Top 10 Films To Have Driven People To Murder

The debate over whether movies can motivate crime has raged for years. This Top 10 Films list looks at a bunch of movies that have allegedly inspired real life crimes…

A debate has raged for many years about violence in the media having an adverse influence on society, leading in some cases to very disturbing crimes. The debate was writ large in 1993 after the murder of James Bulger in Liverpool, England. The two killers, both just ten years of age, had allegedly watched Child’s Play 3 and then re-enacted scenes from the film in the abduction, torture and killing of their two-year-old victim. It marked a period of hysteria that harked back to the UK’s Video Recordings Act of 1984 when the “Video Nasty” – a term coined a couple of years earlier by Mary Whitehouse for films deemed unsuitable for audience consumption – welcomed a host of films into its seedy underbelly that were consequently banned in the country.

A Clcokwork Orange, film scene,

Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange was blamed for every act of violence in Britain in the early part of the seventies. Kubrick eventually asked Warner Bros. to withdraw the film from theatrical release.

Whitehouse was the poster girl of this ultra-conservative movement and became infamous for campaigns against what she saw as the permissive society, especially as depicted in films and television. Whitehouse was campaigning for years before she got her claws into the world of cinema. When Thatcher’s government took charge she found several supporters in some very high-up places including Thatcher herself. Her decisive campaign against “video nasties” in the early part of the 1980s played a crucial role in the sanctioning of the 1984 Video Recordings Act. Although not banned under the new legislation, the act was the defining reason the UK could not watch The Exorcist for twenty years. Other notable films banned under the act included The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Straw Dogs, and prominent “video nasties” such as The Driller Killer, The Evil Dead, Cannibal Holocaust, and I Spit On Your Grave.

“Her main focus was on sex, followed by bad language and violence. Odd: if she had reversed the order, she might have been more effective.”Academic Richard Hoggart on Mary Whitehouse

Whether you agree with Whitehouse (few did, then or now, apart from Thatcher and a few of her cronies) she did have a point in terms of the way films were advertised. The Driller Killer kicked off the era of the video nasty thanks to its crude advertising campaign. The film’s distributors took out a full page advert in a number of magazines and publications depicting the explicit poster art. The blood-filled poster showed a man in obvious anguish being subjected to a drill entering his forehead. This resulted in a large number of complaints sent to the Advertising Standards Agency. Britain’s conservative newspapers were quick to act with The Sunday Times printing an article entitled “How high street horror is invading the home”, and, typical of the Daily Mail, they exposed “video nasties” as the reason why youth crime was on the rise.

But the correlation between crime and media violence is a blurred one. That’s why the argument for and against the depiction of sex, violence and bad language causing the ills of society to erupt is one fraught with danger. A Clockwork Orange has frequently been cited as a film that induces a negative reaction in those that view it yet Kubrick uses violence like a mirror on the world. Yes, the film is violence and sadistic but Kubrick’s point is that society is no different. What detractors of the film fail to point out is that Kubrick’s use of depravity forces us to be complicit and therefore question our own reaction to such events. It doesn’t encourage such actions, it ultimately says they are physically sickening.

Three of the most notorious video nasties.

Three of the most notorious video nasties.

I personally agree that The Driller Killer’s poster was not suitable for mainstream print, where the control of those who view it is largely unsupervised. But that does not mean the film should not be released. There is a distinct difference between turning a page in a magazine and being faced with the graphic depiction of murder, than choosing to view a horror film. In one instance you are unknowingly faced with what is a horrifying act in a context that is presumably far removed from murder and death. In the other instance you have chosen to view a film that depicts such horrifying events and prepared accordingly. My problem with censorship is that it defeats the possibility of choice, something that should be available in a free, democratic society. The ban on The Driller Killer, like all the other films removed from shop shelves, is therefore undemocratic. However, I do agree that the poster for The Driller Killer poses an interesting problem.

“Although not banned under the new legislation, the act was the defining reason the UK could not watch The Exorcist for twenty years.”Video Recordings Act 1984

What all this means in practical terms is that I couldn’t watch two of the greatest horror films ever made until my twenties – the films being The Exorcist and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. And I also had to put up with heavily edited versions of films on British TV – for example, I never knew Robocop was so graphically bloody until I finally saw it uncut on DVD.

