The serial killer trend in films has been around for quite some time and most of the time, the film usually tells the story of the good cop trying to find the sicko leaving bodies all over the city – but what makes a good serial killer? What makes them crazy? Why do they do what they do? Is it for pleasure or revenge?
Let’s look back on some of the most notorious and chilling serial killers throughout movie history and see what makes them so iconic.
Leatherface – The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
Not only does Leatherface look terrifying, he’s also based on someone terrifying too – real life serial killer, Ed Gein. Even though the movie is just over 40 years old, this inbred cannibal still manages to give you the shivers, especially when you hear the sound of his unmistakable chainsaw, a sophisticated weapon with a rather messy clean-up. Although the movie may be fictitious, his sinister actions definitely were not.
Hannibal Lecter – The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Probably one of the most notorious movie serial killers of all time – he’s so effective in the way that he’s portrayed as being calm and collected, rather than a blood thirsty mad man running around with a knife. He isn’t an obvious serial killer, he’s smart, calculating and creepy. Even though he’s seen behind bars for the majority of the film, he proves that he’s just as good at manipulating his prey as he is at physically harming them. He cuts off and wears a police officer’s face in order to escape. Yikes.
The Zodiac Killer – Zodiac (2007)
Another film based on a real life serial killer, but this time with a twist. He’s never been caught, and I don’t know about you; but that still creeps me the hell out. The Zodiac Killer is elusive, mysterious and he likes to leave clues. He not only torments the police with handwritten, encrypted letters, but he also torments the audience as well. The film is great at leaving you hanging with unanswered questions that we’ll probably never get because we have no idea who he is.
John Kramer/Jigsaw – Saw (2004)
I’ve decided to add Jigsaw to the list as he’s quite a complicated ‘serial killer’ in that he doesn’t actually kill anyone himself, his devices do it for him during a gruesome game. Rather than killing for pleasure, he gives his victims an ultimatum in which they decide to live or die – and only if they deserve to. The Saw franchise is probably one of the most in depth horror films out there where the killer has evidential reasons for murdering people.
Henry – Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)
Another oldie but a goodie, this film is probably up there with some of the most controversial movies out there, gaining quite the cult following. Henry is most definitely a serial killer who kills because he can, and because he’s good at it. Based loosely on Henry Lee Lucas himself – who confessed killing up to 350 people, this film not only travels down twisted lane, but stops to have a brew and kill a few innocent people along the way.