“Each [novel] is characterized by an unadorned writing style, intricate plotting, memorable characterization and vivid descriptions of Indian rituals and of the vast plateau of the Navajo reservation in the Four Corners region of the Southwest. The most acclaimed of them, including "Talking God" and "The Coyote Waits," are subtle explorations of human nature and the conflict between cultural assimilation and the pull of the old ways.”
“In the world of mystery fiction, Mr. Hillerman was that rare figure: a best-selling author who was adored by fans, admired by fellow authors and respected by critics. Though the themes of his books were not overtly political, he wrote with an avowed purpose: to instill in his readers a respect for Native American culture.”
The U.S. is obsessed with serial killers. We read about them, we develop TV shows about them. And we make movies about them. Here is our list of the greatest (most popular and well-known) cinematic slashers of all time.
The Child Molester and Dream Demon
First Appearance: Nightmare on
No. of Film Appearances: 8
Created By: Wes Craven
Actor: Robert Englund
Description: Freddy’s face is a mutilated, fire ravaged visage covered by smooth, bumpy scars. His teeth are rotting and jagged. He’s fond of wearing a dark fedora and a red-and-black striped shirt. He rarely goes anywhere without his clawed glove.
Backstory: Freddy’s mother was a nun who was tortured and raped by more than 100 pyschos while she was trapped in a prison for the criminally insane. His mother nearly died in childbirth and Freddy found a home with a violent alcoholic who abused him both physically and mentally. Freddy later murdered his adoptive father. Freddy grew up, got married, and fathered a daughter. He worked at a power plant and developed a fondness for kidnapping and murdering children. The police called him the Springwood Slasher. After Freddy was captured, law enforcement bungling forced them to release him. The parents of Freddy’s victims hunted him down and burned him to death. But before death took him, Freddy was approached by three evil dream demons who gave him the power to turn dreams into reality. Now Freddy returns to hunt victims in the night.
Method of Murder: Freddy wears a metallic glove with razor sharp claws at the end. He likes to torture his teenage victims, by manipulating their dreams. He generally kills them while they sleep – the wounds materializing in real-life after he slays them in slumber land.
Killer Quote: “One, two, Freddy's coming for you/ Three, four, better lock your door/ Five, six, grab your crucifix/ Seven, eight, gonna stay up late/ Nine, ten, never sleep again.”
Random Pop Reference: Freddy has appeared in three episodes of “The Simpsons” Halloween specials.
Honors: AFI ranked Freddy number 40 on its list of greatest Heroes and Villains list.
The Hockey Mask and Machette-welding Mass Murderer
First Appearance: Friday the 13th (1980)
No. of Film Appearances: 12
Created By: Victor Miller, Ron Kurtz, Sean S. Cunningham, Tom Savini
Actors: Many actors have portrayed Jason including Ari Lehman, Warrington Gillette, Steve Daskewisz, Richard Booker, Ted White, Tom Morga, C.J. Graham, Dan Bradley, Kane Hodder, and Ken Kirzinger
Description: A gigantic, mammoth man with a distorted, ugly face usually clad tattered dark clothes. Jason rarely speaks. He wears an old 1950s style Detroit Red Wings goalie mask and carries a machete.
Backstory: Jason was not the primary killer in the first “Friday the 13th” movie – his mother was. Jason was the motivation behind her murders – because he died from a drowning while camp counselors at
Method of Murder: Jason is quite fond of using sharp object to poke, dismember, and slaughter his victims. That’s why he really enjoys using his rusty, blood-splattered machete.
Killer Quote: “He (Jason) doesn't have any personality. He's like a great white shark. You can't really defeat him. All you can hope for is to survive.”
Random Pop Reference: Jason has become a cultural icon – from comic books to parodies to appearances in pop songs. Musicians from Alice Cooper to Tupac Shakur have sang about him.
Honors: Jason received a lifetime achievement award from MTV in 1992 – one of only three fictional characters to ever get the award.
The Supernatural Babysitter Butcher of
First Appearance: Halloween (1978)
No. of Film Appearances: 9
Created By: John Carpenter and Debra Hill
Actors: Many actors have played Michael including Nick Castle, Tony Moran, Will Sandin, Dick Warlock, George P. Wilbur, Don Shanks, Chris Durand, Brad Loree, Tyler Mane, and Daeg Faerch
Description: A hulking man in soiled gray overalls wearing a rubber William Shatner mask backwards and often carrying a butcher knife. He is obsessed with teenage girls and often follows them around before murdering them and their friends.
