Why are we attracted to and mesmerized by evil people in horror cinema and novels? Gloomy Sunday's Gothic-romantic, Absinthe, kicks off this round of commentary from the League of Tana Tea Drinkers to explore this question. From Bela Lugosi to Freddy Kruger, the league pokes and prods as only it can do, to unearth the answers, the assumptions, and the contradictions.
Gloomy Sunday explores the bad boys of screen and novel...
Why are we attracted to villains? Why are we drawn towards characters we really should hate? Why do we sometimes find sex appeal in characters who are hideous or deformed? Is it we can relate better to people who have flaws, people who are more realistically human with their dark sides instead of the cookie cutter heroes and heroines we usually see in movies? Or does it go deeper, to an instinctual level, left over from a more primitive time, when only the strong thrived and reproduced, drawing us to the powerfully wicked onscreen?
Pinhead from Clive Barker's The Hellbound Heart and the later Hellraiser movies--although I only speak for the first two because after that they suck--is one of my favorite villains and one I think has strong sexual appeal despite his skin being the color of a dead fish, with nails protruding from his head, and a strange, but kinky, sadomasochistic leather outfit hinting at damnation. If you wanted to, you could compare the premise Hellraiser is based on to a metaphor for sexual freedom by looking at the puzzle box, which involves a quest for something much desired, yet secret, dark, and forbidden to have. If Pinhead quickly came into scene and dispatched his victims, we would not be so drawn to him. Instead, he shows human characteristics we can relate to. In Hellbound, Hellraiser II he does not kill Tiffany when she opens the box because he knows that "hands did not call us, desire did." He seems fair even though he is a killer, and he continually lets Kirsty slip through the damning cracks by allowing deals and bargains. Is it his power we are drawn to, the relief provided by his human flaws that we can relate to, or the subtext of sublime sexual naughtiness he is the front man for?