Friday, July 31, 2009

Serial Killer Movies and The Child of God

What I found most interesting looking back over the Child of God book was how I would often have movie scenes from different serial killer movies flash into my mind. One of the first was that of the Summer of Sam directed by Spike Lee. The similarities could be seen by looking at how both Ballard and Berkowitz stalked and went after women and couples while in parked cars. If you look at Berkowitz’s early life you also see similarities to Ballard. They were both loners, bullies and introverted. They both shot their victims and didn’t torture or mutilate while alive.
The next movie was The Silence of The Lambs directed by Demme. This came to mind on page 193. This is when Lester was placed in a cage next door to man who had eaten the brains of folks with a spoon. This made me think of Dr. Hannibal Lecter and not only how he had eaten human brains but how he was kept in a cage when imprisoned.
The last two movies that I was able to see in this book were Psycho and Frailty. From reading how Lester dressed up in woman’s clothing (page 140) made me think of the movie Psycho directed by Hitchcock. Looking at the description of the barn on page (4) and the axe on page (70) made me connect the book to the movie Frailty directed by Bill Paxon. However, most of my connection to this movie was through the setting.


  1. Did you also notice the similarities between Lester Ballard in Child of God and Otis in Rob Zombie’s House of a Thousand Corpses and its’ sequel The Devil’s Rejects? There was definitely a sense of déjà vu for me when I was reading the scene about Lester laying down with the dead woman and covering her up. The Devil’s Rejects opened with Otis waking up to a raid on the house by law enforcement and he was lying in bed with a corpse. I was also reminded of these films when Lester attacked Greer wearing the wig made from the entire scalp and hair of one of his victims. Otis tended to flay and wear the entire skins of his.
    I also wondered, if the supposition of the female victims being the daughter of the dump keeper is correct, is it noticeable to anyone else that they fall into a common profile for victims of serial killers? They are of a lower class background, they are on the fringe of society, and they are obviously sexually active. Real-life killers like Jack the Ripper and The Green River killer deliberately chose women who fit this profile. In horror movies as well, it is the woman who is sexually active who dies. The virgin will live, the whore will die.

  2. I also noticed the connection between Silence of the Lambs and Child of God. When Lester is caught with the scalp and hair (173), I recalled the scene where Clarice figures out that Buffalo Bill is tailoring a bodysuit from his female victims. It made me wonder if that was how the book would end.

    I agree with Rebecca's idea about the profile. In almost every movie, book, or television show that portrays serial killers, we see how the victims are linked together by common characteristics. They aren't always the lower class, sexually active female, though that is a common presentation. In David Fincher's movie, Se7en, the victims represent the 7 deadly sins. Jeffrey Dahmer chose males. I think the important point is not necessarily what traits are represented in the profile, but that serial killers traditionally kill based on a self-selected, specific profile.

  3. Dahmer is always regarded as particularly weird for choosing males, I think. I think the revulsion with his crimes is augmented socially by latent and even explicit homophobia.

  4. Jeffery Dahmer went to Ohio State!