Backstory: The character, according to creator John Carpenter, was based on Yul Brenner’s killer robot in the film “Westword.” At six years old, Michael murders his sister with a butcher knife on Halloween night. The boy was sent to a hospital for the criminally insane. He escapes as an adult and returns to his hometown of
Method of Murder: Michael enjoys killing with knives – but he’s very resourceful when he needs to be.
Killer Quote: “(I wanted to) raise this Michael Myers character up to a mythic status; make him human, yes, but almost like a force. A force that will never stop, that can't be denied."
Random Pop Reference: Michael made his debut in video games in a 1983 Halloween game released by Atari. He’s been the subject of novels, comic books, toys, dolls, etc. Another icon of the horror movie slasher genre.
Honors: The Halloween series has grossed more than $328 million worldwide.
First Appearance: The
No. of Film Appearances: 6
Created By: Tobe Hooper
Actors: Leatherface has been portrayed by actors Gunnar Hansen, Bill Johnson, R.A. Mihailoff, Robert Jacks, and Andrew Bryniarski
Description: A big, chubby man who is mentally retarded. He wears old clothes and likes to stalk around wearing the peeled off facial skin of his victims. He enjoys lugging around a gas-powered chainsaw.
Backstory: Leatherface’s real name is Bubba Sawyer. He is one of four brothers who live with their grandparents and great-grandmother in an old house in
Method of Murder: Leatherface uses a chainsaw to dismember his victims and then carves up the meat for storage in a meat locker – so his family can dine on the remains later. He’s also been known to use a sledgehammer.
Killer Quote: “Leatherface is completely under the control of his family. He'll do whatever they tell him to do. He's a little bit afraid of them.”
Random Pop Reference: Leatherface has been the main character is a series by Wildstorm Comics.
Psychiatrist and Cannibalistic Serial Murderer
First Appearance: Manhunter (1986)
No. of Film Appearances: 5
Created By: Thomas Harris
Actors: Brian Cox, Anthony Hopkins, Gaspard Ulliel and Aaran Thomas
Description: A short, thin man with great physical strength for his size. He has a sixth digit on his left hand (two middle fingers). He had wispy black hair which he slicks back over his head and small than average teeth. He also has a calm, creepy demeanor and an uncomfortable stare. He’s extremely sophisticated and quite an elegant talker.
Backstory: Lecter is the son of Lithuanian aristocrats and is orphaned with his sister during World War II. The siblings are captured by Nazis – who murder his sister and eat her – in front of him. Later escaping, Lecter is raised in an orphanage until adopted by his uncle. He has an affair with his uncle’s wife after his death. His obsession with catching his sister’s killers overcomes him and hunts down, kills, and eats each of them. He is a brilliant man and graduated from the
Method of Murder: He murders in various methods, but usually eats his victims by cooking them up gourmet style.
Killer Quote: “(Lecter) is standing at rest - like a savage animal confident of the brutality coiled up inside him. His speaking voice has the precision of a man so arrogant he can barely be bothered to address the sloppy intelligence of the ordinary person.”
Random Pop Reference: Lecter has been parodied on “
Honors: “Silence of the Lambs” won the Oscar for best movie in 1991.
Want to Play a Game?
First Appearance: Saw (2004)
No. of Film Appearances: 5
Created By: James Wan and Leigh Whannell
Actor: Tobin Bell
Description: A balding middle aged man with a hang-dog, expressionless face. He is paunchy and average sized, but very cunning, patient, and willing to do what it takes to succeed.
Backstory: Jigsaw is Jonathan Kramer, a civil engineer who is dying from an inoperable frontal lobe tumor as a result of colon cancer. He is divorced from his wife, a drug counselor, after their unborn child dies in an attack by one of his wife’s patients. The event makes Jigsaw angry and detached. Once he learns of his cancer, Jigsaw devises intricate traps and places flawed people into them in order for them to see the error of their ways. Those who survive, Jigsaw believes, will be better people. Oddly, Jigsaw doesn’t see himself as a murderer, but someone who helps people. He wants his surviving victims to appreciate their lives.
Method of Murder: Jigsaw sets up deadly traps to see how far his victims will go in saving their own lives. If they die he cuts a jigsaw puzzle shaped section of their flesh – as a symbol that they where missing a part of themselves needed to survive the traps.
