Sound Designers go to great lengths designing their villains. Whether it be foley, pads, atmosphere, ambiences, etc.

The one I can't get over is The Joker from Dark Knight.

There's also the villain in The Lovely Bones.

What are some of the best examples you've come across of Sound Design for a villain?

6 Answers 6


Jeez, I guess Darth Vader is too obvious..?

I always liked the sound for Ian Holm's android character in the original Alien, after he's beheaded but revived for interrogation. Synthetic, gurgling, watery, quiet... No cliches but so perfect.

Jabba the Hutt has to go on the list, too.

Can the Hypnotoad from Futurama qualify as a villain? That sound rocks! :-)

  • Villain: n (in a play or novel) a character whose evil actions or motives are important to the plot.
    – Utopia
    Jun 3, 2010 at 4:45

Yup, the Joker is way disturbing. That one's all in the acting.

I'll vote for:

  • the Predator's click language
  • the Jaws theme (ok, it's music, but you get my meaning)
  • the horrible shrieks and wonked-out moans & groans from John Carpenter's The Thing
  • Freddy Kruger's scraping blades
  • chi-chi-chi-hah-hah-hah (Friday the 13th)
  • Regan from "The Exorcist"
  • Donald Sutherland's "silent scream" from 1978's "Invasion of the Body Snatchers"

Yes, I'm leaning heavily into the 70's and '80s, but honestly those films were so influential and formative for me that they cannot be overlooked.

  • +1 on Jaws and Friday the 13th. A child of the 80s, I haven't seen the other movies. Guess it's worth it?
    – Utopia
    Jun 3, 2010 at 7:14
  • You've never seen PREDATOR? or THE THING?! Man, you have got to see those films. They are studies in effective sound design - not to mention great cinema. Jun 3, 2010 at 7:17
  • I'm afraid to tell you how old I really am.
    – Utopia
    Jun 3, 2010 at 16:57
  • Some things are better left unsaid. Jun 3, 2010 at 22:49

The sounds of the approaching German tanks in the final battle scene of Saving Private Ryan were great.


I was always a fan of the pitch-shifting effects on "The Gemini Killer" Brad Dourif's voice in Exorcist III. Very creepy and effective.


HAL 9000 comes to mind. The lack of emotion is so creepy. Carry that over to other circuited characters, like WALL·E's Axiom co-pilot AUTO, and you have a classic scary computer (See also the Deus Ex Machina from Matrix: Revolutions and Vicki from Small Wonder).

Also, having to routinely put on Disney's Beauty and the Beast for my kids has helpd me appreciate the blend of animal vocals and pitch-shifting/sub-harmonics done with the Beast's dialog during his more brutish moments.

Oh, and the Mouth of Sauron from Return of the King. Awesome visuals aside, the voice and that grapefruit-squish sound when he smiles is great.

  • any idea how they modulated the voice for mouth of sauron? He was pretty great. Jun 3, 2010 at 19:34

Cool question. Very relevant to me right now because I'm actually starting design on a villain right now that you never actually see on screen. You only hear him. I'll definitely have to go through and take a look at some of the examples you guys posted...

Some of mine: (some are repeats) - Darth Vader's ventilator - Sounds from the island in Lost (although I'm not a big fan of the sound of the black smoke. Sounds too much like a point of sale receipt printer to me...) - Sounds from the island on Castaway (again, the environment being the villain)

There are more, just can't remember them right now... I'll have to update my post later.

Good stuff!


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