All Work And No Play: Five Great Movie Psychos

To celebrate the re-release of Stanley Kubrick’s THE SHINING in cinemas, The Hollywood News has decided to look back over the very best nut-jobs, maniacs, lunatics, mentalists and down right crazies ever to grace the silver screen. Here are five absolute crackers…

Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) – AMERICAN PSYCHO (2000)

Age: 27

Occupation: Investment banker

Location: Manhattan, New York

Hobbies and Interests: Valentino, Jean Paul Gaultier, Louis Vuitton and the music of Phil Collins.

‘I have all the characteristics of a human being: blood, flesh, skin, hair; but not a single, clear, identifiable emotion, except for greed and disgust. Something horrible is happening inside of me and I don’t know why. My nightly bloodlust has overflown into my days. I feel lethal, on the verge of frenzy. I think my mask of sanity is about to slip.’

Patrick Bateman is simply a deranged serial killer, with a penchant for prostitutes and a physique that looks like it’s been carved out of the finest mahogany. You could crack an egg on that tush.
A well-to-do investment businessman, consumed by his own vanity, a vigorous skin regime and the need to possess the finest items that money can buy. And when someone outdoes him, he finds it difficult to deal with… For example, when a colleague produces an exquisite looking business card (subtle off-white colouring, tasteful thickness, watermark), his jealousy drives him to the point of madness. More specifically, to the point of a crazed, homicidal axe attack on said colleague, along to the jaunty pop beats of Huey Lewis and the News, in one of the film’s most memorable scenes. It’s terrifying, but it is hip to be square.

Of course, more prostitute beatings, chainsaw killings and whiskey sippings ensue, and all the while Bateman continues to wear his ‘mask of sanity’. But it is slowly slipping, slipping, slipping…

Col. Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) – INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS (2009)

Age: Late 40s/early 50s

Occupation: Top Nazi

Location: Occupied France

Hobbies and Interests: Multi-ligual, winner of the Blood Order, the Golden Party Badge, the Honour Chevron and the Golden Knights Cross of the War Merit Cross with Swords, enjoys strudel and hunting Jews.

‘What a tremendously hostile world that a rat must endure. Yet not only does he survive, he thrives. Because our little foe has an instinct for survival and preservation second to none… And that Monsieur is what a Jew shares with a rat.’

What a total show stealer. In a film with so many scalpings, baseball bat beatings and testicle shootings, it’s an incredible achievement that most of the sickening tension comes from the lengthy dialogue scenes, lead by Col. Hans Landa, aptly nicknamed ‘The Jew Hunter’. Oh, he’s a nasty piece of work. One of the most malevolent, villainous creations seen on screen in recent years.

The most unnerving thing about this particular breed of psychopath, is that he is so seemingly calm, polite, intelligent and bizarrely friendly. But there is such a strong dark undertone in his demeanour, that you’re just waiting for him to crack. And crack he does, as during one of the penultimate scenes, his deeply subdued, unbridled rage finally boils over and he strangles lovely Diane Kruger with his bare crazy-Nazi hands. It’s always the quiet ones.

Mickey & Mallory Knox – (Woody Harrelson and Juliet Lewis) – NATURAL BORN KILLERS (1994)

Age: 20s upwards

Occupation: Ex-delivery man and lover

Location: New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and beyond.

Hobbies and Interests: Rape, murder, and snogging each other a lot.

‘I see angels, Mickey. They’re comin’ down for us from heaven. And I see you ridin’ a big red horse, and you’re driving them horses, whippin’ ‘em, and the’re spitting and frothing all ‘long the mouth, and the’re coming right at us. And I see the future, and there’s no death, ’cause you and I, we’re angels…’

That couple you just love to hate. Always fighting and arguing, always making up with over the top public displays of affection, and always rapin’ and murderin’. Ugh. Woody Harrelson rocks the circular orange shades as Mickey Knox, and Juliet Lewis releases her inner crazy bi-atch as his wife Mallory. These two dangerously unhinged love birds go on killing spree after mass murder after masacre in this horrifically brutal, nightmarish vision by Quentin Tarantino and Oliver Stone. Well, obviously. The sick bastards.

But when all’s said and done, at the heart of it, this is really just a beautifully intense love story between two troubled young souls. No? Ok. Haters.

Alex DeLarge (Malcolm McDowell) – A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (1971)


Occupation: Juvenile delinquent

Location: Distopian Britain

Hobbies and Interests: Hanging out with friends, classic Gene Kelly musicals, Beethoven and a spot of the old ultraviolence.

‘What we were after now was the old surprise visit. That was a real kick and good for laughs and lashings of the old ultraviolent.’

Alex DeLarge is, for want of a better phrase, a right little shit. (Although his innovative use of fake lashes and Y-fronts is rather dashing.) The young, northern hoodlum enjoys nothing more of an evening than getting together with his team of ‘droogs’, kicking each other in the junk for a bit, and then taking the rest of their ferocious frustration out on the unsuspecting public.

But you can’t run riot forever. After Alex beats a woman to death with a giant penis (not his own), he is subsequently arrested, and the tables are somewhat turned. He is subjected to a radical, experimental aversion therapy for rehabilitating criminals. You know, the bit where his eyelids are propped open and he’s forced to watch a series of horrific images whilst he is fed a concoction of sickness inducing drugs. This also happens to Santa’s Little Helper in an episode of THE SIMPSONS, if that helps you. This leaves him physically unable to perform the slightest violent task without being overcome with paralysing nausea. So it’s all wrapped up in a nice little bow. Perfect happy ending… Right?

Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) – THE SHINING (1980)

Age: Early 40s

Occupation: Writer

Location: Currently resides in the Overlook hotel, Middle Of Nowhere

Hobbies and Interests: Writes repetitive masterpieces, likes to attend cocktail parties in the in the 1920s, keeps on top of his hairstyle despite unfortunate receding appearance.

‘Wendy? Darling? Light, of my life. I’m not gonna hurt ya. You didn’t let me finish my sentence. I
said, I’m not gonna hurt ya. I’m just going to bash your brains in’

Saved the best ’til last. Jack Torrance: The man. The myth. The maniac. Probably one of the most iconic characters in film history. I won’t do the catchphrase, even though I really want to. (A line improvised on set, don’t cha know.)

Torrance is a frustrated writer who takes the job as a caretaker at a hotel during its closed season in order to get a bit of work done. He also drags his wife and son along with him. Lucky them. Unfortunately, this isn’t the serene, inspiring writer’s retreat he was hoping for, and as his knack for writing slowly deteriorates, so does his grasp on reality. In other words, cabin fever hits hard. We’re talking hallucinations, violent outbursts, a lot of intense staring, basically just going balls-out mental. The whole thing culminates into a total axe-wielding meltdown, but if you had a son that talked to his finger and a wife with Shelley Duvall’s crazy eyes, you’d probably loose it at some point too.

THE SHINING is re-released in cinemas 2nd November 2012.



  1. Dan Bullock

    November 2, 2012 at 9:49 am

    Oh, perfect list!

    Bateman is probably the ultimate, with Torrance following up for me as they’re both psychological lunatics.


  2. Laura S.

    January 22, 2013 at 9:11 pm

    No Michael Madsen? Gary Oldman?

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