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17 Best Movies About Serial Killers Of All Time

Best movies about serial killers - a genre that has intrigued and horrified audiences for decades. These films delve into the darkest corners of the human psyche, exploring the chilling minds and gruesome acts of some of the most notorious real-life and fictional serial killers.

Cecilia Jones
Oct 17, 2023530 Shares24088 Views
Best movies about serial killers- a genre that has intrigued and horrified audiences for decades. These films delve into the darkest corners of the human psyche, exploring the chilling minds and gruesome acts of some of the most notorious real-life and fictional serial killers. From psychological thrillers to true crime adaptations, these movies have left an indelible mark on the world of cinema, offering viewers a spine-tingling journey into the abyss of human depravity.

Kiss The Girls (1997)

The poster of Kiss the Girls
The poster of Kiss the Girls
In "Kiss the Girls," an escaped victim of the infamous serial killer known as "Casanova" joins forces with dedicated police officers and a skilled forensic psychologist in a relentless pursuit to apprehend the deranged murderer. As they collaborate to prevent the killer from striking again, shocking revelations come to light, suggesting that this serial killer might have sinister accomplices.
Despite receiving mixed reviews, this psychological crime thriller merits recognition for its gripping storyline, eerie atmosphere, and intricately developed characters. While it occasionally stretches the boundaries of plausibility, it more than compensates with its compelling narrative and the commanding presence of Morgan Freeman.

Manhunter (1986)

The poster of Manhunter
The poster of Manhunter
Sir Anthony Hopkins' unforgettable portrayal of Hannibal Lecter in "The Silence of the Lambs" was not only brilliant but also spine-chilling. Regrettably, it had the unintended consequence of eclipsing Brian Cox's equally eerie rendition of the character in Michael Mann's 1986 crime thriller, "Manhunter."
Based on the Red Dragon storyline, "Manhunter" follows the journey of FBI profiler Will Graham, played by William Petersen, who is reluctantly drawn out of retirement to track down a serial killer known as the "Tooth Fairy." Seeking assistance, Graham turns to the incarcerated Hannibal Lecter, and what ensues is a deadly game of cat and mouse filled with psychological warfare. This film serves as a haunting and apt introduction to the now-iconic characters and stands as one of the most compelling crime thrillers of the 1980s.

Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer (1986)

The poster of Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer
The poster of Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer
Imagine if one serial killer wasn't horrifying enough, and then you add another into the mix. That's what makes this cult classic film so unsettling. It's based on the real-life murderers Henry Lee Lucas and Ottis Toole, and what makes it disturbing is how it portrays their insatiable thirst for blood.
What's interesting is that the film blurs the line between fact and fiction because Lucas was known as "The Confessions Killer." He confessed to around 600 murders, even though he was only convicted of 11. This made it hard for investigators and journalists to believe him.
Director John McNaughton took Lucas's seemingly false accounts, considering he was a pathological liar, and used his creative imagination to craft this gruesome film. It's not an easy movie to watch, but it sheds light on the inhumane desires that some individuals can possess.

The Boston Strangler (1968)

The poster of The Boston Strangler
The poster of The Boston Strangler
"The Boston Strangler" is loosely based on a true story from the early 1960s. It focuses on Albert Desalvo, portrayed by Mauro Lannini, who was convicted of murdering 13 women and sentenced to life in prison. Desalvo's traumatic upbringing led him down a dark and sinister path. Directed by Richard Fleischer, this gripping thriller both educates and captivates viewers by delving into the twisted mind of a killer.
Kiera Knightley, known for her role in "Pirates of the Caribbean," stars in a newly released film titled "Boston Strangler." In this movie, she plays Loretta McLaughlin, a reporter who was the first to break the Strangler story and challenged gender bias in the 1960s to report on Boston's most infamous killer.

The Snowtown Murders (2011)

The poster of The Snowtown Murders
The poster of The Snowtown Murders
In 2011, director Justin Kurzel made a movie called "The Snowtown Murders," which is based on Australia's most famous massacre. Between August 1992 and May 1999, three young men, John Justin Bunting, Robert Joe Wagner, and James "Jamie" Spyridon Vlassakis, committed a series of horrifying murders that became known as the "bodies in barrels murders." These crimes involved torture and even cannibalism, making them incredibly gruesome.
The trial for these murders was one of the most disturbing and high-profile cases ever seen in South Australian courts. It lasted a long time and received significant attention worldwide. The movie, while intense and captivating, effectively portrays the devastating impact these three men (and their accomplice, Mark Haydon) had on Australian history.

