Humanity has always had a fascination with murder. The curiosity as to why a person would take the life of another captures our interest and those that have killed on more than one occasion become a celebrity of sorts. John Wayne Gacy, the infamous child killer/clown would paint and his art would sell for upwards of 20 thousand dollars. Horror movies have capitalized on this interest and so too have the networks. It gets ratings.
Mickey Rourke is once again a hot name in Hollywood and will be assuming the lead as Richard Kuklinski, the mob hit man that claimed to have murdered more than 250 people. He would go by the name “The Iceman” because of how he would store the bodies in a deep freezer and then dump them somewhere after hanging on to them for a while, creating confusion at the crime scene and for the detectives.
The “Iceman” became such an attraction that HBO was drawn to him on more than one occasion, interviewing him and picking his brain. How does a serial killer’s mind work? It was great television and great ratings and it was a window into the demented mind of a emotionless killer.
Rourke is co-producing the production and that may be due to a couple of factors. One, the topic is so brutal and disturbing that the big production companies may not want a part of it, or maybe, Rourke sees the potential in it and wants to keep more of the money for himself. It has been noted that Rourke didn’t get a great deal of money for THE WRESTLER, and this may be an opportunity for him to cash in and the movie already has success written all over it.
What is so appealing about the character of Kuklinski is how oblivious he is to what he does. He spoke of his murders with a gleam in his eye, nearly amusement, and despite all of the death that he caused, he still had some semblance of a normal family. To prove his worth to the mafia, he walked over to a totally innocent man walking on the street and killed him. He was that detached and now Rourke is going to bring this character to the screen and it may prove to be a more terrifying movie then anything that the horror realm can dream up.
Kuklinski is only one of the many serial killers that were shown through the eyes of Hollywood. John Wayne Gacy had two memorable movies concerning his life. The better of the two was “TO CATCH A KILLER” featuring Brian Dennehy. Dennehy, a wonderful actor played the role very cold and was incredibly creepy.
Another take on the killer was created in 2003 in a movie called simply “GACY,” featuring Mark Holton as the killer. Holton did remarkably well and as the movie went on, the character became more and more disturbing. It was an accomplishment for Holton and an accomplishment for the filmmakers to create something of the quality on a limited budget.
One of the most popular serial killers is Charles Manson, although he never directly killed anyone. He was considered the mind of the “Manson Family,” a group that carried out several murders, including the slaughter of an 8 ½ month pregnant Sharon Tate. Manson’s followers would sing outside the courthouse as he was being tried and you got the sense that he enjoyed the spectacle of the entire process. Manson, a failed musician, would gain popularity through mayhem and would actually release an album while in prison with a song by the title of “Look at Your Game Girl.” The song would be covered by Guns N Roses.
There have been many movies about Manson, with the most popular one being a 1976 TV movie by the name of “HELTER SKELTER.” Manson still generates interest and many websites and publications continue to demand his release. Marriage proposals and fan clubs continue to arise.
In 1986, THE DELIBERATE STRANGER appeared on NBC, chronicling the murder spree of Ted Bundy, a man that has been linked to nearly 100 deaths and proved to be one of the smarter serial killers. He loved the spotlight and would actually defend himself in court. He cross examined witnesses and loved the camera, speaking to the press every chance that he got.
What made Bundy so terrifying is that he looked like a normal guy and would lure his victims through his everyday personality and smile. It would later come out that he did not always end with murder, but would also return to some of the bodies and partake in necrophilia. You can’t judge a book by its cover and because of the “normal” appearance of Bundy, it made him that much more terrifying.
In 2002, TED BUNDY was released, a lower budget take on the killer and it proved to be a decent watch for what it was. It also showed that there is still a lot of interest in the darker side of human nature. Three other productions followed focusing on the killing spree of Bundy.
JEFFERY DAHMER: THE SECRET LIFE was released in 1993, starring Carl Crew in the lead role as Dahmer. He is also in the running for most popular serial killer, a man that killed 17 men, but stands out amongst fellow murderers because of the experiments he conducted in his small apartment. The news footage of the men in white suits and protective gear taking out deep freezers still airs to this day whenever a serial killer documentary is broadcast. Dahmer was another average looking individual that did unthinkable things.
In 2002, DAHMER was released straight to video. It was another lower budget effort to portray the madness that was Dahmer’s life and it did a fair job doing so.
Two of my favorite horror movies are PSYCHO and THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, and both were based on serial killer Ed Gein, a strange man that would dig up bodies and use the parts to create furniture and clothing.
When his house was eventually raided by authorities, they found a victim hanged and gutted like a gear and perhaps even more disturbing: nine masks made out of human skin, skulls used as bed posts, chairs wrapped in human skin, and bowls made out of human skulls. It was as macabre as could be and would go on to inspire a third blockbuster: “THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS.”
Hollywood is a business and it capitalizes on what’s hot and the dark side of human nature is always a topic of interest. Mickey Rourke is about to throw his hat into the ring and make some noise as the infamous serial killer Richard Kuklinski. It is a movie that I am looking forward to.