Killer Quote: "He's not Jason or Freddy. He's not even Hannibal Lecter. He's a person with extreme beliefs and he really thinks he's making a difference. He's a vigilante if anything. He thinks he's making a difference."
Random Pop Reference: Jigsaw action figures are now available.
Honors: The Saw movie series has earned more than $555 million worldwide.
The Boy Next Door
First Appearance: American Pyscho (2000)
No. of Film Appearances: 3
Created By: Bret
Actors: Christian Bale, Dechen Thurman, and Michael Krembo
Description: A sophisticated, well-educated young investment banker. He’s handsome, but intense and very competitive. He’s fond of wearing expensive designer clothing – especially suits. He is arrogant and seems full of self loathing.
Backstory: Bateman is the oldest son of wealthy
Method of Murder: Various – but he likes to torture or have sexual liaisons with his victims before killing them.
Killer Quote: "I like to dissect girls; do you know I'm utterly insane?"
Random Pop Reference: In the Showtime serial killer series “Dexter,” the main character uses Patrick Bateman as an alias.
Honors: “American Psycho” has become a cult hit.
This Doll is Your Worst Nightmare
First Appearance: Child’s Play (1988)
No. of Film Appearances: 5
Created By: Don Mancini, John Lafia, and Tom Holland
Actor: Voiced by Brad Dourif
Description: A two-foot tall plastic “Good Guy” doll. The doll has red hair and big, blue eyes and wears cute overalls.
Backstory: A serial killer called the Lakeshore Strangler is shot by police. The mortally wounded killer, Charles Lee Ray, breaks into a toy store and falls on top of pile of “Good Guy” dolls. Just before he dies, he chants a voodoo spell to place his soul into one of the dolls. The toy store burns to the ground, but the doll lives.
Method of Murder: Chucky kills with various methods, but generally like to use hammers, knives, and hatchets to do away with his victims.
Killer Quote: “This is certainly not "Pinocchio" or "Babes in Toyland," and it may not do much for the sale of large boy dolls between now and Christmas.”
Random Pop Reference: Chucky was parodied on “Robot Chicken,” and voiced by Mark Hamill.
Honors: The Child Play series has gross more than $175 million worldwide.
(If you’re a fan of crime fiction and haven’t read Ed Gorman – well shame on you. Ed has been penning some incredible fiction (crime noir, mysteries, and westerns) since the early 1980s – when skinny ties and parachute pants were in style (although we have a difficult time picturing Ed wearing either). His book “The Poker Club” (1990) has been made into a film – which should hit theaters in 2009. Ed, a former advertising executive, has written more than 40 books and writes a prolific blog on pulp fiction that is a must-read. Ed was kind enough to stop writing about murders, shoot-outs, and dead bodies in order to answer some questions for us.)
DaRK PaRTY: What have been the biggest changes in crime fiction since you first started publishing in the 1980s?
Ed: I'm no expert but I'd say that the Eighties and Nineties saw the long overdue recognition of female writers in all sub-genres from the private-eye as with Muller, Grafton, Paretsky and the more serious kind of cozy-traditional with Nancy Pickard and Carolyn Hart.
In this new century noir and hard-boiled, by men and women alike, have found new popularity and new respectability. This is seen across the board in popular culture.
To me this is the true Golden Age of crime fiction. There are so many good writers-and more coming along every week-that it is impossible to keep up. And that's a nice problem to have.
DP: What are the elements of a good crime story that most novice writers get wrong?
Ed: I'm not smart enough to answer that. What I look for in a good story of any kind is intelligent entertainment, as the late science fiction writer Algis Budrys used to say. To me this means a strong storyline and characters, whether they're good or bad, I can believe in. Style and theme matter of course, too, but if I don't buy the story or the characters I probably won't finish the book.
DP: You have featured many series characters in your fiction-- from Jack Dwyer to Robert Payne. Which one of your characters do you like the best and why? Which one did you struggle with the most?
Ed: My most difficult series character was my latest one, Dev Conrad, the political operative. I wrote several chapters before he sounded right to me. Then I pitched them and started over. To make “Sleeping Dogs” work he had to be cynical without being nihilistic. The corrupt political system is the only one we've got and it's unlikely it's going to change. So Dev has to be able to see the slime for what it is but work for his ideals anyway. I'm not much for protagonists who don't look at life realistically--or, on the other extreme, nihilism can get really boring. Even the darkest of writers such as the brilliant Derek Raymond forego absolute nihilism most of the time.
