It’s Always The Same and It’s Always Different
by Francis Cabal
As a horror enthusiast, I consider October my favorite month. October is the month of Halloween, which means it is also the month of Horror film marathons. There is nothing more enjoyable than sitting in the comfort of your couch, food and beverage of choice in hand, while watching your favorite horror movies. It’s as if you get to celebrate Christmas early and you turn into a child all over again. From the classic Hammer films to the video nasties of the 80s, there’s much to be said about cheap thrills and the gratification one gets out of being scared.
Usually, most film fans will break out their collection of classic monster movies, DVDs and DVDs of several incarnations of Draculas, Frankensteins, Jasons, and Freddies. While this is not a bad way to spend your Halloween, I am here to propose something different: here is a list of five films that feature the most deranged psycopaths to ever grace the big screen… because after all, there’s nothing far more frightening than the darkest pits of the human soul.
Psycho (dir: Alfred Hitchock, 1960)
Norman Bates is everybody’s favorite serial killer with mommy issues. And Anthony Perkins’ masterful portrayal of the mentally deranged and creepy Bates is as iconic as the “shower scene” from the film. A tense plot mixed with expert direction by Hitchcock cemented this film’s status as one of the finest American thrillers ever made.
Man Bites Dog (dir: Rémy Belvaux, André Bonzel, Benoît Poelvoorde, 1992)
Man Bites Dog is a darkly comedic mockumentary portraying the exploits of the charismatic criminal played by Benoît Poelvoorde. The film contains the right balance between the nihilistic humor and the more sinister aspects of Poelvoorde’s activities. What elevates it to a gripping film is how they portray Poelvoorde as an everyman, making his sadism and his justification for doing the things he does far more chilling.
Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer (dir. John McNaughton, 1986)
There is indeed truth in advertising. Because, yes, this film is a portrait of a serial killer named Henry. There is no method to his madness, just the compulsion to kill. Michael Rooker’s stoical features add to Henry’s cold and calculating demeanor. Shot on a budget of $110,000 with a 16mm camera, this film is indeed raw and gritty and is a benchmark of independent horror filmmaking.
No Country For Old Men (dir. The Coen Brothers, 2007)
While not a horror film, No Country For Old Men features the most iconic psychopath in recent years: Anton Chigurgh. Chigurh is an enigmatic hitman who kills people with a cattle gun. The film is based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy about a drug deal gone wrong and the bloodbath that ensues. Javier Bardem won several awards for his menacing and downright scary performance as Anton Chigurh.
The Night Of The Hunter (dir. Charles Laughton, 1955)
Reverend Harry Powell is a misguided preacher with “LOVE” and “HATE” tattoed across his knuckles. He is not above terrorizing families and little children to get his hands on a cache of stolen money hidden away by a fellow inmate. Robert Mitchum gave life to this character, stealing every scene he’s in. This is the only film credited to Charles Laughton in his all-too-brief tenure as a director.