Jan 15, 2016

13 White Collar Psychos

Article By: Sean Abley

Murder is a dirty job, but that’s no excuse for a sloppy appearance at work. These 9-to-5 nutjobs keep their appearance as sharp as their knives.

WARNING: Some of the clips below contain graphic violence and may be considered not safe for work!

1. Dr. Phillip K. Decker from "Nightbreed" (1990)

Psychiatrist by day, zipper-mouthed serial killer by night. Decker (played by David Cronenberg. Yes, that David Cronenberg.) attempts to hide his murderous ways by drugging his patient, Nightbreed-to-be Boone (Craig Sheffer), with LSD and convincing him to confess to the killings. Based on the Clive Barker novella Cabal, Nightbreed’s plot is a bit byzantine, intertwining the secret society of the Nightbreed mutants and their struggles with a regular ol’ serial killer plot. If you’ve only seen the original VHS release, you’ve seen a hacked up mess that even this diehard Clive Barker fan doesn’t like. Give the film a second chance with The Cabal Cut, a restored version supervised by Barker and Mark Miller (the co-head of Barker’s production company), which fills in all the gaps created by the distributor’s hatchet job.


2. Patrick Bateman from "American Psycho" (2000)

This high gloss adaptation of the Brett Easton Ellis novel of the same name is a perfect storm of the indie film darlings of the time—Director Mary Harron (I Shot Andy Warhol), screenwriter Guinevere Turner (Go Fish), and stars Christian Bale, Willem Dafoe, Jared Leto, Samantha Mathis, Chloë Sevigny, Justin Theroux, and Reese Witherspoon. In this product-and-pop-culture-laden indictment of the yuppie lifestyle, Bale’s Bateman is an investment banker who may or may not be a serial killer. Instead of trying to describe him, we’ll let Mr. Bateman introduce himself…


3. Agent Smith from "The Matrix"(1999)

The ultimate white collar baddie, Hugo Weaving thwarted all our expectations based on his previous appearance in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. For those that have recently emerged from a decades-long seclusion in a subterranean bomb shelter, the plot of The Matrix involves Keanu Reeves discovering our world is a computer-induced lie, and the real world is a futuristic battlefield of humans vs. machines. Reeve’s nemesis is Agent Smith, a suit and tie-wearing ninja bent on destroying mankind’s last hope for emancipation. (That would be Reeves.)


4. Darryl Revok from "Scanners" (1981)

Michael Ironside’s Revok is the scantastic nemesis to Stephen Lack’s peace-loving protagonist in one of David Cronenberg’s most fully realized films. Revok has some sort of white collar job, we’re just not sure what it is, although he does have an office the homebase for all things scanner, ConSec. In addition to the simple, yet entertaining story, and the lackluster, yet entertaining performance by Lack, Scanners is of course known for the disgusting, yet entertaining head explosion dished out by Revok. So as a special treat, we present everyone’s favorite practical effect in super slo-mo HD.


5. Alexandra “Alex” Forrest from "Fatal Attraction" (1987)

Michael Douglas plays his first of many “put upon white guy” roles in a film that practically begs us to look past his married character’s adultery and see him as a victim. This is made easier by Glenn Close’s Forrest, a single book editor who has an affair with Douglas (making her a simple fornicator) then goes crazy bananas when tells her he’s one and done. Women! Am I right, guys? Although far from anything resembling a positive female character, Close takes what she’s given and turns in a spectacular performance. 


6. Frederick Loren from "House on Haunted Hill" (1959)

You don’t become an eccentric millionaire without having some sort of job, and it’s probably not digging ditches. So we’ll assume Vincent Price’s Loren, the eccentric millionaire in question, comes from some sort of white collar background (and he’s always wearing a suit, so that counts). Loren has invited five strangers to a haunted mansion for a little game—survive the night and receive a million bucks. He hands them all a loaded gun and the fun begins. There’s a lot of double-crossing, death, and a nice pool of acid just waiting for a victim before the final reveal—no spoilers here, but let’s just say Loren isn’t quite the philanthropic moneybags he appears to be.


