It seems the nation's appetite for true crime content is at an all-time high, fueled by the popularity of podcasts like the excellent 'Serial' and 'Atlanta Monster' and compelling streaming documentaries like 'Making of a Murderer' or 'The Jynx'.
My own interest in serial killers really came about through my love of horror films, as since the original slasher, Alfred Hitchcock's 'Psycho', directors been influenced by real-life killers like Ed Gein.
Some filmmakers, like John McNaughton with his debut feature 'Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer' handle their subjects with sensitivity and a sense of tragedy. Other's, like Tobe Hopper's 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' (also based on Gein), just aim to scare the bejesus out of you. Either way, it can be a lot of fun.
There is an aspect to some of the trashier true-crime content that can be pretty off-putting to me. The sort of prurient, 'they're pure evil', documentaries you often get late at night on Channel 5 that seems to dehumanise both the killers and the victims. Watching these always make me feel slightly nauseated like I've watched the 'Jeremy Kyle Show', or inadvertently read a paragraph of 'The Daily Mail'. Brrr, it sends shivers down my spine just thinking about it!
Tonight, serial killer expert, and creator of the popular website 'Crime Viral', Cheish Merryweather, split's her presentation into two. The first half, 'How to Raise a Serial Killer', delves into the childhoods of some of the most prominent we all knew a creepy kid growing up that took a little too much glee in killing insectsand prolific murderers looking for some sort of commonality.
Expanding on J.M. MacDonald's homicidal triad, Merryweather has developed her own list of childhood traits shared by serial killers. Some of them are fairly obvious, for example, we all knew a creepy kid growing up that took a little too much glee in killing insects that we wouldn't be too surprised to see on the nine o'clock news.
Perhaps less well-known is the amount of serial killers that are known to have sustained head injuries. Richard Ramirez was knocked unconscious by a swing set when he was just five years old, and suffered seizures throughout his childhood. Coincidentally, everyone's favourite creepy clown (well, apart from Pennywise) John Wayne Gacy suffered another swing induced injury, causing a blood clot that wasn't discovered until 5 years later.
Henry Lee Lucas's (of 'Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer' fame) own mother hit him over the head with a plank of wood when he was seven years old. It is posited Throughout her presentation, Cheish struck a good balance between information and entertainment and managed to inject a bit of dark humour into proceedings without seeming glib or flippant.that these injuries caused damage to the pre-frontal cortex responsible for emotional control, leaving the person with the injury prone to violent outbursts.
Throughout her presentation, Cheish struck a good balance between information and entertainment and managed to inject a bit of dark humour into proceedings without seeming glib or flippant.
The second half was all about giving you the tools to spot a psychopath and focused on twisted individuals who are highly intelligent and manipulative, thus allowing their crimes to go undetected for years. The talk studied several serial killers who led seemingly normal family lives all whilst carrying out heinous crimes at night.
I found this part of the talk really fascinating as it gave me more information about things that I was only peripherally aware of (such as the BTK strangler Dennis Radar) and introduced me to a whole bunch of killers I've never even heard of. Like Edmund Kemper, a giant of a man who bears an uncanny resemblance to Robbie Robertson of The Band.
I was also blissfully unaware that Christian Bale used Tom Cruise's unhinged, manic persona as the basis of his brilliantly bonkers performance as Patrick Bateman in the film adaptation of 'American Psycho'.
After the talk, my friend and I decamp to Dickens for a pint and to compare notes, and I mean that literally. He's a psychiatric nurse and also brought a We must have looked well sus, two guys down the front, sitting forward in their seats scribbling notesnotepad in case there was anything he wanted to jot down that would be useful for his work.
We must have looked well sus, two guys down the front, sitting forward in their seats scribbling down as many criminal indicators as they could, one occasionally mumbling to the other for the correct spelling of certain psychiatric terms.
My friend also enjoyed the talk and liked the recommended further reason list, particularly Gavin De Becker's 'The Gift of Fear'' which I'm going to take with me when I go on holiday next week. However, he took issue with the classification of Psychopathy as a mental illness, "it's a personality disorder".
I would definitely go to another Crime Viral event, perhaps if there was one focusing on a particular serial killer. I'd also recommend Cheish's website, Crime Viral. At several points when typing up this review, I did Google searches to check something in my notes, which lead me to some great short articles on Crime Viral that tied in neatly with the talk. I loved that sense of continuity.
Perth Festival of the Arts has joined forces with its 2020 artists to create a 10-day online celebration to ‘celebrate the arts together'.
May 21st Thursday 2020
Dougie Maclean's new Perthshire festival this summer: Cardney Concerts.
March 18th Wednesday 2020
Party at The Park, the South Inch, 27th and 28th June, will feature fantastic live performances from The Charlatans and many more!
March 12th Thursday 2020