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Villain Overview

Murder is very, very real. It might start in the mind, but then it changes to flesh and blood.
~ Dr. Decker
Decker: I'm not one of them. I'm here to destroy them. See, I've cleaned up a lot of breeders. Families like cesspools. Filth making filth, making filth. And I did it over, and over, and over again. But it was all leading me here. I was born to destroy Boone and the breed together.
Man: Y..you're crazy!
Decker: No, I'm Death. Plain and simple.
~ Decker killing the unnamed victim, also his most famous quote.

Philip K. Decker, simply known as Dr. Decker and better known for his book alias Button Face, is the main antagonist of Clive Barker's horror dark fantasy novel Cabal, and also his 1990 film adaptation Nightbreed whom he is mostly known.

He is Boone's (main protagonist) psychiatrist, seeking to help him with his horrible nightmares regarding monsters and an infernal place called Midian, where monsters live. However, in reality, Decker is a heartless, merciless serial killer known as Button Face who seeks to frame Boone from his killings. As the story progresses, he also wishes the complete eradication of Midian and everyone living in it, evolving from a simple serial killer to a genocidal maniac.

He was portrayed by David Cronenberg in the film version, who is mostly known for his work as a director, being this one of his few appearances as an actor.

Differences Between Book and Film

Both Decker's version from the film and book are pretty similar, but also have some differences on it:

Decker is a psychiatrist that works to help Boone, a young man with mental disorder suffering from horrible nightmares regarding him being tortured by monsters, and an horrible place called Midian, where monsters live. However, behind the looks, he is also a renowned family annihilator serial killer known as The Mask, however, this name is never mentioned on the film. On the film, he gets obsessed with Midian to the point of committing horrible acts to discover its location. On the book, he doesn't mind about Midian that much, and only seeks to frame Boone in order to move to other place and continue his killing spree without raising suspicion.

His book version is most mentally unstable however, as he is driven by his psychotic and schizoid tendencies: He projects a second personality on his mask, The Mask of Ol' Button Face, that speaks to him and orders him to massacre people. Seniors, adults, children, Decker looks everyone with murderous eyes when looking through The Mask, and sexually enjoys whenever his blade pierces in their flesh, both of them, actually, as The Mask had a personality in the mind of Decker.

The film, however, takes his malevolence on a different way and expands it to the infinite. He shares his murderous tendencies against everyone from the book, but his schizoid persona is gone. He is now driven by the pure urge of murder and feeling superiority by taking a life. He is completely conscious of what he is doing with no other personalities taking control of him, making him more heinous than his book counterpart. He even goes so far as  committing genocide by exterminating entire Midian, because he thinks it is his reason of existing in the world. 

Personality

Decker shares some qualities on both versions: he is very sharp, quiet, charming, charismatic, educated and sophisticated, which is why he is a man of prestige and most of the people believe in him. This, however, is also his most dangerous trait, as most people would not think something bad against him, most of all, he makes people believe in him despite his lies. 

On his 'mask' personality, Decker is a murderous and sadistic being who sexually enjoys painfully murdering people, especially children. He does so in order to please 'their' urges, both his mask and himself, but apparently, this personality seems to take complete domination of him, not doing anything out of Ol' Button Face orders and always following everything he makes him to do. He doesn't go for the straight kill, nor for full torture, instead, Button Face goes more for slow, painful deaths inflicted by sharp weapons, mutilating and deforming their victims so horribly they're barely recognizable. The mask itself seems to be extremely egomaniacal and having a god complex, believing he has some kind of divinity on his words and work that none is worthy of copying, not even his bearer, Doctor Decker, and that he can't be killed. 

The Decker from the film shares every sadistic and murderous trait from the book, but with The Mask personality completely erased. He relies on his 'man of prestige' persona to trick people and getting away with murder as many times as he wants, making him a perfect psychopath who doesn't feel remorse, but rather pleasure on taking a life.

He is extremely treacherous and manipulative, falling on his hands in a moment of weakness is a sign of falling into insanity, as he takes the opportunity of take advantage of someone;s weak-minded state to mold his mind at his will. With this, he can make you believe that you were capable of things you didn't think you could, until you finally descend into madness.   

Decker is also shown to be a somewhat xenophobic and genocidal mastermind; his grudge against the monster from Midian goes from simply believing he has been put in the world to destroy them, and uses his manipulative abilities to lead a complete battalion against Midian and kill every monster man, woman and child until there is nothing but ashes behind.

At the end, Decker is made to be the exact same character: A remorseless monster with no sympathy that will destroy anyone until he is finally put down.

Quotes

Boone: You?...You did it?
Decker: Yes
Boone: All of them?
Decker: And more
Boone:...Why?
Decker:..Because I like it.
~ Decker admitting his killings on the book.
Boone's alive, Lori. And your death is gonna bring him out of hiding.
~ Decker confronting Lori.
Lie still... It's quicker that way.
~ Decker about to kill Lori, same quote used in the book.
Decker: Say it! *the man screams in pain as he is stabbed in the heart and dies*
Decker:..Then don't say it.
~ Decker after killing the Gas Station Owner.
Midian. Something is breeding there, underneath the cemetery. And if somebody doesn't stop them there's gonna be a lot of more bloodshed.
~ Decker convincing Eigerman and Joyce about destroying Midian.
Button Face: Don't lock me again. Not tonight. If you don't like to see blood, let me see it in your place.
Decker: I can't.
Button Face: You owe me.
~ The Mask talking to Decker on the book.
Quite a dance, huh? Death everywhere and you and me in the middle.
~ Decker as Button Face confronting Boone.
Everybody has a secret face.
~ Dr. Decker

Gallery

Images

Videos

Trivia

  • Doctor Decker's trusty large knife may or not be a Khyber knife, a variation of the original Indo-Persian blade Pesh-kabz. It is also speculated that Decker's second most used knife in the movie (the razor-blade) is actually a modified Humby-knife, used for skin-grafting.
  • Decker's mask gained status among fans of the American metal band Slipknot, thanks to vocalist Corey Taylor admitting that the mask was "the epitome of scary", and based one of his masks on it. Among fans however, it is known as "Cronenberg's mask".
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