“Well I’m a talkin’ bout the midnight rambler
Did you see me jump your garden wall
And If you ever catch the midnight rambler
Steal your mistress from under your nose
Go easy with your cold-fanged anger
I’ll stick my knife right down your throat, baby and it hurts.”
---The Rolling Stones “Midnight Rambler” (based on Albert DeSalvo)
I think ever since I was able to pick up a book, or watch a horror film, I have had an obsession with serial killers. I didn’t really have anyone in high school to share this obsession with, it wasn’t until I got into college that I found like minded individuals. I’ve seen films, read books, watched biographies. I’ve written short stories both set in the third and first person perspectives, I‘ve even wrote a few research papers. I’ve shared many a beer over favorite serial killers and why they are our favorites. I guess you would also wonder why someone would have a favorite serial killer. I used to joke, and later I heard Stephen King do the same, that if I didn’t write I would be a serial killer (however, I know I could not actually murder someone in cold blood). My personal favorite would have to be Gary Ridgway (The Green River Killer) although my friend Jenn prefers Ted Bundy and my buddy Tim likes Ed Gein. I find it funny that many people always reference Zodiac when it comes to their favorite killer. He wasn’t that great…he was just arrogant. Anyway, I should stop before I digress from my original point of this blog/essay. My point is to give a look at serial killers in film. I don’t know why I decided to do this, and to limit my scope I decided to focus on movies I personally own. This is for one reason and one reason only, there are a lot of fucking movies about serial killers. I got the idea to write this one while watching Se7en last night, and then I kind of started to run with it.
“The dull blade, good and proper
I'm bleeding heavily and feeling sick
Although I have to fight to stay awake
I keep eating while in convulsions.”
---Rammstein “Mein Teil” (based on Armin Meiwes)
My Films of Serial Killers
Starring: Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Spacey
What isn’t there to like about Se7en? The movie is fantastic. It, combined with Fight Club, is the reason David Fincher became cemented as one of my favorite directors. The movie follows two detectives as they track down a serial killer who kills using the seven deadly sins as a backdrop. Who can forget the head in a basket? The killer, John Doe, was played by Kevin Spacey so well that you almost wish you could have shot him yourself. Another great thing about the film is that Spacey didn’t even make his true appearance until the third act. Like a good horror film it makes us wait to see the true horror until the very end.
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Starring: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Ted Levine.
It’s the film that made Anthony Hopkins one of the best villains on screen of all time. Seriously, I know many a list that place him just ahead of Darth Vader, and those are big shoes to fill. It was the sheer creepiness that Hopkins exudes that makes his character so memorable. Anyway, the film follows an FBI rookie as she attempts to track down a serial killer by employing the help of another serial killer. Double the pleasure, double the fun, right? Hopkins played the now infamous Hannibal Lecter while Ted Levine provided the strange Buffalo Bill. “She rubs the lotion on her skin or gets the hose again.”
Starring: Christopher Lambert, Leland Orser, Robert Joy.
Remember, these are serial killer movies that I own, not necessarily fantastic ones. I mean…how many great movies star Christopher Lambert? Highlander and…well, Highlander. Like Se7en the movie follows two detectives as they attempt to track down a serial killer. This serial killer is taking body parts in order to form a new Christ. The plot, if I remember correctly, rotates around him finding people with the initials J.C. Anyway, I’m trying to figure out why Leland Orser is in almost every goddamn serial killer movie. That motherfucker must just do weird really well. If you remember, he was also in Se7en, as the guy who fucked the prostitute with the incredible knife strap-on. Anyway, the killer in this one is Gerald Demus, played by Robert Joy. He is not necessarily the best serial killer to ever grace the screen but he definitely has his creepy quality.
The Bone Collector (1999)
Starring: Denzel Washington, Angelina Jolie, Leland Orser.
Ahhhh, The Bone Collector. In this one Denzel plays a paralyzed criminal genius who enlists the help of a smart beat cop, Angelina Jolie, to track down a serial killer. There’s not much to really say about this one. It is a decent flick I suppose, it came out before Angelina’s head became three times bigger than her body. Before Denzel was ask kicking cops and criminals. The killer in this one leaves clues, and has a nice taxi. That killer, otherwise known as Richard Thompson, was played by, guess who, Leland Orser.
Starring: Denzel Washington, Kelly Lynch, Russell Crowe.
