Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Day 12: Wicked Weapons: The Butcher Knife

For this segment of Wicked Weapons, considering the time of year, it would only be appropriate to look at a weapon made famous in so many horror films. One classic specifically comes to mind, where the blade in question was used:

If you are a slasher fan, than you know what this image is. If not, it's little Michael Myers, from the first Halloween movie. He's holding a butcher knife, or if you prefer, a simple kitchen knife. he just did a very bad thing.

The butcher knife got it's name because it was primarily used for cutting, chopping and dressing meat. But over time, the knife became useful for other things too. Hell, I use mine for cutting onions sometimes. It's just a handy blade. It's sharp, easy-to-use, and cleans up quickly. Other kitchen blades in the same family include the cleaver and the carving knife. All "kitchen" knives have been seen in one form or another in horror since the start of the first slasher film. They are just easy weapons for slaughter. It's what they were made for after all.

The wonderful thing about butcher knives is that they are meant to be tools. The most sinister of weapons are in my opinion, the ones we take for granted as merely tools. People can argue that guns are tools too, but I don't see it as so. A gun is built to be a weapon, right from the get-go. Butcher knives are of course more simplistic and also much more versatile than a gun. Less parts and assembly, less jamming. And you don't think weapon right away when you hold it. But they don't carry the class of the straight razor, or the air of mysticism that the machete does. But the design of a kitchen knife is sleek, efficient, and elegant in it's own right. The same tool can be used to chop veggies and then slice a person into bloody chunks with one swift movement. You can hold it upright or diagonal, and it will still produce effective, gory messes. Then you can wipe it off and stick it back in the knife block to use later.

It's such a beautiful design. It needs no flashy engraving, no complicated curves. The end of the blade usually has a slightly blunted end, no need for points when slicing and dicing. It's a light-weight tool so even a child could hold it with ease. The lines are smooth, so blood can easily slide off. No need for reloading! Slice some salami with it one moment, cut a finger off the next. Easy to clean, easy to store.

There are tons of films that use this household tool, and the villains are not the only ones that use it. This is also what makes the butcher knife so versatile. Anyone who has access to a kitchen, has access to a butcher knife. Unless they have some sort of rule against them in their home, I'd argue most western homes have one. You can't say that about my last two wicked weapons. People can defend themselves from crazy killers invading their home by merely running to the kitchen and pulling a butcher knife from the block.

The butcher knife is the knife of the common man. Even when a supernatural killer uses it, the creature will use it for these four things: To cut, to slash, to stab, to strike. It has only these functions. It's the top choice weapon of serial killers everywhere. It doesn't look flashy when it does it's job, and it doesn't have fanfare. It's a quiet killer. There is no romance to the butcher knife. No mystery. The beauty that comes from this weapon is it's sheer versatility and accessibility. These reasons make the blade the perfect horror symbol. When people think of horror movies and the weapons used, more often than not, they will mention the butcher knife in their choices. It's a classic weapon in horror because it is so widely used. 

Sometimes you want the cheaper thing, if it means you get more slice and dice for your money! Mikey likes his weapons cheap!

Of course, there is more than just Scream and Halloween that use the Butcher Knife. Three of my favorite deliciously devious films that showcase the blade are:

Our favourite murderous doll Chucky, who favours the blade probably because he can fit it in his chubby rubber hands. Of course, he makes it look like a toy. " Hi, I'm Chucky, and I'm your friend till the end. Hidey-ho! " STAB STAB STAB.

Noman Bates used it in Psycho and made a huge mess in the shower. Chocolate syrup everywhere! But he did it for a good cause you see: "She might have fooled me, but she didn't fool my mother." Stabby stabby!

Wendy tries to defend herself from her crazy husband in The Shining. Of course, her crazy husband is played by Jack Nicholson. I would shit my pants too and grab a knife if he was after me. "Wendy? Darling? Light, of my life. I'm not gonna hurt ya. You didn't let me finish my sentence. I said, I'm not gonna hurt ya. I'm just going to bash your brains in."

And of course there are many more, but these are some classics you'd easily recognize with the butcher knife. I wont go on forever, the list of movies with the knife used is long and could take me weeks to research. I don't get paid enough to do that kind of research. But I do hope you have enjoyed this look at the butcher knife. I'm sure you got one sitting in a drawer right now, or hanging out on your kitchen counter. Just waiting to cut some...pumpkins. Yeah. That's it. Just...pumpkins.


  1. YESSS! The ol' butcher knife! Absolute favourite of mine, exactly for the reasons you mention- dead cheap, easy to use, damn near ubiquitous, and a common enough sight that people aren't going to think "OH SHIT HE'S GONNA KILL ME" until it starts happening. (Well, perhaps a bit sooner in my case.)

    I've got a SWEET one in my kitchen- one-piece construction, titanium-steel alloy, holds an edge like forever. If I were gonna start using it for killin', though, I'd want to wrap the handle in cloth or something, as it's smooth steel and would probably get slippery when covered in blood. :P

  2. For some reason, I have 11 butcher knifes. I am sure I have just collected them over time.. unless my inner psycho is telling me something. I took one and dulled it completely. It now resides in the heavily gloved hand of my Micheal Myers prop.

  3. In Japan where guns are outlawed, butcher knives are always the weapon of choice when you just can't find your Samurai sword.


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