Top 3 Most Subtle Movie Villains

Posted by Claire Dunderman May 13, 2013 5 Comments 11032 views

Sometimes, a villain is devious, dastardly, and isn’t afraid to show his or her face for the world to see. This particular type of villain, however, is not on this list. These are most influential “subtle” villains – villains that didn’t necessarily need to have an entrance or a grand presence throughout, but each drastically influenced the entirety of their films.

Who’s your most terrifying, but subtle movie villain? Tell us in the comments!

Rear Window (1954)


I always feel a bit creepy for watching this movie, almost as if I’m watching the people that L.B. Jeffries (Jimmy Stewart) is watching alongside with him. But, because of the murderous Thorwald, Jeffries’ miserable life as a recovering photographer would cease to have any sort of intrigue. Without realizing it, Thorwald gave Jeffries a purpose.

Some Like It Hot (1959)


This movie is a comedy and a relatively light-hearted one at that, but that doesn’t mean that the villains aren’t just as sinister. It’s the Chicago mob, after all -gangsters so scary, that two grown men in the 1920’s pretended to be women in an all-female band. If a group scares you so much to change everything about yourself in a ridiculous enough manner, that group is none to be trifled with, even if they only appear in a handful of scenes.

The 39 Steps (1935)


Another Hitchcock film, and an earlier one, but the collective of spies that make up The 39 Steps strikes fear into my heart whenever I watch it. What gets scarier than a group of spies that know every move you make and try to disassemble your identity? And, to top it off, they are hardly seen or heard… so, pretty much, you have nowhere to run.

Who’s your most terrifying, but subtle movie villain? Tell us in the comments!

Can’t get enough movie lists? Check these out!

Top 5 Worst Movie Moms

Top 10 John Ford Films

Top 5 Ice Cream Scenes in Movies

All the lists!


About Claire Dunderman

Indie & classic rock nerd, writer and blogger, British comedy geek. Television-Radio-Film ’15 student at SU’s Newhouse School.

View all post by Claire Dunderman Visit author's website

There are 5 Comments

  1. Jon Mullich
    - May 13, 2013
      -   Reply

    Interesting list. My first thought on this topic was the ubiquitous Keyser Söze in “The Usual Suspects.”

    • Brandy Dean
      - May 13, 2013
        -   Reply

      Well creepy… that was my first thought as well when I read Claire’s piece. I was totally gonna comment about it. Are you spying on me?

  2. - May 14, 2013
      -   Reply

    I always feel kind of sorry for Thorwald. He had a rough go and a perfect plan. If it wasn’t for that snoopy-nosed Jefferies everything would have been fine.

    • Brandy Dean
      - May 14, 2013
        -   Reply

      I always wondered why he didn’t notice Jefferies gawking at the window with that giant, protruding camera lens. I thought, “Hey Thorwald, just have a quick look around first and make sure everything’s cool.”

  3. - May 15, 2013
      -   Reply

    My favorite villains are those twisted authority figures who use mind games to break their underlings and have their henchman do the dirty work: characters like Nurse Ratched from Cuckoo’s Nest and Warden Norton from Shawshank Redemption.

Write Your Comment

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.