Serial killers and psychopaths have been around forever. Hell, at one point horror films weren’t even a wet dream in the mind of many a serial killer. But today, with film as relevant as it is, technology as powerful as it is, with an endless array of digital entertainment forms flooding our brains 365 days a year, the truth is imitation and art often seem to be two lines in one blurred constant.
We keep our eyes glued to the big screen to see Michael Myers mutilate babysitters, meanwhile we keep them glued to the boob tube to see if we can’t catch 2017: REMEMBERING JEFFREY DAHMER’S 17 VICTIMS (that’s a fictional title, for the record).
Because horror fascinates and terrifies us.
While we horror fans would likely prefer to find pride in a wide separation point between fact and fiction, but the simple fact is that in 2017, art inspires the already unstable. And the already unstable will always find a way to influence some filmmakers, who, deep down, just want to scare the shit out of their fans.
The lines are most certainly blurred. In fact, here are five notorious examples of crazies (my amateur opinion) who didn’t just kill someone, they killed someone – at least in some part – because they claimed to find inspiration in specific pictures.
Michael Hernandez – AMERICAN PSYCHO
Back in February of 2004, eighth-grader Jaime Rodrigo Gough made what shouldn’t have been a mistake when entering a school restroom. But it was. 14-year old Michael Hernandez was in that bathroom prepared to change a number of lives, and end one. He stabbed Gough more than 40 times. After being apprehended and questioned, Hernandez admitted that he’d been directly influenced by AMERICAN PSYCHO and THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS.
Since the shocking incident Southwood Middle School Center for the Arts – the school where the incident occurred – celebrates “Peace Week” during the first week of February in honor of the late Gough.
Michael Hernandez is currently serving a life sentence.
Thierry Jaradin – SCREAM
As terrifying as it may sound, I can understand how Wes Craven’s SCREAM was such a powerful film. I was a sophomore in high school when SCREAM hit the big screen, and the first thing that immediately stood out to me was how deadly accurate suburban teenage life was depicted. It was as though I’d entered my local cinema to see a film, and exited into a friend’s party. It really was that accurate.
Having said all that, I never watched SCREAM (which I’ve seen – I would guess – quite literally about 50 times) and felt fueled to don an Edvard Munch influenced mask while hacking up local hotties. It just never crossed this mind. Unfortunately, it crossed the mind of 24-year old Thierry Jaradin, who targeted a nearby neighbor, 15-year-old Alisson Cambier.
As outlandish as it may sound, Jaradin quite literally dressed up as Ghostface, brandished two kitchen knives and proceeded to attack in a sequence that sounds eerily similar to the death of Casey Becker (Drew Barrymore’s character in the first SCREAM): he clasped one hand around her face, covering her mouth while he proceeded to stab her in the abdominal region 30 times.
After openly confessing to the crime, Jaradin noted that the murder was motivated by the original SCREAM trilogy.
Sarah Edmondson and Ben Darras – NATURAL BORN KILLERS
Personally, I can’t watch Oliver Stone’s frenetic, psychedelic slaughter-a-thon, NATURAL BORN KILLERS. It fucks with me in a nasty way. Not in an ‘I want to embark on a massive murder mission’ kind of way, but more of an ‘I hate the possibilities of man,’ kind of way. Sarah Edmondson and Ben Darras, however, had no qualms watching the film, rather, they apparently got off on it.
Edmondson and Darras were opposite Oklahoma teens. Edmondson was the daughter of a judge with a beaming academic future, while Darras was an aimless drug addict. But NATURAL BORN KILLERS brought two opposing worlds together in what would culminate in a bloody murder spree.
This quirky combo’s murder run began in March of 1995 when Darras – then 17 – shot and killed a convenience store clerk. The two hit the road and days later Edmondson took up her role in the sinister act when she – then 18 – also shot a convenience store clerk. The clerk survived, but suffered permanent paralysis as a result of the shooting.
After returning home, both Edmondson and Darras immediately began bragging about their brief but fatal crime spree. Needless to say both were behind bars within the calendar year.
Darras is currently living out his life sentence. Astonishingly, Edmondson is free as of 2010 when she was released on parole. That last little bit may just be the most terrifying aspect of this story.
Andrew Conley – DEXTER
DEXTER was a great show, if you’re a stable fan of well-written television with a twisted spin on vigilante justice. The titular character only kills “bad guys.” Why then did 17-year old Andrew Conley strangle his 10-year old brother to death? Probably because the kid was genuinely ill in the noggin’.
Of course Conley, who freely admitted to being fascinated by the thought of murder, also cited DEXTER as a big inspiration within the very first hour of his very first police interrogation. Apparently Conley claimed to “feel like” Dexter while killing.
Apparently he forgot about the whole killing bad guys theme, as it’s virtually impossible to imagine his own 10-year old brother being anything other than a 10-year old brother who likely looked up to his elder sibling.
Daniel Sterling – INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE
Technically, Daniel Sterling didn’t kill his girlfriend of eight years, Lisa Stellwagen, but he sure as shit made a bold attempt to do so. Just hours after watching the big screen adaptation of ANNE RICE’S uber-hit, INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE, Sterling loomed over his half-conscious girlfriend and uttered the WTF-face inducing words, “Tonight you’re going to die. I’m going to kill you and drink your blood.”
You can bet Stellwagen didn’t invest too much in that so-morbid-it-can’t-be-real piece of poetry, but she should have: Some time later Sterling stabbed her seven times and literally sucked the blood from her fresh wounds.
Sterling was convicted of attempted first-degree murder, among other charges.
*Header Photo: SCREAM (1996) Miramax Films