7. Vincent Vega and Jules Winnfield from Pulp Fiction (1994)

While technically not a horror movie, Vega and Winnfield’s body count is certainly high enough for one. These sociopaths, one with a bizarre moral code (Winnfield), the other with…out, blast their way through one of the most iconic films of all time. And sometimes, they feel guilty about shooting someone in the face…


8. The Dutch Businessman from "Hostel" (2005)

Hostel is truly a series of unfortunate events—young tourists in Slovakia are kidnapped and offered up to the highest bidder as cattle in a human slaughterhouse. But Eli Roth’s torture-riffic gorefest is more than just excruciatingly choreographed murder scenes; Hostel is a meditation on class. In Roth’s not-so-alternate universe, money can buy happiness, and if you’re a sociopath with cash, the 99% need to watch their backs. And who has money? The white collar class, of course. Although he’s not wearing his work clothes in this clip, when we meet the unnamed Dutch Businessman in a previous scene, he is definitely of the 1%.


9. The Killer from "Dressed to Kill" (1980)

In a rare moment of conscience, we’ve decided not to spoil the ending of Dressed to Kill, on of Brian De Palma’s better Hitchcock riffs. But even without revealing the killer’s identity, we can tell you they are definitely of the white collar variety, and completely nuts. De Palma is often accused of misogyny, and his critics can point to Dressed to Kill as the first of several films that feature the degradation of women in a male gaze context. It’s interesting to note he and star Nancy Allen, cast as a prostitute, were married at the time of filming. (In his next film, Blow Out, he’d have her brutally murdered.) Just FYI, if  De Palma’s treatment of women is a problem for you as a viewer, we definitely recommend you skip Body Double, with it’s drill-as-penis murder.  This clip isn’t a spoiler, as in the grand tradition of Hitchcock’s Psycho, De Palma kills off who we think is his leading lady in the first act. 


10. Agent Rothman from "Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation" (1994)

Agent Rothman is a mysterious fellow. How is he related to the Slaughter clan? Is he truly part of the Illuminati? His presence is just one question mark in a film chock full of non sequiturs and unresolved plot points. Notable for early appearances of Matthew McConaughey and Renee Zellweger, file this under “A for effort.”


11. Scarecrow in "Batman Begins" (2005), "The Dark Knight" (2008), and "The Dark Knight Rises" (2012)

A psycho psychopharmacologist who appears in all three of Christopher Nolan’s Batman flicks. Played by Cillian Murphy, Dr. Jonathan Crane starts out the trilogy as an evil scientist perfecting a toxin that causes the victim to be terrified of the banal. Just to up the crazy, Crane adopts the Scarecrow persona to mask his identity during the experiments and subsequent crimes. By the third film Gotham City is an anarchic state courtesy of supervillain Bane, and Crane is the judge presiding over trials of certain Gotham fancy pants seen to be part of the previously ruling class.


12. Dr. Hannibal Lecter from "Hannibal" (2013-2015)

Mads Mikkelsen’s take on the Thomas Harris’s anti-hero may not be the first, nor may it be the last, but it certainly is the most mesmerizing to date. Bryan Fuller’s exquisitely unpleasant (in a great way) adaptation of Harris’s work is a fan favorite, and those who want to experience the genius of the Mikkelsen/Fuller collaboration for the first time, or relive the gory days with a second viewing, can stream the entire original run on Amazon.


13. Mahogany in "Midnight Meat Train" (2008)

As if the New York subways weren’t bad enough, this well-dressed butcher (Vinnie Jones) is treating the trains as his own personal rendering plant, slaughtering passengers with various meat-related tools. The fact that New York’s finest aren’t doing anything about the killings, even when presented with photographic evidence of the killer, adds to the mystery. Eventually Bradley Cooper susses out the situation, which is unfortunate for him, but good for the citizens of NYC in the long run. Midnight Meat Train was a moderate critical success, as far as genre films go, but sadly was shunted into second-run theaters during it’s very brief release. Definitely worth a rental.

Sean Abley is a playwright, screenwriter and horror film journalist. His latest book of interviews is Out in the Dark: Interviews with Gay Horror Filmmakers, Actors and Authors.

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