We start the Top 7. You finish the Top 10.
With this week's The Roommate taking the cat fight to the big screen, it only seemed fitting to honor some of the... crazier characters that make film worth watching. You all know the ones that I'm talking about. Hollywood gives a number of paper thin excuses and pop psychology cliches to explain their behavior, but deep down, which one of us really cares about the why? Aren't we all just watching for that moment when they snap? Whatever your reasons are for enjoying the psycho lady sub-genre, there's no judgment here. I'll take care of the first seven and be sure to chime in with your votes for eight through ten. Perhaps you can include some classics from before I was born.
7. Single White Female (1992)
Recap: Allie's (Bridget Fonda) life takes a turn for the worse after she dumps her fiancee and she's forced to take a roommate. Hedy (Jennifer Jason Leigh) seems like the perfect roommate, until it becomes clear that Hedy will stop at nothing to get Allie's life for herself. Reason: Single White Female is the type of movie that seems to take the old adage "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" to the extreme. It makes for an unsettling movie, but compelling to watch. The main reason Hedy ended up on this list is what she does to the poor dog when she's simply annoyed by it. It's always disturbing to see anything bad happen to an animal in a movie, but it's also a great scene to show just how far gone Hedy is at this point.
6. Serial Mom (1994)
Recap: Serial Mom follows sweet, motherly Beverly Sutphin (Kathleen Turner), who's got a dark secret she's hiding from her family. She'd do anything for them, including kill. Reason: John Waters' campy send-up of family values extremists is still as darkly hilarious as it was back in the 90s. Kathleen Turner is so charmingly manic, as soon as the idea for a list of top seven psychos came to mind, I knew I had to include her. Sure, she's not your typical killer but that's half of what makes her so damn delightful. Turner's one-liners before her killing sprees are enough to warrant her place on this list, no question.
5. Basic Instinct (1992)
Recap: Detective Nick Murran's (Michael Douglas) life begins to unravel when he unwittingly becomes involved in a game of cat and mouse with a potential murderess (Sharon Stone) in the form of murder mystery novelist, Catherine Tramell. Reason: Basic Instinct may be a controversial addition to the list. GLBTQ groups and women's rights took issue with Sharon Stone's portrayal of the character and after re-watching it, it's not hard to see why. Tramell is calculating and manipulative. She's all you'd want and more for a film psychopath, but her lack of remorse or even any real motivation is most troubling. Is it lazy screenwriting? Or is it just plain disturbing? You be the judge, but it's certainly creepy enough for a repeat viewing.
4. The Hand That Rocks the Cradle (1992)
Recap: Peyton Flanders (Rebecca De Mornay) is the answer to the Bartel's prayers for a new nanny. However, the Bartels soon discover that if something seems too good to be true, it usually is, as Flanders begins to raise hell for the family. Reason: It may be a weird thing to say, but I get Peyton Flanders. I'm not saying what she does is right, but if there's one character's motivation for her actions on this list that I understand, it'd have to be this character. She wants the life that was taken from her and sure, she may go about it the wrong way, but which one of us wouldn't flip out if our lives as we know it just vanished before our own eyes? Furthermore, the dedication and commitment to destroying Claire Bartel's life is creepy... but it's also kind of inspiring. Okay, maybe I'm sending the wrong message here, but Peyton Flanders is the kind of "can do" psychopath that we should all aspire to be... I mean, if we had to be psychopaths, I guess.
3. Fatal Attraction (1987)
Recap: Dan Gallagher's (Michael Douglas) life is further complicated when the no-strings-attached one night stand he has with Alex Forrest (Glenn Close) gets a little messy. Forrest isn't going to let him off the hook that easy and she'll get his attention by any means necessary. Reason: Once again, the first thing that comes to mind is animal cruelty. They say one of the early signs of a serial killer is torturing and/or killing animals. Well, Alex Forrest has got it in spades. the poor bunny never saw it coming. But it's not just that. Fatal Attraction has fun with morality considering that both main characters are scumbags, it's difficult to tell who you want to win in the end. Glenn Close's Oscar-nominated performance alone makes this a movie well worth watching.
2. Misery (1990)
Recap: Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates) is Paul Sheldon's (James Caan) number one fan. It's no coincidence that she rescues him after a car crash leaves him helpless. She's only got a few notes on his latest manuscript and he'd better make the changes if he hopes to get out alive. Reason: Kathy Bates is creepy, charismatic, and slightly off in this movie that earned her her first Oscar. Annie is the type of shut-in that's mildly heartbreaking, until you see what she's capable of. The lengths she's willing to go to keep Sheldon to herself and get her happy ending after he kills off her favorite character. For more proof of the psychotic dimensions of this character, just YouTube "Misery hobbling." You won't regret it.
1. Audition (1999)
Recap: A middle-aged widower holds "auditions" for prospective new wives. Little does he know, the women aren't the only ones being tested. Reason: Audition has got to make the cut (pun absolutely intended) of awesomely horrifying movies. Asami is one of those characters that will haunt your dreams after you see some of the atrocities that she's capable of, over the course of the movie. One particular scene involves the consumption of human vomit as Asami watches on. It's grotesque and the kind of manipulative power play that earned Asami the top spot on this list.