Still Life

13 December 2019

As a horror genre fan whose also drawn to the arts and crafts, I felt inspired to make this post. It is a list of those amusing works of art lunatics sometimes make from their victims. I have no interest in the real-life stuff; the lifeless sculptures of Anthony-Noel Kelly for instance, bores me. It misses the twisted humour and creativity found in the horror genre.

The list is surprisingly short as killers rarely actually make works of art from their victims. Maniacs usually have other things in mind for corpses; posing them for polite dinner conversation for example. The genre is more often attempted with mannequins or dolls. I imagine that’s how the killers view their victims.

The Cat Lady

The Cat Lady is a puzzle-based, psychological horror game that deals with themes such as depression, suicide and murder. The game’s protagonist is a middle-aged, cat lady called Susan Ashworth. Depressed, she kills herself but is forced to accept immortality from a mysterious, death-like figure called the Queen of Maggots. She tasks Susan with the murder of five serial killers called ‘parasites’. Susan discovers her first parasite using his victim’s bodies for his works of art.

A body posed with the head in a frame in imitation of the painting, the Girl with a Pearl Earring. The bottom half of the corpse is naked and slumped in a chair.
The Girl with a Pearl Earring

The game references ‘the living paintings’ or tableau vivant. The genre more normally employs the living, as performers in works of sculpture, paintings and photography.

Hannibal

In the movie and novel series, Hannibal Lector murders his victims and eats their organs. In the TV series Hannibal he also makes a number of artistic spectacles from their corpses. Perhaps his artistic works reflect the need of cannibals for power and control over their victims.

One of Hannibal's sculptures. A man fixed to a cherry blossom tree. His arms appear as branches and flowers take the place of his organs. He appears to be at peace.
From the episode Futamono (lidded pot).
A grisly totem pole made from a large number of people.
From the episode Trou Normand (Norman Hole).

Psycho-pass

Rikako Ōryō.

In the anime Psycho-Pass, characters who deviate from the perceived emotional norm are deemed potential criminals and arrested or killed as necessary. The series revolves around a collection of characters who somehow defy the nationwide monitoring system. One of these characters is deranged schoolgirl Rikako Ōryō. She is president of her exclusive school's art club and likes to paint and draw the mutilated remains of her classmates.

One of Rikako's sketches. A mutilated girl with her head held by her arms.

Rikako seeks to emulate the work of her father; Roichi Oryo. In what was dubbed the ‘Specimen' case by detectives, Roichi would murder and plastinate his victims before posing them as statues in works of art. Rikako prefers to seduce her fellow pupils before killing and posing them. Both Hannibal and Rikako used plastinated bodies in their work:

One of Rikako's sculptures resembling her sketch.

‘If you can’t know despair, you can’t know hope’. Rikako’s father like to symbolise man’s contradictory nature in his paintings.

Still Life

Still Life differs from the others in that the bodies themselves were not actually used in the work, but I've included it as it fits nicely with the others.

Still Life is a point and click adventure series, with the players controlling detective Victoria McPherson. The game is so-called because the killer likes to make portraits of his victims before killing them. The killer is somewhat reminiscent of Jack the Ripper in that he prefers to target and mutilate sex workers.

A painting of a women before she is murdered.
H