12 Top Post-apocalyptic Movie Villains

Thursday, January 14, 2010 at 6:42 pm
By Shane Rivers

In honor of the release of The Book of Eli, I present this list of the 12 top post-apocalyptic movie villains. From mutated frogs to gorilla generals and fascist extremists, this group includes the most vile characters to ever stride across the irradiated landscape of a doomed Earth. Gary Oldman is going to have some really stiff competition, although I’m afraid he’ll probably end up the same way as all the others. By my calculations, the men (and other assorted creatures) listed below have a dismal 0-12 record against their respective opponents. I guess post-apocalyptic movies are depressing enough without the hero buying the farm.

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Villain Name: Hammer
Played By: Vic Morrow
Film Title: 1990: The Bronx Warriors (1982)
Cause of Apocalypse: Social anarchy
Why They’re Tops: Vic Morrow gives his final performance before being killed on the set of Twilight Zone: The Movie, and what a doozey it is. With his moustache that practically screams, “I don’t give a damn,” Morrow portrays Hammer, a psychotic cop sent inside the no man’s land known as The Bronx to rescue the teenager heiress to an arms manufacturer. His plan includes killing off gang members and framing their rivals, putting him on a collision course with such colorfully-named tough guys as Trash and Ogre. When told that he’s playing with fire, Hammer responds, “I know, and I love it. I love it.” And you’ve gotta respect any actor who manages to introduce himself with the following line, keeping a straight face in the process: “I’m Hammer…the exterminator.” But his most brilliant scene comes at the film’s climax. Dressed in a garish leather police uniform, he leads an assault on the gangs, cackling like a madman as his men incinerate and shoot various oddly-attired toughs. Just prior to getting a giant spear to the chest, he screams out “Hammer! Hammer is God!” To really make sure he’s dead, the script then calls for him to fall 20 feet in slow motion, before finally being dragged behind a motorcycle as the credits roll.

general-ursusVillain Name: General Ursus
Played By: James Gregory
Film Title: Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)
Cause of Apocalypse: Nuclear war and an ape revolution
Why They’re Tops: I don’t know what you call that headgear that General Ursus wears, but it sure is groovy. Advanced fashion sense aside, Ursus is the traditional military leader who likes to shoot first and ask questions later. When a famine strikes, this kill-crazy gorilla convinces the ape council that he should lead a holy war into the dreaded Forbidden Zone, a place where most primates fear to tread. Planning to exterminate the world’s remaining humans and procure their food supplies, Ursus and his troops go marching off blindly to their deaths, unknowingly dooming the planet in the process. It turns out that the mutant humans in the Forbidden Zone worship a nuke, and they’re not afraid to use it. Of course, Ursus taunting their dying leader does nothing to improve their mood. A walking commentary on the dangers of abusing military power.

Villain Name: General Aldo
Played By: Claude Akins
Film Title: Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973)
Cause of Apocalypse: Nuclear war and an ape uprising
Why They’re Tops: How cool is it that Sheriff Lobo played a gorilla? While General Ursus is your stereotypical bull-headed military leader, General Aldo is far more treacherous. Not only does he desire to get rid of all humans, but he also wants to usurp the leadership of the more high-minded chimpanzee, Caesar. His greed and paranoia lead him to cut a branch and cause Caesar’s son, Cornelius, to fall to his death. This leads to a climactic moment when his dark deed is revealed, and the classic line “An ape has killed ape” is uttered. Ironically, the first ape to gain the power of speech is also the first one to take the life of a fellow primate. Welcome to the human race, fellas.

captain-rhodesVillain Name: Captain Rhodes
Played By: Joe Pilato
Film Title: Day of the Dead (1985)
Cause of Apocalypse: Lots and lots of zombies
Why They’re Tops: Not a big fan of science, the sadistic Captain Rhodes would prefer to solve everything with bullets or his fists. Unfortunately, he’s up against an entire planet of the undead, and the morale (and sanity) of those under his command is quickly eroding. Assigned to a thankless and futile task, he’s surrounded by either lazy sycophants (Private Rickles, for example) or soldiers teetering on the brink of an absolute mental breakdown (that sweaty, shifty-looking Miguel). Rhodes finally has enough, pumping numerous rounds into members of the scientific community, which also happens to coincide with a full-scale breach of the complex by the undead. But Rhodes doesn’t go quietly. It takes Bub, a semi-intelligent, pistol-wielding zombie to bring him down, and a pack of hungry undead to finish him off. As Rhodes is being devoured, he guarantees himself a spot in the pantheon of top post-apocalyptic movie villains by defiantly screaming, “Choke on ‘em!”.