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, And Vile (2019)

The poster of Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, And Vile
The poster of Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, And Vile
"Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile" tells the story of Liz Kendall, a single mother who falls in love with a man she believes is perfect. However, her world shatters when he's put on trial for gruesome murders. Ted Bundy, played by Zac Efron, insists he's innocent and defends himself in a nationally televised trial. Meanwhile, Liz grapples with the truth.
Zac Efron's mental health reportedly faced challenges while working on this intense and controversial Netflix film, which explores the crimes of Ted Bundy through Liz's perspective. Efron delivers a strong performance, and the movie also stars Lily Collins, John Malkovich, Jim Parsons, Jeffrey Donovan, Dylan Baker, Terry Kinney, and Haley Joel Osment. The film is based on the book "The Phantom Prince: My Life with Ted Bundy" by Elizabeth Kendall. Some criticized the film for potentially glamorizing the real-life serial killer, but Efron's portrayal is noteworthy.

The Clovehitch Killer (2018)

The poster of The Clovehitch Killer
The poster of The Clovehitch Killer
"The Clovehitch Killer" is a coming-of-age thriller inspired by the life and crimes of Dennis Rader, a serial killer known as BTK (Bind, Torture, Kill). The story centers on a 16-year-old boy who starts to suspect that his seemingly perfect family might have a dark secret: he believes his father could be a violent killer.
Dylan McDermott delivers an impressive performance as Don Burnside, the family's devout Christian patriarch, who secretly had a gruesome double life as a serial strangler. The film draws parallels to Dennis Rader's story; he too was a family man, church member, and even a Cub Scout Leader, who killed 10 people over several years before being caught in 2005.
The movie captures the shock and horror experienced by those close to real-life serial killers like Rader. It received acclaim upon its release, with Paste Magazine praising it for its ability to evoke fear using simple yet effective storytelling techniques.

Monster (2003)

Charlize Theron pointing a gun as she reflects on a mirror in the movie Monster
Charlize Theron pointing a gun as she reflects on a mirror in the movie Monster
If you believe only men can be violent and murderous, then you should watch "Monster," a biographical crime film directed by Patty Jenkins. It stars Charlize Theron and tells the chilling story of Aileen Wuornos, a young woman who went from a difficult life on the streets to committing a series of murders.
In real life, Wuornos was a prostitute who killed seven men she had as clients between 1989 and 1990. "Monster" is a captivating movie that blends fact and fiction, offering a glimpse into the life of one of the most notorious female serial killers in true-crime history. It received critical acclaim and won multiple Academy Awards when it was released in 2002.

The Strangers (2008)

The poster of The Strangers
The poster of The Strangers
Bryan Bertino's movie "The Strangers" didn't get much love from critics when it first came out in theaters, but it has since become a cult classic in the true crime genre. What sets it apart is that it's based on two real-life disturbing events: the Manson family murders and Bertino's own childhood experience of his neighborhood being invaded by strangers. These events have left a mark on the film's material and how the story is told.
Unlike many other movies about serial killers and tragic events, "The Strangers" doesn't delve into the minds of the killers or try to explain their motives. Instead, it presents the cases as they are, showing the cold brutality of the crimes without trying to sympathize with the perpetrators.
This approach is fair because when you encounter a stranger, you can't predict their actions or understand why they do terrible things. To the victim, it's just a senseless act of violence, and they may never know why they had to endure such a cruel fate. That's what makes "The Strangers" so harsh, grim, and realistic, and why it's earned its cult classic status.

Frailty (2001)

The poster of Frailty
The poster of Frailty
"Frailty" is a unique serial killer movie that explores spirituality in a way few others do. It marks Bill Paxton's directorial debut and tells the eerie story of a man who, as a child, lived in fear of his serial killer father.
Paxton's character believes he's been chosen by God to hunt down and kill demons in disguise, earning him the nickname "God's Hand Killer." The movie's storytelling is not straightforward; it jumps around in time. This adds to the suspense and keeps you guessing throughout. "Frailty" is a mysterious thriller that delivers consistent thrills, making it stand out in the genre.

Stranger By The Lake (2013)

The poster of Stranger By The Lake
The poster of Stranger By The Lake
In 2013, the French thriller "Stranger by the Lake" achieved a rare harmony between the worlds of serial killer crime and LGBTQIA+ drama on screen. This film skillfully blends intimacy, spectacle, and suspense. The story revolves around Franck, a regular visitor to a nude beach who becomes infatuated with another nudist named Michel.
Things take a complicated turn when Franck witnesses Michel committing a murder at the beach. Despite this, he chooses not to report it to the police and continues his risky romance with Michel. "Stranger by the Lake" is a clever, sensuous, and darkly humorous erotic thriller that delves into the complexities of human desire with wit, emotion, and enthralling suspense.

