Underrated Disney Villains
It should go without saying by now that the company Walt Disney built is responsible for some of the most beloved films of all time. Among the many great films which have come from the House of Mouse it is their animated features which are held onto and passed on from generation to generation. There are certain hallmarks which make a Disney classic; gorgeous animation, heroic princesses, catchy music, and of course charismatic villains. Some of these villains have gone on to become fan-favorite icons, like: Captain Hook, Jafar, Maleficent, Cruella deVille, and Ursula. But there are some Disney villains who are delightfully evil but are sadly often forgotten. In honor of those baddies here are the most underrated Disney Villains.
Horned King (the Black Cauldron): In between the time of Walt Disney’s passing and the Disney Renaissance, the Disney films took a darker turn for spell. For a perfect example of this look to the Welsh fairy tale adaptation, the Black Cauldron. Not only is he visually terrifying thanks to animators like, Phil Nibbelink and Tim Burton, but his calm and collected demeanor is absolutely chilling as well. While the Horned King is feared due to his powers, he prefers to operate in a hands-off fashion allowing his minions to do the dirty work. This makes it truly meaningful when he finally obtains the Black Cauldron and can release his fearsome army of the Cauldron Born.
Professor Ratigan (the Great Mouse Detective): Naturally the greatest criminal in mousedom deserves to be portrayed by a truly luminary actor. Luckily horror icon, Vincent Price was on hand to give life to Basil of Baker Street’s greatest foe. The audience knows there is definitely history between Ratigan and the famed detective, but this time he has a sinister scheme far greater than anything else he has attempted before. With his eyes set firmly on the throne (…er the mouse version of the throne anyways) Ratigan uses all of his cunning intellect and ruthlessness to get there, even resorting to kidnapping a prominent toy maker right in front of his granddaughter.
Yzma (the Emperor’s New Groove): Portrayed by the legendary Eartha Kitt, Yzma is clearly having fun being evil, and so should we while watching her. Placed in charge of taking care of a self-absorbed childish emperor, Yzma sees a clear path to usurping power for herself. Unfortunately she is fired and seeks revenge for it, the biggest obstacle standing in her way is her own dim-witted assistant Kronk. When she believes the llama-fied emperor Kuzco to be dead, she wastes no time in taking over and letting her full ego take hold. Though Yzma is a vicious power-hungry egomaniac, she is also very endearing to audiences with her loud eccentric nature and memorable catchphrases.
Frollo (Hunchback of Notre Dame): A brave leader once said that there is nothing scarier than a monster who thinks he is right with God (that wise man was Captain Malcolm Reynolds). Which is what makes one of the most overlooked Disney villains particularly terrifying. A pious and manipulative man, Frollo uses his position in the church to subjugate people to his twisted morality. Given life by the chilling vocals of voice acting legend Tony Jay and animator Kathy Zielinski, the ominous nature of this sinister minister was undeniable. While most Disney villains endear themselves to audiences with the musical numbers they perform, Frollo’s “Hell Fire” is arguably the darkest song to come from a Disney flick.
Mother Gothel (Tangled): In this new era of Disney animated flicks, some have pointed out that the villains we have now are not as memorable and fun as those who came before. Luckily the Rapunzel adaptation Tangled gave us a truly evil baddie who could easily evil-it-up with the best Disney villains. Adopting the guise of a caring protective guardian, Mother Gothel kidnaps the princess, Rapunzel and locks her away. Throughout the young woman’s life Gothel manipulates her so that the, the princess sees her prison as a safe haven necessary to protect her from the evils of the world. In reality, Rapunzel’s hair is giving Gothel eternal youth and an unnaturally long life. While many villains are rather charming and likable in their villainy, Mother Gothel provokes nothing but hatred from audiences with the way she toys with the fragile life of the girl she kidnapped.
Doctor Facilier (The Princess and the Frog): The last Disney film to use cell animation, broke with the tradition of European settings and was instead set in lively New Orleans. Of course this meant creating an evildoer who would fit this atmosphere, and Doctor Facilier did so perfectly. The great Keith David provided his trademark smooth and raspy vocals to the lanky voodoo priest with a lust for power. Though his past is mysterious we do know he has a reputation in the Big Easy for being an amoral conman who is quite skilled with “left-handed” voodoo, but he is also incredibly smart and charming. When he learns of a full-fledged prince coming to the bayou, Facilier sees it as too good of a chance to pass up, and with a manipulative plan transforms the prince into a frog and sets into motion a plan to take over New Orleans.