Posts Tagged With: Hannibal Lecter

Guest Post: 10 Safety Tips for 10 Fictional Cannibals (London McGuire)

Today’s guest post comes to us from London McGuire, who has a fun, cannibal-themed post to keep us entertained on this dreary Wednesday!

 

10 Safety Tips for 10 Fictional Cannibals

Cannibals – they truly are what they eat.  Perhaps the most terrifying thing about them is you don’t know what they are until it’s too late. You don’t know what’s truly inside until you ARE inside … literally. However, for being such sinister figures, we sure do love to watch them work.

Turn on the television and there’s a show about a cannibal. Open up a book and there’s a cannibal. And, of course, there are the movies – both new and old – all featuring humans with a hunger for other humans. There’s just no getting away from it but, lucky for you, there are some tips* to avoid becoming part of the cannibal’s carnivorous cuisine.

*DISCLAIMER: These tips are for the 10 fictional cannibals listed below. There is no guarantee that these will work with any of the real-life cannibals you likely encounter in your day-to-day routine without even knowing it – the barista at Starbucks, the mailman, perhaps, your next-door neighbors, etc.

 

1. Recognize Wordplay Early into the Game

Hannibal Lecter – you knew he’d show up at some point, so let’s get him out of the way in this first tip. Whether you’ve read him in the Thomas Harris novel Red Dragon, seen Anthony Hopkins manifest him in movies, or caught Mads Mikkelsen’s portrayal in the television show Hannibal – one thing fictional man-eaters have taught us is that they love some good old-fashioned verbal repartee.

Whether it’s something subtle like:

“… I’m having an old friend for dinner.”

Or something a little more obvious:

“I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.”

If someone says they want to “have you for dinner, sometime” or they compliment you with things like “your house is simply murderous,” that’s probably a red flag. Recognize the signs! Some of these playful predators can’t help but telegraph what’s going to be on the menu.

 

2. Try Not to Be Such a Loner

In the Walking Dead comic series, Rick and his band of world-weary survivors had cannibals of the undead variety to deal with. Things, however, took a much darker (if that were possible) turn when they encountered Chris and the hunters in the 2009 story arc Fear the Hunters.

Fan favorite Dale lost his leg after a zombie bite, which was a real bummer. However, that failed to compare to what happened next when the cannibalistic hunters found him wandering off on his own. Rick and his superior numbers got the drop on Chris’s group, but the damage had been done and Dale was no more. The thing to remember about cannibals is that, as terrifying as they are, they are by no stretch of the imagination the majority. Strength in numbers.

 

3. Get to Work on Your Cardio

It might seem like poor counsel to make yourself healthier (or more wholesome) when dealing with cannibals, but then how else would you be able to outrun Fat Bastard? Ah, yes, Fat Bastard – the comical antagonist from Austin Powers the Spy Who Shagged Me. He was fat, he was obnoxious and, oh yeah, he craved the taste of baby flesh. Yeah, when it comes to fight or flight, sometimes flight is your best bet … so get to work on your cardio!

 

4. Identify the Exits Before You Enter

Even the humblest lodge can seem like a twisted, endless maze when you’re being pursued by a cannibal. It’s funny how the mind can really play tricks on you when overwhelmed with thoughts of being devoured bite by bite. This was proven time and time again throughout the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise which featured an entire family of cannibals – the Sawyers.

Of course, one of the more notable Sawyers that managed to outshine the notorious Leatherface was Chop Top. Ol’ Chop Top Sawyer was especially scary because of his otherwise personable mannerism.  A Vietnam vet who took a few too many to the head, his actions and attitude resembled that of a flower power hippy … that ate people.

Whether it’s Chop Top, Leatherface, or any other childishly-named nightmare creature “inviting” you in, get a feel for the exits if you can.

 

5. Try to Be Wary of the Help

Sweeney Todd gave new meaning to “taking a little off the top” when he went on a murderous rampage with a straight razor and a wise idea – turning the bodies into meat pies. Granted, not every barber with a straight razor is out to get you (probably) but, when faced with a service that puts you in a compromising position, such as a shave, it’s prudent to remember that it’s 2013 and you can buy decent razors almost anywhere. No need to tempt fate.

