Films with a serial killer premise are some of the darkest yet most alluring film genres out there for movie fans who are hooked on crime-horrors and thrillers.
With the Halloween spirit lingering in he air, movie buffs are anxious to set their eyes on some chilling and frightful films. Watching an intricate psychological crime-thriller or a plot with a murderous twist is a thrill-seekers idea of a good movie-night-sight-buffet. Popular serial killer films such as Hannibal, The Silence of The Lambs or Halloween have really made on impact for lovers of the genre but there are more underrated films out there that are waiting to be brought back to mind. Here are some forgotten yet compelling movies about serial killers that have not been given the recognition they deserve.
10 The Stepfather (1987)
The film The Stepfather was loosely based on the real life story of a man named John List who killed his mother, wife, and children. He remarried after relocating and is caught 18 years after the murders. In the film itself, actor Terry O’Quinn portrays the stepfather and after killing his family he decides to run away and change his identity just to relive the same story and kill again thus making him a serial killer. The screenwriting tells a completely different story from the real- life story but still manages to create some chilling horror through the life of a seemingly perfect stepdad who loses it and goes on a homicidal frenzy. Sequels to the story didn’t quite match up to the original production.
9 The Snowtown Murders (2011)
This brutal film leaves an impact on anyone who watches the disturbing scenes and grimacing events taking place in The Snowtown Murders. It is based on a true story about 3 Australian men who murdered innocent victims and stuffed their bodies in barrels. This film did not cast any famously known actors at the time and was very underrated. The film is definitely worth the watch as the actors play their roles incredibly with a raw sense of real life and a chilling vibe which incorporates domestic abuse, social class, addiction, manipulation, and destruction.
8 Monster (2003)
Actress Charlize Theron who played lead role in the recent TV show The Old Guard and won an Oscar in 2019 for her role in Bombshell plays in this serial killer film about a woman who was convicted of killing 6 men and dubbed a monster. The film Monster depicts the life of Aileen Wuornos who struggled deeply in her own self perception and who suffered a depression that would lead her to commit heinous acts. The film is said to be a moving account and even though she is considered a monster, viewers cannot help but feel for the damaged female killer-of-men.
7 Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer (1986)
The film Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer is a dark independent film from the 80’s that was destined for failure due to its production struggles and extremely low budget. Fortunately it made millions off of video and DVD sales and became a classic cult film.
The film hints at some aspects of the serial killer Henry Lee Lucas who killed hundreds of people in extreme and graphic ways between 1960 and 1983. Viewers familiar with the film Guardians Of The Galaxy might recognize Michael Rooker in his depiction of Henry the serial killer. Though he has played in many genre adaptations, Henry was his breakout role which he mastered wonderfully.
6 American Psycho (2000)
There is absolutely no denying that actor Christian Bale played the role of an intensely creepy two-sided psycho in this serial killer film. The movie itself takes viewers into the mind and perception of a wealthy investment banker, Patrick Bateman who cannot recall accurate events and so confuses the audience into wondering what is fact and fiction. What starts off as small and creepy violent fantasies soon turn into blown-out gory murders. Bale plays a fantastic role at portraying the insanity of a killer shifting between two perceived realities. This film is a complete contrast to his role in the anti-hero trilogy Batman: The Dark Knight.
5 Funny Games (1997, 2007)
It’s rare that a director remakes his won film exactly shot-for-shot. That is the case with Austrian movie Funny Games both times directed by Michael Haneke. This film is worth watching for fans who love a sadistic and maniacal storyline with torture and murder at any turn. The later version in 2007 starred Naomi Watts, Tim Roth, and Michael Pitt. This film itself lightly introduces future movie concepts such as High Tension, The Purge, and Panic Room starring Josie Foster and Kristen Stewart.
4 My Friend Dahmer (2018)
The title of this film pretty much tells the plot. The story follows the young life of John Backderf who was a classmate and friend of to-be serial killer, Jeffrey Dahmer. The eerie film attempts to show the development of Dahmer’s life and how things could have led to his instability and his crime of killing 17 men and boys.
For those not familiar with Dahmer’s murderous story, this film would be a smooth introduction into learning about his murders, cannibalism, and necrophilia. My Friend Dahmer is a definite serial killer movie to watch for anyone who doesn’t mind getting goosebumps. Playing the role of Backderf is Alex Wolff who is known for his roles in Hereditary and the new Jumanji series.
3 The Eyes Of Laura Mars (1978)
The film The Eyes Of Laura Mars was the first big studio project for John Carpenter. A suspenseful horror-thriller, this slasher film has a great cast including Tommy Lee Jones, Raul Julia, Brad Dourif, and Faye Dunaway as main character Laura Mars (almost played by Barbra Streisand) . A fashion photographer who is known for her violent and sensual controversial work is suddenly plagued by visions from a serial killer’s perception. Using her ability, she tries her best to help find the killer before he strikes again and the victims appear to be her friends and colleagues.
2 Memories Of Murder (2003)
For avid fans of director Bong Joon-Ho, here comes another thrilling tale of violence and horror. Memories of Murder might top the list of Joon-Ho’s films with it’s high praises and several publications claiming it to be one of the finest films ever made.
Loosely based on real events, the plot depicts what is being called the first serial murders in Korean history taking place between 1986 and 1991. This film is a must-see especially considering its director produced so many great films such as Parasite, Snowpiercer, The Host, and Okja.
1 Badlands (1973)
This classic serial killer film might be described as a psychotic love-story. Badlands follows two young lovers played by actor Martin Sheen and actress Sissy Spacek who fight for their love against all odds and eventually end up as a serial-killer couple. The film is based on the real-life events of couple Charles Starweather and Charlie Ann Fugate who in 1958 decide to go on an all out murderous free-for-all. The mania behind these two love birds is intense and carries an air of classic and chaotic. The film makes the list for its captivating ambiance and exceptional real-life portrayal.