Horror villains come in many shapes, sizes, styles. From the wisecracking serial killers like Chucky and Freddy Krueger, to the strong silent slashers like Michael Myers, Jason Vorhees, and Leatherface, to the demonic forces of nature like Pinhead, Pazuzu, and the devil himself.
But when it comes to the most intelligent and intellectual villains, there are a distinct two that come to mind. One is a trained forensic psychiatrist that aided the FBI with catching criminals while also moonlighting as a cannibalistic serial killer himself.
And the other is a jack of all technical trades who thinks up elaborate plans and games in order to teach his test subjects lessons on life. Today we seek to answer a single question: who is the ultimate horror mastermind, Dr. Hannibal Lecter or John Kramer (aka “Jigsaw”)?
While on the surface it seems like he’s just enjoying the challenge and toying with her (which he in fact loves), underneath has an ulterior motive all along.
His goal is to trade his services for a transfer to another facility, allowing him to escape while in transit. He knows that the maximum security holding cell they made for him is impossible to escape from.
But in a temporary setup, there are many flaws, which he notices and exploits when he makes good on his escape towards the end of the film.
Essentially the entirety of the Saw series is just one long, elaborate plan by John Kramer. His game with Detective Matthews in Saw II led into him being used for Rigg’s game in Saw IV.
In addition, his ability to compartmentalize his schemes is unparalleled. He recruits Amanda, Detective Hoffman, Jill, and Dr. Gordon to assist with his plans but successfully only tells each one what they need to know.
He basically runs a network of spies that becomes as intricate as the CIA itself. Even in death, his autopsy reveals a tape which lets Hoffman know that even though he is now dead, his apprentice will not walk away untested.
All of his traps and games are a testament to his skills in planning operations many steps in advance. He admits this in Saw V when he says to Hoffman, “When you’re good at anticipating the human mind, it leaves nothing to chance.”
Round I Winner – John Kramer
Round II – Versatility
Neither Hannibal nor Kramer could have succeeded at any of this without some sort of base knowledge and intelligence going into it. Hannibal earns his title of doctor with his MD and specialization in psychiatry.
This demonstrates that he not only passed medical school itself, but that he focused on the human mind, perhaps the most complex machine in the world. His skills were so renowned that Agent Graham and the FBI sought his advice in solving cases.
In addition to his vast medical and psychological knowledge, Hannibal demonstrates an affinity for art, culture, history and literature. He cites the writings of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius in casual conversation.
And in Hannibal, it’s revealed that after his escape, he forged a new identify as a museum director in Italy. This is easily a job that required a PhD in Art History that Hannibal seems to have no problem performing.
John Kramer certainly has his expertise as an engineer. This is evident by the many devices he designs to be used in his games. No average person could just build a device with gears and metal that could twist a person’s limbs all the way around (like “The Rack” in Saw III).
And while some of his games also involve nerve gas and poison, he needs assistance for many others. Because he doesn’t have a strong enough medical background, he requires the help of Dr. Gordon with many of his games, as well as Detective Hoffman’s police connections to find and locate potential test subjects.
Kramer is brilliant, and there’s no doubt about that. But he can’t do it all alone, and Hannibal has a wider array of subjects he’s an expert in.
Round II Winner – Dr. Hannibal Lecter
As previously mentioned, Hannibal is easily able to change his identity and stay in hiding for 10 years before an Italian detective figures out who he is.
And while this is crafty, he’s made some serious mistakes. In Red Dragon, he leaves himself vulnerable enough to be injured by Agent Graham and gets arrested. The very fact that he had to escape imprisonment is because he was caught in the first place.
Additionally, in Hannibal, he’s so focused on Clarice that he gets subdued by Mason Verger’s henchman and brought before him. Granted, he’s able to quickly adapt and escape again. But that’s twice he allowed himself to be taken.
Now it’s true that as early as Saw, Detectives Singh and Tapp found Kramer’s lair. But he had measures put in place to distract them while he was able to escape. Then once again, in Saw II, a SWAT team swarms his lair and “catches” him, only to find that it’s all part of his game.
Eventually it ends with Detective Matthews taking Kramer out of there and to the house where Amanda is waiting for him. Each time the police think they’ve gotten a lead on him, Kramer demonstrates that it’s only because he orchestrated it.
And for this, he never spends a single day in court or prison, and even after his death, he still maintains the upper hand. His elaborate network of protégés carry on his work for him, just as he left it.
Round III (and overall) Winner – John Kramer
There’s no denying that both of these characters are geniuses. And if pitted against each other, Hannibal would give Kramer the biggest challenge he’s ever faced. Hannibal may be good at adapting and certainly has more book smarts, so to speak.
But Kramer doesn’t need to adapt because nothing ever happens that he didn’t already anticipate. He’s playing a game of chess where he’s already decided how to put his opponent in checkmate before they’ve even made their first move
Based on a post originally published on Dork Daily.