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Our 15 Favorite Lady Villains in Movies

Universal

Everyone loves a bad boy. The snarling mustache twirlers get all of the fame and fortune -- the No. 1 spot on movie-geek lists, the Halloween costumes, the cool quotes -- and none of them have to worry about being called a witch.

But here at NextMovie, we're all about the bad girls. We love a lady who isn't afraid to embrace her nasty side in order to get what she wants.

In honor of "Savages" and Salma Hayek's role as a brutal drug cartel leader, we've gathered up the coolest and cruelest women to grace the silver screen. We're a little worried about ranking them, because if there's one thing we know about these vicious villainesses, it's that they don't like competition. But we did. Now, you read. We'll run.

15. Rebecca Romijn as Mystique in the 'X-Men' Movies (2000-06)

Rebecca Romign in X-Men: The Last Stand
20th Century Fox

Mystique's level of menace shifts with every new "X-Men" installment. She can be a silent and unstoppable foe who nearly levels Wolverine (no mean feat), or she can be the weary warrior who is just tired of mutants being persecuted. It's hard not to root for her as she slinks into Senator Kelly's skin, and awfully difficult to like her when she's trying to wipe out all of humanity. At the same time, we want to be her, because blue skin seems like a good trade-off for the ability to become anyone we want.

14. Salma Hayek as Satanico Pandemonium in 'From Dusk Till Dawn' (1996)

Salma Hayek in From Dusk Till Dawn
Dimension Films

Sexy vampires may be all the rage these days, but we can't think of a single fanged female who compares to Satanico Pandemonium. Her luscious striptease is powerful enough to silence an entire bar of truckers and bikers ... which makes scooping them up and draining their blood a heck of a lot easier. We're not quite sure why she's slumming it in a Mexican dive with that kind of power, but maybe she likes the weather.

13. Rachel McAdams as Regina George in 'Mean Girls' (2004)

Rachel McAdams in Mean Girls
Paramount

When you're a teenager, no villain looms larger than the Popular Pretty Girl, and Rachel McAdams' Regina seems to have taken bits and pieces from every one that ever existed in the history of high school. She's simultaneously shallow and brilliant, able to ruin lives with a single phone call or well-flung sentence. Just watching her smirk and flick her hair is enough to make us queasy enough to call in sick ... and we're not even in high school.

12. Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford in 'Mommie Dearest' (1981)

Faye Dunaway in Mommie Dearest
Paramount

If you ever wondered how all the ladies on this list went so wrong, you probably have to look into the deep past, where they undoubtedly had a mother like Joan Crawford. Crawford terrorizes everyone in the film -- her boyfriend, her studio, her personal assistant, her maid. But it's her children that receive the worst of it. Her loathing of wire hangers has gone down into infamy, but the birthday party scene (in which daughter Christina watches all her presents go to charity) is enough to turn a girl into an evil queen or a desperate stalker.

11. Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman in 'Batman Returns' (1992)

Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman in Batman Returns
Warner Bros.

If Batman had to lose to anyone in his rogues gallery, it ought to be Pfeiffer's Catwoman. Her costume is fantastic, her motivation is actually pretty noble, her weapons are elegant (claws and a whip! They make the bat-tools look clunky) and her sarcastic "Meow" implies she knows exactly how ridiculous dressing up like an animal is. Plus, she has nine lives and a pack of furry allies. Last we checked, Batman only had one, and a butler to keep him company. Advantage: Catwoman.

10. Louise Fletcher as Nurse Mildred Ratched in 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest' (1975)

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
United Artists

Nurse Ratched doesn't seem so bad when you first meet her. She's just a nurse, and one working in a difficult and dangerous place, at that. But then you get to know her, and you realize that beneath the starch and soft voice is a woman who thrives on controlling, humiliating and drugging her patients into compliance. She meets her match in Randle McMurphy (Jack Nicholson), but Ratched quietly and ruthlessly ups the ante. The result is heartbreaking, and barbaric enough to make just about everyone else on this list shudder.

9. Lucy Liu, Daryl Hannah, and Vivica A. Fox as the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad in 'Kill Bill: Vol. 1' (2003), and 'Kill Bill: Vol. 2' (2004)

Daryl Hannah in Kill Bill: Vol. 2
Miramax

No one can write a killer quite like Quentin Tarantino, and his DIVAS are no exception. They're beautiful, deadly and just a little bit insane. Lucy Liu's O-Ren Ishii will lop heads off Tokyo rivals just for an insult, Elle Driver will poison you without blinking and Vernita Green will challenge you to a knife fight before shooting you in the back. Combined, they will happily beat and shoot a former colleague into a coma. There are no giggly girlfriends here, just bloodthirsty ambition, and there's not a soul who envies the Bride in taking them on.

