How to be a Horror Film Serial Killer in 8 Easy Steps

glenn criddle | cynical celluloid | oct. 2016

It's that time of year when the casual horror fans dust off their collection of slasher movies for the night when those guilty pleasures are suddenly less socially stigmatizing. For all you budding fans of the big screen maniacs I offer you my Halloween guide to being the evenings Big Bad. Note: this is not permission to stalk/harass/threaten or generally interfere with annoying teens no matter how hard they're partying … Even Freddy and Jason had to get permission from studio execs and so must you!

1) Have daddy/mummy issues.

Whether you're Jason Voorhees or Norman Bates there's no one quite like the parental units to truly screw up your outlook on life. If you were spanked as a child or weren't spanked enough or if your mum was a little too tender with those hugs then take that pain and heartbreak and use it, channel it into your superhuman, hockey-masked madness and try for a little audience sympathy while you're at it. After all, you're a victim too.

2) Favor walking after the lead victims.

Remember! Slow and steady wins the race. While your screaming “victim to be” is running around thinking they're Usain Bolt (when in actual fact they're more like Mr. Bean with gout and rickets) you should be all kinds of cool and stroll after them like you're simply not that fussed about all this drama. Running around after your victim is not only too much like hard work, it's really dangerous, especially if you're carrying a running chainsaw, so remember, safety first and work smart. If you can manage it, disappear from the screen until they think they've lost you. When they turn to see if you're following miraculously appear behind them. When they turn back around, hilarity will ensue!

3) Be a man of few words …

Let's face it, the strong silent type is deeply cool. You don't have to explain yourself, you don't need to spell things out, you have a job to do and damn it if words don't just get in the way. Say more by saying less and let your machete do the talking. When you're done just walk away like you made a bacon butty sandwich.

4) … Or wise crack like Arnie on a cheesy day before doing something awful.

If you have no self-control and you're just a horrible person with a tendency towards behavior that those picky folks in polite society (public schools excepted) may deem “a bit dodgy,” then you should probably appeal to the horror audiences depraved sense of humor. You can be the worst type of person possible but as long as you can deliver a pun as efficiently as you deliver a killing blow (preferably right before it too) then the laughter will wipe away your atrocities in the eyes of your adoring fans.

5) Take a bullet like a man.

Expect pain. The brutality fodder you're after will no doubt be keen to keep their breathing privileges so they will be using anything at hand to put you out of their misery. Knives, axes, bludgeons and bullets are going to be something you'll need to take in your stride (and possibly your skull) so you'd better get used to having bits of your body blown off in the climatic fight. Whatever damage you take you better not show that you care about the loss of a limb, save maybe a wistful glance at the severed appendage.

6) Take revenge on those who had nothing to do with you.

If you're holding on to that rage then don't aim it at the person that caused it. Show some class, store up that anger and go for random strangers who remind you of them, maybe a generation or two down the line or perhaps some of those generic teens that are occupying the place where your own trauma was born. Doing this gives you an endless supply of victims for the inevitable sequels, which is just as well considering you're probably immortal.

7) Learn self-reincarnation.

Reincarnation is not just for deities you know, it's for you! At least it better be because those finales are pretty tough on the whole “being alive” thing. Chances are that the masters of your fate will kill you off because, artistically speaking, your adventures have run their full course. Never fear, though. It's only a matter of time before your moment to shine will come again and mentioning no corporate hack reboots (oh the horror, THE HORROR!), if you get a legit sequel then you'll need to be brought back somehow. Lightening, a stray drop of blood carelessly dripped on your grave or an ill-advised late night reading of the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis (now available on kindle and audio book) and bang, you're back to wreak havoc.

8) Become incompetent around virgins.

After efficiently eviscerating the fit and healthy teen population in your chosen town it's very important (to the story) to totally fall to pieces when tracking down that scrawny last surviving girl who was the wet towel at the party. If she hasn't gotten down and dirty with the high school football captain then she is off limits to you as her purity will sap you of all ability to dole out your entirely righteous payback. Your machete will constantly glance off of banisters, your grip will become like you've smeared your hands with copper grease and you'll likely walk straight off of raised platforms as your usually assured and confident grasping action becomes the hopeless flailing of a life-threateningly drunk concussion victim. Word to the wise: let the virgins get away. You'll get a second swipe in the sequel where hopefully she'll be a little less pure and therefore fair game for the opening sequence.

Follow these easy steps and you'll be well on your way to being a big screen legend, or more likely closer to being in a stylish white jacket with curiously long arms that tie around the back. Whatever you're up to this Halloween take time to treat yourself to your favorite movie bad guy and soak up the scares and silliness of a classic horror film. Happy Halloween folks!


He's British so forgive the extra U's and the use of the letter S instead of Z. If there's one thing that typifies Glenn's writing it's the 'Video Nasties,' a long list of movies that offended all and sunder during the 1980s in the UK. It's those seemingly offensive fringes of cinema that informed his writing on cinema and the more political area of censorship with a more sympathetic approach to those films that push the limits of taste. But don't worry, he does talk about normal stuff too and isn't likely to go off on a horror movie fuelled rampage.

For more of Glenn's work, visit cynicalcelluloid.com.

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