Ted Bundy, 2002
Not every serial killer fits the profile.
ActorsStarring: Michael Reilly Burke, Boti Bliss, Tracey Walter, Deborah Offner, Tom Savini, Tiffany Shepis, Julianna McCarthy, Steffani Brass, Matt Hoffman, Phoebe Dollar, Marina Black, Alexa Jago, Jennifer Tisdale, Michael Santos, Annalee Autumn, Eric DaRe, Melissa Schmidt, Orly Tepper, Susan Featherly, Alexa Nikolas, Jesse Rutherford
Goodness. The Co-ed Killer or the Campus Killer or the… (and what have you) looks so much like Christopher Reeve. Who the hell would say no to Reeve if he had one hand in a cast and the other helping you up from your beach blanket. Who would refuse Reeve if he asked someone from the opposite sex to help him load a boat on to a car?
One out of three women in a park filled with thousands of women that fit the killer’s profile.
‘I need a favour.’
Ted Bundy aka Bundy aka The Fall of Krypton is a film directed by Matthew Bright (Freeway, 1996) who tells as close an account to the real deal as the censors and a Late Night TV Movie run-time (it was not a theatre friendly film) would allow. Bright manages to balance the killing spree across three Counties, with a body count pushing thirty and the infamous The Bundy Trial of 1978-9.
An avid serial killer enthusiast (errr) would know from get go that creative diegesis has been added to the liberties taken with the retelling of one of the most popular true crime stories in the US. A four year killing spree that spread panic among the young and very pretty college girls across Universities in the US back in the Seventies, when the term Serial Killer was getting more and more sinister as more men tasted blood and loved it. Fat boy John Wayne Gacy (Pogo the fucking Clown, The Crawlspace Motherfucker) operated in Des Plaines, Illinois during the same period. Denis Rader was doing his BTK routine around the same time as well. It is uncanny how the murders overlapped with each other, yet the authorities involved remained isolated within their jurisdiction and subjects. Oblivious to something sinister haven grown fully by the end of the Seventies and also failing to make connections during FBI profiling. However, with Police from three states after Bundy, he narrowly escaped capture numerous times (he drove a bright yellow VW Beetle? Could he get anymore ostentatiously inviting?
Along came Dahmer… The very scary and unhygienic and an alcoholic; whose tale is as disconcerting as it can get . If you want more insight, watch Dahmer, 2002, with Hawk-Eye as the Cannibal of Milwaukee.
Anyway, that is the point (flamboyance). Besides being a killing machine, Bundy was also a master manipulator, a former Law School dropout, aspiring politician, once again a Psychology module dropout, a genius, a man filled with rage after a secret was revealed to him at a very early age. A lady-magnet, a lady-killer, a thief, immaculately dressed and above all a chameleon who evaded capture in broad daylight for a little more than four years, during which he was captured twice and escaped only to increase the body count. It was when he broke his own rule by abducting and murdering Kimberly Leech, a twelve year old on her way home from school, that all of America was breathing down his neck.
All of that is shown to us in Bundy and to my surprise the direction isn’t half as bad as I had first thought. With close up shots of Michael Reilly Burke (The Collector, 2009) as his Bundy rehearses in front of the mirror, snarling, laughing, smiling, saying, ‘Hi, Nice to meet you.‘ in different ways until he settles for the look. The latter is one of the best scenes in the film. That and the few times we see Bundy breakdown, which was very rare, even in real life. Some of you might be familiar with the courtroom shot of Bundy by the only AP photographer allowed in to the courtroom, Donn Dughi.
A photograph that tears through the otherwise calm and almost blithe and arrogant demeanor of Bundy throughout his trial. The photograph shows Bundy with his right hand raised in an assault position, his face contorted beyond recognition and his eyes looking at something which is not there, but was, in the past. His mouth ready to spur insults after misogynist insults as he bludgeoned his young victims to death. Sometimes in their sleep.
Matthew Bright (Forbidden Zone, 1980) uses real archive footage and newspaper clips to keep the viewers interested and directs the killings either with a whisper or euphoric hysteria as Bundy is shown hitting his victims on their heads with a log, long after they’re dead; sexually mutilating their corpses. Heavy. Necromantic Heavy.
Not that I lost interest, instead the archive footage and the dailies’ headlines came across as repetitive and distracting to me; someone who has watched aaaalllll the documentaries with Bundy as their frog or hamster or the new guy in marketing.
The film shouts B Grade with its film texture, certain blatant inaccuracies, moderate to very effectual editing, extremely strange music – I’m still a little unsettled by Kennard Ramsey‘s eerie Christmas score and the song Martha’s Street by Dominic Glynn. Despite the cinematography being mediocre to good, director Matthew Bright succeeds in getting his point across and with getting most of the real events right on film. That coupled with Burke’s superb (yet sometimes overkill 🙂 performance makes Ted Bundy a film that is not entertaining neither informative but strange and truly horrifying in a very subtle way (until he reaches Florida and the Chi Omega).
I liked it for Burke’s Bundy and the way Bright navigates his film between the timelines and through the head of Ted Bundy, a highly intelligent and a very handsome man, a natural charmer an almost well-educated man whose insecurities and complexes and rather grim desires drove him to take lives in the most horrific and frenzied manner ever.
There is another TV film on Bundy (among many): ‘The Deliberate Stranger, 1986‘ with Mark Harmon holding the mugshot plate. I hear it garnered more positive reviews than Ted Bundy.
Reviews, huh. Who cares?
I have to stop watching this kinda stuff for a while, it’s giving me nightmare hangovers.
Trivia: Theodore Roosevelt Bundy SAVED two lives before going on a four year murdering spree – Source: Stranger Besides Me by Ann Rule. Yes I’ve also read aaalll written account as well.