DP: What crime writers have been your biggest influences and why?
Ed: So many writers I couldn't possibly list them. I do tend to absorb the styles of other people but somehow most of the time my stories come out pretty much me. Probably my biggest single influence, and oddly enough more in his non-87th novels, is Evan Hunter-Ed McBain.
DP: What Ed Gorman novel would you recommend to a reader who has never read you before? And why would you recommend it?
Ed: I'd say “Blood Moon.” It's one of my more ambitious books. John D. MacDonald used to rank his books by per-centages-a novel of his was 80 percent successful or sixty per cent successful. That was the measure he used to see how close it came to doing what he'd set out to accomplish. “Blood Moon” is one of those books that almost never makes me wince when I thumb through it, which I had to do when it was optioned for a movie a few years back. There are some of my books of course that make me wish one of those alien spaceships would sweep down and take me to a galaxy far, far away.
Thanks to everyone who entered. These three winners will soon be receiving the 12 DVD set “Horror Classics” featuring 50 of the best classic horror movies of all time:
Stay tuned to more contests and giveaways at your favorite place for literate blather the DaRK PaRTY ReVIEW
10 Movies About the Apocalypse
“There is a rumor that they are evacuating
That’s a quote from the doomsday movie “The Day After,” which aired on ABC-TV in 1983 and scared the shit out of, well, everybody. ABC set up 1-800 hotlines the day of the broadcast so distressed viewers could talk to a counselor.
Maybe CNN should consider the same tactics for its coverage of the financial meltdown.
As we prepared for the end of the world as we know it, DaRK PaRTY gives you our favorite post-apocalyptic movies:
Director: Terry Gilliam
Starring: Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe, Brad Pitt, Jon Seda
Plot in a Nutshell: A convict from the future is sent back in time to try and gather information about a plague that has killed off most of the human race. He’s sent to a mental institution after he discovers that he’s been sent too far back. He discovers a group of radicals called “12 Monkeys” who are responsible and tries to stop them.
Best Quote: “You are a total nutcase, completely deranged, delusional, paranoid. Your thought process is all fucked up. Your information train is jammed, man!”
How the World Ends: A lethal virus spreads across the planet and kills five billion people. The survivors are forced to live underground.
Best Part of the Movie: The performance of Brad Pitt as Jeffry Goines, the deranged, machine-gun talking radical (see video below).
Cool Factoid: Terry Gilliam wanted Jeff Bridges for the lead, but the studio made him get a bigger star. He chose Willis because he thought he showed a sensitive side in the movie “Die Hard.”
Planet of the Apes
Director: Franklin J. Schaffner
Starring: Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans
Plot in a Nutshell: An astronaut crash lands on a planet where the humans are dumb beasts and ape and gorillas have evolved into the dominate species. The astronaut tries to escape the planet, but learns he is really Earth in the distant future.
Best Quote: “It's a mad house. A mad house.”
How the World Ends: Human beings blew up the world with nuclear weapons.
Best Part of the Movie: Charlton Heston’s over-the-top performance as George Taylor. It’s classic Heston.
Cool Factoid: The movie was an adaptation of a novel by Pierre Boulle. In the novel, the apes are advanced and live in cities and have modern machines of the 20th century. But the movie made the apes less advanced because of budget reasons.
Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Angela Bassett, Juliette Lewis, Tom Sizemore, Vincent D’Onofrio
Plot in a Nutshell: An ex-cop sells dreams to people on disc – taken straight from the cerebral cortex. One day, he discovers a disc from a murderer who killed a prostitute and begins an investigation that goes very wrong.
Best Quote: “Look everyone needs to take a walk to the dark end of the street sometimes, it's what we are.”
How the World Ends: The world hasn’t ended per se, but its spiraled into chaos with gangs ruling the streets and the rich are protected with bodyguards from the population – who likes to jack in and get high off of other people’s experiences.
Best Part of the Movie: The music
Cool Factoid: The movie is named after the Doors album of the same name and a cover version of the song opens the film.
Director: Kevin Reynolds
Starring: Kevin Costner, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Jack Black, Dennis Hopper
Plot in a Nutshell: A drifter gets involved with a woman and her child and protects them from a gang of criminals.
Best Quote: “Dry land is not just our destination, it is our destiny!”
How the World Ends: The polar ice caps have melted and the world is completely flooded by ocean water. People live on boats and rafts and in floating villages.
