5 Killers I Wanted to Kill

My latest thriller, Bone Music, is a story about power reversals—about victims becoming avengers and predators becoming the hunted. Blame a childhood spent watching too many slasher movies that left me with a burning desire to see the charnel house-loving monsters of Hollywood subjected to heavy doses of their own sadistic medicine.

With that in mind, here’s a list of the five killers from books, films, and TV that I most wanted to subject to their own torture devices before they claimed another life. Revenge is a dish best left to fantasy. These maniacs inspired some of my darkest.

Jigsaw from Saw

Full confession: I’ve never seen one second of a Saw film. Fuller full confession: it was listening to a friend describe a scene from one of these films that first gave me the idea for Bone Music. Indeed, one of Jigsaw’s “puzzles” (i.e., a torture device designed to teach the person he traps inside it a profound moral lesson) disturbed me so badly that the only way I could stop visualizing it was if I invented a storyline in which my heroine kicked her way out of it and turned the tables on her captor.

Jigsaw is the most insidious kind of homicidal maniac. He is filled with a sanctimonious moral outrage that drives him to spend something on the order of six thousand work hours building his Rube Goldberg-esque implements of anguish. Into the brazen bull with you, dude. (And yes, the reason I know so much about these films is that I’m one of those people who frequently reads Wikipedia summaries of horror films I’m too afraid to see.)

Matias Solomon from The Blacklist

There isn’t a network show out there that packs the sheer wallop of NBC’s The Blacklist when it comes to delivering diabolical psychopaths week after week. Granted, they’re usually just trying to earn a living. But for them, a hard day’s work means melting down human bodies so they can stage disappearances or convincing people with terminal illnesses to commit political assassinations.

Still, on a show were the villains range from the coldly efficient to the Grand Guignol, no one made me want to leap into the screen with imaginary guns blazing quite like the smug, self-satisfied assassin Matias Solomon (expertly played by actor Edi Gathegi). He’s hardly the show’s most sadistic killer, but every time he’s onscreen, you got the sense he could justify pretty much any act of bloodshed so long as it was in his own interest.

Cheryl Lang from Arlington Road

It was my best friend, writer Eric Shaw Quinn, who first drew my attention to the deeply unnerving 1990s thriller Arlington Road and Joan Cusak’s chilling performance as a sweet-as-pie suburban housewife who turns out to be involved in some seriously nasty business. The full reveal of just what Cheryl and her family are up to doesn’t come until late in the film, and when it does, you feel oh-so-very betrayed. Cheryl was so nice. That hair! That smile! Those sweet, sympathetic eyes. How can it be that she’s a…

I won’t spoil the ending for you, except to say her final scene with Hope Davis has haunted me ever since I first watched it. There’s not a drop of blood or even a scream in it, but it’s subtly terrifying in a way you’ll never forget. And it still makes me long for a time machine so I can go back and prevent her sweet neighbors from falling into the maw of her heartless machinations or, better yet, trap Cheryl in her own basement until her true, murderous self emerges for any visitor to see. She’s undeniable proof of Shakespeare’s old adage that “one may smile and smile and be a villain,” and I want to punish her for it.

Meg Gardiner’s Villains in China Lake and Crosscut

Nobody writes terror-filled crime thrillers like author Meg Gardiner. Since her books are so suspenseful, I won’t spoil too much about the killers involved. But I will give her a special tie vote because, in two of her Evan Delaney novels, she delivered baddies so disturbing and infuriating I wanted to jump into the pages and fight them to the death.

First up, the diabolical clan of religious bigots in China Lake known as The Remnant. Think Westboro Baptist Church on some really, really bad speed. Then, there’s the despicable and sadistic villain of Crosscut, who at first seems to be picking off old high school classmates prior to their reunion due to some adolescent grudge. But because Meg is such an inventive and talented writer, it turns out to be much, much worse—as suggested by the terrifying line he uses with his victims: “Tell me when it hurts.”

King Joffrey from Game of Thrones

Seriously. If you didn’t want to murder King Joffrey every time he appeared on screen—if the sight of his perpetually snarling face didn’t make you wish for a dragon’s fire-breathing powers just so you could turn the murderous, sadistic brat to ash—then I doubt your humanity. Alright. Maybe humanity isn’t the right word here. After all, I seriously considered therapy after hearing the words that came roaring out of me when Joffrey finally—spoiler alert!—met his terrible end.