Do you remember Russell Crowe before he was throwing telephones at peoples heads and getting fat? No? Well, in this one he is SID 6.7, a man made conglomeration of serial killers. He is being chased by a cop, turned criminal, turned cop, Denzel Washington, with the help of his bionic arm and Psychologist eye candy Kelly Lynch. The plot isn’t much more difficult then that. It had some cool scenes and we were able to see that Russell Crowe plays crazy really well. I think my favorite part of this film is when he is in the club and creates music using people’s screams.
“Compressed youthful voices
Below John's floors
Gagging your fears
Dead in horror
Grizzly facial stare.”
---Fear Factory “Suffer Age” (based on John Wayne Gacy)
Natural Born Killers (1994)
Starring: Woody Harrelson, Juliette Lewis, Tom Sizemore, RDJ.
Bonnie and Clyde on acid…nuff said. Harrelson and Lewis play Mickey and Mallory Knox, a couple made in hell. They terrorize with sheer brutality and a dry humor. The sad thing about this movie is that it is the deleted scenes that I love the most. There is the scene with Mickey in the court room, interrogating Ashley Judd, where he finally stabs her to death with a pencil. As well as the scene with Dennis Leary, a commercial in which he goes on another one of his fabulous rants. Oh right, the premise. A young couple travel the countryside pretty much killing anyone they want to, eventually they are caught, escape, and start again. They are chased by a Detective, Tom Sizemore, who may or may not be a serial killer himself. What I also loved about this film is their fan club that protests outside of the courthouse. I don’t really know what that says…was it trying to say people who have favorite serial killers have something wrong with them?
Saw I,II,III,VI (2004-present)
Starring: Tobin Bell.
Say what you want but the Saw films have changed the face of horror. This film is one of the first that accurately portrayed brutal, graphic, violence. The premise of pretty much all of the films is thus: A man (Tobin Bell), dying and tired of the wasted lives around him, decides to stage little games for his “victims.” They have a simple choice, “Live or die.” Those that prevail, will come out changed, hopefully in a way that will help them to live their lives to their fullest potential. The serial killer (because of the puzzle pieces he cuts out of said victims), becomes known as Jigsaw. Now, if you’ve followed the progression of the films you would know that Jigsaw is no longer alive. However, apprentices have come forward to continue his work.
The Cell (2000)
Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Vince Vaughn, Vincent D'Onofrio (Carl Stargher).
This film is one of my favorites in the genre for two reasons. One, it was the first one that I’d seen that actually went inside the head of the serial killer. In this case the mind of Carl Stargher (played by Vincent D’Onofrio). What a fucked up head it is. Where else would you see a horse suddenly and violently get split apart in several pieces? Women sitting in a field, mouths open, in silent screams. I think part of its purpose was to show that serial killers are a product of their environment, that getting branded with an iron as a boy by your abusive father would lead you to kill later in life. That kind of passed me over and I was more in awe and the fucked up visions of the filmmakers. Two, Jennifer Lopez’s million dollar ass. That thing is a work of art in this film. I wish I could find more doctors with fat asses who liked to smoke weed...I suppose I should say fat, sexy asses. The plot? Carl Stargher likes to create living dolls, he drowns the women, bleaches them, and jerks off to them while suspended by hooks. Before they can find his last victim he goes into a coma. Cue when they hook him up to some weird machine that allows Jennifer Lopez to crawl inside his mind to help find that lost girl.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
Starring: Gunnar Hansen
There is only one real reason why the only person I mention in this movie is Gunnar Hansen. That’s the motherfucker that played Leatherface. Nothing else matters with this movie. The plot? Some teens get lost, get killed. Leatherface is the motherfucker that not only stole the show, but caused all of the sequels to happen. Right down to The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation starring Renee Zellweger and Matthew McConaughey. I have no doubt that he helped create Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Friday the 13th. He does count in the serial killer category as well though. The man was based off of Ed Gein.
Kiss the Girls (1997)
Starring: Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd, Cary Elwes (Casanova).
Not only does the film feature one serial killer, but two that actually interact with one another. The film stars Morgan Freeman as a man after a serial killer that has taken his niece. The only clue he has comes in the form of Ashley Judd, a woman who escaped the hands of Casanova and helps Freeman to find him. Cary Elwes plays that character and for the most part he is rather lackluster. It isn’t until he actually reveals himself that he truly shines.
She struck the hours dead
In Her control
Her clock of hacked out cunts
Began to toll
"Thirteen chimes of ancient strain
I conjure forth with dirge
That fills the void with timbred pain
To fulfill my sexual urge"
---Cradle of Filth “Desire in Violent Overture” (based on Elizabeth Bathory)
I say honorable mention because I don’t really know whether to classify some of these motherfuckers as serial killers or not. If they’re not serial killers I’m putting them in here as sheer crazy fucks, mentally disturbed bastards that don’t fall into the category of Kris Kristofferson in The Jacket.
