Everyone knows when someone is on the verge of going bananas: the violent expression, the angry frown, the furrowed brow… we’ve all seen it in movies and on TV. But what about those people whose body language belies what’s played out on their faces? What about those people who constantly have what’s commonly referred to as a Cheshire Grin plastered across their mugs? A smile so insanely wicked and breathlessly horrific that the action that’s sure to come can only be exponentially worse than the traditionally evil bad guy. Well, these ten folks fall solidly into that group. Sure, there might be others with creepy grins, but it’s safe to say that these ten are infamous for their smiles, even if not all are exactly evil.
It might only be a mask, but that Cheshire grin is just plain uncomfortable to look at. Granted, this movie turned out to be WalMart dollar-bin fodder, thanks mostly to a ridiculous story and a way of summoning Smiley best left to horny basement dwellers. That said, the mask still boasts a horrifically hideous grin.
The Phantom of the Opera
There's good old Lon Chaney, "The Man of a Thousand Faces" looking like a thousand miles of bad road. This, folks, is what the Phantom should look like: nasty, toothy grin, sunken features, and a face that says, "Guess what... BOO!"
From the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Hush" comes these toothy-grinning beings. Dressed impeccably in dapper suits, The Gentlemen spend the first half of the episode gathering everyone's voices as they sleep, then systematically carves out their hearts while they scream in utter silence. Evil and happy at the same time!
From the comic series Transmetropolitan, Gary Callahan is the presidential candidate who is elected at the end of the first story arc. Nicknamed for his wide, rigid, nearly perpetual grin, The Smiler is originally given Spider's grudging support, until he proves to be far more corrupt and dangerous than The Beast, eventually becoming the main villain of the series.
The Man in the Beaver Hat
Lon Chaney is back in the ghostly tale London After Midnight, which features the actor decked out in a beaver-skin hat and a wide, sinister grin. Why no one has ever actually seen this film (save for a 2002 TCM restoration using only still photographs) is because what may have been the only copy went up in flames at MGM when an electrical malfunction burned all of Vault #7.
Alfred E. Newman
The history of this cat is pretty interesting, and since his first appearance on a cover of MAD magazine, nearly everyone knows who the 'What, Me Worry?' mascot is. Mussed hair, a wide, goofy grin missing a tooth, off-set and crooked eyes... it's just an all round creepy visage. And the more you stare, the weirder it gets.
Evil Ernie and Smiley
Known in life as Ernest Fairchild, the child who would become Evil Ernie thanks to Lady Death was abused by his parents and sent to an institute. But thanks in part to Ernie's own ability to make his drawings come to life, and to read other's thoughts, his murderous rampages and subsequent death led him to the side of Lady Death. She then gave him the ability to kill everyone on Earth... with a little help from his sadistic happy-face pin, Smiley.
Venom is very happy to see you. In fact, since his first appearance (in all his glory) in Amazing Spider-Man #316, that knife-toothed grin has become almost as famous as the Web-Slinger from whence he was made. Thanks to a loose chunk of Parker's alien costume, and Eddie Brock being in the right place at the right time... Venom was born.
In the Doctor Who episode "The Beast Below" we are truly introduced to Amy Pond as the Doctor's new companion. And having been literally thrown into an episode where all of her abilities were put to the test, we find the duo on board the Starship UK in some distant future. Even though the episode revolves around what's powering the gigantic ship, The Smilers are an enemy that are hard to forget. Especially when things go from good to really, really bad.
Trying to find a more ruthless, sadistic, maniacal madman in mainstream comics is all but impossible (Evil Ernie isn't exactly mainstream, folks). Still remaining one of the least known-about villains in Batman's rogues gallery, The Joker continues to torment The Dark Knight even after his recent need to rebuild his own face. The Joker's grin may just be the last thing The Bat ever sees...