Yet, it was Child’s Play 3 that supposedly encouraged two twisted ten-year-old children to commit a disgusting murder. This was a film deemed suitable for public consumption by those in charge. God forbid they see one of the “video nasties” – ie. one of the film’s deemed morally corruptible. What would they have done then? Moreover, since the banned films have come back into circulation after the relaxation of censorship laws following the departure of James Ferman from the BBFC in 1999 (the year the UK could finally see The Exorcist again, or in my case, for the first time) has there been a increase in violent crime in society? Or, indeed, have these banned films suddenly topped the charts of films cited by murderers as the influencing factors in their despicable acts? The answer, as the films below highlight, is a decisive “no”. Just as Kubrick pointed out in his masterpiece A Clockwork Orange, society was cruel and violent in the seventies, it is cruel and violent now, and it will be cruel and violent in the future.

But do films, violent or otherwise, influence people to commit crime? I don’t think they do. There are many factors more important in the creation of a criminal mind. I’m not a psychologist but I know from experience of watching violent films myself that they have not inspired me to act in a criminal manner. In fact, they make me more determined to stay away from such things. And since friends and family have had similar reactions to horror films as me it seems the argument they drive people to commit crime is false.

Newspaper coverage of crimes that have been associated with films.

Newspaper coverage of crimes that have been associated with films.

Where the argument holds the most weight is in the idea that they make those susceptible to committing crime either more creative in their endeavours, or encouraged in their criminal behaviour with the film acting as the catalyst. But again there has to be more deciding factors in someone choosing to murder somebody else. Ultimately, film becomes the easy target, when other, more deep-rooted and telling issues, are the cause of society’s woes.

Of those films cited by the killer(s) or the police as influencing murder, here are the top ten:

10. Robocop 2 (Kirshner, 1990)

robocop 2, Top 10 Films

Perhaps surprisingly, Robocop 2 had to make this list thanks to serial killer Nathanial White. White, who was out on parole at the time of his killing spree, assaulted and murder a number of victims, killing six. White later told police how Robocop 2 had inspired the way in which he murdered one of his victims, describing in graphic detail a scene in the film which he played out in real life.

9. The Deer Hunter (Cimino, 1978)

deer hunter, russian roulette, Top 10 Films

The Russian Roulette scene in the movie has been the inspiration behind many real life recreations of the suicidal game. In countries around the world, similar copycat deaths have occurred.

8. Oldboy (Chan-Wook, 2003)

oldboy, film, Top 10 Films

In 2007, U.S. student Cho Seung-Hui killed thirty-two students of Virginia Tech university, injuring seventeen others, in a shooting rampage that became known as the Virginia Tech massacre. Prior to the incident, it is alleged he repeatedly watched Oldboy.

7. Taxi Driver (Scorsese, 1976)

taxi driver, john hinkley, jodie foster, Top 10 Films

John Hinkley Jr. tried but failed to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in 1981 because, believe it or not, he thought Travis Bickle was talking to him and in carrying out an assassination of Reagan he could impress real life actress Jodie Foster (who plays the young prostitute in the film). Hinkley failed in his attempt but did wound Reagan in the attack. He was charged with a variety of offences but found to be, unsurprisingly, clinically insane.

6. A Clockwork Orange (Kubrick, 1971)

clockwork orange, kubrick, Top 10 Films

The only film to be withdrawn from British circulation by its own director due to copycat crimes, A Clockwork Orange should be notorious for the right reasons (in that it’s a mesmerising, brilliant piece of work by a visionary filmmaker) but is often thought of for all the wrong reasons. That is because it is said to have influenced several murders, most notably, two incidents of teenage boys imitating the film. One, dressed as a Droog, stabbed a classmate, the other assaulted a tramp to death. In another incident, a girl was gang raped by a group singing the song Singing in the Rain, which features in Kubrick’s film.

