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Serial killers are scary because, for all we know, they could be our neighbors. Here are some equally scary serial killer movies.

Why sleep anyway? All the serial killer movies to keep you awake

If you think only horror movies featuring the supernatural can keep you up at night, let us introduce you to the bone-chilling tribe of serial killers. With a horror flick, if you get too scared, you can always tell yourself that it isn’t real. Of course, a ghost that can pass through a wall is make-believe. But it’s different with serial killers.

Serial killers are scarier because, for all we know, they could be our neighbors. They may look completely harmless; they might be roaming around clandestinely in the same places that you do, from supermarkets to parks. It’s what makes the threat very real – you’ll never see it coming.

No wonder, then, that watching serial killers commit murders on screen can be gut-wrenching. This subgenre of horror is capable of scaring us more than any ghost ever will. If you like a challenge, here’s a list of serial killer movies that are sure to give you nightmares.

Psycho

If a serial- killer portrayal stands the test of time, you should be very scared. That’s what Psycho has proven to be capable of, almost six decades since it was made. Prepare to have your innards ripped apart, metaphorically speaking.

Psycho is inspired by the story of Ed Gein, a convicted murderer (also known as Butcher of Plainfield or the Plainfield Ghoul), who had a thing for interior design embedded with human body parts. Yes, it’s every bit as terrifying as it sounds.

Silence of the Lambs

Another classic in the genre, Silence of the Lambs features Anthony Hopkins as the cannibalistic serial killer Dr. Hannibal Lecter. He’s so brilliant in his portrayal that he won an Oscar for just 16 minutes’ worth of performance, which is great news for cinematic art – but which also implies that you need to be ready for something quite blood-curdling. The goosebumps won’t die easily.

Zodiac

You know how in horror movies there’s one character insistent on making a display of stupid courage? In David Fincher’s Zodiac, Robert Graysmith comes close. A cartoonist by profession, he finds himself obsessed with revealing the identity of a serial killer.

You can find solace in Zodiac’s star-studded cast with Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, and Robert Downey Jr. As for everything else in the movie, be prepared to fall off your couch, screaming.

Badlands

Badlands is a superficial portrayal of serial killers. This would normally mean that Badlands would be less terrible than the other serial killer movies on this list, but when the serial killers are a teenage girl & her older boyfriend on a spree, it’s hard to sit calmly. 

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Ed Gein had a vivid career as a serial killer, to put it lightly. So it isn’t surprising that he inspired another extremely gruesome & brutal movie. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre follows the story of a chainsaw-wielding man. And that’s just the beginning of gore – he also wears a mask made of human skin and to top it off, is part of an entire family of cannibals.

Serial killers with punchlines & comebacks are insufferable to no end – and this man-demon has his own brand tagline on the movie poster: “Who will survive and what will be left of them?”

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer

The story of serial killer Henry Lee Lucas, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer is made terrifying by the sheer impunity with which he committed his murders. The movie chronicles, in gory detail, Lucas’s crimes, but never the consequences of his actions. He’s seen working with his accomplice Ottis Toole; watching them rejoice in the aftermath of their heinous actions without flinching is impossible.

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