Psychopaths just. Don’t. Care. They operate outside the entire moral and social structure we’ve built for civilization, while they understand that structure well enough to exploit it for their own ends. You never want to get involved with this type of person in real life, but in movies? There they can be a lot of fun, since you’re not personally affected. Except for the nightmares they bring. Or if they remind you of someone you know. But most of the time, we can enjoy watching someone so clever and amoral that they illustrate the ultimate villain, one that you can’t reason with or outmaneuver. Like Max Cady in Cape Fear.
Max Cady somehow believes that the “she was asking for it” defense is appropriate to counter accusations of rape. I’ve seen like 2.5 episodes of Law & Order, and even I know that just ain’t the case. In Scorsese’s Cape Fear, Robert DeNiro portrays the psychopathic rapist, a job he did so well that it earned him a Best Actor nomination. Cady’s determination and willingness to brutally abuse and rape women much weaker than himself earn him a spot on this list of memorable movie psychos. “Come out, come out, wherever you are!”
DeNiro was terrifying in the role, but Robert Mitchum in the 1962 version deserves a shoutout because he induced chills with just a look. The character is one of 13 movie psychopaths ranked at TVOM (with videos). Just reading about them will remind you of how you felt when you first met them.