8. Sharon Stone as Catherine Tramell in 'Basic Instinct' (1992)

Basic Instinct
TriStar

A good villain hides her tracks. A great villain doesn't bother, and Stone's Catherine Tramell doesn't hide a darn thing. Literally. Cinema is full of femme fatales, but Stone redefined the term when she slipped on that white dress and lit up a cigarette to have a very friendly chat with the police. Her bare-it-all tactic works. Despite her fingerprints being on practically every murder weapon (particularly the movie's iconic icepick), the men keep lining up to hop into bed with her, and she remains in the clear.

7. Anne Ramsey as Mama Fratelli in 'The Goonies' (1985)

Anne Ramsey in The Goonies
Warner Bros.

Not all villainesses are born as elegant screen goddesses. Some are like Mama Fratelli -- square bulldog types who don't mess around with stilettos and sheath dresses, but dress practically in case there's a shoot-out with the cops. (She wears pearls, though. A mob dame can still accessorize.) She's handy with a pistol, hard with her fist, steely behind the wheel and not about to let a bunch of brats take away her pirate treasure. Something tells us she could slap sense into the other villainesses on this list, set them straight, and keep the spoils for herself.

6. Glenn Close as Alex Forrest in 'Fatal Attraction' (1987)

Fatal Attraction
Paramount

"I won't be ignored, Dan." With those five words, said with just the right amount of sinister wobble, men all over the world gulped and promised to be a little more wary of a woman who seemed too good to be true. And oh, Alex is incredible. She's fun, brilliant, sexy, carefree and eager for a weekend fling. But when she doesn't want to give her new man up, the knives come out, and not even the beloved family pet is safe.

5. Meryl Streep as Miranda Priestly in 'The Devil Wears Prada' (2006)

Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada
20th Century Fox

We've all had bad bosses in our lives. But none of them have made a cell phone ringing sound as blood-curdling as Miranda Priestly does. If you work for her, you are expected to stop hurricanes, get the next Harry Potter book before it is published, be an invisible delivery girl and remember the names of hundreds of partygoers. You will also be humiliated daily and risk never working in publishing again. All the Christian Dior in the world couldn't be worth it.

4. The Evil Queen in 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarves' (1937)

Evil Queeen in Snow White
Disney

Evil queens and witches dot the Disney landscape, but they all owe a debt to the Evil Queen, who was the first to menace a chirping and delicate Disney princess. She initially does it with style (that dress! those eyebrows!) before traumatizing many a young child by turning into a haggard, bug-eyed crone. Plus, she's the only one on our list who has her own dungeon. You have to admire the steel of a woman who just leaves guys chained up in the basement until they're bones.

3. Kathy Bates as Annie Wilkes in 'Misery' (1990)

Misery
Columbia Pictures

If you're a badly injured writer out in the middle of snowbound nowhere, Annie initially seems like a godsend -- she's a trained nurse, unassuming and enthusiastic. Instead, she's exactly what people think of when they hear the words "dedicated fan," and that's someone who would hobble a handsome actor or talented musician before she'd let him go. And really, haven't we all been there?

2. Margaret Hamilton as The Wicked Witch of the West in 'The Wizard of Oz' (1939)

The Wizard of Oz
MGM

This green-skinned cackler has been given a bit of a revisionist makeover in recent years, but let's not forget how we originally met her: threatening Dorothy and her little dog, too. Every scene she's in is terrifying -- rallying her flying monkeys, writing black smoke messages in the sky and taunting Dorothy (by way of Auntie Em) through her glass ball. Never has a bucket of water been such a relief to so many.

1. Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange in the 'Harry Potter' Movies (2007-11)

Helena Bonham Carter in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
Warner Bros.

Actresses normally shy away from playing big bads. But not Helena Bonham Carter, who will happily take play murderesses and madwomen. While the diabolical Mrs. Lovett of "Sweeney Todd" requires a tip of the meat cleaver, it's the demented Bellatrix Lestrange who has conjured her way onto this list. She has no qualms about dishing out killing curses, torturing students, breaking into the Ministry of Magic, and stabbing house elves for her beloved Voldemort. Her list of crimes is long, her cackle is terrifying, and the only thing crazier than her eyes is her hair. It's supremely fitting that she's taken down by the epitome of homely kindness in Mrs. Weasley. Wherever Bellatrix is, she's probably still seething over that injustice.

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