Dying for another installment of Matt Dean's Bloody Streams? Well, he's back with a special serial killer edition...check it out!
This week I decided to tackle some of the lesser known serial killer films out there. First off, let me say that I'm using the definition that a serial killer is a person who kills more than three people – one at a time – in a relatively short interval. Now, there are some serial killer films that almost everyone has seen; Silence of the Lambs, Seven, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Zodiac, American Psycho, etc. As Deviants, there’s a good chance you've seen some or all of the below films, but they're worth repeat viewings, in my opinion. Serial Killer films are so rampant because no one is safe. They pick and choose their victims however they see fit and that can be terrifying; knowing that lurking just out of view, in the shadows, is someone waiting to take your life – probably in a really uncomfortable way. So, without further ado, let’s get going.
The Poughkeepsie Tapes (2007)
This film puts itself out there much like a special episode of 60 minutes. The story is told through interviews with police officers, FBI agents, victim’s family members, neighbors; anyone who could shed further light on the events that took place. Beyond that, the film is actually seen through the lenses of the killer himself. At the end of the movie we see that the killer recorded hours and hours and boxes and boxes of video tapes of all the people he killed, some of it in graphic and very unsettling scenarios. This killer is very theatrical, disguising his self in a number of outlandish costumes and masks as he torments those on screen. While the footage is very raw and looks an awful lot like he filmed it using a potato, it actually works really well. It adds to the insanity and depravity of the killer’s mind, acting as an extension of his psyche and theatrics more than as a medium to view the film. As of right now, this film has never had a home video release so, watch it here on YouTube for free while you still can.
I really just want to say: “Two words: Alexandra Daddario”, but this film deserves more than that. Seriously though, Alexandra is something else entirely. I'd probably watch paint dry if it was starring her. I digress. Bereavement is about a serial killer who kidnaps a young boy, Martin, from his mother’s house and begins to train the boy in his deranged, psychopathic ways of killing. The boy attempts to escape repeatedly, but he is never able to. From there it’s really pretty formulaic; a family takes in their niece after her parents die and, as they live in the same town as the killer and his protégé, they all eventually come in contact with them. The film is a prequel to 2004’s Malevolence, a film that chronicles – SPOILER ALERT – the grown up and far more demented Martin 5 years after the events of Bereavement. Formulaic stagnation aside, there is a lot of great acting and some of the violence is squirm-inducing. Bereavement is a significantly more mature and well-made film, but if you enjoy the exploits of young Martin and are interested to see how the mind of a serial killer affects the psyche of those around him then these could make a decent double feature.
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)
This is by far the most widely-known film on the list - partly just because it’s been around the longest, but also because it’s just a great movie. The now iconic actor, Michael Rooker (The Walking Dead, Slither, The Bone Collector), stars as the titular Henry with a perfect balance of the everyday working man and a guy on the edge of insanity. Instead of just being crazy, he seems to be driven into being a killer because of how his life has played out. Also starring a genre favorite, Tom Towles (The Night of the Living Dead, House of 1,000 Corpses, The Devil’s Rejects, Halloween) as Otis, Henry’s roommate and fellow killer; the two men release their pent-up aggression on the world in rare form. In one of the most memorable scenes in horror cinema, we watch as Henry and Otis terrorize a young suburban family. The longer the seen goes on, the further the camera pans back until it’s revealed that they had taped the entire ordeal and were watching it in the comfort of their living room. The scene is very chilling and one of the earlier uses of a killer using a camera for his own deviant delights.
Megan is Missing (2011)
I wasn’t sure what to think of this movie the first time that I sat down to watch it. The story revolves around Megan and her friend Amy. The two are young and naïve about the ways of the world. The kids are using the internet, social media and video cameras to interact with each other and, ultimately, to find new friends online. Initially it seems that the acting is kind of off, but they're also young girls who are nervous and awkward about documenting their lives all day every day. As their digital footprints widen, they come across Josh in a chat room. Josh seems nice enough, but he’s older so the girls know there is an element of danger there. Megan and Josh arrange a meeting behind a quickie store, but Megan is not seen from again. From this point on, we follow Amy as she searches for clues at school, online, from Josh; anyone that may know where her BFF has gone to. This culminates in a 20 minute climax that is very intense. Some of the images we see will probably never leave my brain. The fact that it’s supposed to be a 14 year old girl that these things are happening to raises the uncomfortableness and depravity by leaps and bounds. I would say it would be that much more difficult if you actually had daughters that age who are active online. The world is a scary place.
Matt, Signing Out