Friday, October 12, 2012

K Is For Killer

People love horror movie baddies. They create groups on Facebook to pay homage to them and even take on the persona and start twitter accounts in their honour. No, that isn't a joke, and if you're looking for a laugh I suggest taking a gander at Freddy Krueger's tweets. 

Now, there are a lot of horror movie killers out there. The list is long and tedious to get through. For every fantastic slash 'em antagonist, there are a hundred terrible ones you'll never hear about. And for good reason. So, what is it about the likes of Pinhead and Chucky that make people worship them? Why do people flock to these characters? 

The easy answer, and one I don't stand behind, is money. If a movie has a big budget, it will have the means to sink into marketing, thus roping the viewers in. But just because people go to see a movie doesn't mean the killer is going to withstand the test of time. I mean, there's a reason Norman Bates is one of the most memorable characters ever brought to life on the big screen, and it certainly wasn't because of marketing or money. 

No. It's because he was different. 

*Spoiler* He was dressing up as his dead mother, for crying out loud! That's something to write home about. And Psycho came out in 1960, not exactly the most progressive of times. Not to mention, the movie also touched on multiple personalities and has one of the most famous scenes in any movie. You know, the shower one. To me, this film is terrifying, as is Normal Bates, but you don't even really see anything. It's because of the music and acting and setting that instantly propelled this into a classic and had people horrified by Mr. Bates and his rather unhealthy relationship with his mother. 

So, you have to be different to become a successful horror movie baddie, but what else is an asset? 

Humour. 

Okay, that seems bonkers, right? But it's the truth. Freddy, Pinhead, Chucky, Jack Torrance, and even Michael Myers, who says all but nothing in the movies, have a sense of humour. They make us laugh because they say and do the most ridiculous things. In so many ways, they mock themselves. And we love that in killers, especially if they're going to go on a bloody murdering spree. 

That said, Leatherface is not funny. Though I often find it funny how clean his white shirt is. But he has something else that endears us to him. A shtick. And he sticks with it. 

Each of them have a style, a certain flare, and a weapon of choice. Leatherface has his chainsaw. Freddy his fingers. Chucky his butcher knife. Pinhead is never seen without his pins, thus his name. Dracula wears a cape. Frankenstein has bolts in his neck. Hannibal Lecter has his fine taste in food. Michael Myers has his hockey mask. These guys know what work and stick with it, which is why we remember them, and cherish them. 

Oh, and they never have a motive! The good ones never do. 

It's when writers and directors want to explore the 'why' they they lose the audience. Take for example, Jigsaw. He had the making of being a serial killer to go down in history, but then they gave him cancer and a reason and turned him into an antihero who was just trying to teach bad people to appreciate what they had in life. Boring. They would have been better off leaving him as the antagonist like in the first Saw film. 

But, that's just me getting ranty. And we aren't even halfway through this challenge yet. 

2 comments:

LuckyJon said...

I'm a big fan of Scream's Billy Loomis. I know, I know, he isn't a 'classic' baddie like some of the ones you mention above, but I feel he is still important. Scream itself revived a stale genre by twisting itself on its head. Our killer (I know there's Stu, but let's be real for a second here, he was Billy's pawn) has the 'mother motive', but he plans on using scary movies themselves as the cause of his psychosis - he thinks beyond the action unlike most other villains. It makes him smarter. He also loves horror movies. Can you imagine if Norman Bates was found reading a Stephen King novel? Wouldn't that image cause geek-gasms across the world? I like Billy because he is deeper than most, he was fresh, and, from a personal perspective, he guided my way into the horror genre. Also, when he stabs Stu at the end of the movie, you can see he kinda loves it. And they all gotta love it.

Tyson said...

I can agree with that. I recently watched Scream again and it has withstood the test of time. Though most people wouldn't be able to name Stu or Billy. They just say the ghostface killer. But still, I agree.