No one really knows whether there was a barber in Victorian London who slit his customers' throats and passed their bodies down a chute so that his harridan lover could make meat pies of them. There are evocative snippets in an old newspaper, a couple of popular nineteenth-century serials, an investigative book by true-crime detective Peter Haining, who claims that Todd existed — and many knowledgeable doubters. The story has been told several times and in several media, most recently in a movie starring Johnny Depp. A lot of words have been spun about why the demon barber story has endured so long; if there's any deeper meaning to the phenomenon, I think it's wrapped up in the fact that we love gore, and that cannibalism engenders particularly pleasurable shudders. Besides, over-the-top horror is funny — whether because laughter is the only way we can deal with it, or because we all possess a hidden streak of cruelty. Remember the jokes about Jeffrey Dahmer and how he liked a little headroom in his fridge? The way every woman tried to keep from grinning when the deliciously apt name Lorena Bobbitt came up? And surely you smirked a bit when you read recently about six severed feet in running shoes washing up on Vancouver Island — all but one... More >>>