His evil reign went on a little too long for my taste, but it was interesting to watch a show put forward a character that literally every other character on the show had a great reason to kill. Joffrey’s individual acts—which included shooting arrows through a prostitute he’d tied to his bedpost just for the fun of it—weren’t nearly as dread-inducing as the fact that he was king. Watching for several seasons as all of Westeros remained trapped in the grip of a deranged, remorseless, and bloodthirsty child was one of the most terrifying developments on a show that never scrimps on fear.

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Christopher Rice is the recipient of the Lambda Literary Award and is the New York Times bestselling author of A Density of Souls and the Bram Stoker Award finalists The Heavens Rise and The Vines. He is the head writer and an executive producer of The Vampire Chronicles, a television show based on the bestselling novels by his mother, Anne Rice. Together they penned Ramses the Damned: The Passion of Cleopatra. With his best friend, New York Times bestselling novelist Eric Shaw Quinn, Christopher hosts the YouTube channel The Dinner Party Show with Christopher Rice and Eric Shaw Quinn (#TDPS). He lives in West Hollywood, California. Visit him at www.christopherricebooks.com.

Comments

  1. Jane Schwarz

    You are correct on King Joffrey from Game of Thrones, I don’t think anyone, anywhere could like him. Even his mother found it hard. Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy of your book “Bone Music”.

  2. Gordon Bingham

    Always wanted to off Q from Star Trek Next Generation myself…smarmy, snarky jerks always need to be eliminated…

  3. Gordon Bingham

    Always wanted to off Q from Star Trek Next Generation myself…smarmy, snarky jerks always need to be eliminated…

  4. MaryC

    People who abuse children and animals are at the top of my list.

  5. James Patrick Joyce

    I think I’d have to pick the killers of killers and… damn… now they’re coming for me!

  6. Thomas Walker

    great article! I would love to win the book.

  7. Thomas Walker

    great article! I would love to win the book.

  8. Eve Sherwood-Foley

    Completely agree with Joffrey, plus now I have a couple of things to catch up on! Great premise for a book. I’ve always wondered how cold, remorseless killers would do if subjected to the same crimes.

  9. Barbara Marrs

    Great list!! I’d add Ramsay Bolton from GoT as well…when Jon was punching the hell out of him, I was sitting alone in my thin walled apartment screaming “Kill him! Kill that sonafobitch!!”
    *Can’t wait to read your newest thriller, “Bone Music”!!

  10. Jennifer Hodges

    Alright, now I have to see Arlington Road. I love psych horror without blood. I also have to add Meg Gardiner’s books, along with Bone Music!!

  11. Christine Smiga

    Morgan Sloat from The Talisman is on my list.

  12. lasvegasnv

    creepy

  13. Daniel Morrell

    sounds interesting

  14. John Smith

    How about the stepfather in “The Stepfather,” (1987)? I don’t know that he used “devices,” but he certainly wasn’t very nice!

  15. ELLEN FRANCIS

    Okay…now I have to definitely watch “Arlington Road and check out Meg Gardiner’s books for sure! I wholeheartedly agree with your opinion of Joffrey in GOT…..he could not die soon enough for me! I would also add to the list the bad guy in Mr. Mercedes….evil….pure evil.

  16. Cathy Doyle

    Being a great “Game of Thrones” fan, I understand exactly how you felt when they offed Joffrey, however, no guilt, none at all. Also the Boltons, no love lost. Now looking forward to seeing how, and who gets Cerci . Would love to win your book.

  17. Susanne Troop

    Love a good book!

  18. Brad Bonds

    I enjoyed the article. I’d like to read the book.

  19. MARGARET GAWLEY

    Villains never get punished enough….in my opinion

  20. cathryn wright

    norman bates !

  21. Karen Mikusak

    Would love to win!

  22. Lori Provenzano

    The only one I’m familiar with is Matias Solomon from The Blacklist. Arlington Road and China Lake sound like two titles I’d like to check out.

  23. Michael Carter

    Joffrey!
    Please enter me in this sweepstakes.
    Thanks —

  24. Holly Bracy

    OMG Matias Solomon on The Blacklist! You were rooting for him to be killed!!!

  25. ellie lewis

    Thrilling.

  26. Beth Talmage

    Thank you for the shout out to Meg Gardiner, who is a genius storyteller. That’s not just my opinion; I was turned on to her by Stephen King, and he should know riveting storytelling, right?

  27. susan beamon

    Once the baddy gets his, I generally stop thinking about him. I haven’t watched the Saw movies. Just can’t get behind the sadistic nature of them. Would like to win the book.

  28. Desmond Warzel

    Count me in, please!

  29. Desmond Warzel

    Count me in, please!

  30. Gayle Mercer

    Joan Cusack is an absolute gem onscreen!

  31. Karl Stenger

    I would love to read the book.