 

6. Leave a Note Before You Leave

It’s usually wise to leave a note if you plan on going somewhere – especially if that somewhere happens to be a rural town in the Welsh countryside. The members of the hit TV series Torchwood learned this lesson the hard way when they were investigating mysterious disappearances in the country village of Brynblaidd in the infamous Countrycide episode of Season 1. The Torchwood team soon discovered the source of the Brynblaidd disappearances – the cannibalistic villagers.

Stranded in the middle of nowhere, they were cut off from outside communication and absolutely NO ONE knew where they were. Luckily, as they often do, the team managed to come out of the ordeal intact … physically.

 

7. Don’t Overlook or Underestimate the Quiet Ones

Silent but deadly is one way you could have described Sin City‘s iconic human-monster “Kevin.” Looking to make a clean break from the “nice guy” image he built in the Lord of the Rings films, Elijah Wood decided his next big role would be the silent cannibal of the 2005 Sin City film. What made Kevin particularly memorable was the complete lack of anything obviously resembling a human soul. Whenever you DID see his eyes past the obscuring glare of his glasses, the gaze was vacant, and whenever he fought, his moves were agile like an animal and lacking any mechanisms or mannerisms resembling humanity.

What really sold the creep factor on this cannibal, though, was when he finally got his comeuppance at the hands of equally creepy vigilante, Marv. Even with half his body eaten by a wolf and his head slowly hacked away with a saw, Kevin never ONCE utters a sound and smiles serenely the whole time.

 

8. Don’t Waste Time Appealing to Their Humanity

The only thing more dangerous than just any old cannibal is a cannibal who actually thinks they’re right with God and, frighteningly enough, most of them have reached this point. How do you think they go on living with themselves? It’s probably cheating, but we’re going to list off another cannibal from Sin City – Patrick Henry Roark.

Not only did he keep silent about Kevin’s actions, he willfully joined in on the feasts. The really messed up part about it, though, is that they both, especially Patrick, believed they were inheriting the sinful souls of all the prostitutes they cannibalized. They believed they were delivering them to salvation. Try reasoning with that? You can’t. When faced with a cannibal, indicting them on their actions may not be the best use of your time – they are fully aware of what they’re doing.

 

9. Be Careful Who You Tell Regarding Cannibals

While we mentioned, earlier, that cannibals do not make up the majority of humanity (and hooray for that), that doesn’t mean they don’t stick together. Probably the largest group of fictional cannibals around is the Soylent Corporation. They not only regulated cannibalism, but made it mainstream.

You often hear about people mysteriously disappearing when they stand against the corporations. In the case of the Soylent Corporation, however, they aren’t going to simply “make you go away.” That would be wasteful.

 

10. Never Ever Leave the House Again

Among their litany of devious qualities, cannibals also carry another quality – their ability to blend with the rest of us. Many of the cannibals we’ve listed demonstrate this quality, but probably one of the more iconic ones is Patrick Bateman. Now, forget what you know about American Psycho and forget EVERYTHING you’ve seen of the Nolan Batman films.

Take one look at Patrick Bateman and tell me you think he’s a cannibal. That’s the real horror behind these “unique” individuals – they know how to blend. That’s why, if all else fails, maybe the best piece of advice on this list is to simply never leave the house. You just can’t tell.

Besides, you can buy pretty much everything you need online from groceries to cars. Who needs to socialize? Who needs to date? Some of us like being single and uneaten …

 

London McGuire is a freelance writer and blogger for WeLoveTVMore.com. In addition to the horror and thriller genres, she enjoys writing about sports, great food and anything related to television or movies. Follow her on Twitter @londonmcguire.

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Guest Post: Evil Protagonists (Audrey Driscoll)

Joining us today is Audrey Driscoll, author of one of my recent favourite ebooks, The Friendship of Mortals (which, incidentally, is currently FREE on Smashwords). Take it away, Audrey!

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Evil Protagonists

When it comes to fictional protagonists, how bad is too bad? I’m not talking about villains here, but main characters. Heroes, or more accurately, anti-heroes.

A few of these dubious dudes come readily to mind:  Victor Frankenstein, Steerpike from Mervyn Peake’s first two Gormenghast books, Hannibal Lecter (specifically in Thomas Harris’s book Hannibal), Dexter Morgan, and Herbert West (both H.P. Lovecraft’s original and my version).

