So, at the start of summer it can be said that I was bright-eyed and bushy tailed, keen to make summer productive. However, by productive, I didn’t mean doing things like…going for a run. Don’t be DUMB (intentional rhyming, that’s always…fun. SOMEBODY STOP ME). I left that one to the Olympians. I meant watching as many movies as I could.
I have multiple lists, mainly a list of movies I should have seen by now and have not. But recently I made a shiny new list of movies to watch which follows the theme of, wait for it…serial killer-based movies.
OH SO LIGHTHEARTED, aint it? I love me some serial killers, I’ve always found them interesting. Therefore, when there is a movie based on something that interests me, I’m going to investigate. I did some research, and gathered up a nice, hearty list of movies that tell the story of many different, infamous serial killers and how they ended up, or in some cases…how they never caught them.
Here is said list, which I will battle through during the rest of the summer holidays. Maybe you could too. We could maybe do it together…and hold hands…maybe.
- The Manson Family – Released in 2004 and starring Marcelo Games as Charles Manson (something for the family to be proud of eh?), The Manson Family is a cross between fiction and a documentary, covering the crimes of the notorious Manson Family. It was a working project by director Jim Van Bebber, starting it in 1988 and eventually getting released over ten years later after help with funding. It tells the story of the quasi-commune Charles Mason built in the 1960s that, through conspiracy, led to corrupt thinking, philosophy, morals, and murder. ‘You’ve seen the story through the eyes of the law, now see it through the eyes of the Manson family.’
- From Hell – Directed by the Hughes brothers, this movie is an adaptation of the comic book series of the same name, telling the story of possibly the most well-known serial killers – Jack the Ripper. Calling Jack the Ripper ‘well-known’ is nothing but ironic, as this killer’s identity is still unknown, which is probably what makes the story so intriguing. Johnny Depp (oh goodie) plays Inspector Frederick Abberline, a police detective investigating the murders of the oul Ripper. From Hell is set in 1888, which can only mean one thing – Johnny Depp looking dapper in an old-fashioned suit.
- Monster – Here we see Charlize Theron play Aileen Wuornos, an American serial killer charged for killing 7 men in Florida 1889-1990. It was this performance that got Theron 17 awards, including an Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Actress, as well as being described as one of the greatest performances in the history of film (wowza). The film tells Wuornos’ story from when she met her female lover Selby Wall (based on Wurnos’ real female lover, Tyria Moore). The whole Nature vs Nurture debate springs to mind when reading of Aileen Wuornos, as even if you’re the kind to go for Nature, you can’t deny that Wuornos’ childhood did her absolutely no favours…at all.
- 10 Rillington Place – This 1971 British crime, drama film dramatises the case of British serial killer John Christie (who looks like a pervert/serial killer if I ever did see one), as well as the miscarriage of justice involving Timothy Evans. Active in the 1940s and early 1950s, Christie murdered at least 18 females, including his wife and a baby, in his flat 10 Rillington Place, where they were found hidden in the kitchen and beneath the floorboards (sneaky wee one, aren’t ya Christie?) Richard Attenborough portrays Christie, while John Hurt plays Timothy Evans, a man who became unintentionally tangled in Christie’s murders.
- Dahmer – With the premise ‘the terrifying true story of America’s most horrific serial killer’, there isn’t really much left to say. Probably one of the most interesting killers (is that okay to say?), Jeffrey Dahmer murdered 17 men and boys between 1987 and 1991, once using the excuse ‘the guy wanted to leave and I didn’t want him to’. Starting with desire for company, the murders then spiraled into Dahmer attempting to make his twisted fantasies a reality. Released in 2003, Jeremy Renner’s portrayal of Jeffrey Dahmer bagged him a nomination for Best Male Actor in a leading role, as well as a lead role in the Hurt Locker.
- Ted Bundy – Ten points to the genius who can guess who this one is based on. The fictionalised narrative in the movie, released in 2002, means that there are slight changes and differences told than what happened in real life. Despite this, Ted Bundy tells the story of, well, Ted Bundy, an American serial killer, rapist, kidnapper and necrophiliac who eventually confessed to 30 homicides between 1974 and 1978, but the true figure is unknown. Bundy’s used his good looks and charisma to his advantage, often picking up victims by faking an injury and approaching them in public places. At least the good looks part is a compliment to Michael Reilly Burke, who portrays Bundy in the movie.
- In the Light of the Moon – Released in 2001 and directed by Chuck Parello, In the Light of the Moon is based on one of my favourites (as far as favourites go when discussing this sort of thing) – Ed Gein. With less than 3 murders attributed to him, Gein isn’t what you would call your usual serial killer. However, the main crimes he did commit are twisted enough to gain him that title, at least. Notorious for stealing corpses from graveyards in the 1950s and fashioning trophies and some might say, decorations, from the skin and bones, Gein has inspired the creation of fictional characters Norman Bates in Psycho, Leatherface in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Jame Gumb in the Silence of the Lambs.
- Zero Day – Based on the Columbine High School Massacre, I GUESS you could argue this isn’t a movie based on a serial killer…but it isn’t your typical rom-com either, is it? Andre Keuck and Cal Robertson star as the two students who embark on a shooting spree in their school, and despite the names being different to the real shooters of Columbine, the main story line is there. The shooting, which occurred on April 20th 1999, resulted in the murder of 12 students and 1 teacher, as well as 21 injured students, and the suicide of both shooters. The Columbine High School Massacre remains the fourth-deadliest school massacre in United States history (I was genuinely shocked that there has been other ones), after the 1927 Bath School disaster, 2007 Virginia Tech Massacre and the 1966 University of Texas Massacre.
- Gacy – Based on the ‘Killer Clown’ John Wayne Gacy, Gacy tells the story of, people have argued, America’s most infamous serial killer. Active between 1972 and 1978, Gacy sexually assaulted and murdered at least 33 teenage boys and young men, before burying 26 of them in the crawl space of his own home, where his family lived (clearly they were without their sense of smell). Going straight to video in 2003, Gacy sees Mark Holton portray a loving husband, devoted father, model citizen…and serial killer (interesting choice of part-time job).
- Zodiac – Released in 2007, we are told the story of the Zodiac-killer, a case which still remains San Francisco’s most infamous, unsolved crime. The unidentified man operated in Northern California in the late 1960s and early 1970s, targeting four men and three women while taunted the local press and police with letters and ciphers. You would think that would give the investigation more to work with, but apparently not. Of the four ciphers sent to police, only one has been solved since. Directed by David Fincher, Zodiac is one with a cast that certainly tickles my fancy. Together, Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo and Robert Downey Jr., among others, tell the story of the case that still remains open – the case of the Zodiac Killer.