It’s Interesting to Watch You Die

Our planet is a killing field. With few exceptions, everything with a heart beat on this fine earth kills. Most of the killing is for the purpose of eating the spoils of those efforts and only in the most extreme circumstances do lifeforms participate in same species killing. Humans of course stand apart. We dispose of one another at a world wide rate of approximately 1,425 people a day (in the U.S we have about 1.5 murders per hour and this does not include the nearly 2100 missing people reported each day).  We are the special case on the planet for two reasons. The first is our propensity for inter-species killing and the second is the motives for that killing. Many species fight each other for the rights to mate, for food or for territory. The fight, however, is not to kill the competition, but to persuade it to go elsewhere. It’s not a battle of desire, but one of survival. Humans kill one another over desire. In fact, there are three basic desires so prevalent in every murder investigation that these big three are motive 101 for homicide investigators. They are sex, money and drugs (Jealousy, greed, and addiction if you prefer). When someone is murdered, you don’t have to look far to find the motive. Even if these motives appear ridiculous to us non-murders, they are so common it is seldom shocking that someone killed a person to avoid a divorce, over a drug deal gone bad, or out of jealousy.

There is however another special breed cruising the killing field…well two breeds actually. The psychopath and the sociopath. There are some important differences between the two, for example the psychopath can be highly organized and successful (by social standards), while the sociopath is usually a little more on the fringe. The best illustration that I’ve seen to explain the differences is this: A psychopath believes that 2 + 2 = 5. A sociopath knows that 2 + 2 = 4…it just pisses him off that it’s true. What they do share in common is a lack of compassion and the absence of the wiring necessary to feel intimacy. You are an animated chair in their world. You serve a purpose like many objects, but your death, pain or torture be it physical, emotional or psychological is at most… interesting.

The topic makes great fodder for films and books – it is the key difference between a crime story and a horror story. Of course not all individuals that suffer from these conditions are necessarily killers…just like not all of us are going to destroy the chairs in our house. When they do, however, see murder as the next logical step in their goal obtainment, there isn’t anything quite as scary . It’s not the killing that frightens us, it is the often random and always disconnected and non-emotional manner in which it is executed. Like pulling the wings off a fly or stepping on a bug. Whether the knife is delivered with a blank stare or a gleam of interest (not interest in the victim but in say the manner in which the blood seeps out), the one thing that you can be certain is that all your begging and pleading ain’t gonna change a thing. No amount of discussion with these killers will invoke the logic or compassion that might alter their course. Why should it? You’re just an object and after all… and it’s interesting to watch you die.

Freud was correct: Alfred Hitchcock’s took a big risk in his movie career when he brought Norman Bates to the screen in the 1960’s. It was unique at the time and presented the question: How could such a nice boy like Norman hide such an evil personality? Well don’t blame him. It wasn’t his fault…it was mother’s. Hitchcock introduced us to a new and perhaps the real face of the psychopathic killer. Someone who appeared a little strange, but mostly in a harmless odd sort of way. Gone was the foreboding, dark figure stalking the night. This was just the weird kid next door…with a knife. He also demonstrated the first rule of the psycho killer – for them, it’s not about the sex. When I see a naked woman in the shower the last thing I think about is stabbing her…with a knife.

Coveralls are for killing: I know there were other psycho and sociopaths depicted in films between 1960 and 1978. There were those sociopaths in Last House on the Left, the crazy family from the Texas Chainsaw massacre, and those freaks from The Hills Have Eyes. Nothing however – nothing – compared to the guy with the William Shatner mask and the big butcher knife. In fact, after the release of Halloween no one would ever hold that knife again without humming that catchy little theme music a least once.(Granted, Hitchcock used it first, but we were so preoccupied with the shower we hardly considered the instrument.) The butcher knife was like having Jaws on your counter top. It also introduced us to the second rule of the psycho killer. Not only doesn’t he want to have sex…but he’s gonna kill you if you engage. Thanks Mike.

I don’t know what a fava bean is but I’ll pass: It’s one thing to  be on the look out for some dude with a mask or a creepy geek in a hotel that you have no business staying in, but Hannibal Lector changed everything. The psycho could be well-spoken, an art lover and…could make a lessor man swallow his own tongue just by talking to him. The film also demonstrated through contrast that psycho’s have different agendas (I found it less offensive to be murdered by a well-spoken English gentleman.) Which leads to rule number three: Spend less time analyzing the psycho’s motive and more time running – it’s not about you, it’s about them.  I guess we can at least give the good doctor a little credit – he did eat what he killed. I will also give him credit for putting Julianne Moore in that little black dress.

Oh you like naked women, here let me ruin that for you: I can say with certainty that only one film has ever made me regret the viewing experience. I’m not referring to films that sucked, I mean regret in terms of the visions I took away. The Human Centipede was that film. This was disgust at such a base level that it took weeks to shake those images. I won’t go into the details, if you haven’t seen this one then you are missing out on the sickest most psychotic depiction ever filmed. Four words – My sweet three dog. The movie fills you with dread at such a primal level that you almost forget  what a sick f#@k the doctor is. Which brings us to rule number four: Psycho’s can turn a beautiful human body into an object of disgust.

Here, let me show you the same thing…only we’ll use a butter knife: Yeah, what can I say, as bad an experience as Human Centipede was I still watched the second film. Mostly because it seemed impossible for it to get any worse. Damn was I wrong. Replace the suave doctor with a fat, disgusting insane freak. Replace the nice clean surgical instruments with dull kitchen utensils and an office stapler and you pretty much have Human Centipede 2. Oh and just for giggles let’s add a pregnant woman to the mix…my god is nothing sacred ? Which brings us to rule number five: For the psycho it’s about the process – if you’re going to die then pray his goal is to see you die quickly.

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe:  Most psycho’s inspire me to run. I mean I get it, they’re crazy and distance is your besty (of course avoidance is preferred). The Strangers, however, made me angry. It’s not bad enough that my girl friend just gave me the “I’m not ready to marry” line, but now you ass clowns are gonna randomly select me for the killing. Not a fast killing of course, but one filled with a few hours of head games. Being murdered is one thing, but it is insult to injury when you play with your food…especially when I am the food.  Granted the victims did about everything wrong that someone could do wrong when faced with three sociopaths…but still I wanted Mike Myers to show up and kick their butts.  Rule number six: Liv Tyler is hot…oops no that’s not it. Rule number six: when the killer is a member of the more compassionate gender, it makes it all the more horrific.

Which would you rather eat a spider or a roach?: Remember when I said a psycho believes 2 + 2 = 5? Well the dude from Saw is a classic example. You’ve wasted your life by living badly so I’m going to put you in some horrible situation to redeem yourself. What? I mean I appreciate the life lesson and all, but does it really require that I lose a body part to learn something here? You know what I did learn? That I’d rather loose an eye than sit through Saw 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 . Still the first and second (maybe the third they all sort of run together) were interesting which brings us to the seventh and final rule: Psycho’s remind us that surviving is more important than sex. If Saw was the template for the bacherlorette then I’m guessing the “good looking” criteria would be pretty low on the list.  I want a girl who will give up a limb for me.

Blood, guts and torture aside, psycho films provide a canvass for understanding the key ingredient that makes human society work. It’s compassion and empathy for each other. We have all the instruments required to depersonalize the killing of our fellow humans. We also have all the resources necessary to remove “survival” as a cause for murder. The psycho’s motives may seem a strange and illogical thought process…but then again how sane is it to kill over land, religion, money, drugs or sex? I’m not suggesting that such force isn’t at times necessary…I’m stating that it is unfortunate that it is required in a modern society.

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