  32. Diane Pollock

    I share your feelings!

  33. Wanda Johnson

    I would love to kill jigsaw for sure. He’s the most sadistic killer I’ve ever seen. I would love to win a copy of your book.

  34. Fee Roberts

    I agree with you about King Joffrey. I haven’t seen any of the others.

  35. pat murphy

    Thank you for the chance to win . Jigsaw’s time is due .

  36. Christine Royer

    King Joffrey was pretty bad. I’ve seen 2 “Saw” movies and couldn’t watch any more! I like horror movies, but I guess more thrillers than slashers! Anyway, thanks for the opportunity to read your book!

  37. Carol Lawman

    I’ll always go for the thrill rather than the gore; I was brought up on old black and white movies like “The Mummy”. I’m hoping for a chance to read this book!

  38. Laurent Latulippe

    I’ve never watched “Arlington road”. I’ll track it down now.

  39. Lorri S

    I feel the same way but would choose different movies…

  40. Mary Meachum

    I too wanted to jump through the screen and kill Matias myself, very slowly, so he could feel all the pain he inflicted. Have read all your books. Can’t wait to get this one.

  41. Janet Gould

    I really enjoyed this article. The book sounds great.

  42. Janet Gould

    I really enjoyed this article. The book sounds great.

  43. Peter W. Horton Jr.

    I would never kill! Yes!

  44. Deborah Dumm

    Sounds good!

  45. Don McClure

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  46. Sally Schmidt

    I do the Wikipedia thing too; sometimes it’s just to scary to watch. Thanks for the giveaway.

  47. Kyle Johnicker

    I totally agree with his take on Joffery.

  48. Susan Morris

    I haven’t seen the movies, but totally agree with your opinion of “Joffrey” and [b]Matias Solomon characters. Now I will have to find copies of Arlington Road, China Lake and Crosscut. Hope to win a copy of Bone Music.[/b]

  49. Sherry Bucalo

    Count me in Arlington road sounds like a must. Thanks for the chance at your book, sounds creepy good

  50. Clydia DeFreese

    ThANKS FOR THE SWEEPSTAKES….

  51. Clydia DeFreese

    ThANKS FOR THE SWEEPSTAKES….

  52. Pauline Barlow

    Thanks, now I have more books to add to my list of books to read. I’ll also add “Bone Music” to the list.

  53. Melissa Keith

    Hello Christopher! I met your mom in Boston back in the early 90’s. She told me she liked my hair. 🙂 I was thrilled when RAMSES came out and I’m thrilled about BONE MUSIC. I’m praying to the Goddess of contests and revenge that I win. It’s a good thing I’m not the pres. I would lay down all law and naughty people would be in serious trouble. Don’t kill! Let them suffer! lol! But please don’t make me suffer. I want BONE MUSIC!! Hum a few bars………

  54. Melissa Keith

    Hello Christopher! I met your mom in Boston back in the early 90’s. She told me she liked my hair. 🙂 I was thrilled when RAMSES came out and I’m thrilled about BONE MUSIC. I’m praying to the Goddess of contests and revenge that I win. It’s a good thing I’m not the pres. I would lay down all law and naughty people would be in serious trouble. Don’t kill! Let them suffer! lol! But please don’t make me suffer. I want BONE MUSIC!! Hum a few bars………

  55. Rena

    This looks like a good book. I’d love to win!

  56. Karen Terry

    I love his and his morther’s books.

  57. Chi Shannon

    This is definitely up my alley! 🙂

  58. Don McClure

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  59. Rita Spratlen

    I would love to win this book! Sounds like a great one!!

  60. Johannah Brookwell

    Oh, this sounds amazing… count me in!

  61. Patricia Barraclough

    I have never watched slasher movies. I would be kept up by nightmares for weeks if I did. It is actually a bit easier to read than watch, but I have discovered a good author can still give me nightmares. The image of the police finding the baby’s pajamas in a pot on the stove in MONSTER by Jonathan Kellerman still upsets me over 10 years after reading the book. It is not any more graphic than that, but it is the thought of what might have happened that is disturbing.
    A good villian makes a book or show that much better. However, I will never watch a slasher or horror movie. I can still remember movies from my youth (think 55 years ago or so) like the Incredible Shrinking Man that by todays standards are less than good. The fact that I can remember scenes from it (standing umder a spider using a pin to combat it) show how effective it was. The point is to frighten and disturb. Whether a person, an event, or a thought when done well, it can be unforgetable.

  62. BERYL LYONS

    I can’t wait to read more from Christopher Rice

  63. BERYL LYONS

    I can’t wait to read more from Christopher Rice

Comments are closed.