Innovative Disney folks are working on a live-action fantasy flick in honor of “Sleeping Beauty” villain “Maleficent.” The sinister fan favorite established herself as a detestable yet enticing character. UltimateDisney.com awarded the black-clad Mistress of All Evil number one on their 30 Best Villains list, high praise considering the breadth of that category.
With the exhaustive Disney antagonist canon, let’s cower under the gaze of the most underrated Disney badasses.
Percival C McLeach ("The Rescuers Down Under")
7. Percival C. McLeach (“The Rescuers Down Under”): Voiced by George C. Scott (“Patton,” “Dr. Strangelove”), the rasping poacher searches for the Golden Eagle eggs, surely the foundation for some damn good eggs benedict. A fantastic actor, Scott lends his vocal talents to drive the evil, bumbling hunter to life. Upon realizing Scott voiced McLeach, the cartoon poacher seems to assume the actor’s square-jawed likeness.
Madam Mim ("The Sword in the Stone")
6. Madam Mim (“The Sword in the Stone”): 1963’s “The Sword in the Stone” is oft-overlooked, yet kooky Madam Mim is one of the most enjoyable Disney baddies. As expected with Disney villains she is bonkers. However, Mim is wacky enough to admit her insanity, proclaiming she’s “Mad Madam Mim.” Her transformations are random and inventive, plus she’s ballsy enough to challenge the great Wizard Merlin to a duel. Stand down Harry and Voldemort.
Doctor Facilier ("The Princess and the Frog")
5. Doctor Facilier (“The Princess and the Frog”): In the midst of the CGI age, along hopped “The Princess and the Frog,” complete with classic hand-drawn animation. The compelling tale featured a strong female character, a unique touch for Walt Disney studios. Additionally, the New Orleans setting burst to life through sugary beignets, John Goodman’s Southern drawl and the zany voodoo Shadow Man. Keith David’s baritone spiced up creative musical numbers like a pot of bubbling Louisiana gumbo. He’s collaborated with director John Carpenter (“The Thing,” “They Live”) and likely contributed to your favorite video games as well. His distinctive vocal tones made him the perfect voodoo man. Fellow ‘90s kids will fondly remember David as the voice of Goliath on Disney’s “Gargoyles” series.
Shere Khan ("The Jungle Book")
4. Shere Khan (“The Jungle Book”): Felines tend to receive a bad rep in the pop culture world, and Shere Khan fits the mold. A sly tiger, his silky, manipulative voice adds to his shady characterization. The striped fiend’s speech feels more menacing than his razor sharp claws. His intent to kill Mowgli is pretty grim for a kid’s movie, and his sneers emphasize malicious agendas. George Sanders voiced the tiger, while Thurl Ravenscroft (“How the Grinch Stole Christmas”) preformed singing numbers. Their tag-team efforts propel Khan up the list.
3. Iago (“Aladdin”): Glibert Gottfried’s unique high-pitched speech makes the parrot accomplice a comedic scoundrel sidekick. Unfortunately the brilliant Jafar overshadows the constantly-quipping feathered fiend. Iago squawks some of the funniest lines in not just “Aladdin” but the entire Disney universe. Testament to his lovable nature, Iago returns in several “Aladdin” spinoffs as a redeemed protagonist, a welcome change as this no doubt allowed for more Gottfried collaboration.
Professor Ratigan ("The Great Mouse Detective")
2. Professor Ratigan (“The Great Mouse Detective”): Not only does “The Great Mouse Detective” feature a delightful envisioning of Arthur Conan Doyle’s epic hero, but Jim Moriarty-inspired Professor Ratigan is absolutely fantastic. While it’s true the strong source material made for a smooth transition, voice acting from legendary Vincent Price no doubt helped. “His World’s Greatest Criminal Mind” song is absolutely one of the most enjoyable numbers in animated history. Though he’s a rat, the criminal mastermind abhors the label, as his cronies are reminded.
The Horned King ("The Black Cauldron")
1. The Horned King (“The Black Cauldron”): “The Black Cauldron” and its primary antagonist hold the awards for most slept on Disney creations. Loosely derived from the Lloyd Alexander fantasy novels, the 1985 flick received a PG rating, shattering viewer expectations. Admittedly frightening images, dark animation and the downright creepy Horned King, the groundbreaking film features John Hurt (“Alien,” “The Elephant Man,” “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” “Harry Potter Franchise”) lending vocal prowess. Hurt adds depth to the already ghoulish Horned King with a throaty grating. There’s a pretty sweet making-of video available, though Disney has yet to release it as an official DVD extra (hint hint). If you haven’t experienced “The Black Cauldron,” or it’s been a while, refresh your memory and see Hurt in action.