5. A Nightmare on Elm Street (Craven, 1984)

nightmare on elm street, freddy krueger, murder, Top 10 Films

Since Wes Craven’s films get such a bad reputation in sensationlist media who want to blame the movies for creating the psychotics of society, perhaps he should be locked up. Poor chap. In 2004, Donald Gonzales told prosecutors it was Wes Craven’s fault for him going on a three day slice and dice rampage that left four people dead. The clinically diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic said he aspired to be Freddy Krueger and kill as many people as his “idol”.

4. Natural Born Killers (Stone, 1994)

natural born killers, tarantino, stone, real life killers, Top 10 Films

Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers was always going to get named in the blame game since it depicts a loved-up couple becoming celebrities because of their killing spree. Author John Grisham actually tried to bring legal action against the film;s producer’s after Sarah Edmondson and Benjamin Darrus cited the film as inspiration behind them killing two people. The Columbine massacre also has links to the film as the killers noted references to Natural Born Killers in their journals. There are numerous other murders that have significant links to the film including a fourteen-year-old boy who murdered a young girl because he wanted to be “famous like the Natural Born Killers”.

3. The Birth of a Nation (Griffith, 1915)

birth of a nation, race riots, Top 10 Films

D.W. Griffith’s film about the American Civil War is notorious for its derogatory depiction of African-Americans. Following the film’s release, massive race riots broke out across America and several historians have blamed Griffith’s film for inciting the violence. Many men, women and children lost their lives to the racist, ritualistic murders carried out by the Ku Klux Klan.

2. Scream (Craven, 1996)

scream, neve campbell, Top 10 Films

Scream has been blamed for a number of copycat murders or attempted murders. The most disturbing was the case of a seventeen-year-old in France who stabbed a classmate several times with a kitchen knife. The murderer called the victim in a similar way to phone calls placed in the film and wore the notorious Ghostface mask while committing the crime. The film has been cited as influencing at least half a dozen other murders or attempted murders.

1. Child’s Play (Holland – 1982, Lafia – 1990, Bender – 1991)

The most notorious films to have inspired crime are chillingly telling of the affect of violence in the media on young minds. Child’s Play III in particular is renowned for all the wrong reasons as it was cited as the inspiration behind two ten-year-olds – Robert Thompson and Jon Venables – abducting, torturing and murdering two-year-old James Bulger. The disgusting crime was headline news in the UK for many months, rekindling the belief that the banning of films deemed unsuitable for consumption was a practical and useful solution to defeating crime in the society. That debate continues to rage on today but what was most disturbing about the crime, and the reason Child’s Play 3 came in for such public derision from many quarters, was the age of those involved. James Bulger didn’t live to see his third birthday while Thompson and Venables had yet to reach their teen years.

Although Jon Venables’ father denies his son ever saw Child’s Play 3, the conclusion to their truly shocking torture of the two-year-old is very similar to a scene featured in the film where killer Chucky tries to kill a person under the wheels of a ghost train. Perhaps what is more damning evidence of a correlation between the murder and the film is that Jamie was splashed in blue paint, just as Chucky is in Child’s Play 3.

Ultimately, the police concluded that the film did not influence the ten-year-old boys to commit such a heinous crime but Chucky – the doll that kills – has become an easy scapegoat for sick minds to blame for their disturbing activities.

In Manchester, a city close to Liverpool where James Bulger was killed, a sixteen-year-old girl was burnt alive by a group of boys who allegedly quoted lines from Child’s Play while they tortured and murdered her. In Australia, Martin Bryant said Child’s Play 2 had inspired him to go on a shooting spree, while a woman blamed the fact her son had been watching Child’s Play too many times as the reason behind him stabbing her husband.

The debate goes on…

The debate about violence in the media will rage on. I believe that violent films do not make people go out and commit crime. Each of the tragic instances highlighted above were crimes committed by unstable individuals who were already open to notions of crime, death and carnage. John Hinkley Jr. was clinically insane, believing not only that Travis Bickle was real and talking to him on a one to one basis, but he also had an imaginary girlfriend who had been a part of his life for several years. Cho Seung-Hui who committed the Virginia Tech massacre and Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold who committed the Columbine High School massacre were unstable individuals who had long histories of social dysfunction. You can look into each case and see deep-rooted problems that go well beyond simply imitating a scene from a film or claiming to be inspired by events depicted on the cinema screen.

