Looking at movies and putting a focus on things that truly disturb us it’s always easy to look to horror and the iconic horror characters as being the most disturbing on screen, but is this the case? The fact is that some of the most disturbing people aren’t “monsters” in the sense that they have big teeth and want to rip your head off. What I thought I would do today is list five characters that are some of the most disturbing, and may not even be horror characters at all.
Hannibal Lecter (Silence of the Lambs)
Hannibal is an easy one to list because of the way he is based on a number of real life cases. People with interests in serial killers will know that he has elements of not only Ted Bundy but also of the even darker characters such as Albert Fish. Hannibal Lecter’s danger is that he gains a level of authority and trust with people before moving for the kill, a total narcissist his arrogance is the true monster in his psyche and the reason why both in movies and now on television is often seen as one of the most evil characters ever created.
Norman Bates (Psycho)
Norman is Ed Gein in almost all ways but name form. A hermit who controls his motel we know of his love for his mother and the way she controls him, but the scariest part of his tale is the way most thought he was just a nice guy who lived out of town and never did any harm. Even before examining the idea of his mother being a part of his psyche, Bates was a boy and then a man who truly had issues, and that’s even before anybody tried to stay at his motel.
Henry Lee Lucas (Portrait of a Serial Killer)
Henry Lee Lucas may have been sensationalised somewhat in Portrait of a Serial Killer but the creepiest part of this movie is that it is based on fact. The violent murders including the home invasion recorded by Henry and Lucas are some of the most disturbing real life events brought to screen giving Portrait of a Serial Killer an infamous notoriety.
John Doe (Se7en)
It can be argued that it’s the excellent portrayal of John Doe by Kevin Spacey that made the character so good, but part of the fact is that Doe is yet another person who outwardly seems quite normal, if a little over confident. The fact is though John Doe becomes one of the most memorable and truly chilling characters ever put on the big screen, right up to the final revelation that truly makes you believe that although this character is truly evil he is also a very brilliant mind.
Harry Powell (The Night of the Hunter)
The Night of the Hunter is being released on Blu-ray at the end of the month in the United Kingdom and in my opinion it has one of the most chilling characters you are ever likely to meet on screen. Robert Mitchum as Harry Powell the preacher who arrives in the small town of Cresap’s Landing in search of hidden money is one of the most effective performances when it comes to true evil. Maybe it’s the fact that he focuses on the children with his intimidation, or the fact that he is overwhelmingly charming to those around him that creeps people out. I tend to think that his stalking shadow and singing of hymns as he waits outside the window, is probably one of the most chilling things ever put to screen.
I’m sure you’ll have a different list of disturbing characters and many will be saying “Where is Michael Myers? Where is Freddy and Jason?” and if you are you lost the point of the article. What I’m actually saying is that some of the most evil characters on screen are not in fact our favourite monsters but are the ones that welcome us with a smile and hide behind a normalcy that breaks down our defenses and allows the true evil in.
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