For today’s Serial Killers and Mass Murderers entry, I’m taking a break from profiling the actual killers to talk about the influence they’ve made on Hollywood. I’ve already touched on the obvious films like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Psycho, and one of my personal favorites, Silence of the Lambs. Moviegoers and filmmakers alike love a good serial killer.
I specifically planned to discuss one particular movie but before I do, I’d like to briefly shine the spotlight on a few “Honorable Mentions”. First up: American Psycho a brilliantly satirical psychological thriller. The key word is satire. Do not go in expecting your typical slasher-horror flick. Two others worth checking out are Citizen X, the made for TV movie about Chikatilo and Monster. Actually, there’s a list of the top 45 Serial Killer movies on IMDB. You really can’t go wrong with any of them… but I digress.
Today’s feature film is Copycat, an often overlooked, slightly dated, gem from 1995. What I like the most about Copycat is the forensic and psychological peek into, to quote Dr. Helen Hudson, “the golden oldies”. Our villain, Peter Foley, adopts the alias Peter Kurten in honor of the German serial killer often referred to as the “Vampire of Dusseldorf”. Foley, on a mission to kill retired psychologist and criminal profiler, Dr. Helen Hudson, reenacts murders by other infamous serial killers, down to the tiniest details. Taking cues from “The Boston Strangler” Albert DeSalvo; “The Hillside Strangler” Kenneth Bianchi and Angelo Buono; “Son of Sam” David Berkowitz; Jeffrey Dahmer and Ted Bundy, he recreates the crime scenes with obsessive attention to detail. As if Foley didn’t already have enough material to work with, he also pays homage to a killer created for the film, Daryll Lee Cullem. If you can look past the antiquated computer systems and other quirks that date the film, at its heart it is a captivating, suspenseful, thriller. By today’s standards, the blood and gore factor is very mild. In fact, I was surprised that it has an “R” rating but it is still fascinating so, if you have the chance, check it out.
Tomorrow, we will finally delve into the second half of our title: Mass Murderers. Until then, my friends, sleep well.