In August 2011, England saw some of the worst and most sustained rioting for a number of years. Politicians, police, the media and the general public are now asking what could have sparked the violence with one police chief claiming video game Grand Theft Auto had something to do with it. How long will it be until they blame the movies?

What are your thoughts on cinema violence? Do you feel that violent films are a danger to society? Is life imitating art a legitimate argument for instigating violent crime or are there more deep-rooted issues involved?

Written and compiled by Daniel Stephens

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About the Author
Editor of Top 10 Films, Dan Stephens is usually found pondering his next list. An unhealthy love of 1980s Hollywood sees most of his top 10s involving a time-travelling DeLorean and an adventurous archaeologist going by the name Indiana.

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  1. Avatar
    George Reply

    That’s a great title! Great post, too.

  2. Avatar
    rtm Reply

    Hi Dan, I think I’ve covered part of this topic in Ronan’s morality blog-a-thon. I think filmmakers do share some responsibility but of course, it’s not as simple as that, there are other factors to consider.

    I haven’t seen any of these as they’re just not my cup of tea, but not surprised that some people are influenced by the violence depicted in them.

  3. Avatar
    Dan Reply

    @rtm: The topic is a minefield I have to say. And, as the introduction suggests, I got carried away with discussing it. However, I tried to steer clear of making a decisive argument although I think my feelings towards cinema violence do come through the text.

    I share your thoughts on the responsibilities of filmmakers – The Birth of a Nation shows the power cinema can have. But that was a period ripe for that sort of behaviour because of other deciding factors. And I do think cinema gets a bad reputation when it comes to blame for society’s ills. I also find censorship hard to stomach and I think that is a big part of it too.

    I love Kubrick’s point in A Clockwork Orange that our society can be a very violent and nasty place. He holds a mirror up to us and says – what are you going to do about it. By the looks of things, we haven’t done a thing to correct it.

  4. Avatar
    Dirtywithclass Reply

    I totally agree with you on the censorship thing. There were crazies before movies came along, it is just now they can conveniently blame there behavior on it

  5. Avatar
    Fitz Reply

    I completely agree with your point on ‘Clockwork Orange’. It is supposed to be physically sickening to the audience, how anyone could look at that film and go, “Huh, I would like to recreate that,” is beyond me.

  6. Avatar
    Tom Clift Reply

    This is an absolutely fantastic piece. When I saw the title in my Google Reader I admit I was a little worried, but your discussion of the issue is fascinating and very astute (not to mention that the list, when it comes, is actually really interesting…in a morbid in kind of way).

    I definitely think killings can be inspired by films – in fact your list makes it very obvious that this is the case. But it’s not the films fault – I don’t think a movie can drive a person to kill unless they were already pscyhologically inclined to do so.

    On the one hand, I don’t think a filmmaker has any obligation to censor themselves because of what a few bad apples/mental disturbed individuals might do. On the other, I can appreciate why Kubrick might have felt he had to pull A CLOCKWORK ORANGE from theatres. I don’t believe the government should have the right to censor material, but perhaps it’s diferent for the filmmaker. I know I would feel awful if something I had created led someone (even indirectly) to kill or torture another human being.

    Again, great article Dan.

  7. Avatar
    Univarn Reply

    I have to say – amazing and captivating content aside – this blog post has to be a front-runner for a “woah what the hell is going on here” intrigue award.

  8. Avatar
    Jaccstev Reply

    Another really impressive list, Dan!
    Can’t imagine how a movie has influenced those peoples to commit such a dreadful crime.

  9. Avatar
    Custard Reply

    The list aside this is a great post and a very intriguing and thought provoking read. As Ruth said it was touched upon in the Morality Bites blogathon a little while back. But you have written a great one here my friend.

    Thanks for putting this together Buddy

  10. Avatar
    Rodney Reply

    Having seen all of these except Birth of A Nation, I must say that I’m still not feeling any latent homicidal tendencies bubbling up – I’ll let y’all know if that’s gonna change, though.

    Great list Dan, and a well thought out article.

