The American entertainment industry has a long history of fixating on the life and crimes of real-life serial killers such as John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer, or the Zodiac Killer. One of the most popular subjects for such depictions is serial killer Ted Bundy, who was arrested in 1978 for the murder of over 30 women across seven states. Bundy received his first cinematic depiction in the 1986 film “The Deliberate Stranger” which was released just three years before Bundy was executed for his crimes. Now, three decades later, Bundy is still the fixation of American entertainment.
Netflix released the highly anticipated documentary series “Conversations with A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes” on Jan. 24, the anniversary of the infamous killer’s death. The series consists of four, roughly one-hour long episodes featuring archival footage, news clips and in-person interviews with reporters, law enforcement, lawyers, and individuals involved in the case. What sets this series apart from other true crime programs are the tapes created by reporter and author Stephen Michaud. Michaud was granted extensive access to Bundy while he was on death row. The most intriguing part of the tapes is Bundy’s extensive third person discussion on the crimes he was convicted of. Michaud encouraged Bundy to speak of the crimes as hypothetical scenarios and Bundy maintained his innocence until the bitter end.
The series roused mixed reactions from audiences, consisting of awe, disgust, fascination, and renewed fear to walk alone at night. While many true crime fanatics snapped at the chance to hear the infamous tapes in a more extensive collection, a great deal of viewers were left with a sour taste in their mouth. The documentary series fixated on many of Bundy’s positive attributes, such as his charisma, education, and physical attractiveness, leading many viewers to think the creators were glossing over his horrendous crimes.
The abundance of Bundy entertainment will continue with the upcoming film “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile,” starring Zac Efron as the charismatic killer and Lily Collins as Elizabeth Kendall, his devoted girlfriend. The film’s title is a quote of the description given to Bundy’s crimes by the judge who sentenced him to death.
The film, directed by Joe Berlinger who is also the director and producer of “The Ted Bundy Tapes,” was premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. The trailer is set to upbeat music and reads more like a Bonnie and Clyde style romantic comedy than a thriller centered around the gruesome crimes of a notorious serial killer. The nature of the trailer has many wondering if the film will become a glamorized and romanticized depiction of Ted Bundy and his life with Elizabeth Kendall.
At this time, Netflix has purchased the U.S. rights as well as some foreign rights to “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile.”