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Film / Serial Killing 4 Dummys

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Serial Killing 4 Dummys (a.k.a. Serial Killing 101 and Serial Killer) is a 1999 dark comedy film written and directed by Trace Slobotkin and starring Thomas Haden Church and Justin Urich.

Casey Noland, a high school kid with no direction in life, decides to pursue the serial killing profession. Only problem...he can't bring himself to kill anybody. Will the help of a gothic chick named Sasha, he attempts to learn the ways of a mass murderer. Meanwhile, a real serial killer is at work in their town and Casey thinks he might know who the maniac is.


  • Aerosol Flamethrower: Amil uses an aerosol can to write his name in flames on his driveway. He starts talking to Casey before realizing he is still holding the flaming can and hurling it into the air just before it explodes.
  • Alpha Bitch: Marni Greenstein, the resident rich girl whose ambition is to be CEO of Revlon and who picks on the losers like Casey and Sasha.
  • And Show It to You: Grimaldi threatens Casey by declaring he will "rip your heart out, show it to you, and use it as a sock puppet!" Given the circumstances, it is not clear if he is indulging in hyperbole.
  • Autopsy Snack Time: The biology teacher is eating a ham sandwich while watching his students dissect fetal pigs.
  • Battleaxe Nurse: Casey gets grabbed by one at the old folks home and who mistakes him for Rose's grandson and marches him inside to be talk to her.
  • Bound and Gagged: Sasha is bound and gagged by the serial killer and strapped into his murder machine.
  • Crusty Caretaker: Frank, the school custodian, is a creepy individual who hits on the senior girls and is suspected of being the Serial Killer.
  • Deadly Disc: Casey kills Mr. Grimaldi by throwing a circular saw blade that buries itself in his skull.
  • Death Seeker: Sasha's ambition is to be the first kill of a serial killer to guarantee her fame.
  • Death Trap: The Serial Killer leaves Sasha Bound and Gagged in an exercise machine hooked up to a circular saw above her head. She has to hold up a weighted bar with her legs. As her legs tire and the bar drops, the saw edges closer to her head.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Mr. Grimaldi is the gym coach version.
  • Goth: Sasha is the goth girl Casey is crushing on. The bond over a shared love of Marilyn Manson and an interest in Serial Killers.
  • Goths Have It Hard: Sasha has made multiple failed attempts at suicide, and has a fascination with dark subjects such as Serial Killers. She encourages Casey in his ambition to become a serial killer, with hopes of being his first victim.
  • Gym Class Hell: Drill Sergeant Nasty gym teacher Mr. Grimaldi makes gym class a living hell for Casey (and any other non-athletically gifted student).
  • Indulgent Fantasy Segue: Protagonist Casey Nolan keeps having Imagine Spots where he brutally murders whatever person is currently annoying him.
  • Inherited Illiteracy Title: This is how the title of Casey's final paper is spelled (it should be "Dummies").
  • Insistent Terminology: Crusty Caretaker Frank insists that he is not the school janitor, but the 'head custodian'.
  • Ironic Echo: "Good throw. Bad catch." First said by Drill Sergeant Nasty Mr. Grimaldi during Gym Class Hell when Casey wears a dodge ball to the face. Repeated during the climax by Mr. Grimaldi when Casey throws a circular saw blade that buries itself in his skull.
  • Letters 2 Numbers
  • Lock-and-Load Montage: When Casey prepares to go and kill his neighbor's dog, there is a scene of him gearing up and hanging the power tools he bought all over himself.
  • Mad Bomber: Casey's best friend Amil has an unhealthy obsession with C4, and keeps suggesting blowing stuff up as a solution. When he and Casey need to break into the school, he reveals that he carries a homemade shaped charge with him at all times. But he has forgotten how he wired it...
  • Metafictional Title: Serial Killing 4 Dummys is the title of the paper Casey hands in to Mr. Korn.
  • Monster Fangirl: Sasha is a Goth girl obsessed with Serial Killers. When Casey expresses (mostly in jest) his ambition to become a serial killer, Sasha encourages him to pursue the ambition for real, and volunteers to be his first victim.
  • Nail 'Em: Casey buys a nail gun as one of his possible weapons as the 'Hardware Killer', but he never uses it.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Mr. Grimaldi's Southern-Fried Private turned Drill Sergeant Nasty gym coach persona is all an act engineered to cause others to underestimate him. Even his southern accent vanishes when he drops the pretense.
  • Serial Killer: Casey starts by jokingly writing a paper saying he wants to be a serial killer. After getting in trouble for this, he starts seriously researching becoming one: encouraged and aided by Sasha. Meanwhile, an actual serial killer is at work in the town.
  • Southern-Fried Private: Mr. Grimaldi is the Drill Sergeant Nasty gym teacher, who keeps reminding people that he is from Georgia and lecturing his students about how his time in the army changed his life and talking about his part in the invasion of Grenada. However, it is eventually revealed that most of his Good Old Boy mannerisms are actually an act and part of his Obfuscating Stupidity. It is not even clear if he really is from Georgia.
  • Thoroughly Mistaken Identity: Rose, who is going senile, is convinced that Casey is her grandson Charlie, and Casey winds up being forced to play along with the delusion.
  • Title Drop: Casey presents a paper to Mr. Korn's class entitled "Serial Killing 4 Dummys".
  • Wire Dilemma: Amil uses a homemade shaped charge to blow open the doors to the school. However, he has forgotten how he wired the bomb, and spends a few minutes trying to remember which wire connects to which. He eventually connects two wires and, instead of starting the timer, immediately detonates the bomb.