  11. Avatar
    Dan Reply

    @dirtywithclass: Good point.

    @Fitz: Totally agree and it’s a point you could express to many similar films.

    @Tom: Thanks Tom. I suppose one other way of looking at it is how film (or the media in general) can influence us in other ways such as fashion sense, the music we choose to listen to, the hobbies we decide to do. Does that mean violence can influence people to commit violence?

    But then, for something like a hobby, the person has to be interested in a similar thing beforehand. Like a film about poker encouraging a casual card player who only previously knew non-gambling card games to take up poker playing. So can films that are violent encourage the violent tendencies of unstable individuals to erupt?

    Do you then blame the filmmaker if a film leads to criminal behaviour?

    @Univarn: Thanks Univarn. I wanted to create a thought-provoking top ten this week and I hope I’ve achieved just that.

    @Jaccstev: Yes it is unbelievable when you consider it at face value – how could a film push someone to commit atrocious crimes?

    @Custard: Thanks Custard. I think I wanted to example films here that have been cited as influencing factors behind terrible crimes – notably murder without putting blame on anyone but the individuals involved. But the easiest thing in the world is to say – as that kid does in Jaws while pointing at his conniving friend – “he made me do it.”

    @Rodney: The key is to remain calm and repeat – it’s only a movie, it’s only a movie…

  12. Avatar
    Max Reply

    Wow this an excellent piece of writing. Very thought provoking.

    What if I told you I’ve only ever seen one movie on this list, but I’m trying to watch at least two more (I’ve seen Oldboy / want to see Clockwork Orange and Taxi Driver). Anyways, this a great article.

  13. Avatar
    Claire Reply

    As I said yesterday, a very thought-provoking piece.

    This line sums up my feelings, too: “There are many factors more important in the creation of a criminal mind. I’m not a psychologist but I know from experience of watching violent films myself that they have not inspired me to act in a criminal manner. In fact, they make me more determined to stay away from such things.”

    Very nicely put, Dan. I am a rational human being: after watching a violent film I do not want to go copy it.

    A Clockword Orange was, of course, a book first. I’ve read it several times. As far as I’m aware, it has continued to be in publication since its release in the 1960s. Why then was the film criticized? It stayed very true to the book and it was given an X-rating on its first release. Perhaps instead of laying blame with the film itself, more restrictions should be enforced on who can/can’t watch a film.

    I’m sure the aforementioned killers watch the films at their own homes but in the case of the Bulger murder, perhaps the parents should have been held to account for allowing their child to watch a 15-rated(R)film when they were so young?

    I think this debate will rage on forever. It’s the same with video games, of course.

  14. Avatar
    Andina Reply

    Never thought ‘Scream’ would provoke people into murder. To me it’s just a ‘light’ types of horror/thriller movie.

    I thought although these movies is on the edge on influencing people do murder, it is also the mental condition of a person that counts and his/her environment background.

    Don’t you think ‘Fight Club’ should be in this list?

    A great topic to raise, to share awareness about the danger effect of it.

  15. Avatar
    Dan Reply

    @Max: Thanks Max. There are a few films on this list that have to be seen – not all the films I might add. A Clockwork Orange is definitely one that should be seen.

    @Claire: Thanks Claire! There’s always that question of being desensitised to violence. I think that has certainly been leveled at video games.

    @Andina: Thanks for stopping by Andina. Believe it or not, Fight Club is not one of the most notorious films for influencing murder…perhaps brutish behaviour, but not murder.

  16. Avatar
    Anna Reply

    This is a really interesting post! And a difficult subject matter.

    It’s hard to say whether people inclined to do murder / other violent crime seek out certain films, or if certain films incline people to murder.

    It’s a cause/effect thing that’s really not solvable.

  17. Avatar
    Tyler Reply

    I think blaming the movies is just an excuse for serial killers. Half of them were so sick in the head they would’ve killed anyway, regardless of the films, but I suppose with some of them (including the Bulger killing), movies had an influence. However banning them is a supreme overreaction.

    One notable instance of this subject was with the Utoya killings recently. The shooter named Lars von Trier’s DOGVILLE as one of his favourite films, and indeed, in this movie, there is a scene where an entire village of people are brutally slaughtered by gunmen.