Starring: Bill Paxton, Matthew McConaughey, Powers Boothe.
A family begins hunting “demons” for god. Now, technically, the Meiks Family are fucking serial killers. They find people, kill them, and bury them in the rose garden. However, that notion may go out the window if by the end of the film you consider the fact that they may actually be working for god. In which case they become god’s serial killers.
Eye of the Beholder (1999)
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Ashley Judd.
I think I may be the only person on the planet that loves this movie. In fact, I don’t even know anyone in my real world life that has actually even seen it other then me…and I own it. I don’t know if you technically want to consider Judd’s Joanna Eris as a serial killer but she is. Every man that gets close to her she kills. She is being tracked by Ewan McGregor for no real reason other then he becomes obsessed with her. There’s not much to the story really, it’s more of a distorted love story then anything else.
American Psycho (2000)
Starring: Christian Bale.
Does it count if it is really all in Patrick Bateman’s head? I remember when I saw it in theatres that at the very beginning when he was going through the motions of his morning routine there were several teenage guys and girls in the audience who laughed. Let me tell you, they weren’t laughing by the end of the film…but I was. I think you have to have a sick mind to really get the humor in American Psycho. The plot? Dude goes nuts…like…nuts, nuts. He chases hookers, eats people alive, runs naked with a chainsaw, kills with an axe, a knife, anything that’s handy. He listens to music and quotes random facts about musicians and gets in mental fights because someone’s business card is better than his. My favorite part of the movie? When he tries to stuff a cat into the slot of an ATM machine with a gun to the back of its head.
Apt Pupil (1998)
Starring: Brad Renfro (Todd Bowden), Ian McKellen (Kurt Dussander).
A former Nazi is stalked by a high school kid, evil ensues. Now, I mention this movie more so because of the short story it is based on. I really don’t know why they changed it from what it was (mainly because they like to butcher every Stephen King adaptation would be my guess). The movie itself is very dark, disturbing, and depressing. The book, has both Todd Bowden and Kurt Dussander turn into serial killers, eventually Bowden becomes a mass murderer as well.
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Joaquin Phoenix, Chris Bauer.
Cage plays a private detective trying to find out what happened to a missing girl based on a video he sees in which she is killed on screen. Turns out the video is real. The film implies that Chris Bauer who plays Machine, is in fact, a serial killer. Someone who kills women on film for the enjoyment of others. Pretty fucked up huh? The movie is very dark, incredibly disturbing, and shows a side of the pornographic world in which few tread. The scene I remember the most is the final showdown between Cage and Bauer. Aphex Twins “Come to Daddy” is playing in the background…go listen to that song.
Starring: Sharon Stone, William Baldwin, Tom Berenger.
Ok…to be honest I don’t remember much of this film. When I do watch it, it is mainly for the sex scenes between Stone and Baldwin because goddamn if those aren’t some fucking hot ass sex scenes. Especially the one where he pins her against the wall from behind and just takes her. Ohhhh sweet jeebus. Anyway, if I remember correctly Jack Landsford (played by Tom Berenger) is a writer/serial killer. I’m pretty sure he is a serial killer. If not just watch it for the sex scenes.
The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
Starring: Matt Damon (Tom Ripley), Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, Cate Blanchett, Philip Seymour Hoffman.
A man, Matt Damon’s Tom Ripley, wants to be someone else so bad that he kills for it. This movie has a stellar cast, a great story, and wonderful acting. Would you consider Tom Ripley a serial killer? I would. Who cares what the motive is, he doesn’t just kill one person, he kills several people. Not to mention those are only the ones we know about, who’s to say he hadn’t killed more before the story of the movie unfolds? To watch the transformation of Damon to Law is quite fascinating as well.
Basic Instinct (1992)
Starring: Michael Douglas, Sharon Stone.
We’ve concluded before that Sharon Stone (Catherine Tramell) is the serial killer right? Oh well, if you haven’t seen the movie you should watch it just for the infamous crotch shot. Which Stone says was unintentional.
Hard Candy (2005)
Starring: Patrick Wilson, Ellen Page.
Ellen Page plays Hayley Stark. I think it was Snath who tried to say that Hayley isn’t a serial killer because she gets them to kill themselves (if that’s the case then neither is Jigsaw). Plus, we never actually see her kill anyone else. This is my thoughts on the matter though. She is so calm, cool, calculated, and good at what she does can you honestly say she is going to stop there? In a way I see her as the female Punisher. Only rather then using guns and bombs she using mental warfare. I can see her becoming something of an avenger. A fallen angel if you will. Plus…you gotta be pretty fucked up to do the balls scene to anyone.
