Collage – The Serial Killer’s Artform of Choice

Watched Red Dragon on DVD from the other day. Not as good as the book by a long stretch, but OK in it’s way. I was shocked at how Anthony Hopkins’ Southern US accent was even worse than Brian Cox’s in Manhunter (“You’re a killer, Wolvereeeeen, always have beeeeen” – OK that was from X-Men 2 but you get the idea).

Sorely missed was the killer playing In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida really loudly while stalking a blind woman round his flat – as seen in Manhunter. Also the wall of his flat was covered by a huge blow-up of the surface of Mars – really cool. Must visit Prontaprint with some downloaded NASA snaps.

Then more recently I watched the end of Messiah IV – The Harrowing* with the super Ken Stott looking perturbed, and Helen McCrory doing what she does best – collapsing in great snotty tears, like she did in Anna Karenina. She slid down the wall in that one, so snotty were her tears.

Anyway, Ken gets hold of the killer’s journal, and surprise surprise, it’s a bloomin’ great book with pasted-in photos, newspaper clippings, and loony scribblings. Just like Frances Dolarhyde’s book in Red Dragon/Manhunter.

And Kevin Spacey’s journals in Se7en. And many many more. It’s clear – the movie serial killer’s artform of choice is Collage.

Every time the detective (usually with marital and/or drink problems) gets into the killer’s lair, they find a big book filled with newspaper snippets, reviews, photos of people with the eyes cut out with nail scissors, scrawled judgments on the world, a picture of the detective’s wife, bus tickets, a receipt for a hedgetrimmer from Homebase, and of course some really bad pastel art featuring lots of the colour red, and heavy-handed symbology.

What are we to read from this? They’re frustrated artists? Obsessive collectors? Egotists? What worries me at the moment, is that along with the Lakeland Kitchen catalogue through the post, which is cool, I also receive (unrequested) the Lakeland Hobbies catalogue, with lots of handy gadgets and materials for making collages and scrapbooks. They are feeding the filmatic crimewave with their unholy glitter and paste. And with those prices, murder could be said to be justified.

What alternatives are there? Scrapbooking and Collage are rather solitary pursuits. I can’t help thinking fewer bodies would be found with just the kidneys missing, and fewer walls scrawled with, “Oops I did it again” in victim-blood, if these people found another hobby. Walking perhaps. Get out in the fresh air. And I don’t mean stalk the dark urban alleyways, hammer in hand. No. Tooting Bec Common on a Sunday afternoon.

Or how about modern dance? Performance Art? Actually, no – a lot of the performance art I witness seems to come from the fevered imaginings of your screw-loose set anyway, come to think of it.

But when all’s said and done, I hesitate to recommend theatre. Too risky.

* Not to be confused with Highlander II – The Quickening, or Watership Down II – The Burrowing.