapes and uses his abilities to collapse bridges, deflect shells from tanks, and pop people like blood-filled balloons, all while wearing a really sporty red cape. He renews his rivalry with Kaneda, morphs into a giant baby-like creature, and even menaces a guy who looks suspiciously like Chuck Liddell. His most mental moment comes when he’s fired upon by an immensely-powerful orbital laser satellite. His right arm severed, Tetsuo flies into the silent vacuum of space, destroys the satellite, and then gets to work on constructing a new arm. Now that’s what I call mental!