and Woody Allen's Work
What is a serial killer? There are many books and films that portray a killer and what they are capable of doing to a human being. For instance, Crime and Punishment, Disturbia, School for Terror, Dead before Dark, Crimes and Misdemeanors and American Psycho. These are films and books that have a killer murdering people. An example would be the Jekyll and Hyde story. Even though these are all fictional works they all have a point in showing the killer’s mind in its subconscious state at work and the evil that they portray by committing these vile acts of murder. There are two types of killers: the organized type and the disorganized type. All of the fictional characters portrayed in books, movies, and shows are based upon the real life serial killers that were through out history and in today’s time as well. Woody Allen has shown great artistic outlook in the way he portrays his characters in his films, like the way he did in Crimes and Misdemeanors.
Some murderers have the characteristics of being egotistic and/or narcissistic. The difference between a serial killer and a killer is that a serial killer is a person who attacks and kills victims one by one in a series of incidents, while a killer is just a person or thing that kills (Sycamnias). In most of the above listed works the characters are considered serial killers for murdering more than one person, with the exception of Raskolnikov who suffered a great deal due to his conscience. In Woody Allen’s film Crime and Misdemeanors, there is a character that ordered someone to kill his mistress because she was being a bother to him. Even though he didn’t kill her directly he is still flooded with the guilt of having someone killed. He even went to the scene of the crime to confirm that there wasn’t anything that would give him away. The rest do not have the sense of right and wrong in what they are doing. The characters in these works all have normal lives with a stable job or getting an education for a career. Their psychopathic nature prevents them from feeling any kind of sympathy towards anyone. They become so involved with themselves that they are confident that they can get away with anything. Serial killers do not show their emotions in the open, instead they hide behind a carefully constructed mask. Patrick Bateman in American Psycho is a perfect example of a carefully constructed mask of normalcy which he uses to cover up all the crimes he commits. For the most part serial killers blend in and have learned how to camouflage themselves through years of practice. They plan and wait for their victim in just the right moment when it should be committed.
The two types of killers have a distinct difference. The organized type is most likely has highly intelligent who have above average IQ of 105-120 range, these highly intelligent killers plan their crimes methodically. The disorganized type has a low intelligence of below average IQ of 80-95 range and they commit their crimes impulsively (Giles). The character Patrick Bateman falls into the highly intelligent, the same as the killer from Dead before Dark and Disturbia. As for the killer from Crime and Punishment and School for Terror, they are also in the high intelligence but are just unrefined and unpracticed so in their first killing would be careless.
Most serial killers do not fit a typical profile. Traditional explanations of why these serial killers are how they are is because of childhood abuse, genetics, chemical imbalances, brain injuries, exposure to traumatic events, and perceived societal injustices. They frequently choose a victim weaker than they are. All of their victims fit a certain pattern which has significant meaning to the killer himself. For example, the serial killer Ted Bundy murdered girls with long brown hair. This was the characteristic of his college fiancée that broke off the engagement; with the killings of all of these girls he was reliving the killing of his fiancée over and over again. Another serial killer named Gacy strangled young men who reminded him of his own inadequacy in which his father saw him with. Like all other predators, they get close to their victims by gaining their trust.
A biological defect in a part of the brain makes some people more prone to violence than others (Sycamnias). In a scientific test showed that the subjects all had antisocial personality disorder (ADP). It had detected physical differences in the front part of the brain above the eyes, the prefrontal cerebral cortex, in violent male offenders compared to other men (Vronsky). There was a popular misconception in the 1960s and 1970s that XYY males were more prone to criminal behavior (XYY syndrome). Examples of this have come up in films and television shows about characters having this syndrome. For instance, in the shows Criminal Minds, Law & Order, and CSI Miami all have episodes were there is a criminal to be known to have the XYY syndrome in their genetic makeup and is the cause of the mass murders found by the law enforcement.
Serial killers tend to share the following general characteristics: the majority are single, white males, they are often intelligent, have trouble holding down jobs, tend to come from unstable families, and typically abandoned by their fathers and raised by domineering mothers as children. Their families often have criminal, psychiatric and alcoholic histories, often abused emotionally, physically and/or sexually by a family member. They also have high rates of suicide attempts, interested in voyeurism, fetishism, and sadomasochistic pornography from early age. Many are fascinated with fire starting, and they are involved in sadistic activity or torturing small animals.
There are four categories of motives for serial killers which are visionary, mission-oriented, hedonistic, and power or control. For the Hedonistic category there are three subcategories, which are lust, thrill, and comfort/profit. Serial murderers tend to target more women than men and kill strangers more often than family or acquaintances. Female serial killers prefer to kill those with whom they are already intimately familiar; rather men tend to go for targeting strangers (Giles). Female serial killers are very rare. They murder men for personal gain, usually emotionally close to their victims, and they need to have a relationship with a person before killing them. On rare occasions, women may be involved with a male serial killer and be part of a killing team. For most female serial killers the preferred method of killing was by poisoning (Sycamnias). There are exceptions like the killer Aileen Wuornos, who killed outdoors with a gun and chose to kill strangers for personal gratification. Another would be Jane Toppan who would administer a drug mixture to patients and would lie in bed with them while they died, holding them close to her body.
Serial killers are featured as stock characters in many types of media. Dexter is a great example of a vigilante serial killer. He is the only character that has shown to have murdered for the greater good of everyone else by murdering bad, evil men. These fictional characters were brought to show what some of the real serial killers have done through out history. For instance, there is Gilles de Rais who was a very wealthy man in Europe in the 15th century, Thug Behram said to be the most prolific serial killer, Burke and Hare were the first to get media attention, Eusebius Pieydagnelle, Jack the Ripper, H.H. Holmes, and Joseph Vacher (R, Elizabeth). These are only some from before 1900 and there a lot more through out the rest of history.
Serial murders occur in six phases. The first phase, the serial killer starts to lose his grip on reality, because of a stressor. The second phase, a serial killer seeks out a victim. The third phase, the serial killer manipulates and lures his victim. The fourth phase, the killer entraps his victim. The fifth phase, the killer tortures and kills his victim. The sixth phase is also referred to as the depression phase, it occurs after the killer kills his victim. This cycle repeats itself until the serial killer is either caught or dies. There are some infamous serial killers like Jack the Ripper and the Zodiac Killer that have never been caught. The United States has a 76 percent of all the serial killers in the world which makes this the country with the most serial killers.
Woody Allen gives everyone of his characters their own personality and charisma. His representation is better seen with the tragedy, romance, humor, and different situations. Even in his most stressful or horrific scenes (if any) there is always the humor to lighten up the bad things and make them seem less bad. He is a great film maker and gets out his view points in every single of his films, whether it is from the past, present, or future. Out of all of the films that I have seen of his, the best one for me would be Sleeper. That film has everything: action, adventure, romance, tragedy, and humor. He would be very successful at making horrific stories into humorous ones if he wanted, make them seem less tragic and horrific than what it really is.
Giles, Jim. “Inside the mind of a killer.” The Independent. 24 March 2000. 22 March 2010.
“XYY syndrome.” November 2005. 22 March 2010.
R., Elizabeth. “Criminal Minds: A Look into the Mind of Infamous Serial Killers.” EduBook. 9 October 2009. 23 March 2010
Sycamnias, E. (2008). Evaluating a Psychological Profile of a Serial Killer. 23 March 2010.
Vronsky, P. (2004). Serial Killers: The Method and Madness of Monsters. New York: Penguin Group