Hollywood's new rat pack -- This year's summer thrillers include some seriously scheming murderers including Don Johnson, Tobin Bell, Bette Midler, and more

By Casey Davidson
August 06, 1993 at 04:00 AM EDT

They’re ugly and they’re mean. They murder and they scheme. But what would this summer’s thrillers be without the baddies? Boring, that’s what. Herewith, a players’ guide to the most villainous, their wicked, wicked ways, and where they register on our patent-pending Hiss Meter: Four snakes go to the characters you’ll most love to hate.

Don Johnson as David Greenhill in Guilty As Sin. Weapons of choice: Killer looks and a tall building. Biggest crime: Serial killings. Misdemeanors: Compulsive womanizing. Meanest line: ”I hardly qualify as a serial killer. I never got any pleasure out of the act.” Role model: Jeff Bridges in Jagged Edge. Accent: Don Johnson. Hiss Meter: 2 1/2

Wilford Brimley as William Devasher, ”security” chief in The Firm. Weapons of choice: Hidden microphones, long lenses, Tobin Bell. Biggest crime: Arranges to kill all the lawyers. Misdemeanors: Voyeurism; accidentally shooting Tobin Bell. Meanest line: ”She’s walkin’ to the mailbox and she’s expecting her Redbook, but instead she finds heartache, Mitch, the death of love and trust… She looks at the picture and it’s not just screwing, Mitch, it’s the kind of intimate acts, oral and such, that could be particularly hard for a trusting young wife to forgive or forget.” Role model: William Baldwin in Sliver. Accent: Euell Gibbons. Hiss Meter: 4

Tobin Bell as the Nordic Man in The Firm and as Mendoza in In the Line of Fire. Weapons of choice: Really big guns (Firm); helpful gofers with guns (Fire). Biggest crime: Murders Gary Busey (Firm); makes funny money (Fire). Misdemeanors: Pushes museum patrons off escalator, gets blood all over Holly Hunter (Firm); forgets to wear life preserver on boat (Fire). Meanest line: To Busey before he shoots his ears off: ”This is going to turn out badly for you” (Firm); to Eastwood: ”So pop him, pop him and show me I’m an asshole” (Fire). Role model: Robert Shaw in From Russia With Love (Firm); Willem Dafoe in To Live and Die in L.A. (Fire). Accent: Eurotrash (Firm); white-bread (Fire). Hiss Meter: 3 (Firm); 1 (Fire)

John Lithgow as Eric Qualen, spy-turned-evil mastermind in Cliffhanger. Weapon of choice: A bevy of gun-toting thugs. Biggest crimes: Industrial espionage; murder; callously plugging his girlfriend in the back. Misdemeanors: Disturbing the peace; littering; arranging the ambush of avuncular helicopter pilot played by Ralph Waite. Meanest line: ”Kill a few people and they call you a murderer. Kill a few million, and you’re a conqueror. Go figure.” Role model: Snidely Whiplash. Accent: Claus von Bulow. Hiss Meter: 4

Bette Midler as Salem’s own Winifred Sanderson, witch, in Hocus Pocus. Weapon of choice: Book of evil spells. Biggest crime: Sucks the life force out of children. Misdemeanors: Raises the dead; turns boy into cat. Meanest line: ”You know, I’ve always wanted a child. And now I think I’ll have one…on toast!Role model: Margaret Hamilton in The Wizard of Oz. Accent: Marlene Dietrich. Hiss Meter: 1

Laurence Fishburne as Ike Turner in What’s Love Got to Do With It. Weapon of choice: Massive ego. Biggest crimes: Slugs his kids; slaps, punches, and mauls Tina; threatens Tina with a gun; rapes Tina. Misdemeanor: Apparently used drugs! Meanest line: To Tina in an ambulance: ”If you don’t make it, I’ll kill you. You bitch, do you hear me?” Role model: James Cagney in Public Enemy. Accent: Dustin ”Mumbles” Hoffman in Dick Tracy. Hiss Meter: 4

Charles Dance as Benedict in Last Action Hero. Weapon of choice: Exploding eyeballs. Biggest crime: Releases movie villains into real world. Misdemeanors: Steals child’s wallet; calls fellow villain Anthony Quinn a ”spaghetti-slurping cretin.” Meanest line: ”I snap my fingers and tomorrow you emerge from several canine rectums.” Role model: Alan Rickman in Die Hard. Accent: English. Hiss Meter: 2 1/2
Additional reporting by Cynthia Grisolia