Last week a pretty ridiculous story circulated the net, which was brought to my attention through the uber depressing website Dreamin' Demon, a site that focuses on real life horrors. Long story short, the gist of it was that a dirtball woman got her little son to stab her husband with a butter knife and then when she got caught told the police that the kid had been watching too many Child's Play films, in an effort to blame horror movies and thus, get off the hook for her crime. (Read the full story at the above link). This is certaintly not the first time someone has blamed horror movies for making them do some pretty horrific shit, and in fact it's not even the first time Child's Play has been blamed for such actions, not by a longshot. Inspired by the story, I decided to put on my investigatory specs and scour the net for as many of such stories as I could find, the ones where evil people put the blame on horror movies for their reprehensible actions. No, horror movies don't create psychos, but that doesn't mean they don't make terrific scapegoats!
Last week's attempted murder by butter knife isn't the first, second or even third time Chucky has been blamed for a crime. Most infamously, in February of 1993 in the UK, 2 year old James Bulger was viciously tortured and murdered by two 10 year old boys. The details of the crime are far too horrific to warrant repeating, but the fact that the father of one of the boys had rented and (possibly) let the children watch Child's Play 3 shortly before the murder led many to draw a parallel between the two. The body was dumped on the train tracks, which vaguely echoes one of the final scenes from the film, and the fact that the victim was a small child, much like Chucky, only fueled the fire. In addition, the boy was splattered with blue paint, ala what happens to Chucky in Child's Play 3, and batteries were inserted into his body which seem to reflect the fact that the young killers saw him as merely a toy. Though the case led to the film being pulled in the UK, it was eventually determined that there was no link between it and the murder.
The same year, 16 year old Suzanne Capper was burnt alive in Manchester by a group of boys who allegedly spouted lines from Child's Play while they tortured and murdered her. Then in 2006, Martin Bryant gunned down 35 people in Australia, claiming Child's Play 2 empowered him and inspired him to do it. Finally, in 2008, 17 year old Cara Burke was dismembered by her boyfriend in Brazil, who had a tattoo of Chucky on his back. This coupled with the fact that he had a picture of Chucky on his phone at the time of the murder naturally led the media to once again blame Child's Play for yet another horrific crime.
There are a grand total of over 10 crimes that have been linked to Scream. Perhaps most compelling is the case of a 17 year old in France, who stabbed a classmate of his 17 times with a kitchen knife. He was apparently a big time fan of Scream and not only called his victim before killing her, but also even wore the infamous Ghostface mask when he committed the crime. Several other cases involved rapes and stabbings all over the world that were carried out while the perpetrators wore the masks. While most of them were stabbings, with knives very similar to the one used in the movie, a couple of the murderers used guns. Two teens in England who killed their friend after watching the movie even claimed it was speaking to them, beckoning them to kill, and drawings of Ghostface were found in their school books.
This one is less of a crime than a prank gone wrong, but it's certaintly worth noting. Two 13 year girls in 2007 called a random cell phone and left a voicemail on it, quoting Jigsaw by saying "I want to play a game" and then going on to leave the following message :
"Hello, Beverly. I want to play a game. You need to decide if life is worth living for. We have one of your friends hidden in your house. You must find them within 10 minutes and get the key out of their heart. Get out of your house because there are vents and there is toxic gas that will be fogged out in 10 minutes. It will kill you in half a minute, so you decide, it's your game. Do you want to live or die?"
Little did they know Beverly was at a funeral procession, not at home, and she suffered a stroke upon listening to the voicemail. Thankfully, she survived the ordeal.
In 2004, 25 year old Donald Gonzales went on a three day stabbing rampage which left four people dead, a mere fraction of the high number of kills he hoped to attain in his attempts to become a real life Freddy Krueger, who he said he aspired to be. Due to his diagnosis of having paranoid schizophrenia, combined with the fact that the movie blurs fiction and reality, the connection was made even stronger by the media.
In December of 1982, a drunk and drugged out Richard Delmer Boyer brutally murdered an elderly couple in California, stabbing them a combined total of over 40 times. During the trial, he blamed the murders not only on the drugs and alcohol he was loaded with at the time, but also on Halloween 2, claiming that an LSD flashback of the film convinced him that he was essentially Michael Myers and that he was inside of the movie. The incident became known as "The Halloween 2 Murders".
Perhaps the earliest of such cases, a Welsh carpenter named Robert Williams murdered an Irish maid with a razor and then attempted to kill himself way back in October of 1928. Williams claimed to have seen London After Midnight star Lon Chaney "in a corner, shouting and making faces at him" and his defense team argued that the sight of Chaney in makeup from the film snapped something in Williams' brain which made him kill. Though sentenced to death, Williams was released just a few weeks later on medical grounds.
In 2003, Allan Menzies told a court that Akasha, the titular Queen of the Damned played by the late Aaliyah in the film (which he watched repeatedly), commanded him to kill his friend, believing that doing so would grant him eternal life. "The more [deaths] the better ... it keeps her happy" he is quoted as saying, after beating and stabbing his friend to death. He alleged that his friend made a derogatory comment about Akasha, which she heard and did not approve of. In order to avenge her, Menzies utilized a knife and a hammer to carry out the deed. He also claimed to drink his friends blood and even eat a fragment of his skull.
Though i've never seen the film, there's apparently a scene in the horror comedy Severance where a character is tied to a tree, doused in gasoline and then set on fire. A couple years later, when a love triangle gone wrong resulted in the very same fate for one young man, it was revealed in court that one of the killers had watched Severance and remarked, during the tree scene, "wouldn't it be wicked if you could do that to someone in real life?"
Ever since violent movies have been around the blame for bad shit happening has been unjustly placed on them, rather than on bad parenting or the fact that there are just plain evil people in this world, whether they ever see a movie or not. While the similarities between the movies in question and the crimes committed may at times be glaring, what so many people don't seem to realize is that these people would have murdered no matter what. The fact that they do it while wearing a Ghostface mask or replicating a scene from a horror movie really means nothing, as they would have eventually killed in some way or other regardless of being exposed to a movie like Scream or Child's Play. For the killers, it's just an attempt to take the blame off themselves and for the media outlets and parents that go after horror films, it's merely an attempt to find an explanation for the existence of evil in the world. Sorry folks, but even if another horror movie never gets made or another rock album ever gets put out, there are still going to be people running wild out there committing horrific crimes against their fellow civilians. They may not do it wearing the mask of the next icon of horror that comes along in the future, but what difference does that really make? I think it's high time to turn our attention to the real problems in this world that are causing people to do the fucked up shit they do ...
Nevertheless, it's still interesting to read about this stuff. For further reading, read up on some crimes allegedly inspired by Oldboy, Dexter, Natural Born Killers, American Psycho and even Twilight .... yes, Twilight!