Road to Perdition (2002)
Starring: Tom Hanks, Tyler Hoechlin, Paul Newman, Jude Law.
I know what your first thought is. Why is he including Road to Perdition in a thing about serial killers? Here’s why. Harlen Maguire. Harlen Maguire? That’s the name of Jude Law’s character in the film. Awwww, but he was just a hitman you say? Just a hitman? Really? I don’t know too many hitmen that carried around cameras with them to take a picture of their victims as a trophy. I also don’t know of any other hitman that was trying to take a picture of a dead guy, only to find out said dead guy was alive, kill him, then take the picture. He is a fucking serial killer. He’s just a serial killer that gets paid to do what he wants to do.
“Tied her up
And taped her mouth shut
Rope tight, around her throat
Her body twitches
As she chokes
Strangulation caused her death
Just like all the others
Raped before and after death
Stripped, naked, tortured”
---Cannibal Corpse “Stripped, Raped, and Strangled” (based on Ted Bundy)
Honorable, Honorable Mention
Falling Down (1993)
Starring: Michael Douglas, Robert Duvall.
Yes, I know that Michael Douglas is not a serial killer in Falling Down. Yes, I know that therefore he shouldn’t belong on this list. Yes, I realize I may be stupid. However, I feel that no blog could be complete about crazy people without at least mentioning Falling Down. I remember that the first time I saw the movie I literally went, “Holy shit.” To see the character fall as far as he does. To see how he snaps, how he empowers himself, and how he eventually just goes full on fucking mental, is an awesome thing to behold. Michael Douglas plays William Foster with so much realism that you can actually imagine a guy simply getting out of his car in the middle of rush hour and starting a rampage. That’s why he is mentioned here. If you haven’t seen this movie I would suggest you do so as soon as possible.
"Oh, find me ... find me, nothing more
We are on a sullen misty moor
We may be dead and we may be gone
But we will be, we will be, we will be, right by your side
Until the day you die
This is no easy ride
We will haunt you when you laugh
Yes, you could say we're a team
You might sleep
You might sleep
You might sleep
But you will never dream!”
--- The Smiths “Suffer Little Children” (based on Ian Brady & Myra Hindley)
Summer of Sam (1999)
Starring: John Leguizamo, Adrien Brody, Mira Sorvino, Michael Badalucco.
Just a cool little flick that takes place and revolves around the Summer of Sam killings.
Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006)
Starring: Nathan Baesel (Leslie Vernon), Robert Englund, Angela Goethals.
A fake documentary about a wannabe slasher. I.E. Nathan Baesel’s character wants to become the next great Jason Vorhees or Michael Myers, because, in this film, those were real people. While not necessarily about a “serial killer,” it’s a great little film to watch.
Starring: Jeremy Renner.
Holy fucking creepy. No really, if you haven’t seen it…see it.
Starring: Michael C. Hall, Julie Benz, Jennifer Carpenter, John Lithgow, Christian Camargo.
I think my favorite part of this show is that Dexter not only kills other serial killers, but that he has met and interacted with a few of them. I wrote a short story once that involved a serial killer working with another serial killer. While he doesn’t work with them he does try to learn how to live like them, being they are more adapted to normal society. That’s another great thing about Dexter, it’s interesting to hear the story from the perspective of the emotionless killer.
“Graze the skin with my finger tips
The brush of dead warm flesh pacifies the means
Incised members ornaments on my being
Adulating the skin before me.“
---Slayer “Dead Skin Mask” (based on Ed Gein)
So there you have it folks. A look into my collection of serial killer flicks. Be thankful I didn’t just do one on horror films. I think I only own two comedies. As I was doing this one I was thinking of doing a guide for Zombie films. If you actually read this let me know if you would be interested. If not…fuck you I may do one anyways. As I said at the beginning, there are many films about serial killers. I remember watching Don’t Look Now with Donald Sutherland (many people will tell you that film is good…don’t believe them) and wondering how many serial killer flicks there actually are. You got others like From Hell, Suspect Zero, and Switchback. However, like I said, these just came from my own collection. I leave you with that, and another excerpt from a song.
“Try to find the reasons that Jacky's out again
Slipping and sliding don't even try to hide
Just like your shadow, breathing at your side
Don't give into panic, Don't you run an' scream
Aaah, the ripper, haunting all your dreams.”
---Motorhead “Jack the Ripper”