Monday, October 24, 2011

Killer Characters

Blogfest, that is!


All week the Killer Characters blogfest is going on, and there's still time to sign up if you'd like to participate. Just hop over to Deana Barnhart's to learn more and see who all is joining the fun. The pic above links you right to her blog.

Today's assignment: Favorite Literary Supporting Character  (any character used to give dimension to the main character)

Alright, so keeping in the Halloween spirit I'm going with a dark theme. But either way, one of my all time faves for sheer creepiness alone, is Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs. His whole persona just makes my skin crawl. I love it! lol

I love the Thomas Harris Hannibal Lecter series. All the stories are riveting, as well as the movies, though I think Silence of the Lambs is probably my fave of them all. And I really think it has something to do with Buffalo Bill being so provocative.


You probably remember him most as played by Ted Levine in  the film. Did he do an outstanding job, or what? Buffalo Bill is an excellent example of a perfectly fleshed out character. Here's why:

* His mother was an alcoholic prostitute who abandoned him.
* He was abused by his foster parents, then abused further by his grandparents who adopted him.
(This is why we can somewhat sympathize with him. This is why he's so bad.)
* He murdered his grandparents at age 15
* He was sent to a psych ward where he learned to be a tailor. (how odd and totally cool at the same time)
* He found work after rehab and became involved in a relationship with a man there.
* Once the man left him and found a new lover, Bill killed and flayed the lover.
* Buffalo Bill becomes fascinated with the metamorphosis of the moth, and envisions himself going through such a metamorphosis to become a woman.
* Only he needs to tailor a woman suit, so he pretends to be an injured man loading heavy boxes into his van and accepting help from women, whom he then kidnaps and throws in a pit in his basement.
* Once he has a woman in his house, he starves her until her skin is loose enough to easily remove.
* He refers to his victims as "things." For example, my fave line from the whole story: "It puts the lotion in the basket or it gets the hose."
* He adores his poodle named Precious and talks to it in baby talk while torturing his victims.
* He collects exotic moths and and places a moth in the throat of one of his victims, the victim that turns up in the river.
* Ironically, it is the moth that brings about Buffalo Bill's eventual capture and death. It's the moth found inside the victim that alerts the FBI of the killer's possible association with exotic moths. It is the moth inside Buffalo Bill's home that signals to agent Starling who he actually is when she shows up at his house coincidentally.
* He adds dimension to Starling's character, allowing her to see for herself what she is capable of.

The whole story is genius, in my opinion. Hannibal Lecter is one of my favorite characters as well, and it's debatable on which is the actual antagonist. They both add dimension to Starling's character, but both are antagonistic as well. Hannibal and Buffalo Bill are not meant to be "liked." But it is the very emotion and repulsion they evoke that makes them unforgettable, powerful characters. Something tells me Thomas Harris didn't just dream them up during a first draft. Buffalo Bill is extremely well thought out and detailed down to the very origin of his existence. There is a reason for everything, and as the reader, we need to know what those reasons are, so we can relate to and sympathize with the character.

Here's to you , Bill!

What do you think of Buffalo Bill? Do you think of him more as a supporting character or antagonist? Who is your fave supporting character?

34 comments:

Jen said...

Very nice choice for Halloween, PK! I don't know who was scarier -- Bill or Hannibal Lector. They were two very different ends of the same chilling spectrum!

Deana said...

Oooo he is a good one and perfectly creepy for Killer Characters!

DL Hammons said...

Ohhh...you nailed it! The characters of Hannibal Lecter and Buffalo Bill are part of the reason I write in the genre I do. Excellent choice and analysis!! :)

J. A. Bennett said...

I have never seen this movie and now I know why!

Angela Cothran said...

Good pick :) He is totally creepy!

Old Kitty said...

Brilliant choice!! OH Buffallo bill makes my skin crawl (yikes!) and I'm so glad the doggie got away!! Definitely an antagonist!!!Central to the story! Yikes!

Take care
x

Karen Walker said...

OMG, PK, too much for my brain to grapple with - I'm still jet-lagged. But your analysis of the character is awesome and extremely helpful when thinking about character development.
Karen

Nicole Zoltack said...

Oh, great choice! Definitely killer and creepy, and perfect for Halloween!

magpiewrites said...

Oooh! james gumb take a bow - only, do it far far away. Great, creeptacular choice. It's also interesting how a character who would traditionally be the antagonist (since he's the one killing the girls) is really the secondary character. great choice

Sarah Pearson said...

