Thursday, November 8, 2018
Article of The Michigan Murder and Mayhem: "The serial killer is our great modern demon."
The serial killer is our great modern demon. This figure is a source of recurring fascination in horror, and in popular culture at large. A glance at the ‘True Crime’ shelves of any bookshop will reveal dozens of pop-biographical and quasi-criminological ‘studies’ of notorious serial killers and their unspeakable crimes. Peter Sutcliffe, Ted Bundy, Dennis Nilsen, John Wayne Gacy, Fred and Rosemary West, Jeffrey Dahmer, Henry Lee Lucas, Harold Shipman. We repeat their names as a litany of fear. Often, supernatural power or superhuman genius is ascribed to these figures, generally in direct antithesis to historical reality. Hannibal Lecter, as Thomas Harris’s later novels strongly imply, may well be the Devil himself, a figure of vast learning, intellect, and culture who seems to act out of an authentic sense of categorical species superiority, but real-life serial killers tend on the whole to be poorly educated social misfits. If realism is the aim, then the grim and downbeat Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1990), which drew on the crimes of the drifter Henry Lee Lucas, is a truer representation of serial killers than the hyperbolic The Silence of the Lambs.
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