The Tenderness Of Wolves (1973)

The poster of The Tenderness Of Wolves
The poster of The Tenderness Of Wolves
"The Tenderness of Wolves" depicts a grim and horrifying reality, showcasing how people can behave when they believe they can get away with their actions. It's based on the crimes of Fritz Haarman, who inspired Fritz Lang's 1931 serial killer film "M." The movie reveals a dark world where society is falling apart, and lawlessness prevails, causing people to turn a blind eye to the sinister deeds of those around them.
This story is set in post-World War I Germany, a time of great turmoil. Haarman, a genuinely creepy individual, managed to escape suspicion while dumping bundles into rivers or trading suspicious items to local shops, all sourced from his 24 victims.
"The Tenderness of Wolves" paints a chilling picture of a society in collapse, where people are struggling to survive. The film's portrayal is saturated with despair, providing a disturbing glimpse into the life of Fritz Haarman, nicknamed "The Vampire of Hanover" due to his gruesome habits, including drinking his victims' blood.

Wolf Creek (2005)

The poster of Wolf Creek
The poster of Wolf Creek
The horror film "Wolf Creek" draws inspiration from the real-life backpacker murders committed by Ivan Milat in Australia between 1989 and 1993. The movie tells the story of three backpackers stranded in the Australian outback who receive help from a seemingly kind stranger. However, this stranger, Mick Taylor, turns out to be a sadistic serial killer.
The character of Mick Taylor is directly based on Ivan Milat, who killed seven young tourists and hid their bodies in the Belanglo State Forest. Milat was convicted of these murders in 1996 and received multiple life sentences. The film's writer and director, Greg McLean, started working on the screenplay shortly after Milat's conviction. He aimed to explore what it would be like to be trapped in an isolated place with an incredibly evil and distinctly Australian character.

Next Time I'll Aim For The Heart (2014)

The poster of Next Time I'll Aim For The Heart
The poster of Next Time I'll Aim For The Heart
"Next Time I'll Aim for the Heart" is a hidden gem that not many people have seen, mainly because it's not widely available. The movie is based on the true story of Alain Lamare, portrayed as Neuhardt in the film, who was a police officer in France. In the late 1970s, he went on a killing spree, targeting young women, and shockingly managed to evade capture for a long time.
What's particularly disturbing about this story is that, as a high-ranking police officer, nobody suspected his psychopathic behavior. The police force he worked in was so focused on competing with each other that they didn't pay attention to his alarming actions. The movie can be frustrating to watch because it highlights how individuals in positions of power can get away with terrible things, and it raises important questions about society and its vulnerabilities.

No Man Of God (2021)

The poster of No Man Of God
The poster of No Man Of God
"No Man of God" focuses on the killer who received a death sentence by electrocution in 1980. In the following years, he chose to reveal the details of his crimes, but only to one man, Bill Hagmaier, played by Elijah Wood. The movie is based on the true story of the unusual and intricate relationship that developed between an FBI agent and the incarcerated Ted Bundy, portrayed by Bill Kirby, in the lead-up to Bundy's execution. This film is a must-see, especially for those who are drawn to the dark subgenre.
Hagmaier recorded more than 200 hours of conversations with Bundy. At the time, he was one of the five original members of the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU). As Bundy's execution date approached, and he ran out of appeals, he began confessing the details of his crimes, including methods, motivations, and actions taken after the murders, all in an attempt to avoid the electric chair.

Scream (1996)

The poster of the movie Scream
The poster of the movie Scream
Wes Craven's '90s classic, "Scream," made a huge impact when it hit theaters. The shocking opening scene, where Drew Barrymore's character is brutally murdered by the menacing Ghostface, left audiences in shock. In this influential film, high school student Sidney Prescott and her friends in the town of Woodsboro, California, are terrorized by a masked killer.
The creator, Kevin Williamson, drew inspiration from real-life serial killer Danny Rolling, also known as the Gainesville Ripper. Rolling murdered five students in 1990, committing gruesome acts and posing his victims in disturbing ways. He mainly targeted young women with certain physical characteristics. In "Scream," Ghostface similarly torments and attacks young, vulnerable females, often calling and taunting them.

From Hell (2001)

The poster of From Hell
The poster of From Hell
"From Hell," directed by Albert and Allen Hughes in 2001, is a psychological thriller starring Johnny Depp as Chief Inspector Frederick Abberline. The film revolves around Abberline's pursuit of the infamous real-life criminal known as "Jack the Ripper."
Set in 1888, Jack the Ripper was a mysterious figure responsible for a series of gruesome murders and torture of women, with at least five victims found within a small area. The fact that the perpetrator behind these horrific crimes was never identified or caught is haunting. The victims were discovered in a deeply disturbing state of mutilation.
While "From Hell" is an entertaining film and captures the essence of historical events, it should be noted that it is not entirely accurate and delves into conspiracy theories, as it is based on a book with such elements.

Conclusion

These best movies about serial killers are the ones that grab our attention and often give us the creeps as they dig deep into how people can do really bad things. These films aren't just about scaring us; they also make us think about why these killers do what they do, what's going on in their heads, and how society deals with their terrible crimes. Some of these movies are based on real stories, while others come from creative imaginations, but they all make us realize how close ordinary people can be to doing really awful things.
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