    Strangely enough, Dogville is one of my favourite movies, and I can see how it would give people bad ideas, but I don’t consider it a film that should be hated for that. It is a brilliant work of art.

  18. Avatar
    Greg Reply

    I used to have that Texas Chainsaw poster above my dorm room bed. It scared my roommate and all potential girls away very nicely.
    As well as being controversial for its violence, The Deer Hunter is controversial for being the only moderately good film Cimino ever made. His career is so abysmal (he makes M. Night Shamalananaman look spectacular) that the options of critics and scholars on Deer Hunter has actually worsened; because his career is so bad, they assume they misjudged The Deer Hunter and that film is also not as good. It’s bizarre.

  19. Avatar
    Caz Reply

    Very interesting to list to see how much films can have an impact on people!

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  21. Avatar
    Will Tingle Reply

    I’ve got hold of the original 79 banned “Video Nasties” in their uncut form, and I’m watching one a week. If there’s anything to this whole “Movies make murderers” thing, I should be arrested (or found dead) in the early part of 1213…

  22. Avatar
    Raghav Modi Reply

    Great write-up Dan. Glad you reported it on twitter. Firstly, I’m extremely anti the thought that films cause violence. I’ve always found this an easy way out for people to put the blame on something. I won’t hide away from the fact that maybe people get ideas from films, but to say films are solely responsible is wrong. Anyone can get ideas from novels, older crimes, what not.

    Loved the list and the “article” before it as well.

  23. Avatar
    Alison Reply

    ‘Scream’ is the biggest joke ever – it isn’t even a horror film! The people who cite that, ‘Natural Born Killers’, ‘Child’s Play’, etc are absolute morons who conveniently look to something to blame. All I know is this: I saw over 100 films that were rated 15 or 18 when I was underage and I loved horror movies. However, I still have not committed murder or beaten up anyone as a result.

    What’s also interesting is that no one ever said ban ‘The Catcher In The Rye’ when Mark Chapman said it inflenced him to kill John Lennon, nor does anyone ever say to ban hip hop music when there are drive by shootings that are inspired by those cds. Yet here we are over 25 years later and people are still moaning about it. The evidence is here now, the guinnea pigs who saw the films in the 80s and grew up fine are the evidence.

    More to the point, the idea of banning films, or more appropriately the whole idea of censorship is now thankfully a thing of the past, thanks to the internet. Any film, book, or violent CD ever made is available, whether or not the government think we should see it, and more importantly it’s available to everyone, free!

  24. Avatar
    Thomas Hazlett Reply

    I must admit this is a discussion that I cant help but want to get my teeth into. You all make such fantastically valid points and I do not intend to poo poo any of them in the slightest. Only just to give my own thought into it.
    Personally I dont think films incite blood lust, neither games or even books! (i.e Catcher in the Rye supposedly inspired Mark Chapman to kill John Lennon). As a lot of you have said, many of these people will have homicidal intent already. If we look at the human mind either way, people are influenced by everything in every day life. Not only that, many people look at everything in a different way. “Clockwork Orange” being used a lot already is an example. It was a book originally before it hit the big screen. So many different reviews came from this masterpiece. “Corrupt, Exciting, Disgusting, Chilling, Revolting, Terrible, Incredible, Smart, Intelligent, Stupefying, Needlessly Violent” and so on. These were words from many different people. So the incite into murderous intent was not conjured from what was in the film but what was already within in the person to begin with. What the film did do was spark off indulgence. The same way we look at cookery shows and see food that looks worth a try. Some minds will say delicious, others will say they would rather eat from the dog bowl.
    Now some may say “Food shows are made to indulge!” But that is another point. Some films are there to indulge carnal desires or inspire a world into war or even to cause insanity! If that was there intent was there would not be a film industry cos everyone would be either dead or in prison! Films are there to tell a story. Make us cry, laugh, scream! Piss our pants and yet still walk out going “well that was a good watch!” “Yes hun, I see you wet your pants with delight!”
    It is human nature to cast blame elsewhere. We dont all do it because some people cant do it. For a lot of the world though, to say “It was not just me” lightens the load on their minds/shoulders. For an unstable mind to take the burden of something so unfathomable would destroy them. The human mind does what it can to stay alive, so it will find ways to make life easier. So people blame films or games or even books. Not just to look less of an unstable person but to survive. Politics, police and public (the PPP) will follow suit to. Because if we cant blame someone else, it only falls to the point that we are all capable of madness. So madness must be incited. He he! and if you think about it, in this day and age, we hardly say the first thing we think of. We opt for the second, so we seem less insane 😉

