10 Worst Imaginary Friends in Movies

December 1, 2009 | Lists,Reviews

As the longevity of organized religion makes painfully clear, imaginary friends hold a powerful allure. They are not, however, limited to the fiction of holy texts. Imaginary friends manifest themselves in the lives of many — the overly creative person whose genius spills over into the make believe, the psychopath with a second face for dark deeds, or the friendless kid who’s practical.

There is something to be said for befriending a figment of one’s imagination. Unlike the real kind, an imaginary friend is incapable of, say, borrowing money and not paying it back. And if an imaginary friend asks to use your bathroom, it’s unlikely that he will rifle through your medicine cabinet or deposit anything of substance in your toilet.

In some films,  imaginary friends are depicted in a positive light, like an imaginary Humphrey Bogart  in Play it Again Sam, who encourages Woody Allen to grow a backbone and other advice that  unfortunately excluded both passing on Stardust Memories and not romancing someone whose school consent forms he once signed.

Here though we are looking at 10 imaginary characters in films who — like that kid in elementary school who enjoyed trapping birds — you would not want to befriend. These are the 10 Worst Imaginary Friends in Movies.

10.The Kids, The Orphanage

Do-gooder couple take their HIV-positive son, Simon to an orphanage in order to convert it into a home for kids with special needs. Along the way, the kid discovers playmates—not the good kind that bring you warmed hors d’œuvres in Heffner’s grotto—but imaginary ones who involve him and his mom in a dangerous game which ambiguously plays itself out when the kid goes missing and psychics are hired to track him down (never a good option, even as a last resort for the dumbest police officers).

Dishonorable Mention: Imaginary Friend, Dark Water

A divorcée moves into a concrete bunker of a building with her daughter and tries to piece her life back together after a bitter custody dispute, which the child eventually finds out she was on the losing side of when their ceiling starts to drip—an awful outcome for anyone renting an apartment under a compulsive toilet clogger. In this case though, while far less odoriferous, there lurks upstairs something even more frightening: the ghostly presence of a girl who drowned in the bathtub and comes to torment the new tenants. What follows is more murky water than even the most backed up shitter.

9. Elvis, True Romance

The real Elvis was known more for committing violence against peanut butter and banana-packed sandwiches than people . When it came to gun play, his fury was reserved for televised images of Canadian crooner Robert Goulet. But in 1993’s True Romance, the King of Rock N’ Roll, played by Val Kilmer, is a strong advocate for vigilante retribution. Clarence (Christian Slater) is  out of sorts after a run-in with ill-mannered pimp Drexl (Gary Oldman) and unsure of how to proceed.

Ghost Elvis tells him what’d he do:  “Well, I’d kill him,shoot him in the face, put him down like a dog.” Clarence admits he’d enjoy that, but not so much the prospect of being a small pretty boy in prison. Elvis talks him into it. “Every pimp in the world gets shot … Cops’d throw a party, man.”

8. Ivan, The Machinist

The workplace in this well made Christian Bale film must have one of the most ineffectual unions ever, not to mention occupational health and safety standards south of your average cut-rate Victorian textile mill. Bale plays ‘Reznik’ (Czech for ‘butcher’, a term that, unlike ‘pharmacy’ or ‘strip club’, you won’t require backpacking through Prague unless you want to lug a  rack of lamb up to your hostel), who, like Brad Pitt in Fight Club (just wait), altered his appearance considerably for the role, shedding some 60 lbs’ worth of real acting in favor of the method kind.

Reznik is a sleep-deprived machinist lulled into a state of negligence and complacency by a creepy co-worker, the grinning ‘Ivan’. Alarm bells go off when it is revealed that the company has no record of any such worker and the viewer begins to wonder if the electricity powering the machines in the film might also be used for shock therapy purposes on our delusional protagonist. Distracted by a grinning digit-deficient Ivan, Reznik unwittingly powers up a saw, which results in another co-worker no longer being able to hail a cab, or flip anyone the bird.

7. Charles, A Beautiful Mind

Math phenom John Nash, who because he’s book smart is automatically depicted as socially awkward (this is the opposite of the Forrest Gump Effect—dumb people who do marvelously well despite having the IQ of a chimp),  slowly begins to lose his marbles. The obsessive egghead  scribbles numerical equations onto window panes and hallucinates a lit student roommate named Charles (Paul Bettany) — who wouldn’t be able to help him in any way with his thesis (please see our list of Easiest College Majors) — who is obsessed with DH ‘My soul is a dark forest’ Lawrence.

Nash, played by Russell Crowe, doesn’t hurl a phone at this phony apparition, but allows this bad influence to, much like a real life roommate, tempt him into shirking school work in favor of heavy boozing.

6. Captain Howdy, the Exorcist

The Exorcist did more for puking, spinning and hallucinations than untreated alcoholism or a third rate roller coaster. “Captain Howdy” sounds like the world’s second creepiest children’s TV character (Mr McFeely of Mr Rogers being the worst)  and is conjured up by Regan’s mother on a Ouija board. A psychiatrist asks to speak to Captain Howdy:

Psychiatrist: Is there someone inside you?
Regan MacNeil: Sometimes.
Psychiatrist: Who is it?
Regan MacNeil: I don’t know.
Psychiatrist: Is it Captain Howdy?

Any patient asked that question by a psychiatrist should be entitled to a full refund.


