The psychopath is a movie staple. Coming in various shapes, sizes and genders, most of the time they are straight-forward killers, rapists or sadists, showing no remorse for their actions.
That said, there are a select few that have something about them that sets them apart from your average axe-wielder.
And personally I have a strange soft spot for a movie psychopath, often finding them inexplicably attractive.
But perhaps the word ‘inexplicable’ isn’t quite right. Obviously the thought of a murderous psychopath is not exactly appealing. But some of these characters are physically attractive, which makes it – well, explicable.
Bear in mind that psychopaths are often capable of being perfectly manipulative, deceitful, charming and seductive, as well as being cruel, delusional and disturbed.
Which brings us to exhibit A…
Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman in American Psycho
Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman is the ultimate example of an inexplicably sexy psychopath. Not only does he get his kicks out of hacking people up with a chainsaw, he’s so besotted with himself that he can’t help but flex his muscles in the mirror in time with his thrusting during sex. As well as the obvious Bale aspect, what really seals the deal for Bateman is his enthusiasm and knowledge of ’80s pop music. The way he looks right at the camera as he imparts nuggets of wisdom about Huey Lewis and the News does it for me, every time. And, just look at those moves.
Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance in The Shining
Might as well just get this one out of the way early. I’m not proud of myself for this, OK? The thing is, I actually have a soft spot for Nicholson’s character Randle in One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest as well (not that he’s a psychopath, but it’s fair to say he displays certain traits). Jack Torrance is a psychotic, delusional, alcoholic who nobody in their right mind would want to spend any time with in real life. But there is just something about the glint in Jack’s eye as he bursts his way through that door that has definite sex appeal. Here’s Johnny, indeed.
Robert DeNiro as Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver
Ahh Travis. Potentially my favourite movie character, never mind favourite psychopath. With that level of insomnia, anyone would struggle to keep their grip on society. Now, without wanting to offend anyone, Travis actually suffers from depression and schizotypal personality disorder in the film. But he also has a fixation with guns, and kills a lot of people, even if it is for the right reasons. His heart’s in the right place, looking to clean the “filth” off of the streets and save a 12 year old Jodie Foster from the grips of her pimp. He is even celebrated in the end by the media and Foster’s fictional parents for his good deeds. Those press ups. That mohawk. Yes. Please.
Robert DeNiro as Max Cady in Cape Fear
There is clearly something about DeNiro as a psychopath that really pumps my nuts. Sorry, but it’s true. The actions of DeNiro’s character Max Cady are truly unforgivable and he is a horrific beast, so nobody is condoning any of that. But, in this picture? Heartthrob. Look at those fake tats.
Sharon Stone as Catherine Tramell in Basic Instinct
A perfect example of what’s not ‘inexplicable’ about this list, Sharon Stone playing Catherine Tramell is one of the sexiest on-screen portrayals of anyone, ever. Psychopath or otherwise. I don’t think we need to go into much detail here. The proof is in the pudding, so to speak.
Robert Carlyle as Francis Begbie in Trainspotting
Played to perfection by Robert Carlyle, the volatile Begbie spends his life fighting (and occasionally glassing) anyone who gets in his way. There is just something about Carlyle’s moustache, silver hoop earring, slicked back hair and evil snarl that is a tiny bit appealing. Underneath it all, he doesn’t mean any harm. He just needs a cuddle.
Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men
Javier Bardem won an Oscar for his portrayal of the near mute hitman Anton in this Coen brothers triumph. He kills without compassion or remorse, murdering almost everyone he encounters throughout the course of the film. While he doesn’t show any compassion, he does seem to have his own set of morals, or rules, which he will bring into play when deliberating whether to kill or not. He occasionally tosses a coin to decide his victim’s fate, if the inconvenience of killing them is making him indecisive. His terrible hair and thick set face combined with his callous streak almost make him completely unnattractive, but his stompy feet, deliberation and calm demeanour give him a certain strange appeal.
Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates in Psycho
When Norman isn’t taking on the persona of his Mother, he is inexplicably attractive. Robert Bloch, author of the book which Hitchcock’s film is based on, explains the three personalities of Bates as ‘Norman’, ‘Norma’,’and ‘Normal’. When in ‘Normal’ mode, Bates is a functioning, attractive young man. It’s unfortunate that his personality disorder turns him into a raving psychopath, willing to murder anyone who threatens to uncover his secret. So it’s not all his fault. But it is kind of a deal breaker.
Glenn Close as Alex Forrest in Fatal Attraction
The ultimate bunny boiler, Glenn Close’s portrayal of Alex Forrest makes anyone who’s ever been described as ‘clingy’ feel so much better about themselves. After embarking on a casual affair with married Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas), Alex turns psycho when he tells her the affair is over. Although her behaviour escalates to violent stalker, she’s still attractive. At least she knows how to make a man feel wanted.
Heath Ledger as The Joker in The Dark Knight
As well as having a lovely smile, Heath Ledger is just the best. He could make the most callous of psychopaths sexually appealing. Oh wait, he did. The Joker is a babe. You heard me. A babe.