When the bad guys become the victims! Evil vs Eviler
by Brad Slaton
As genre fans we are accustomed to seeing good prevail over evil at the end but what about when evil prevails over an eviler force? When an evil force defeats something more malevolent how should we react and are we safe from the evil that remains? Our beloved genre has a history of pitting the good guys in the middle of the evil fight. From FRANKENSTEIN VS THE WOLFMAN to more modern day takes such as PITCH BLACK, FREDDY VS JASON and NO ONE LIVES.
The trope of having an evil character meet an eviler force plays on the audience’s emotions in ways that differ from how we are accustomed. When done properly it is highly successful. There has to be somewhat of a redeeming characteristic in one of the characters to succeed. A battle between two completely unsympathetic characters can become as dull as generic partying teenagers. A fantastic study in this is NATURAL BORN KILLERS. The characters, Mickey and Mallory, were as bad as they come morally but the force of their performances and the menace brought by Tom Sizemore in his role caused audiences to root for them even though we witnessed them commit senseless acts of violence. In the case of PITCH BLACK, the Riddick character went on to become more of an anti-hero in the sequels almost in the mold of a Snake Plissken. The vs movies also stand to ramp up the “evil vs eviler” quotient as there is always one of the combatants that they create a soft emotional spot for. It makes me wonder if they do focus groups for these characters to see which one gets to be the lesser of the evils.
Which leads to the point of how out of these movies there always seems to come an iconic character which turns out to be the lesser of the two evils. Even when evil battles evil, the public usually chooses to embrace the lesser of the two evils which actually turns them into the hero. With the past successes of these types of films I’m sure we’re bound to see more coming down the pipeline.