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Friday, December 09, 2005

Just got a query from a reader who's written something about a serial killer. I just gotta say, the moment I read "serial killer," I want to click the remote. This sub-genre has been done to death. I am soooooooo bored by scripts and movies about serial killers. I wouldn't be surprised to hear that there have been more serial killers on screen than there have been in real life.

I think what's much more interesting, if you're morbid, is plain old murder among friends. What causes someone to go over the brink and kill someone they know? Serial killers are just bonkers. You can pretend to get into the mind of a serial killer, but they're a bit cartoonish, even if they do really exist.

Murderers, though. Murderers are often normal people who paint their mind into a corner and come up with the fatal decision that killing someone is easier than, say, divorcing them. And it is, in the short run. It's just that you can never undo it, and it will ruin your life one way or another, even if you're never convicted. A Simple Plan did a great job of that: people who just keep making fatal short term decisions they can never reclaim.

Yes, Hollywood still makes serial killer movies. But unless you have something so extraordinarily fresh and unique and new that no one has ever thought of it, and no one can imagine thinking of it, you're probably wasting your time. I would add that my guess is 99% of serial killer movies are written by people who don't truly love serial killer movies. You cannot write a great serial killer movie unless you are the kind of person who rushes right out and watches any new serial killer movie. Just like I will rush out and watch practically any science fiction or fantasy movie unless I know for sure it absolutely sucks.

You have to love what you're writing, or no one else will, either.


What about cereal killers?

That smug Leprecaun has it coming to him. And I think Snap's ready to snap. If he goes away for popping Pop, the next thing you know Crackle's sleeping on Chocula's couch. You know how that ends. He's a vampire, for Chrisssakes. I just hope the Trix rabbit makes it out alive. Hasn't that poor bastard suffered enough?

By Blogger DMc, at 11:27 AM  

"You cannot write a great serial killer movie unless you are the kind of person who rushes right out and watches any new serial killer movie."

Either that, or you are the kind that absolutely hates them and has to write one the "right way."

By Blogger Cunningham, at 11:32 AM  

Well, there goes my 10 episode Jack the Ripper story arc. :(

KJC (who is currently enjoying a foursome with Snap, Crackle and Pop)

By Blogger Kelly J. Crawford, at 1:33 PM  

Couldn't agree more. My reaction to a serial killer as a subject for a film is that of total nausea because most are so bad. I mean, enough already. That's not saying someone shouldn't write it but if they do you really have to bring something fresh to the table. Seven was bringing something fresh to the table because Andrew Kevin Walker was filled with so much disgust with New York he bled it all over the page. He was passionate and having that great hook didn't hurt either.

By Blogger William, at 3:40 PM  

Another obstacle is that half the serial killer movies out there were adapted from successful novels. It's really hard to find something fresh.

By Blogger lisa e, at 4:00 PM  

After Se7en...all the serial killer flicks seem amateur.
Though one has to wonder why the hell Fincher is returning to direct another with the Zodiac killer.

By Blogger CharlieDontSurf, at 4:56 PM  

" Well, there goes my 10 episode Jack the Ripper story arc. :("

And my John Wayne Gacy RomCom.


By Blogger John Donald Carlucci, at 9:49 PM  

On the other hand, if someone approaches you with a serial killer story, you shouldn't diss him. After all, you never know how much of it comes from real life... [insert scary music here]

By Blogger lisa e, at 10:59 PM  

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