Infamous Sociopath Killers in Movies

In celebration of the DVD release for No Country for Old Men, we look at some of the most memorable sociopaths in film.

by | March 10, 2008 | Comments

Sociopathic killers can make or break films. They need to break archetypal
molds of an antagonist, yet still be believable as characters in spite of the
violation of moral conventions. Some end up too overwrought and lacking
subtlety, as in
Natural Born Killers
, while others are doomed to B-movie
mediocrity (Mark Wahlberg in
Fear).

The Coen brothers deliver a sublime blend of chilling thrills and drama with
No
Country for Old Men
, with the film garnering a series of accolades that include
Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best
Supporting Actor.
Javier Bardem‘s Anton Chigurh casts a foreboding shadow upon
the $2 million-ambitions of protagonist Llewelyn Moss, who scoops up a suitcase
of cash from a drug deal that went south. With an ungainly canister of
compressed air in hand, Anton relentlessly pursues Llewelyn, his murderous
streaks as flippant and detached as the tossing of a coin.

Following its recent critical acclaim, the film is poised to make a splash on
DVD and Blu-ray. In celebration of its imminent release, we take a look at other
memorable sociopaths that left you squeamish and rattled.

Gaear Grimsrud

Fargo (1996)
One of the Coen brothers’ most well known work prior to No Country for Old Men,
Fargo takes a wry and black-comedic look at the humdrum rural life of
middle-America. Based on series of real-life events, the film delves into a
staged kidnapping gone wrong. Jerry Lundeaard (William H. Macy) is a debt-ridden
car salesman, who gets the idea of having his own wife abducted in order to get
money from his rich and spiteful father-in-law. The plan falls apart quickly as sociopathic hired goons Gaear Grimsrud (Peter Stormare) and Carl Showalter
(Steve Buscemi) kill a state trooper, with Gaear then proceeding to gun down
witnesses in cold blood. Gaear (a name fitting for a sociopath) continues to
spiral downwards into a moral nadir, ultimately trying to clean up his own
murderous mess with a wood chipper that sprays blood chunks onto the snow.


Mr. Blonde
Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Quentin Tarantino‘s feature film debut, Reservoir Dogs, is an independent film
classic, starring an ensemble crew of actors that includes
Harvey Keitel,
Tim
Roth
, Michael Madsen,
Chris Penn,
Steve Buscemi,
Lawrence
Tierney
. Setting a
precedent for Tarantino films to come, this heist flick is characterized by its
non-chronological progression and witty dialogue. One defining aspect that had
some walking out of the theater, though, was its surreal violence with Mr.
Blonde (Michael Madsen). The most sociopathic of the black-tied motley crew, he
shows not an ounce of remorse for killing, and in an iconic moment of the film
tortures a captive police officer, leaving a bloodied stump for an ear. His
sadistic spree fortunately stops, but by the film’s end Mr. Blonde undoubtedly
left an unsettling mark upon unsuspecting filmgoers’ minds.


Alex DeLarge
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Stanley
Kubrick
‘s adaptation of the novel pulls no punches when diving into the
unrepentant depravity of protagonist Alex DeLarge. In part commentary on uncouth
youth, Alex nevertheless sets himself apart from his fellow debaucherous
delinquents by his whimsical acts of violence. Whether it be humming “Singing in
the Rain” while beating an old man and raping his wife in front of him, or
beating and ultimately murdering a man with a phallic object in a robbery, Alex
acts with sinister glee. Eventually his cronies turn on Alex, leaving him at
mercy of the police and their dubious, Beethoven-charged therapy called the Ludovico
Technique. Rendering him incapable of acting out with violence, old
victims and old henchmen have a field day with the protagonist, leaving him for
dead. On the brink of suicide, the government apologizes for the therapy, and
the film ends with Alex seemingly restored to his rebellious and unredeemed
oats.


Want a change of pace from the usual blockbuster action flicks? Then be sure to
check out No Country for Old Men when it lands on DVD and Blu-ray on March 11,
2008.

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