Whether they be meddlesome, nosy, noisy or just plain annoying, terrible neighbors have entered most of our lives at one point or another. But what if that unwanted next-door enemy happened to inhabit not one, but all the traits mentioned above? For Mac Radner (Seth Rogen), his wife Kelly (Rose Byrne) and their newborn baby in the comedy Neighbors (read our review), raucous fraternity leader Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron) is that nightmare.
By waging a prank war against Mac and his young family, Teddy and his band of hedonistic frat bros not only provide us with some hilarious and outrageous moments – they also reminded us of some much more despicable, detestable and diabolical neighbor characters, which led to the creation of our list of the 10 Worst Neighbors in Film (in no particular order).
Jerry Dandrige – Fright Night (1985, 2011)
Not only does Jerry appear normal on the surface in every way, but his natural charm makes him alluring to the women in the neighborhood – particularly Charley Brewster’s (William Ragsdale, Anton Yelchin) mother, who, unlike her son, is oblivious to the fact that Jerry is a demonic blood-sucking vampire. In the original Fright Night, and the surprisingly good 2011 remake, Jerry – played by Chris Sarandon and Colin Ferrell, respectively – proves to be a nearly unbeatable adversary for young Charley, turning the boy’s once quiet suburban existence into an unforgettable nightmare. Having a killer next door is bad enough, but when that killer is also a vampire, every day (okay… night) is indeed a living hell.
The Klopeks – The Burbs (1989)
It may be natural to wonder what your new neighbors are up to, but in the case of Ray Peterson (Tom Hanks) in The Burbs, his curiosity about the mysterious Klopek family only leads to trouble.
Suspecting that the Klopeks may be more than eccentric next-door neighbors, Ray joins a team of neighborhood sleuths on an investigation that, instead of leading to evidence of a murder, only leads to Ray nearly dying in an explosion that he inadvertently ignites. Of course, he then endures another near-death experience as his initial suspicions about the Klopeks being psychotic killers is confirmed. So, maybe starting your own unofficial neighborhood watch is a good idea after all?
Abel Turner – Lakeview Terrace (2008)
For many, having a veteran police officer – and an intimidating one at that – living next door would be comforting. Unfortunately, for newlyweds Chris and Lisa Mattson (Patrick Wilson and Kerry Washington) in Lakeview Terrace, comforting is the last word that comes to mind when discussing their neighbor, Abel Turner (Samuel L. Jackson).
Prejudiced against Chris and Lisa’s interracial marriage, Abel begins to terrorize the young couple with the hope to force them out of the neighborhood. However, even after Abel interrupts their sleep with high-powered flood lights, slashes their tires and even breaks into their home, Chris and Lisa stand their ground, leading to a seemingly inevitable and violent confrontation. Moving would have been easier, but you just can’t let a guy like Abel win.
Katie and Robbie – Paranormal Activity 4 (2012)
A child having an imaginary friend isn’t necessarily alarming, but when their neighbor kid Robbie starts to exhibit some other strange behavior, the Nelson family in Paranormal Activity 4 becomes increasingly concerned.
As it turns out, Robbie isn’t imagining anything, and is actually conversing with a demon named Toby. To make matters worse for the Nelsons, his mother Katie is possessed and belongs to some sort of demon cult. Of course, our unsuspecting paranormal skeptics only realize this after it’s too late. Where are the Ghost Hunters when you really need them?
Minnie and Roman Castevet – Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
Pregnancy is supposed to be a joyous time for a young couple, but Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse’s (Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes) experience in Rosemary’s Baby is nothing short of horrific. Of course, when you live in an apartment building with a throng of devil-worshiping cult members and learn that your newborn child is the spawn of Satan, that will certainly put a damper on things.
Seemingly harmless at first, the elderly Castevet couple from next door turns out to be the ringleaders of the satanic cult, with the mission to bring the devil’s son to earth. By simply appearing neighborly in the first portion of the film, the sinister reveal of the Castevets’ true intentions is made all the more horrifying, not only for poor Rosemary, but also for the audience.
