Total Recall: Killer Body Counts
We take a fond look back at some of cinema's most prolific psychopaths.
The leaves have changed colors, there's a chill in the air, and the kids on your block are already plotting their elaborate revenge for the lousy off-brand candy you're planning on putting in the bowl next week. It's almost Halloween, gang, and you know what that means -- there's a new Saw sequel heading for a theater near you!
In honor of the imminent Saw V, your pals at RT decided it would be fun to compile a list of some of the most iconic serial killers in horror film history. You'll find Freddy and Jason here, of course, but we've also made room for a few less obvious choices, and dug up clips of the whole rogue's gallery in all their gory glory. Let the slashing begin!
Haunting grounds: The Jaws series
Most of the slashers on our list are bona fide film icons, but few of them can boast of having changed the entire industry the way Peter Benchley's great white shark did: Before Jaws' 1975 debut, studios actually held their big films out of the summer market, believing the vacation months to be a commercial graveyard. Almost $500 million (and lots of bloody ocean water) later, a franchise was born -- and although the third and fourth installments aren't good for much besides unintentional humor, the original remains a certified classic with a 100 percent Tomatometer rating. And it's no wonder, really -- as Benchley knew, the ocean is scary enough even without a gigantic bloodthirsty shark chasing you around.
Haunting grounds: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre series
The twisted true-life tale of grave robber Ed Gein has inspired many notable cinematic grotesques, from Norman Bates in Psycho to Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs. However, Tobe Hooper may have done the most to immortalize Gein in the annals of perverse pop culture by emphasizing his habit of making clothing out of human flesh. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre introduced Leatherface, a developmentally disabled fellow under the control of his cannibalistic family. Though he started out as a pretty timid guy who was as afraid of visitors as they were of him, Leatherface came out of his shell in the sequel, making up for lost time in liberally employing his Poulan 306A.
Haunting grounds: The Psycho series
Has there ever been a cinematic slasher more pitiable than Norman Bates? The poor guy is practically at war with himself, and his mom nags him from beyond the grave. Heck, every time he makes friends, they seem to end up dead. If Psycho exerted a profound influence on the slasher genre (and onscreen violence in general), it wasn't because Norman was a particularly prolific killer. Alfred Hitchcock's original (and the sequels) depicted a man in the clutches of inner torment and madness that was so gripping and scary that it didn't need buckets of blood (or, in one memorable case, chocolate syrup) to be deeply unsettling.