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Ted Bundy (2002)

Review

Author
Date
05-08-2003
Comments

Serial killer aficionados (and most horror fans) probably know the story of Ted Bundy, the most notorious mass murderers in the history of the American common man. The media's portrayed him as the boy next door, one who just happens to smash in the heads of pretty girls when the mood strikes him. Director Matthew Bright (Freeway) and co-screenwriter Stephen Johnston (Ed Gein) try to paint a less sensationalistic portrait, while still making a picture drowned in crimson and icky voyeuristic thrills.

Bundy (Michael Reilly Burke, Octopus II) is a failing college student with a neurotic girlfriend (Boti Ann Bliss) and a penchant for thievery. His relations with women are rarely marked with any kind of normality, and even less so when he starts murdering them by the ton. From his initial hesitant forays into homicide, the film follows Bundy across multiple states as he goes on a mad spree, raping and murdering.

No matter how you make a film like this, it's going to be an offense to the memories of the victims. Either they make the killer too human, or they reduce the lives of a single person to nothing more than a brutally slaughtered body. Ted Bundy takes the latter tactic, painting its "protagonist" as a sociopathic freak, and the swath of the dead he cuts nothing more than a bloody amusement.

I'm not feeling particularly socially conscious, so I have no qualms saying that I really enjoyed this film. No, we don't learn anything new or interesting about Bundy (if that's your interest, there's good books out there) - there's too much murder montage for that - but we do get to see a pretty grisly representation of the man's path, including his three incarcerations, two escapes, and his eventual execution.

Burke's performance, while not as nuanced as Steve Railsback's in Ed Gein, certainly leaves a mark on the brain. It'd be impossible to see the actor in any other context and not think creepy killer, but at the same time, his face melts into the masses of America. He could really be anybody, and probably is.

Give Ted Bundy a shot, if only to get your proverbial rocks off in a sadistic, horror movie sense. It's not a bad time for a Saturday night. Mind you, those looking for depth can take their eyes elsewhere - there's none to be found here.

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