What a great, creepy choice for this time of year :-)

E.R. King said...

"It rubs the lotion on its skin..." Excellent choice! Creepy and scary and everything a killer character is as well. Good job!

Stephen Tremp said...

Amazing how many people like bad guys as the supporting characters. Buffalo Bill was a real freak of a bad guy for sure. Great post!

Julie said...

Oh, I think he's a fantastic choice! I felt a chill just looking at the pics of him. All these years later, and I still think this movie scared me more than any other ever has. Buffalo Bill was one scary loon. Great post!

DM said...

Excellent choice. Very creepy character. Intricate personality.

Jenny S. Morris said...

Oh totally creepy!

Tara Tyler said...

yes, he is a supporter but scarily close to an antagonist =) and great points all!

LTM said...

it puts the lotion in the basket... eye yi yi!!! That character scared the crap outta me in college... :p YUCK! Yep. He's a great choice. Now I'll have nightmares...

Nancy Thompson said...

I actually think Hannibal is the supporting character and BB is the prime antagonist. What Thomas does so well and what all writers should do with their antagonists is make them sympathetic in some way. Yeah, Bill is a very bad guy, but he lived most of his young life in hell and he's trapped in something he is not, a man. He's human and we know that, but we can see how he became such a monster.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

He was creepy! Thought of him more as supporting though.

JM Tohline said...

Perhaps the best thing of all about him is that you can read "Red Dragon" and know that Thomas Harris surely knew plenty more about him that was left off the pages. Those times when an author gets to know a character so well that the character becomes real to them lead to those times when a reader experiences a character as if the character belongs to real life!

Cally Jackson said...

Awesome choice, PK. And very well explained too. I never would have thought to pick an antagonist for a favourite supporting character. :-)

Guilie said...

Great choice! Definitely creepy and horrid--a psycho in the "best" sense of the word. I agree with your analysis of him as a supporting character; I think Lecter was the real antagonist. Maybe he wasn't the "bad guy" in Silence of the Lambs in the sense that he wasn't killing those women, but he certainly was Clarice's antagonist. And BB lent depth to both the story and the MC, allowed Clarice (as you said) to overcome personal hurdles and aided her character arc. Good job, and lots to think about!

Melissa Ann Goodwin said...

He's definitely a nut job! Good choice for the theme.

Alleged Author said...

I love the series as well because it is so grounded in reality. People like this exist. Makes it even scarier than paranormal novels!

Jenny said...

Just the whole idea of the Hannibal movies creeps me out and I refuse to watch them. So of course my friend who enjoys them brings them up every Halloween. XD

Anonymous said...

This is Florence tricking blogger by using "anon." PK, you picked one of my favorite supporting characters. Actually, Thomas Harris has a genius for connecting us to the sad and human side of horror. It is also the hallmark of most Stephen Kings horros. I find it a joy to read those who can connect us to this emotion for someone we are supposed to hate.

Mysteries on all levels are my passion and so I connect to writers who can provide more than one dimensional villians. There is a character in the Prey series by John Sandford, who the main character Lucas actually hoped would retire from her life of crime so he would never have to capture her. She was featured in two of this series and when the "end" came, not only was Lucas sad ... this fool cried :)

Carla White said...

Wow... I think I need to read these books. Sounds like the characters are much more detailed than in the movie and Bill's character makes much more sense knowing all that background info. Great choice!

Laura said...

I'm too much of a woos to watch these, but I really enjoyed your character breakdown... my skin's crawling slightly from it!
Lx

Norma Beishir said...

I got creeped out just reading this!

Julie Musil said...

I didn't read the book, but I saw Silence of the Lambs and I still get the creeps when I think about it. You're right, when a story and its characters cause us to react this way, it's brilliant.

Persephone said...

The book and the movie, Silence of The Lambs, are just amazing and Bill is just so creepy. He definitely contributes to growth of Clarice's character and actually helps the book forward.

Barbara Kloss said...

...it puts the lotion on its skin...

CREEPY!

Excellent choice, my dear! And way to list all the information about him. That makes him even CREEPIER! *shudders*

Melissa Sugar said...

This is a great choice. He is perfect for the "KILLER Character Blogfest". I suppose he is an antagonist, but he fits better in the supporting literary category for this. I will always think of Hannibal Lecture as THE antagonist from this novel & film. You have made an exxcellent & creepy choice for this role.

William Kendall said...

Definitely a freaky character of the first order, PK!