5. Jodie, the Amityville Horror

Some see a notorious property as a buying opportunity, where you can sweep in, low-ball the agent, give the place a good scrub down and remove all the bad Mojo and hanging plants. The more passive approach—-leaving things the hell alone, is luckily not the preferred course of action people take in horror films, who also, try as they might, can’t help but trust the guy with an impossibly large collection of pickled insects who runs the gas station.

The Amityville Horror is based on the true story of serial killer Ronald DeFeo and was adapted from a novel by Jay Anson, who did for the town of Amityville what Truman Capote did for Holcomb, Kansas—except without the witticisms. In the movie, a couple move into a Long Island home where the murders took place and make the fatal mistake of not calling in an interior decorator and adding say, a nice peaceful aquarium to the killing room. Their daughter develops a relationship with a sinister imaginary friend “Jodie”, whose eyes glow red, who recounts tales of the house’s nasty history and “Tom Cruises” her, i.e., traps the girl in the closet.

4. Tyler Durden, Fight Club

As an actor, Brad Pitt possesses all the range required for dodging people at the mall handing out food samples,  but he’s got an incredible knack  of appearing in decent movies. Fight Club is one of them, where he befriends a white collar drone  (Ed Norton), with whom he sets up a ‘Fight Club’ in a bar basement.  Despite the odd casting of Pitt, who is one of those ‘Please, not the face’ type guys, many regarded Fight Club as a moderately effective anti free-market polemic, while others saw it as violence porn, with a fantastical plot in which the best scenes featured Meat Loaf with boobs. There is no denying its influence though: the website What Would Tyler Durder Do was named after Pitt’s character in the film (Apparently, Tyler Durden would dedicate his life to celebrity cleavage) and most recently Fight Club has proven influential in a real life teen plot to bomb a New York City Starbucks.

3. Fred, Drop Dead Fred

Called a ‘putrid mess’ of a film by Leonard Maltin, one of the worst Roger Ebert has ever seen and number 16 on About Film’s 30 Worst Films of the 90s list (ahead of heavy shitters like Major League II, Striptease and Armageddon), it will nevertheless be remade starring Russell Brand, which is proof that the film industry applies no standards whatsoever when it comes to picking films for remakes. For the purposes of this list, one of The Shark Guys tracked down a copy of the original and watched it as long as would be permissible under the Geneva Convention. It is a truly a puerile, nerve-grating, poorly paced and obnoxiously acted movie that should have been buried deep in a Nevada mountain with nuclear waste and forgotten forever. The themes brought up in Drop Dead Fred require no further exploration. What’s more the film isn’t that old. Someone born when this movie was made would still be unable to legally purchase alcohol.

For those who want to bone up on the original in preparation for a remake that has nowhere to go but up, Blackadder’s Rik Mayall plays an imaginary childhood friend who pesters a grown up Phoebe Cates. Please check out the clip on Youtube and be disabused of the notion that a fridge with a head being slammed in the door is the very height of hilarity.

2. Tony, The Shining

Creepy kids with imaginary friends is a horror film cliche up there with the hick sheriff who warns prophylactic-preoccupied Spring Breakers that there are strange doin’s out in the woods other than the doin’s Spring Breakers do to each other.  The ne plus ultra of kiddies with bad, bad made up friends, is the Shining. “Tony” is Danny Torrance’s imaginary friend who, among other things that no doubt contributed to shunting him off to the child psychologist, makes him spell out words in lipstick.

Hated by Stephen King, who was instrumental in remaking it as his own version—hated by everyone else—the Shining is visually stunning and a frightening isolationist exercise, with poor Scatman Crothers done in just like black folks always are in these types of films…Another imaginary character from this film is Lloyd the Bartender, who is overall a pretty positive influence as you wouldn’t have to tip a hallucination, or for that matter, need to worry about getting cut off.

1. Frank, Donnie Darko

In Donnie Darko, a whacked out teen sleepwalker is tipped off that the world will end in 28 days by a giant rabbit, Frank, who convinces him to commit a serious of increasingly violent acts, the first of which is flooding his school by taking an axe to the water main and also embedding said axe in the bronze statue of a bulldog, the school’s mascot. The coup de grace is Donnie’s torching of the house of a phony baloney motivational speaker, Jim Cunningham, played by the late  Patrick Swayze.

Wanton destruction of personal and private property should not be encouraged but because of Frank’s encouragement, students are saved from having to attend a school that strangles independent thought; a statue of a bulldog becomes a whole lot more interesting to look at, and a motivational speaker who was secretly hiding some kind of dungeon of child pornography beneath his home is outed. While Frank makes the list for the creep factor and encouraging his real-world (though in this movie that is to judge) buddy toward evil ends, it must be said that his ideas did turn out to be pretty good ones after all. 

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3 Responses | | Comments Feed

  1. really “Blackadder’s Rik Mayall” thats all you can remember him in is Blackadder? What about The Young Ones or Bottom?

  2. Atheists and their axes to grind with mankind… when will you learn?
    Poor post, badly written and, worst of all, horrible humor. Tasteless. I regret having stopped by. Please re-consider doing anything on the internet. Go fish or something.

  3. When someone writes an paragraph he/she keeps the plan of a user in his/her brain that how a
    user can know it. Thus that’s why this post is perfect.

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