Villain Name: Wez
Played By: Vernon Wells
Film Title: The Road Warrior (1981)
Cause of Apocalypse: Nuclear war and social anarchy
Why They’re Tops: Assless chaps never looked so dangerous. As the mohawked muscle of Lord Humungus, Wez lives to wreak havoc in the post-apocalyptic wasteland of Australia. Like a leather-obsessed force of nature, Wez gets so out of control at times that his overlord has to subdue him with a sleeper hold and put him on a leash. And when he’s not killing harmless bunnies with his forearm-mounted crossbow, he’s tooling around on a motorcycle that comes complete with a blonde-haired male sex slave. As the film progresses, he makes it his mission to take down Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson) and his collection of dogs, survivors, and feral kids. He nearly succeeds, too, as the final chase sees him ready to finish off a wounded Max and his feral sidekick. However, the timely arrival of Lord Humungus and his speeding nitrous oxide car finish off the villains once and for all.

commander-totyVillain Name: Commander Toty
Played By: Brian Frank
Film Title: Hell Comes to Frogtown (1988)
Cause of Apocalypse: Nuclear war
Why They’re Tops: In a world where nuclear fallout has rendered most of the men infertile, Sam Hell (“Rowdy” Roddy Piper) and his sperm are a valuable commodity. But not so much that the government won’t slap an exploding codpiece on him and dispatch him to the desert to locate a group of captured human women. This abduction is the work of Commander Toty, a giant amphibian who’s been mutated following years of exposure to radiation. Exiled to the barren desert, he and his men are in need of a little female companionship, and who wants to cuddle up next to a frog-woman every night? Toty has an outrageous voice, an outrageous look, and a love for the appropriately-named Dance of the Three Snakes. He commands prisoner Spangle (Sandahl Bergman) to “Dance or die,” and she responds with an erotic performance. Toty then exclaims, “You have aroused the three snakes,” pulling back his loincloth to reveal three mutated amphibian penises. Spangle is having none of that, and she gives each of the three snakes a swift kick. Sam Hell does even worse when he arrives in Frogtown.

Villain Name: Sol
Played By: Craig Conway
Film Title: Doomsday (2008)
Cause of Apocalypse: The Reaper virus
Why They’re Tops: Most of this film is simply a rip-off of The Road Warrior and Escape from New York, but Sol deserves a spot on my list of the top post-apocalyptic movie villains for his scenery-chewing performance. When the mohawked lunatic with a biohazard tattoo across his back first makes an appearance, he strides onto a stage flanked by post-apocalyptic dancing hotties and cavorts to the tune of “Good Thing” by The Fine Young Cannibals. It’s a fitting selection, as many of his followers are cannibals. When his maniacal, tattooed girlfriend goes and gets herself decapitated by the film’s sexy star, Sol really goes on the warpath. Near the end of the movie, he heads out in pursuit of the hero in a car that looks to be patched together from the skin and bones of his victims. Riding shotgun is his dead ex, her head tenuously sewn back onto her body. His fate may have been rather predictable, but his antics certainly weren’t.

fender-tremoloVillain Name: Fender Tremolo
Played By: Vincent Klyn
Film Title: Cyborg (1989)
Cause of Apocalypse: Plague
Why They’re Tops: Okay, Fender Tremolo is a stupid name for a villain, but this is also a film that features characters named Gibson Rickenbacker, Les, and Marshall Strat. Still, this wacko leader of a roving band of pirates is pretty cool looking. His giant 1980’s sunglasses hide crazy blue eyes, and he loves to display these freaky peepers just before killing someone or headbutting them into submission. The chainmail armor and deep villain voice are also a nice touch, as is the glittery top that appears better suited for a glam rocker or aristocrat from the 1700’s. Prone to yelling out random curse words and talking about death all the time, Fender does show his lighter side by performing a few lines in a bizarre pirate accent. WTF?!

