Next weekend marks the much-anticipated release of Maleficent — the cheekbone-heavy Disney reinterpretation of Sleeping Beauty, featuring Angelina Jolie as spurned lover turned infant-cursing witch. The film, which stars Elle Fanning as Aurora, offers a Freudian look into the development of the title character, revealing the course of events that turned a perfectly nice fairy into a resentful, horn-wearing sorceress — all set to a Lana Del Ray soundtrack. It’s a chance to see Angelina Jolie with goat pupils and contemplate the evolution of evil.
Of course, diabolical female monarchs are a movie trope with roots that go as far back as any, from Shakespeare’s Queen Tamora, a villain so evil she ends up eating a pie baked with the bone dust of her two dead sons, to the Brothers Grimm’s Mirror Queen — who drinks the blood of 12 virgins to restore her beauty. Modern-day screenwriters — responsible for the likes of Game of Throne’s Cersei Lannister, the most loathsome queen currently on TV, known for her bitchface, incestuous relations, and general bad attitude — have plenty of real-life witches to look to for inspiration: Take, for example, Elizabeth Báthory, the Hungarian socialite believed to be one of the most prolific female serial killers in history (she was eventually imprisoned in 1610 for torturing and killing an undetermined number of servants and women of lesser nobility), or Queen Mary — namesake of the tomato juice and vodka cocktail — who executed over 280 religious dissenters during her five-year rule over England.
Click through the slideshow to see our picks for the most delectably diabolical and genuinely horrifying on-screen queens of all time, responsible for everything from child abduction to eternal winter to corset-induced asphyxiation.