Arthur Denker/Kurt Dussander – Apt Pupil (1998)
While most of the film entries on this list involve protagonists who are unaware of their neighbors’ troubled pasts or true identities, Apt Pupil features a central character – Todd Bowden (Brad Renfro) – who is dangerously drawn to and influenced by the evil permeating from a Nazi war criminal living in his neighborhood, Arthur Denker (Ian McKellen).
After Todd discovers Arthur’s real name (Kurt Dussander) and his secret, the two form an unusual and extremely dark kinship, leading to a display of Arthur’s murderous tendencies. For Nazi-obsessed Todd, living around Arthur may not have been so bad, but there’s no doubt the rest of us would rather reside as far away from the old man as possible.
Sid Phillips – Toy Story (1995)
While it would be hard for some to include a kid on their list of worst neighbors, it wasn’t difficult for us to save a spot for noted toy torturer Sid Phillips, especially after falling in love with the vibrant characters and world the first Toy Story film created.
Instead of caring for his toys like Andy, Sid’s idea of playtime is destructive and downright sadistic. From the perspective of Andy’s trapped toys, Sid’s room is like a labyrinth of horrors and we can’t help but feel their terror as they discover a clan of crudely constructed toys with mismatched heads, limbs and bodies. Sid is definitely that kid you would never loan your favorite toy to.
Lars Thorwald – Rear Window (1954)
Long before Shia LaBeouf put his observational and detective skills to use in Disturbia (2007), Jimmy Stewart did the same as wheelchair bound photographer L.B. “Jeff” Jefferies in Alfred Hitchcock’s classic thriller Rear Window, which – compared to its similar successor – featured a much more memorable and menacing villain in Lars Thorwald (Raymond Burr).
After realizing Jeff knows about his wife’s murder, Lars confronts Jeff at his apartment in a famous scene in which Jeff uses his camera as a defense weapon, setting off several flashbulbs that temporarily blind his attacker. Jeff survives the ordeal, but considering Lars’ imposing size and lack of hesitation to kill, it’s safe to say others wouldn’t have been so lucky.
Oliver Lang/William Fenimore and Cheryl Lang – Arlington Road (1999)
At first glance, Oliver and Cheryl Lang (Tim Robbins and Joan Cusack) appear to be a normal middle class married couple in Arlington Road, but as Michael Faraday (Jeff Bridges) discovers, his new neighbors are far from ordinary.
Michael’s worst fears are realized when he learns that the seemingly friendly Oliver is actually a terrorist with a plot to blow up an FBI building. To make matters even worse, Oliver’s pegged Michael as the fall guy for his plan and, with the help of his wife and others, orchestrates that plan to perfection. We certainly hate to see the bad guys literally get away with murder, but it’s deeply unsettling to even imagine living near them.
The Griswolds – National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)
Unlike the other entries on this list, the Griswold family and its lovable loser patriarch Clark (Chevy Chase) don’t mean any harm to their neighbors at home or abroad, but destruction and chaos seem to follow them whenever they are, affecting the unfortunate saps around them.
Such is the case once again in Christmas Vacation, wherein Clark inadvertently ruins his next door neighbors’ Christmas after a serious of accidents leads to a bizarre and hilarious dog/squirrel attack on Margo (Julia Louis-Dreyfus). If blinding Christmas lights, flying ice blocks, loud chainsaws and a walking disaster named cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) aren’t enough to get you to move, then we’re not sure what will.
While memorable, obnoxious and in many cases, nasty, these 10 entries certainly don’t account for all of the bad neighborly behavior from some of our favorite films. So now we turn the list-making duties over to you. Who would make your top 10? Are there any major omissions from this list, or characters that simply don’t belong? Share your opinion with us and fellow readers in the comments. But remember to keep things civil, unlike our picks for the 10 Worst Neighbors in Film.
Here are some honorable mentions that nearly made the cut:
Louis Tully (Rick Moranis) – Ghostbusters (1984)
Mrs. Connelly (Eileen Essell) – Duplex (2003)
Thomas Kub (Thomas Mann) – Project X (2012)
Carter Hayes/James Danforth (Michael Keaton) – Pacific Heights (1990)
Ryan Jacobson (Max Thierot) – House at the End of the Street (2012)