Every good movie has a villain, some antagonist trying to keep our heroes from achieving greatness (or just, you know, surviving). From The Silence of the Lambs to Star Wars to Psycho, movie villains can be straight out of our worst nightmares, the serial killers and monsters who only plague our minds as we're trying to go to sleep. Whether you're haunted by Michael Myers, Freddy Kreuger, Hannibal Lecter, or Darth Vader, the great villains of cinema history are the ones who stay with you long after the credits roll.
A great villain can make you love—or at least respect—them, even while actively rooting for their defeat. Much like Heath Ledger's Joker from The Dark Knight (or even, based on early reviews and the trailer, Joaquin Phoenix's Joker), not every villain is entirely loathsome. Think about it; if you're a horror movie fan, you've likely had to give at least one or two villains their props, even as they're terrorizing the protagonist. Of course, sometimes movie villains turn out to be real-life villains, making their performances all the more harrowing.
These are the best movie villains in film history. Don't forget to check under the bed tonight.