Movie Moxie’s 31 Days of Halloween – Day 7 – VS. Fight Speaking Villains vs. Mute Bad Guys

Freddy

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

You know them, I know them, and most of us love them. The villains who talk incessantly, who always get the best one-liners. The original Freddy, Robert England, always took great pleasure in delivering the campiest scary speeches he could. Grand dialogues are a hallmark of Pinhead, leader of the Cenobites from Hellraiser, voiced and acted by Doug Bradley, to astounding effect. I personally love the fact that they always kept the same voice, Brad Dourif, complete with his iconic laugh, as killer doll Chucky. Even regular old humans, like John Kramer in the Saw series, or Hannibal Lecter, can create Hell on Earth with just the power of their words. Like the power of a murderous program given little girl form with speech, these characters change your entire world when their ideas pour from their lips and infect you.

However…

grudge

We know these guys too. Mute child in a monsters body Jason Vorhees; silent Michael Meyers in his mask; every single last ghost girl with long prehensile hair from J-Horror; the Boogeyman from Sinister; Jaws actually technically qualifies for this list; even every single last zombie, they all have one thing in common: no speech whatsoever. Most epic aliens, like Xenomorphs, don’t speak either. And this shared factor has a tendency to impart a very scary word to each bad guy, the word inexorable. This means the character can’t be stopped, can’t even be reasoned with, because hey, whatever your backstory, you don’t speak and therefore don’t respond at all. This idea, that there is absolutely no escape whatsoever, is brought across beautifully in the Japanese film Ju-On: The Grudge, where your typical scary ghost girl is so poltergeisty furious she kills without restraint, regardless of who you are, and does it all with no vocals other than that creepy door-closing noise.

So who wins? This is a hard one. We love our speaking villains. But from the basic standpoint of which is more frightening, our Muties win. At least with bad guys who speak, you occasionally have a micro chance of escape. Not so with the speechless ghosts, inexhaustible aliens, and iconic masked monsters, oh no. The voiceless will forever be just that much more terrifying.

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