Criminally Insane Women in Films

Here are some tour de force performances I've seen onscreen. Fearless actresses portraying mentally sick women; characters who commit crimes in the midst of their insanity. These are the performances that inspired me (not to be insane or to be a criminal). It would be a crime to ignore such performances.

Isabelle Adjani, Possession (1981)

Anna leaves her family for a monster. Apparently, Anna is suffering from a mental breakdown. She's a harm. Not just to other people, but to herself as well. What's worse is that her insanity is contagious. Her husband, Mark, also becomes "possessed" as the film moves on.

Wow. Isabelle Adjani's total submission to her character is as mesmerizing as her beautiful face. It must have been physically and mentally exhausting to play Anna. I hope Adjani is alright now. She really deserved that Best Actress Award at the 1981 Cannes Film Festival. Check her out in Possession; she might just become one of your favorite actresses.

Key scene: Anna's tantrum at the subway./"Miscarriage" scene.

WARNING: Disturbing video.

Kathy Bates, Misery (1990)

At first we see Annie Wilkes as a helpful woman. She rescues a man from a car accident, brings him to her house, and basically acts as his nurse. That man is famous author Paul Sheldon, and she is his biggest and most obsessed fan. Turns out, Annie is a scheming woman who has no plans of letting Paul go until he writes the perfect ending for his book entitled "Misery."

Kathy Bates delivers a career-defining performance as Annie Wilkes, the obsessed fan. Bates was able to let me see and feel the evil that is Annie Wilkes. Bates won a Best Actress Oscar® for her incredible turn in Misery.

Key scene: Annie paralyzing Paul's legs.

WARNING: Video contains extreme violence.

Glenn Close, Fatal Attraction (1987)

Alex Forrest is not the woman you'd want to have a one night stand with. Not because she's not good in bed, but because she'll never let you go once she's got her hands on you. She had a sexual encounter with the married Dan Gallagher. What follows next is a harrowing portrait of obsession. You better not make her mad, otherwise she'll mess with your rabbit.

With her witch-like appearance, Glenn Close is frightening as Alex Forrest. Her performance made me say, "Oh! Hell no! I wouldn't want to mess with this woman! She looks so scary!"

Key scene: The bathroom scene.

WARNING: Video contains extreme violence.

Rebecca De Mornay, The Hand That Rocks the Cradle (1992)

Peyton Flanders may seem like a perfect nanny, but trust me, she's NOT! She's a nightmare!!!

I remember seeing this movie when I was a kid. I was frightened by Rebecca De Mornay as Peyton Flanders, I didn't want to have a nanny. LOL! :P

Key scene: The climactic ending.

EDIT: And Peyton's tantrum in a toilet cubicle.

Catherine Deneuve, Repulsion (1965)

Carol Ledoux is a pretty lass who is "repulsed" by men. She just can't stand the mere thought of men.

After being left alone by her sister in their London flat, Carol is entrapped by depression, hallucination, and schizophrenia.

If Adjani is a screaming siren in Possession, Catherine Deneuve hardly says a word in Repulsion. Deneuve's silence is fragile yet haunting. Deneuve looked like she's just having fun; she plays Carol with such ease. The legendary French actress delivers a delicate execution of a disturbed character.

Key scene: Carol gets a surprise visit from Colin, her suitor.

WARNING: Video contains violence.

Jennifer Jason Leigh, Single White Female (1992)

Allie has Hedy as her new roommate. Hedy seems normal, at least during the earlier part of the film. Turns out, Hedy is haunted by her horrible past.

Jennifer Jason Leigh as Hedy seemed like she's devoid of vanity. For her performance in Single White Female, Leigh won the Best Villain award at the 1993 MTV Movie Awards.

Key scene: Hedy — pretending to be Allie — visits Allie's boyfriend.

WARNING: Video contains extreme violence.

Melanie Lynskey, Heavenly Creatures (1994)

Pauline is aloof, while Juliet is the opposite. Juliet befriends Pauline and they become best friends. They share vivid imaginations. Pauline and Juliet plot and execute a devious plan after their parents separate them. The film is based on a true story.

Heavenly Creatures is Melanie Lynskey's debut film. She is excellent as the more troubled Pauline. Lynskey — with baby fat and all — looked a bit like a young Drew Barrymore. She's cute. The then 16 year-old actress has so much strength for a girl her age. Lynskey's screen presence is like a force of nature. It was hard for me to take my eyes off her.

Key scene: The tragic ending.

WARNING: Video contains extreme violence.

Jeanne Moreau, Mademoiselle (1966)

Mademoiselle is an elegant loner. She sets the town on water and then fire. That looks insane to me.

Jeanne Moreau is Mademoiselle. Moreau's eyes are on fire. She's a spellbinding bitch in this film.

Key scene: The opening scene. Meanwhile, here are some other scenes with Mademoiselle...

Eihi Shiina, Audition (1999)

Shigeharu Aoyama is a widower. He is convinced by his son to date again. Shigeharu and his film producer friend conduct a fake audition to find him a new wife. The reserved and enigmatic Asami Yamazaki wins the "audition." But with Asami, first impressions don't last. After seeing In the Realm of the Senses, Battle Royale, and Audition, I'm (quite) convinced that Japan makes the sickest movies out there.

Asami is played by model Eihi Shiina. Seeing Shiina transform from the prim and proper to the psychotic young woman is disturbing. Kiri kiri kiri kiri kiri kiri. Creepy!!!

Key scene: The horrific ending/torture scene.

WARNING: Video contains extreme violence.

Gloria Swanson, Sunset Blvd. (1950)

Norma Desmond is a former silent film star who fell into oblivion at the start of the talkies era. Experiencing delusions of grandeur, Norma asks Joe Gillis, a struggling screenwriter, to write a screenplay for her "comeback."

A former silent film actress herself, Gloria Swanson is divine as the tragic Norma Desmond. Swanson offers a performance of a lifetime in Sunset Blvd. She's simply outstanding.

Key scene: Norma Desmond during the "All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up" scene.

EDIT: Meanwhile, most of these women are not necessarily insane or criminal, just dangerous.

DISCLAIMER: No copyright infringement intended. I don't own or claim to own any of the photos used.


Elysium said...

Both Kate's/Cate's stole the show IMHO.

Iza Larize said...

I guess so ;)

Anonymous said...

Interesting list of psychotic females

That Film Enthusiast said...

Thanks, vinnieh! ;)

jennifer said...

Interesting selection of movies and key scenes! Thanks! :)

That Film Enthusiast said...

Thanks, jennifer! :)

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