Villain Name: Clapet
Played By: Jean-Claude Dreyfus
Film Title: Delicatessen (1991)
Cause of Apocalypse: Unknown
Why They’re Tops: A fat butcher who also owns the building around his meat shop, Clapet has managed to create a somewhat peaceful environment in a world gone entirely to hell. There’s a price to pay, however, as anyone who can’t afford to pay their rent is chopped up by Clapet and sold to the other knowing tenants as food. He also places ads for workers, killing them to keep a steady supply of meat for his lodgers. Wielding a massive cleaver and equally massive grin, Clapet maintains order in his building while making a few bucks in the process. In truth, he may be the ultimate capitalist. My favorite Clapet moment comes when he chops the foot off a tenant only to realize that they were paid in full. His apologies are both disturbing and utterly sincere.

lord-humungusVillain Name: Lord Humungus
Played By: Kjell Nilsson
Film Title: The Road Warrior (1981)
Cause of Apocalypse: Nuclear war and social anarchy
Why They’re Tops: A muscular and scantily-clad hulk of a man, the hockey mask-wearing Lord Humungus also possesses a clever mind. This is demonstrated when he attempts to negotiate with a band of survivors holed up inside a coveted oil refinery. Telling them to “just walk away,” Humungus promises to spare their lives in exchange for the precious crude and gasoline in their facility. It’s a lie, of course, but it adequately demonstrates his cleverness. But don’t mistake the “ayatollah of rock-and-rollah” for an egghead, as he can kick ass with the best of them. He subdues one henchmen and puts a leash on him, approves the torture of captives, and carries around a massive handgun. He’d also be formidable in a game of lawn darts, as evidenced when he uses a giant three-pronged version to kill the heroic Pappagallo.

Villain Name: The Duke of New York
Played By: Isaac Hayes
Film Title: Escape from New York (1981)
Cause of Apocalypse: World War III
Why They’re Tops: Also known as “The Big Man” and “A-Number-One,” The Duke is the leader of the most powerful gang in Manhattan, The Gypsies. That’s saying something, considering that the city has been walled off and turned into a giant prison island. While he doesn’t prove to be bulletproof, The Duke does have a sense of style, riding around in a luxury car with chandeliers on the front and sporting a hat that makes him look like he just got back from safari. And don’t even get me started on his jacket, something that was obviously lifted from backstage at a concert by The Commodores. The fact that the role is played by the voice of South Park’s Chef adds a whole new dimension of coolness.

Villain Name: General Bethlehem
Played By: Will Patton
Film Title: The Postman (1997)
Cause of Apocalypse: War, plague, and social anarchy
Why They’re Tops: The leader of a fascist army known as the Holnists, General Bethlehem started life as an insignificant copier salesman. When war and plague overturned the social order, he stepped forward and claimed what he believed was his destiny. The brutal Holnists constantly scavenge for food and new recruits (as long as they’re of pure blood), and they don’t hesitate to kill anyone who gets in their way. While the movie may be uneven, Will Patton is exceptional in this role, playing Bethlehem as a small man who considers himself something much greater than he truly is. He’s a bad painter, he talks to himself, and he makes the mistake of forcibly recruiting “Shakespeare” (Kevin Costner), the man who eventually organizes his defeat. He does look great in a leather military outfit, though, and he’s more than capable of defeating anyone who invokes Law 7, which states that any member of the Holnist army can challenge for leadership of the clan via trial by combat.

Honorable Mention: While the character of The Deacon (Dennis Hopper) from Waterworld didn’t make my final list of the top post-apocalyptic movie villains, I did want to give him an honorable mention for uttering one of the most memorably bad/funny lines in the history of the genre. When confronted by Kevin Costner’s Mariner, The Deacon says, “You know, I thought you was stupid, friend, but I underestimated you. You’re a total freakin’ retard.” Politically incorrect? Yes. As funny as Costner’s accent in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves? Hell, yes.