  25. Avatar
    Thomas Hazlett Reply

    Also can I point I a made a little mistake there xD I meant to say “Some films “ARENT” there to indulge……” so if that was confusing, I apologise 😀

  26. Avatar
    mark Reply

    Apparently the fellow who escaped from Jeffrey Dahmar’s apartment and reported him to the police (not the naked teenage Asian kiddie with the bleeding anus who was actually returned to Dahmar by the cops) said they had been watching The Exorcist before Dahmar handcuffed him to the bed and told him he was going to cut his heart out and eat it.

    Also, not sure if anyone ever made a connection between the New York subway vigilante and Death Wish, but it’s possible there might have been a connection.

    As for The Deer Hunter, I disagree that it was Cimino’s only reasonable film – Thunderbolt and Lightfoot was OK too. Interestingly, when the original version of Heaven’s Gate finally came out on video in Australia during the early 1990s, I forced my self to sit through it primarily on the advice of the British Film Institute which, in 1984 I think it was, organised a viewing of the uncut 70mm print in the UK on the grounds that it was some kind of maligned masterpiece.

    After sitting through it, however, I wanted to strangle both Cimino and the collective membership of the BFI. Also, I was nearly bored to death by The Sicilian.

    Does this count?

  27. Avatar
    Andy Reply

    I think that this whole article is based on misrepresentation, the fact that this is a film website, as a film buff the writer displays themself to be, they should be defending the media tradition.

    However by looking at the title, of the article and the content, they support a more psychological tradition of thinking, although ending the paragraph on child’s play 3 with a quote ‘…has become an easy scapegoat for sick minds to blame for their disturbing activities.’

    The fact that they have even entertained the possibility of it being at fault for the murder is ludicrous.

    Speaking psychologically and from a media academia perspective, Thompson did not need a catalyst for killing, as the child displayed numerous items of a psychopathological paradigm (see Hare, B. Psychopath Test) during the interviews with Thompson by police.

    in conclusion, there are too many factors in which someone commits an act of murder. Media-violence in relation to real-world violence is of what Martin Barker quotes ‘Common sense writ large’, when something new is developing (in this case film) people will “find a witch” and therfore “find” acts of witchcraft (in this case, find acts of violence that they claim would cause someone to commit real-world violence)

    Anti-film rhetorics will continue to try and find these links, and have been doing so for years, but as studies show, as of yet nothing is proven (and yes I have looked into Bandura et al (which although proves a link, there are extentiating circumstances as to WHY this link was found, as to say anamolies and flaws in the final result), Mark Ladler, the Surgeon General screen tests, and William H. Short’s experiment 1928)

    Andy B, Ba. Film Studies

  28. Avatar
    Dan Reply

    @Andy: Hi Andy, thanks for the insightful comment. I’m very much against the school of thinking that blames media violence for the act in the real world. It is nice to see you highlighting scientific studies to support that claim.

  29. Avatar
    Lifestar Reply

    Violent films per se are not truly responsible for a perpetrator including violent adolescent’s desire and act to commit crimes against another human being! That is why we need to be very selective and very careful in not being absorbed and mimic the violent and criminal behaviors that we saw on a day to day basis whether is from the media or from actual life events! The ones who tend to falsely and inaccurately held the media or violent films responsible for their own choices and actions truly need to look inside themselves and ask them why they even develop that mentality and motive to begin with rather than wrongfully and unethically blame the school, blame the media, etc. for such and such when truly these individuals truly have given the freedom, liberty, and power as “a human being to choose right and choose wisely with knowledge, wisdom, and ethics, so, their well-beings and the well-beings of others could be and shall be better off not just for our current generation, but for the future generation and for humanity!

