Great Serial Killer Films

By MortimerTGraves for Movies

Great Serial Killer Films


Writing a list of great serial killer films is a rather massive undertaking.  So if this is a long read, I am sorry.  I have always taken an interest on why a person would become a killer. What is the motivation?  How do they act when in public(might be the reason rarely trust anyone, and like to eat in restaurants with my back against a wall)? Did they show signs of what they were doing? Did I walk past a serial killer today? Maybe we brushed shoulder in the aisle of the supermarket. The questions go on and on.  So you can guess, I have watched a few serial killer films, shows and documentaries in my life.
Keep in mind to be deemed a serial killer, one has to participate in the murder of several people(usually over a period of time). I think the movie has to ooze that “serial killer” vibe, as well be in its storyline.  Now we have to take away those movies that have a paranormal aspect.  So Jason, Michael and Freddy have to sit this one out.  Same with the vengeance movies, sorry Saw.
We are looking for humans who murders three or more people, usually in service of abnormal psychological gratification. I have narrowed the list down to 10 movies.  And trust me that is a very hard thing to do.  I can do 10 in the last decade.  So lets pull back the psychological veil and look at 10 great serial killer movies.  As usual, these are not in any order.



Silence of the Lambs 1991


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Come on Clarice, you knew this one was coming. The fact that Anthony Hopkins won an Oscar for just 16 minutes of screen time as the Chianti and flesh-loving killer, Dr. Hannibal. Not only do we get Lecter, but we also get Buffalo Bob for the price of one ticket.  That is a win-win.
Because of this film, every time I see Ted Levine, I get flashbacks of him naked dancing in the mirror.  And I really liked the show Monk.



Psycho 1960


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The first of many movies inspired by of Ed Gein, a murderer with a particular penchant for interior design with human body parts, and loved his mother. Hitchcock's Psycho is a classic in the genre and one of the most influential films of all time; pushing the boundaries in violence, sexuality and a risky shower scene. Terrifying in its build-up and stifling twisting tension.
Hitchcock bought up every copy of Robert Bloch's novel prior to his film's release, in order to maintain the mystery and horror of Norman Bates, his darling mother and his murderous motel.



Se7en 1995


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Never liked the title. It sounds to me like someone with a mouth deformity trying to say seasoning.
Anyway, dynamic duo of Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman desperately hunting down a serial killer who employs ostentatious and gruesome techniques on his victims, each representing one of the seven deadly sins.
I don’t know which is sadder; myself still using the “what’s in the box" phrase, or people not getting the reference.



M 1931


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One for the history/foreign film buffs out there, M is considered the first ever serial killer movies and a true classic. The film follows the frantic chase for a child murderer at large in the streets of Berlin.
Considering the year it was made, M – A City Searches for a Murderer(non-english title) still hold up remarkably well when seen through modern eyes.
If you though Michael or Jason invented the sound effect for when they were close, think again.  When you hear the whistling tune of “In the Hall of the Mountain”, you know Hans the killer is near.  Another first for horror films.



Natural Born Killers 1994


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When I first saw this I was like; Woody and Audrey Griswold on a road trip... HOLY!!!  They cray cray. 
Like dropping acid and chasing it with a bottle of lighter fluid.  What’s it about? Oh you know how it goes: loads of violence, some might say gratuitous, but tempered with satire and a cool, psychedelic style. You will have thoughts about why we, as a society, romanticize crime.
This is a film that truly needs multiple viewing to absorb everything it offers.  I wore out a VHS tape back in the day just on the dream sequences alone.  This is a real guilty pleasure.



Peeping Tom 1960


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Nice guy murders women and films their dying expressions, which sounds highly modern(dark web). This was as they say cutting edge, since home video camera’s were just becoming the popular, and by the 70‘s most families had the cheap 16 mm handheld.  This is a great slow burn with sections of pulse pounding suspense.
Also debateable with Psycho as the first modern slasher flick, so argue among yourselves on that can of worms.



Deranged: Confessions of a Necrophile 1974


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Remember in Home Alone when Buzz told Kevin about the creepy old neighbor Marley.  Well this is like the prequel to Home Alone if Marley was actually a creepy old guy, and not a warm grandfather figure.
How this is not a better known film is truly beyond me.  First, this is Tom Savini’s first makeup artist job(which should be enough). Second, it takes what Texas Chainsaw had and puts high-octane fuel into it.  I will agree it does have a smaller budget, but that adds to the charm of it. It is almost a retelling of the Ed Gein story.  So it has parts of a dozen other well-known movies and was released before most of them.  This came out 7 months before TCM, yet it is almost completely forgotten(except for us obscure film buffs). We have skin masks, nasty dinners scenes, nudity, and a talking dead mother. What more could you want.
It is on YouTube.  So GO WATCH IT.



Scream 1996


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How can you not like a guy running around in a dollar store mask and a cheap Halloween witch dress stabbing people with a hunting knife.  Yes I added this one for a simple reason: This revitalized the slasher genre in the 90‘s. 
The best part was it made fun of itself.  Sex equals death, don’t drink or do drugs, never say I’ll be right back.  Anyone else doing this would turn off fans.  But it’s Wes, so it’s all good.



 The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari 1920


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Surprised?  Most people are.  Lets look at the film.  A  hypnotist Caligari uses a troubled sleepwalker to kill for him.  When you look at the scenes with their buildings bent in impossible angles and light plays strange tricks.  You are seeing through Caligari’s eyes to the world around him.  We get a firsthand look at the world in an insane mind. 



The Night of the Hunter 1955


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Night of the Hunter lurks in shadows and revels in misogyny. Whether you’ve seen it or not, you probably have the image of Robert Mitchum’s tattooed knuckles imprinted upon your brain thanks to pop culture(and more movies that I care to count). Reverend Harry Powell is quite the villain, a man as quick to distort the truth with honey-coated lies than he is to kill with a knife.
This is a film that doesn’t land on many horror lists but should. 

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