The Top 11 Movie Serial Killers
Serial killers have long been the stuff of which nightmares are made. The serial killer sub-genre of horror has brought us some amazingly memorable characters that still haunt us to this day. On February 19th Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will bring us a new name in fear with The Factory.
Starring John Cusack and Jennifer Carpenter as detectives tracking a murderer, The Factory is set in the bitter cold of a Buffalo winter. A great place to hunt a hunter. And to celebrate the release of this newest addition to the sub-genre, we've compiled a list of the Top 11 Movie Serial Killers.
There is certainly a long list of names to choose from, but we narrowed the field a bit by limiting it to those who were just regular human people. No supernatural involvement here, just a person or group of people who've gone off the deep end and made hunting and killing others their main hobby. Not exactly the bunch you want to have over to the house for drinks and a rousing game of Scattergories.
We'll start the honorable mentions out with a couple of newer faces. Perhaps one of the more popular serial killers right now, whose story is currently unraveling before us, is Joe Carroll, the mastermind behind all the deviousness going on in "The Following." And we've also got to throw a little love to Vincent D'Onofrio for his outstanding work as the killer simply known as "Bob" in 2012's Chained.
But we mustn't forget some of our old favorites. Dee Snider's Captain Howdy in Strangeland was nothing if not unique. And as original stories go, Leslie Vernon's tale in Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon is as original as they come. Billy Loomis and his sidekick, Stu Macher, were genre-revivingly brilliant in Scream. And Kurt Russell brought a whole new meaning to "hell on wheels" and was a completely new style of hunter with the most unlikely weapon you'd ever expect as Stuntman Mike in Death Proof. Just missing the Top 11 was the incredibly creepy, unnamed and basically unseen (aside from a disturbing eyeball shot) killer from 1974's Black Christmas; the man that taught us never to pick up anyone walking along the side of the road in The Hitcher, John Ryder; and a man just trying to instill love of life in his victims, John Kramer (a.k.a. Jigsaw) of the Saw franchise.
And now we give you...
Patrick Bateman (American Psycho)
Inspired by one of the most disturbing books you'll ever read, written by Bret Easton Ellis, American Psycho hit the big screen with huge anticipation from fans. Just how were the filmmakers going to recreate some of the unspeakable atrocities committed by Patrick Bateman, the featured psycho in the book? Before emaciating himself for The Machinist or bulking up for Batman, Christian Bale was thrilling audiences as one of the most unique and charming serial killers we've ever seen. Bale creates the ultimate anti-hero with his portrayal of Bateman, a character that horror fans hold close to their heart even to this day, nearly 15 years after American Psycho was released and challenged us to believe that anyone is capable of anything…especially a guy specializing in "murders and executions, mostly."
John Doe (Seven)
Nearly 10 years before Jigsaw started his murderous masterpiece, Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman played detectives chasing down Kevin Spacey as a serial killer with a very plain name but a very ambitious plan. In Seven Spacey's John Doe made it his business to execute seven unfortunate souls who were guilty of breaking the seven deadly sins: sloth, greed, gluttony... oh, what am I doing? If you're reading this site, you know what the seven deadly sins are. You've probably broken a handful of them yourself. Like Jigsaw, John Doe's intricate pre-planning and execution of that plan were the most impressive parts of the character. And the climax of Seven, John Doe's swan song, is one of the most tense, memorable and shocking you'll find in film.
Dexter Morgan ("Dexter")
Although not found in a movie, there is simply no way Dexter Morgan doesn't make this list. Television's darling serial killer has been enamoring viewing audiences for seven seasons while he and his dark passenger face one adventure after another. All this while Dex still manages to do a bang-up job as a blood spatter expert for Miami Metro. Michael C. Hall is absolutely perfect in the role that, after so many episodes, it seems he was born to play. We've been with Dex through marriage and the birth of his child, seen his mother murdered and watched the spirit of his adopted father guide him through each and every crossroad in his life. Our familiarity with him, and Dexter's charisma and charm, has made him one of the most beloved characters on television. Not to mention the fact that he sets up one helluva kill room.
Sweeney Todd (Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street)
Oftentimes we'll see serial killers set on their murderous rampages by an egregious wrongdoing. That could not be more true than in the case of Sweeney Todd, or Benjamin Barker as he was known before that nasty ol' Judge Turpin stuck it right up his can, stealing his wife and setting him out to sea to die. Barker was a mild-mannered barber before being set on a path of vengeance. Most recently represented by Johnny Depp in the 2007 version of the story directed by Tim Burton, Sweeeny Todd actually has quite the history, with the original tale being told in a 1936 film, although the Burton/Depp tale much more resembles the 1979 Steven Sondheim musical. Todd disposes of unwanted men in his barber chair (which is advantageously positioned over a trap door), and his literal partner in crime, Mrs. Lovett (played in '07 by Helena Bonham Carter and by Angela Lansbury in the musical) grinds the bodies up and makes meat pies out of them. Which, surprisingly, the people of London circa 1846 can't get enough of. As will often happen, the murders get out of control, and things end up going horribly wrong for Todd in this musical tragedy. But a beautiful tale it is.
Curt Duncan (When A Stranger Calls)
Although we're not privy to much of his past, one has to assume that anyone as creepy as Curt Duncan, who was shipped off to the asylum for literally ripping children apart with his bare hands, had to have a trail of bodies in his wake. Duncan was portrayed by Tony Beckley in When A Stranger Calls; however, while playing the role, Beckley was terminally ill and died in 1980, shortly after the film was completed. Although the killer is not even seen in the iconic opening 20 minutes of the movie outside of a shadow, we find there is just something off-putting about him as we get to know him throughout the rest of the picture. We know the brutality he's capable of, and when we watch him try to blend into society after his escape from custody, we see just how unsettling he can be. Curt Duncan simply makes the viewers uncomfortable. He's the kind of guy that makes your skin crawl, and isn't that the goal? Not to mention he scores huge points for helping make the line "Have you checked the children?" legendary.