After recently watching Marjane Satrapi’s The Voices –a darkly comedic tale about a nice guy who accidentally stumbles into the life of a serial killer- it got me to thinking about some of my other favorite ‘accidental’ killers from cinema over the years. From Veronica Sawyer to Seymour Krelborn to the lovable hillbillies by the name of Tucker and Dale or even the “Flawless Four” from Jawbreaker, here’s a look at some of my other favorite coincidental murderers.
Be forewarned though, some of this may end up being a bit in the spoiler territory so if you haven’t seen any of these films in particular, you may want to skip ahead just in case.
Veronica Sawyer- Heathers: When your best friends are the bitchiest and most powerful group in your high school, that may be enough to drive anyone to murder. For Veronica Sawyer (Winona Ryder) though, her murder streak began after a prank goes awry on one of her fellow clique members, Heather Chandler (Kim Walker); after realizing her mistake, she covers it all up by penning a suicide note at the insistence of her dark and mysterious new boyfriend J.D. (Christian Slater).
But after they rid their school of the most popular (and hated) figurehead, Veronica and J.D. realize that the student body is still plagued by rapist jocks and other vacuous folks so they set out to teach a few of their peers a lesson in deadly fashion, with Veronica believing initially that they’re just planning on scaring the students straight. Of course, things go a little further than that, forcing Veronica to put an end to their collective body count once and for all.
Seymour Krelborn- Little Shop of Horrors: All that lovable loser and aspiring horticulturist Seymour Krelborn (Rick Moranis) wanted to do with his life was to spend the rest of his days growing old with the woman of his dreams, a lovely floral arranger by the name of Audrey (Ellen Greene). What he got instead was an alien plant with a penchant for blood which he named the Audrey II after discovering the mysterious greenery one fateful afternoon.
And as the flower shop he worked so diligently at begins thriving after the arrival of the eye-catching Audrey II, Seymour realizes that the only food his newfound plant requires is blood and eventually, he runs out of the gooey stuff himself, forcing Seymour to get creative in order to keep his blood-thirsty plant happy so that he can continue to be a success in order to impress the overgrown shrubbery’s namesake. Once Audrey II grows into an uncontrollable monstrosity, Seymour must man up and destroy the deadly alien life form before it’s too late.
Who knew horticulture could be such a bloodsport?
Tucker and Dale- Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil: What do you get when you mix two amiable hillbillies (Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine) with a group of the unluckiest college co-eds in the world? A blood-soaked laugh riot that is easily one of the best cult classics from the last five years- Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil.
In Eli Craig’s horror comedy, our titular characters set off for a vacation in their brand new fixer-upper cabin but amidst their plans for relaxation, Tucker and Dale cross paths with a bunch of university brats who mistake them for inbred backwoods killers. As the 20-somethings attempt to ‘escape’, they end up offing themselves in the most hilarious of ways, leaving Tucker and Dale confounded as to why these people with so much life ahead of them would kill themselves.
And while they may not be murderers in the traditional sense, both Tucker and Dale absolutely deserve to be on this list as the gruesome comedy of errors their innocent behaviors beget is some of the most wonderfully wacky death scenes we’ve seen in years.
Chris and Tina- Sightseers: On a road trip through Northern England, new lovers Tina (Alice Lowe) and Chris (Steve Oram) put their relationship to the ultimate test in Ben Wheatley’s Sightseers, a pitch black romantic comedy that explores man’s nihilistic tendencies and just how far we’d go for those we love the most in this world.
Things start off quietly enough for Tina and Chris during their travels- they visit some landmarks and tourist attractions, take in the sights and all the natural wonders that the English countryside offers. While all that seems inconspicuous enough, the only hiccup in their travels is that whenever the mood happens to strike, the duo murders anyone who happens to annoy the hell out of them.
And as they leave a trail of bodies in their wake, Chris and Tina take a good, hard look at the state of their relationship and make a decision as to just how far they’re willing to go for each other. The results are shocking and heartbreaking, making Sightseers on of the finest darkest comedies of the last decade.
Courtney, Julie & Marcie- Jawbreaker: Often (unfairly) maligned as a Heathers knock-off, I adore the hell out of Darren Stein’s Jawbreaker, a wickedly perverse exploration of high school politics and how some teens would just kill to be popular. In the film, three members of the “Flawless Four”- Courtney (Rose McGowan), Julie (Rebecca Gayheart) and Marcie (Julie Benz)- kidnap their leader, Liz Purr, on her 17th birthday and during their prank, they inadvertently kill her after Liz chokes to death on a jawbreaker they used to gag her with during the abduction.
As the trio decide to cover up Liz’s accidental death with a web of lies about their now-deceased friend, their deceitful plans are uncovered by one of their fellow students, Fern (Judy Greer), who promises to keep silent in exchange for a makeover and entry into their popular clique. But the pressure of keeping the truth behind Liz’s death proves to be too much for the group and soon, the new “Flawless Four” find themselves at odd with each other, forcing the truth behind Liz’s death to come out and proving that popularity can really be a bitch sometimes.
Honorable Mention: The Morgan Brothers- 100 Bloody Acres: While things start off innocently enough for Reg (Damon Herriman) and Lindsay Morgan (Angus Sampson) in 100 Bloody Acres, their need to acquire more of the ‘secret ingredient’ (human bodies) that goes into their fertilizer causes these brothers to unleash holy hell against each other just for the sake of the business they love. As things get a little premeditate-y in the film’s third act, that’s why I was only able to grant 100 Bloody Acres an honorable mention here. Either way though, the film is raucously fun and is an often overlooked gem that should be talked about more as both Herriman and Sampson are pure comedic perfection.