Heroes are boring. Shoot gun, blow up car, quip, save girl, fuck her. Nope, given the choice between a clean-cut, rational character and an unshaven, mumbling, drugged-up lunatic, we'll take the schizo every time. Nothing lights up the silver screen like a bona fide wacko, so we've gone to great lengths to bring together the craziest MFs that cinema has ever seen. Between them, they've killed hundreds of innocent people, snorted mountains of drugs, tortured dozens of cops, destroyed planets before breakfast and drenched many a sane co-star with their rabid spittle. Take a large step back and enjoy: may the mentals do battle!
20. FRANK COSTELLO in THE DEPARTED Jack Nicholson is undoubtedly the master of madness: behind that Cheshire Cat grin and those cracked black eyes must be all sorts of demons waiting to escape. His crime kingpin Frank Costello is no exception; decades on the game have put a sizeable chink in his sanity. Death is a way of life to Big Frank - he idly toys with a recently lopped-off hand at the dinner table and his only eulogy to a gunned-down victim is to remark "she fell funny" - so it's no surprise he positively revels in the blood and misery such a line of work brings with it. Such a plot could drive anyone crazy - his mole is working up the ranks of the Boston police, while a police mole has infiltrated his mob - but Frank is above and beyond. Even harmless houseflies can't escape his wrath.
Moment of madness: Surprising protégé Matt Damon in a porno theatre by waggling a giant black dildo at him.
19. GARLAND GREENE in CON AIR When you're on a plane full of convicts, serial rapists and murderers and you're the guy everyone's scared of, that's when you know you've made it as a fully-fledged nutjob. So crazy he's even been granted a nickname (although 'The Marietta Mangler' isn't exactly affectionate) Garland Greene might seem quiet and intelligent on the outside, but it's a creepy cover for the inner psycho and child killer that lies within ("One girl, I drove through three states wearing her head as a hat."). That's not to say he doesn't have a devilish wit; he's always the first to make a quip or insult the retards he's surrounded by: "Define irony: a bunch of idiots dancing around on a plane to a song made famous by a band that died in a plane crash." Even serial mentalists make good points sometimes.
Moment of madness: Having a tea party with a little girl and playing with her dolls.
18. BILLY LOOMIS & STU MACHER in SCREAM When Wes Craven put his little ironic hat on and made the Scream series, an entire generation raised on horror movies sat up and took notice. Finally, here was a series that recognised the 'rules' of the genre and even poked fun at them. So, when goody two-shoes Neve Campbell finally finds out who's been trying to perforate her with a kitchen knife, she discovers it's not one, but two movie savvy psychopaths that take great pleasure in quoting Norman Bates, use corn syrup like in Carrie and cite Hannibal Lector as a hero. Unfortunately, Billy (last name Loomis - hello) and Stu don't have the brains to be truly memorable movie psychos and meet their end by stabbing each other - for a retarded cover story - and falling foul of the most hackneyed of horror cliches. You'd think they'd know better.
Moment of madness: Sticking each other like goons. "I'm feelin' a little woozy here!"
17. WALTER SOBCHAK in THE BIG LEBOWSKI Forever dressed in his dressing gown and burning off a doobie, The Dude is one laid back... uh, dude. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about his best friend Walter, a hyperactive, right-wing military nut who clearly still suffers from daily 'Nam flashbacks. Step into his domain and you're entering a world of pain: even humdrum activities like a frame at the bowling alley turn into life or death situations ("Mark it zero!") so trusting him in a hostage situation is most unwise ("You want a toe? I can get you a toe..."). Perhaps the reason for his rage is the fact he's rolling on the Shabbos (despite not being Jewish). Perhaps it's because these fucking amateurs don't know the rules. Or maybe it's just because he's got more screws loose than an IKEA warehouse. Trust us, you do not want to find out what happens when you fuck this stranger in the ass.
Moment of madness: Pulling a gun on his bowling opponent when he dares dispute a foul. It was a league game after all.
16. MICHAEL MYERS in HALLOWEEN Michael Myers isn't just your run-of-the-mill horror movie slasher. He's better than that. This is a man who needs no frills to terrify - just a dude in a boiler suit with a great big knife and a William Shatner mask on. Michael started early, too: at the age of six, mini-Myers stabbed his sister to death on Halloween night (presumably she regretted choosing 'trick' over 'treat'), and fifteen years later, he's busted out for another candy-laden killing spree. The exasperated yet creepy Dr. Loomis is hot on his trail and is under no illusion - Michael Myers is fucking nuts. "I realised what was living behind that boys eyes was purely and simply evil," he says, before being proved extremely right across seven movies and a shitty Rob Zombie remake.
Moment of madness: Stalking Jamie Lee Curtis. Don't you know she's got a dick, man?