Best Part of the Movie: Kevin Costner’s understated performance as the Mariner. This movie is unfairly maligned and, other than the terrible acting job by Dennis Hopper, is an above average sci-fi flick.
Cool Factoid: The ship that Dennis Hopper and the bad guys live on is the Exxox Valdez, the oil tankers than spilled millions of gallons of crude oil off the coast of
Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome
Director: George Miller and George Ogilvie
Starring: Mel Gibson, Tina Turner, Bruce Spence
Plot in a Nutshell: With all of his possessions stolen, Mad Max ends up in Bartertown, a village on the outskirts of a desert. He gets involved in a power struggle in the city before helping a group of lost children who were the survivors of a plane crash.
Best Quote: “Two men enter, one man leave!”
How the World Ends: Nuclear war
Best Part of the Movie: Tina Turner’s amazing performance as Auntie Entity – the leader of Bartertown and the battle between Blaster and Max (see video above).
Cool Factoid: When Max is introduced to the crowd when he’s going to fight Master Blaster in Thunderdome, Dr. Dealgood calls him “The Man with No Name” – a reference to the Clint Eastwood characters in Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns.
Director: Francis Lawrence
Starring: Will Smith, Alice Braga,
Plot in a Nutshell: The lone survivor of a world epidemic tries to live his life in a deserted city – but he is hounded by the dead victims of the plague who have been transformed into vampires.
Best Quote: “I can help. I can save you. I can save everybody.”
How the World Ends: A cancer prevention drug has deadly side effects and turns people into blood-sucking vampires. The epidemic spreads and kills nearly everyone on earth.
Best Part of the Movie: The setting in a deserted
Cool Factoid: The artwork in Will Smith’s residence belong to the
Children of Men
Director: Alfonso Cuaron
Starring: Clive Owen, Michael Caine, Julianne Moore, Charlie Hunnam, Michael Klesic
Plot in a Nutshell: An ex-bureaucrat living in 2027 helps a group of radicals who have discovered the earth’s first pregnant woman in the last 18 years. They try and get her to safety through a war-torn
Best Quote: “Everything is a mythical, cosmic battle between faith and chance.”
How the World Ends: When women can no longer get pregnant and the human race comes face-to-face with the reality of its own extinction – war, crime and revolt flourish.
Best Part of the Movie: The battle scene at the end of the movie is masterfully done. And, of course, Clive Owen’s performance rocks per usual.
Cool Factoid: Michael Caine said that he based his performance of the hippie political cartoonist on John Lennon.
Director: Danny Boyle
Starring: Brendan Gleeson, Noah Huntley, Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris
Plot in a Nutshell: A plague called Rage rips through the world and turns people in flesh-eating zombies. A handful of people try to survive in the new world.
Best Quote: “Well, I think Bill's got a point. If you look at the whole life of the planet, we... you know, man, has only been around for a few blinks of an eye. So if the infection wipes us all out, that is a return to normality.”
How the World Ends: Zombies, baby, zombies
Best Part of the Movie: The movie is filled with great scenes, but the best one may be when Jim wakes up from a coma in a hospital and finds the hospital and
Cool Factoid: Stephen King was so excited about the movie that he bought an entire showing of the film in
Dawn of the Dead
Director: George A. Romero
Starring: David Emge, Ken Foree, Scott Reiniger, Gaylen Ross
Plot in a Nutshell: A group of survivors from a zombie plague end up at a mall. They turn the mall into a paradise, but the zombies manage to break in and all hell breaks loose.
Best Quote: “This isn't the Republicans versus the Democrats, where we're in a hole economically or... or we're in another war. This is more crucial than that. This is down to the line, folks, this is down to the line. There can be no more divisions among the living!”
How the World Ends: The dead have come to life to feed on the living.
Best Part of the Movie: When the motorcycle gang breaks into the mall and starts to kill the zombies.
Cool Factoid: Many of the actors playing zombies were actual amputees
Terminator II – Judgment Day
Director: James Cameron
Plot in a Nutshell: In a future, machines have taken over. They send a cyborg back in time to kill the leader of the human resistance, but the resistance sends back its own reprogrammed cyborg to protect the leader.
Best Quote: “Three billion human lives ended on August 29th, 1997. The survivors of the nuclear fire called the war Judgment Day. They lived only to face a new nightmare: the war against the machines.”
How the World Ends: Nuclear holocaust
Best Part of the Movie:
Cool Factoid: The Terminator line: “I need a vacation” is a line from