Wednesday, May 1, 2013

BH: Meet the Newest Big Horror Icons: The Minions

Yet another article rescued from the gaping hole that was once

Freddy Krueger. Jason Voorhees. Michael Myers. Norman Bates. Everyone knows the names of these horror icons, who stand in the pantheon of the most wicked movie characters of all time. Other than maybe Toby from PARANORMAL ACTIVITY and Jigsaw from the SAW movies, we haven’t really had a new addition to the ranks in a while… Until now.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet the Minions.

Now, bear with me. If you have a child, have met a child, or have been to a Target anytime in the past nine years, you’re probably aware of the Minions. They’re the incredibly popular band of little yellow creatures that serve the reformed supervillain Gru (Steve Carell) in the DESPICABLE ME movies.
Without much effort, in an Amazon order or two you could kit yourself out with a Minion sweater, a Minion throw pillow, a Minion pencil case, and a life-size cardboard Minion stand-up. You can visit the Minions at Universal Studios, and you can find them on Blu-Ray in their very own spin-off movie starring Jon Hamm and Sandra Bullock which came out in 2015. They’re adorable, lovable little misfits…and they’re pure evil.
Even though it’s made pretty explicit in the DESPICABLE ME series, people just don’t seem to realize that the roly-poly, jaundiced goofballs that pack every movie theater claw machine straight-up want to murder you.

The purpose of the Minions is pretty self-explanatory. They exist to serve in the ranks of whatever villain will have them. As explored in the movie MINIONS which chronicles their search for a master, they are pretty much immortal beings that have existed since the dawn of time. During the opening montage, we see them trying to help out a T-Rex, and at one point they even get a gig with Dracula. Of course, they accidentally murder him by opening the curtains, so it doesn’t last long.

Even if they didn’t help Vlad the Impaler as much as they wanted to, the Minions did what so many hapless Brits have failed to do over the years: vanquish the greatest vampire of all time. That’s something to put on the resume, for sure.

And they don’t stop there! In fact, the opening of their newest film shows them running over a fish that looks exactly like Nemo with their watercraft, leaving only a fin behind. It’s a small-scale kill, to be sure, but it’s ruthless when they just careen away, giggling like maniacs. Take away the gloss of animated mayhem, and that scene is just plain disturbing.

The thing about the Minions is that they’re so incompetent at their job, it’s hard to see how evil their intentions truly are. They’re like the Gremlins on speed, tripping over themselves in their eagerness to be evil.
In fact, the villain in DESPICABLE ME 2 actually harnesses this tendency. By injecting the Minions with an evil serum, their natural instincts emerge and they Hulk out, turning purple and growing fangs. The purple Minions are the main enemy in the film because they’re actually organized enough to become the major threat that they could have been from day one.

If you’re still questioning their evil credentials, just take a look at the main Minion plot line in DESPICABLE ME 3. They literally stage a walkout on Gru when he refuses to become a villain again. After trying to entice him with images of rockets, bombs, and James Bond-ian torture devices, the lead Minion Mel stages a coup. The Minions later get arrested after breaking into a movie studio and performing a pitch-perfect rendition of “Modern Major General” from PIRATES OF PENZANCE. OK, maybe that part isn’t explicitly evil, but even Hannibal Lecter had a soft spot for the classics.

But think about it. The Minions are in jail for quitting their jobs because they aren’t murdering enough people. And they quickly rise to the top of the prison hierarchy, through what offscreen methods we’ll probably never know.

The most evil thing about the Minions is the fact that nobody realizes just how terrifying they actually are. Isn’t the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled convincing people that he didn’t exist? Sure, the Minions aren’t stalking campgrounds with machetes or putting civilians in elaborate death traps, but they’re bona fide horror icons. Next time your kid drags you to a DESPICABLE ME-themed birthday party, chew on that idea and see if it doesn’t make you smile just a little bit.

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