It’s that time of year again. Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. Time to show that special someone just how much you care. Time to really break into that creativity cavern in the back of your brain and pull out all the stops to prove your dedication. Stuck on ideas? Well, we can’t really help you in that department because you definitely shouldn’t take any inspirations from the ladies and fellas on this list.
Just like in real life true crime cases, horror movie killers sometimes like to get flashy with their calling cards. Here is a list of some movie killers that just couldn’t help but taunt the police and their victims alike with some extra verbiage.
Sure, their prose may be impressive, their delivery may be inspired but their methods are questionable to say the least.
As a little warning, this list is spoilery to the extreme and lists killers by name.
7. Brenda Bates – Urban Legend (1998)
Aside from being one of the best surprise female killers, Brenda Bates of Urban Legend (1998) took her job dispatching of her fellow co-eds extremely seriously and left at least one seriously macabre note along the way. Horror fans may remember seeing genre darling Danielle Harris (Halloween) playing Tosh, the manic depressive goth roommate to final girl Natalie played by Alicia Witt (88 Minutes). Unfortunately, Tosh has little respect for the cohabitation situation they find themselves in at college and often, Natalie walks in on her having extremely loud sex across the shared space. Well, it is this rude habit that becomes Tosh’s downfall because, one night Natalie enters her room to hear the familiar groans and moans from Tosh’s side of the room. Being a good roommate, she chooses to remain in the dark and just throw some headphones on to allow some soft, college folk rock to lull her to sleep and drown out the noise.
Once morning arrives, Natalie finds out that it wasn’t moans of ecstasy that were escaping Tosh’s mouth, but instead it was calls for help as she was brutally murdered merely feet away in the darkness. To really hammer it home, Brenda chose one of the spookiest urban legends around, using her victim’s blood to write “Aren’t You Glad You Didn’t Turn On The Light?” on the wall above them. It’s time to meet with the RA now, guys.
6. Will Benson – I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)
Every 90s slasher junkie knows that I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997) is one of those flicks that remains fun, because it almost seems to know how absurd and convoluted it is, while still remaining a genre staple. With Sarah Michelle Geller (Buffy The Vampire Slayer), Freddie Prinze Jr. (She’s All That), Ryan Philippe (Cruel Intentions) and Jennifer Love Hewitt (Can’t Hardly Wait) as the main crew, it has plenty of really fun nostalgia notes to go around. After this motley crew ends up drunkenly hitting a fisherman with their luxury vehicle one crazy night, they dump the poor sap into the ocean only to find out that – whoops – he was still alive! Now they’ve upgraded from reckless endangerment to straight up murder.
The man, Will Benson, doesn’t die after being dumped and ends up enacting a long game of revenge on this group of teens that includes impromptu haircuts and some crabs in a dead guy’s mouth. What’s fun about Will, though, is his penchant for extremely succinct letter writing. He lets this group know before the carnage commences that he knows what they did last Summer and he writes just that on a single piece of paper to start things off. There is also a surprise foggy shower message to end the film with the ominous call to a sequel, “I Still Know.”
5. Buffalo Bill – The Silence Of The Lambs (1991)
Buffalo Bill lacked a lot of positive qualities but no one can say he wasn’t poetic. When women of certain dress size started being discovered with slabs of their skin removed, young FBI recruit Agent Clarice Starling played by the legendary Jodie Foster (Panic Room), is called on to the case to try to extract information about this brutal killer from the iconic Hannibal Lector brilliantly played by Anthony Hopkins (Hannibal).
It seems like this killer doesn’t leave a trace of himself behind until an exotic Death Head Moth is discovered inside of the soft palette of the latest victim. At first glance this is just strange and kind of gross but Clarice presses Hannibal Lector for further insight only to be told that this moth could signify a desire to transition or a metamorphosis of some kind that this mystery murderer intends to complete. When it is discovered that Buffalo Bill, played by Ted Levine (Shutter Island), intends to use the skin he lifted from his victims as a woman suit, the message takes on a deeper, far more poetic meaning. How.. sweet?
4. Mathias Lund-Helgesen – The Snowman (2017)
This tale of revenge and childhood trauma has plenty of messages left behind by our killer, Mathias, played by Jonas Karlsson. After his mother completed suicide and almost took him along with her as a child (shortly after young Mathias built a rad snowman for himself), Mathias spends his time punishing those around him (specifically his new girlfriend’s ex, who happens to be the detective working on this case) by sending spooky notes signed with a snowman. When he isn’t sending love letters to police, he gets his kicks by chopping his victims up in various ways and often placing their parts on snowmen or just leaving a snowman someone in the vicinity of the case. While this flick isn’t exactly perfect, the snowman calling card is too great to ignore. Nothing says snowy day fun like murder.
3. Axel Palmer – My Bloody Valentine (1981)
The original My Bloody Valentine (1981) is like Footloose but with a lot more murder. The location is a totally believable little mining town called Valentine Bluffs where a gas explosion at the coal mine once trapped five unfortunate miners. They all eventually died except for a miner named Harry Warden, who survived for six weeks by cannibalizing his dead friends. The kicker to this is that the explosion occurred when the foremen of the crew left early to attend the town’s Valentine’s dance.
Harry ended up being institutionalized because being forced to eat people is likely traumatizing, but he manages to escape on Valentine’s Day to enact his revenge on the foremen that danced while he suffered. In a very intense request for a cease and desist on the Valentine’s madness, he tears out their hearts and leaves them in decorative Valentine’s boxes with a warning to stop this Valentine’s dance once and for all. It all becomes somewhat of a local legend but years later when the town’s mayor and police chief receive Valentine boxes containing human hearts, it is clear this dance is bad news and a new murderous miner is in business. Human hearts are an illegal way to say you care, remember that.
2. John Doe – SE7EN (1995)
Honestly, John Doe played by Kevin Spacey (American Beauty) is one of the best killers on-screen. He is scary as hell, he is anonymous and he is so damn elaborate with his crime scenes. This guy plays the longest game possible but the results are worth it, in the worst way imaginable. Se7en uses the tried and true blue print of a retiring homicide detective William Somerset played by Morgan Freeman (Shawshank Redemption), who partners up with the young homicide recruit David Mills played by a very young Brad Pitt (Fight Club) to crack one of the most insane murder cases ever committed to film.
Their guy, who ends up being John Doe, tortures and murders his victims in accordance with one of the seven deadly sins that he decides they have committed. His messages to the police are clear and he makes sure to leave the name of the sin at the crime scene somewhere, either written in bodily fluids or in one case kitchen grease (bet you can’t tell what sin that is for). It is his ultimate message that has become one of the most iconic scenes in horror. A package arrives in front of Detective Mills containing the severed head of his newly pregnant wife. That is a clear message, I’d say.
1. Jeremy Melton – Valentine (2001)
This is the first film I thought of for this particular topic and although the film has its faults, Valentine remains a classic for its originality. After being humiliated and bullied mercilessly at a Valentines dance in middle school, Jeremy Melton played by David Boreanez (Angel) returns to pick off each of the girls who made it the worst night of his life. The twist is he does this while wearing a cupid mask and leaving a Valentine poem at each of the scenes. A personal favorite? “Roses are red, Violets are blue, They’ll need dental records to identify you.” Man, if you didn’t swoon at that…
Which ‘love’ note do you love most? Let us know and share your horror-fueled thoughts with the Nightmare on Film Street community on Twitter, our Official Subreddit, and the Fiend Club Facebook Group!