Who’s the Scariest of Them All?

Frederick Charles ‘Freddy’ Kreuger

Mr Kreuger is the primary antagonist in the ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ franchise of films and hails from Springwood. His occupation is mass murderer and his weapon of choice is a bladed glove. His claim to fame is that he was voted 14th greatest villain by Wizard Magazine.

His modus operandi is to appear, as a vengeful spirit, to teenagers in their dreams. He pursues them, terrifies them, tortures them and eventually kills them. This rather ingenious way of stalking his prey, renders them deceased in real life too.

His appearance is quite startling and definitely makes him stand out from his peers. His facial disfigurement, due to burning, and his bold choice of colour, in his red and green striped jumper, certainly make him memorable. But it is his brown fedora – an ode to a former existence maybe – and, more importantly, his brown leather glove, the fingers trimmed with deadly metal blades, that he is most remembered for.

His case for his behaviour is that he was a child killer, who was set on fire by the parents of his victims after he escaped prosecution on a technicality. Although he died of his injuries, the youthful minds of the teenagers of Springwood help to keep his spirit alive, by dreaming about him. Clearly, the kids miss having him around and so it’s only fair that he keeps the terror alive long after he is dead.

His weakness? Well, it seems that by bringing him into the real world, he develops normal human vulnerabilities and, as such, can be killed. Or, can he?

Now, I like Freddy. Yes, he is a bad guy and yes, he got what he deserved, but, in a sense, his reason for coming back makes sense. He is seeking vengeance against his own death, by punishing the parents of Springwood.

In creating Freddy as a vengeful spirit, it makes his constant reincarnation more believable, as he isn’t corporeal in the first place. He is a supernatural being and, as such, a believable supernatural world can be created; one in which people will trust and one which people will fear. For, the supernatural is the unknown and the unknown is difficult, if not impossible, to conquer.

Jason Voorhees

Mr Voorhees is the primary antagonist in the ‘Friday 13th’ franchise of films and hails from Camp Crystal Lake. His occupation is mass murderer and his weapon of choice is a machete.

His M.O. is to stalk his prey and hack them to death. His prey tend to be couples partaking in immoral acts that assail his moral upbringing. He also has a tendency to act as a psychological threat to certain characters, without actually killing them.

His appearance is rather non-descript, except for the hockey-goalie mask he stole from one of his victims. This was definitely a good move, as it catapulted him into the serious psycho camp, whereas wearing a cloth sack over his head, didn’t really render him a serious contender, because it looked too farcical. The mask, though a definite for any self-respecting psycho not blessed with a scary visage, was functional, as it enabled him to hide his facial deformity, which had always been a source of ridicule.

His case for his behaviour stems largely from the fact that a group of teenagers tried to drown him in Camp Crystal Lake, when he was a child. Their reasoning? None really. He was mentally disabled and facially disfigured and they thought it would be fun to see if he could swim, as teenagers do… Not only that, but he also witnessed the murder of his own mother, who had taken it upon herself to avenge his near death, by killing the camp counsellors, who she believed were to blame. Subsequent to all this, Mr Voorhees had to grow up alone, in the woods, with no one to teach him right from wrong; with no one to look after him; and with no one to tell him that killing people isn’t the way to live his life. Basically, he had no carer and no role model.

His weakness? The lake that almost took his life when he was a boy. He is rendered helpless if he becomes trapped beneath its surface.

Now, Jason has a valid case for his actions. He was almost drowned by teenagers and his mother was murdered because she was seeking vengeance for what those teenagers did to him. My main bugbear with Jason is, why he errs towards couples having sex? In reality, any teenager should flip his switch, but it is copulating couples that are his target. This may be to do with his upbringing or it may be to do with his immature mind, due to his disability. We will never know, as Mr Voorhees declines to speak.

Unlike Freddy, I find Jason a rather unbelievable character. He is human after all and yet, he cannot be killed. He has the resurrection abilities of an immortal being, which he is not and, as such, I find the continual re-incarnation farcical. If you want to make your character seemingly indestructible, create another world; a world where such beings exist. Don’t pick an almost murdered, disabled child and turn him into an indestructible hulk of a man, because it just doesn’t ring true and, hence, turns people off.

Michael Myers

Mr Myers is the main antagonist of the ‘Halloween’ franchise of films (except Halloween III) and hails from Haddonfield. His occupation is mass murderer and his weapon of choice is the kitchen knife.

His M.O., like Mr Voorhees, is to basically hack people to death. Unlike the others, who have specific targets, Mr Myers will kill anyone who stands in the way of him getting to and killing his family. His first kill was his sister Judith, when he was at the tender age of about 10.

His appearance, again like Mr Voorhees, is rather non-descript, in that he wears a boiler suit and a white rubber mask with scruffy hair. The mask is quite eerie in itself, as it is a reflection of his countenance – empty, lifeless and devoid of human emotion. It is a mask he wore for his very first kill and so, maybe, it holds a special connection for him.

His case for his behaviour is slightly unclear as, like Mr Voorhees, he will not speak. Some believe he was driven to kill his sister, Judith, due to the verbal abuse he suffered at the hands of her and her boyfriend. Others say he was obsessed with her and it was jealousy that fuelled his killing. If the latter is true, then Mr Myers’ crimes could be crimes of passion. Neither of these, though, explain why he then became obsessed with hunting down and killing his younger sister, Laurie, and later her daughter and so on. He has an obsession with annihilating his family, which isn’t clearly understood. Some have suggested it is a link to a Cult – the Cult of Thorn – and the curse that is linked to this cult. I think this is just a tad too far-fetched.

Unlike the others, Mr Myers does not appear to have a weakness. He is indestructible. It is mainly for this reason that I find Mr Myers the least believable of the three. I can accept the fact that he has no real motivation, as some people don’t, they just kill, but even people who behave in this way have a clear M.O. and a reason for doing what they do. If all his subsequent victims resembled Judith, then this would be a valid M.O. and a valid reason for his serial killing, but they don’t. He kills indiscriminately.

Maybe it is the lack of motivation; the lack of focus to his killings, that renders him so popular as a character. He has been ranked as the ‘embodiment of pure evil’ in a study by the Media Psychology Lab of California State University. Why? The reasoning seems to be that he embodies something that lives in all of us – that ability to ‘snap and kill someone’.

I think that he is insane. His stint in the Sanatorium after the slaying of his sister, hinted at this. Insanity would explain his lack of selection; his lack of anything. Michael Myers basically kills anyone who gets in his way.

The big failing with Michael though, as with Jason, is that he cannot be killed. This renders him an unbelievable character because, when all is said and done, he is human.

I think you all know where I stand on the question I posed at the start of this blog, but how about you? Is it Freddy that plagues your nightmares, Jason who haunts your camping trips, or Michael who stakes out your house? Whichever one it is for you, try not to have nightmares, try to sleep well.

May fear protect you when the darkness comes.

Til next time.