Serial killers are the flavour of August

Serial killers are the flavour of August

Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate in ‘Once upon a time in Hollywood’.

There are crimes of passion and there are crimes of profit. Then, there are crimes that make no sense. And their sheer freakishness makes them harder to forget. August 2019, in fact, marks the fiftieth anniversary of the infamous Manson Family murders.

In 1969, Charles Manson, the leader of a cult called ‘the Family’ convinced his followers to commit a series of nine murders, including that of actress Sharon Tate, the pregnant wife of filmmaker Roman Polanski.

Three films based on the Manson murders were released just this month, the biggest unquestionably being Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Once upon a time in Hollywood’. The Netflix series ‘Mindhunter’, which also came out this month, has a reference to the incident.

As the Manson fever goes around, Metrolife looks at five instances of filmmakers who were inspired to make films on serial killers.

The most famous one of all

Not many know that Alfred Hitchcock took up Jack the ripper as the subject in a 1927 silent feature film called ‘The Lodger’.

The Jack the ripper murders had taken place in the Whitechapel districts of London in 1888. Women were the targets, and the murders were brutal: internal organs were removed from at least three of the victims.

Although the identity of the killer is unknown to this day, and perhaps because of that, the myth endures.

This is a must-watch for Hitchcock fans because his style of suspense was first developed in this film.

Setting the template

The first proper serial killer movie, according to many. And what makes it so “proper” is that introduces the templates that serial killer movies use to this day.

Made by Fritz Lang, an equal of Hitchcock, ‘M’ is among the best of German expressionist cinema. Using techniques never before used in cinema, Lang’s magnum opus about a child murder will send chills down your spine.

The film, though made in 1931, feels so modern that it’ll make you look around to see where your kid is.

Skip this one!

You should probably not watch this one. Blood and gore may be staples of the serial killer genre, but few films really get down to it like ‘Henry’.

The film is based on the life Henry Lee Lucas, who confessed to about 600 murders between 1975 and 1983, almost at the rate of once a week.

The number of victims is so high there are even ones that have gone to live their own darklegacies. One infamous victim is ‘Orange socks’, nick-named after the only pieces of clothing her corpse was wearing.

This movie was so bloody, the American censor board give it an ‘X’ rating, which was only given to pornographic films at the time.

Back home

Indian filmmakers hungry for their own serial killer movie had someone from the late 60s to bank on: Raman Raghav.

Responsible for 41 victims over a span of three years, the police even caught Raghav once but let him thinking he is not the murderer.

He used to bludgeon his victims to death in the outskirts of Mumbai.

The first film based on Raghav was ‘Sigappu Rojakkal’, 1978 Tamil film starring Kamal Haasan and Sridevi. The film was remade in Telugu, Hindi, Japanese and Russian.

More recently, Anurag Kashyap’s 2013 film Raman Raghav 2.0 was inspired by Raghav.

The legendary one

Your run-of-the-mill serial killer film is a cheap thriller; ‘Silence of the Lambs’ was much more than that.

It is known for the most famous fictional serial killer of all time: Hannibal Lecter. Funnily enough, Lecter is not the one whose murderous spree the police is trying to put an end to in the film.

At the beginning of the film, Lecter has already had his run; he, in fact, spends most of the film locked up or chained.

A young, beautiful woman officer seeks his help to catch the main antagonist of the film Buffalo Bill. Even then, the film never truly becomes about Bill. The film is about the strange psychological hold that Lecter has over the officer, played by Jodie Foster.

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