What about female evil protagonists, you ask? Well, aside from Medea, I can think of only two — the horrible little girl in The Bad Seed by William March, and another one called Willie who is the main character of Daughter of Darkness by J.R. Lowell, a book I found quite fascinating when I was young and less discriminating. Both of these girls are totally evil.

While this is by no means a complete list, it provides scope for analysis.

Some might argue that Steerpike is not a protagonist, but I believe he is, at least of the first book, Titus Groan. It ends with Titus still as an infant. The opening chapters present Mr. Flay, Swelter (who is undoubtedly a villain) and young Steerpike. It’s natural for the reader to identify with him as he escapes from the chaotic kitchen and its grotesque chef and is hustled through endless corridors by Flay. His harrowing climb over the rooftops and fortuitous meeting with Fuchsia in her secret attic make him seem quite heroic. Throughout the book, Steerpike is the doer of deeds and primary plot mover, which is why I consider him a (if not the) protagonist. He begins as a rebel against the mindless, stultifying traditions of Gormenghast, but once he inveigles himself into a position of influence in the gargantuan edifice, he quickly shows himself to be evil.

Hannibal Lecter appears in four books by Thomas Harris. In Red Dragon, he’s a shadowy figure, emerging more prominently in The Silence of the Lambs, where he plays a complex villain opposite Clarice Starling, who is definitely the protagonist. In Hannibal, Harris squashes Starling into something unrecognizable and turns Lecter into the main character.

Why would a writer want to write a book around someone who is evil? First, to explain how the person got that way. Second, to bring about their well-deserved destruction (in which case a “good” protagonist needs to take over); or, third, to bring about their redemption.

Childhood abuse or trauma is often invoked to explain these characters’ murderous deeds. Sometimes this element is introduced after the fact, when the writer has become invested in the evildoer and needs to explain or legitimize his atrocities. In the third Hannibal Lecter book, Harris creates a grotesque backstory for him, fleshing it out further in the “prequel,” Hannibal Rising. Something similar precipitates Dexter Morgan into his career as a serial vigilante, and by the third book, we find out that he harbours a Dark Passenger.

Steerpike’s precipitating event is the fire he starts in the library of Gormenghast. His intention is to create an opportunity for heroism, but it results in death and madness. A subsequent, unintended fire, which breaks out during an act of murder, scars him for life and turns him into a grotesque, unmistakable villain.

H.P. Lovecraft’s Herbert West has no precipitating event; he is initially amoral rather than evil, driven by cold rationalism and scientific zeal, like Victor Frankenstein and many another mad scientist. By killing a travelling salesman to create a really fresh specimen for his reanimating process, he becomes a murderer.

Justified or not, the evil protagonist must be redeemed or destroyed. Change or die, as the business gurus say. A writer can, by adding attractive characters and interesting plot elements, turn the evildoer into a series or even a franchise, as with Dexter Morgan, Hannibal Lecter and the Re-Animator movies.

If the anti-hero is irredeemable, the plot revolves around his ultimate destruction, in which case another character emerges as the protagonist. This is what happens to Steerpike in Gormenghast, the second book of Peake’s trilogy. Something like that should happen to Hannibal the Cannibal, in my opinion, but he’s not my character. The things he does in Hannibal are just too repulsive to make him worthy of redemption, no matter what happened to him in childhood. It will be interesting to see what Harris and Hollywood do with him.

I’m not a fan of the Dexter books or TV series; in fact, I was annoyed to discover this character, because by then I had morphed my version of Herbert West into Francis Dexter. Yes, it’s a surname rather than given name, but I thought, “Great, now everyone will think I’m plagiarizing Jeff Lindsay.” In any case, it seems that Dexter Morgan undergoes the beginnings of redemption as the series goes on.

So what about Herbert West? In H.P. Lovecraft’s story, his imperfectly reanimated monsters gang up and rip him to shreds. In my trilogy, he is psychologically shredded and undergoes a transformation. Into what? Read the series and find out. Mwahahaha!

Conclusion: as soon as a character becomes interesting, he or she is worth keeping alive, no matter what evils they have perpetrated. But it’s crucial for the writer to maintain a balance between evil and innocence. Characters who are 100% evil are just as uninteresting as those who are 100% good, because they are inevitably one-dimensional and limited. Pits, flaws and irregularities attract attention. A reader wondering whether a character with a record of evil deeds is going to be redeemed, or whether a pure-hearted one can be broken or turned has a reason to keep reading.

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