    By Amy LifeStar

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    What's it to ya Reply

    Why do they have to cancel chucky just becuase of those to f****** up kids everyone likes that film well half the world does and I mean come on you don’t see scream getting banned and childs play has a relly good storyline to it a killer stuck in a doll it’s fucking hilarious. And I’m relly pissed that they had to cancel the game chucky wanna play because people didn’t raise kick starter enough money so what they could of just still released it. But I’m glad curse of chuckys coming out becuase it sound badass and I carnt wait.

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    jackdeth72 Reply

    Hi, Dan:

    Great list of the top runners.

    Though, I like to fall back Ed McBain, 87th Precinct adaptation, ‘Fuzz’ from the 1970s.

    With Burt Reynolds and Racquel Welch. And its stake out scene where Reynold’s Det. Steve Carella poses as a wino sleeping under a blanket. And some street toughs try to set Carella ablaze with gasoline and matches.

    And a brief trend of real life burning of bums took place in Boston.

    Still find it odd that the mythos of Charley Starkweather never seems to go away!

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    David Bokchito Reply

    Hi Dan
    I might get poked in the eye for my comment, but l’m saying it anyway. The desensitizing of the American public is way more than obvious to me. I am still trying to figure out how we have come to “enjoy” watching human beings get tortured, killed, raped etc. David Grossman is a man that everyone should research. He proves in his book, that you can not help but be affected by this sort of violence. Just because you don’t grab a gun and shoot somebody doesn’t mean you are not affected.
    Here is a point. Tell someone we are not going to be able to wear t shirts anymore, and they look disappointed. Tell some folks that they will not be able to watch these type movies anymore, and they go ballistic. They never say, “oh well. There are plenty of other movies out there.” I find this display of rabid reaction to be a very clear indicator. Not a good one.
    Another point to be made, is that one can NEVER gauge the entire country by the way they themselves behave or react. Blinding yourself to what is happening over the whole country is all you are doing.

    • Avatar
      Dan Reply

      Hi David, thanks for the comment. I too am at a loss to understand how acts of violence in the media have become a source of entertainment. But the desensitising debate is an interesting one. I think filmmakers are trying to keep up with TV and internet: reality-based stuff has made violence (and its increasingly graphic depiction) even more prominent. If fictional violence in the films mentioned in the article above is one thing, we’re now in an era where real life violence (passed from viewer to viewer by social media) has desensitised audiences to such a degree the movies are comparatively tame.

      I can’t pretend to be a psychologist so can only speak from a critics perspective but I would be naive to think that violence in movies didn’t have some impact upon an individual or individuals prior to them committing an atrocity of some kind. However, cinema is just another human experience and I believe there are a thousand other influencing factors on a person in regards to their actions; influencing factors that are far more important in their thinking process.

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    Dave Bokchito Reply

    I would like to point you to a source. (See link below) I met this man years ago at one of our conferences. Although I do not agree with everything in this article, the one thing that he said that stuck with me, was that the Islamic Fundementalists use American video games for training. Everything that was produced at the time, 1998, has been far surpassed by movies today.

    I was a paramedic in the late seventies to the early eighties. I witnessed many emergencies where children were either present or a victim. Many times you would see a 10 to 14 year old either out of control or frozen with no idea what was going on. I have witnessed two horrible emergency incidents in the last three years involving a 12 year old and a 10 year old. In both cases, they were unemotional. Completely un effected. The 10 year old could talk about watching his mother get stabbed by his father as if it were a story, from the next day to weeks later. The 12 year old was in a car accident where her dad was hauled off in the ambulance unconscious. An officer wanted to hold her and she giggled. I never saw this in all the years that I was working emergencies.
    When these kids mature, they think human suffering is something they will never have to see is reality, but will fight you if you condemn their form of entertainment. A very unhealthy form of anger.
    Please read this article

    If what we are seeing, is as dangerous as these Psychs are saying, we are in very grave trouble. If we take precautions against this stuff and they are wrong, nothing harmed. What happens if we don’t, and they are right?

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