To quote Moe Sizlack, "I can go along with any kind of phobia you can name, but your hero phobia sickens me". I thought of this line many times while watching "Ted Bundy", partly because the filmmakers didn't give a whole lot to think about during the movie. I mean, I'm a fan of just about any type of exploitation film you can find, but exploiting a real life serial killer sickens me. You could make a fine documentary about Bundy or a dramatic film about hunting him down. When you make him the protagonist of the movie and try to make it as true to life as possible I can't help but think the people responsible are trying to capitalize on a real life tragedy and be part of the 'serial killer chic'.
The following is a list of thoughts that ran through my head while watching the movie. I don't know if you can spoil something that's based are real events that are public knowledge ("Not to spoil the end of Platoon, but the US lost the war"), but there are spoilers in here.
- Matthew Bright starts off by showing us real pictures of Bundy as a child through to his 20's. You'd think that this would suggest that the film would be an accurate portrayal without massive amounts of dramatic license. You'd be wrong.
- Michael Reilly does look a lot like Ted, I'll give him that.
- Note to self: if you want to make a serial killer look threatening, don't have him make goofy, Jim Carrey faces in the mirror at the very start of the film.
- Bright paid attention during film school. Low angles suggest power. We get it, move on.
- Ted really was a kleptomaniac, but I doubt he stole TV's in broad daylight with people watching.
- The film takes place during the 70's, but you never get the impression that it really does. It looks more like the wardrobe department went crazy at a thrift shop and based the look off "That 70's Show".
- Since it's the 70's, there's an extended disco scene.
- Note to self: Serial killers masturbating in bushes create laughter, not any emotion you'd conceivably want in a straight horror film.
- Bright goes to great lengths to portray Ted as a great guy. He was the guy you'd least expect, but did anyone consider that emphasizing this fact might create some empathy for a horrible killer? Especially if he's the only character we follow.
- Ted worked as a suicide hotline operator, but was it really necessary to show him getting a call from a girl who was raped by a family member? It doesn't really do anything but make the film even sleazier.
- Speaking of sleazy, he has sex with his girlfriend while choking her. Later on, he ties her up and tells her to play dead. They make a big deal about the fact nobody could have guessed Ted was a serial killer. I don't know; that may have been a bit of a clue, don't you think?
- Ted abducts a girl and carries her to his car while people are watching. On the commentary track the director says that this actually happened, but shouldn't he have filmed it in a way that it looks halfway believable?
- I'd like to note that the actress playing Ted's girlfriend is really cute.
- Ted's M.O. is to lure women to his car and knock them out with a crowbar. However, it's shown so many times in the movie that it almost becomes comedic. By an hour in to the movie he starts tricking them with 'Hey, look over there!"
- Bright makes sure to show people saying, "I think we can rule Ted out as a suspect" That's about a subtle as Stan Lee in the 60's.
- "This is the court of Ted and what I say is law!" Are you sure Stan Lee didn't write this?
- When Ted kills, Bright uses a bunch of jump cuts and it ends up looking really good. Credit where credit is due.
- Ted makes out with severed heads. It was true, but it doesn't look the least bit convincing in the film. To be fair, I don't know how you would portray it well either.
- Fans of women wrestling should take note that "Beckie The Farmer's Daughter" of the ill-fated WoW plays one of Ted's victims.
- Yes, there is the horror movie cliché of a chase through the forest.
-To satisfy the MPAA Ted rapes his victims while still wearing his boxer shorts.
- They use a lot of newspaper photos and news footage from the time. It's one of the more interesting parts of the movie.
- They show a montage of Ted's cross-country rampage to the tune of an upbeat 70's song. How is it not exploitation of real events? They also mark his murders on a map by using splattered blood. Real sensitive, guys.
- You know what this movie needs? Some necrophilia. Oh, here it is.
- Ted struggles with one of his victims and her shirt pops open. We're supposed to take this seriously?
- At one point on the commentary Bright says 'You're about to see some irresponsible filmmaking". Yeah, the rest has been perfect up until this point.
- Ted is questioned by a detective played by Tom Savini who lists off the names of the girls he may have killed. Ted gets nervous, but why should he? He mostly just knocks them out and kills them without ever getting their names.
- Speaking of Savini, he did the effects for the film. It's nothing we haven't seen him do a dozen times before in better films, so there's no need to watch it just to see his work.
- Bright also says "I didn't want to portray the media since Natural Born Killers covered that". Didn't "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer" cover this same subject matter as this film, only a hundred times better?
- Ted escaped from jail twice, once by jumping out the window while the guard was taking a smoke break. Again, real but it comes off looking horribly fake on screen.
- A couple of hot sorority girls have a pillow fight in their underwear. If this film had any credibility it would be flying out the window right about now.
- It occurs to me that this film has no real story arc. He kills women until he's caught. He escapes again and kills until he's caught and executed. It's more of straight line than an arc.
- Let's play it safe. Why have one masturbation scene when you can have two?
- They show Ted on death row and that's where they really start to make his a sympathetic character. They show him terrified of dying and trying to cut a deal. When preparing him for the electric chair they stuff his rectum full of cotton in case he messes himself. Again, it's true but it's shot in a way that focuses on the agony on Ted's face. We're supposed to feel sorry for him? They show the character we've been following for the past hour and a half as a pathetic shell of a man. He's the only one who has show the least bit of brains and he's the one who always overcomes the odds. But now all the odds are against him. How can we not feel sympathy for him. Oh wait. He's a fucking serial killer!
- The film ends with a bunch of kids looking at the camera and saying "I'm Ted Bundy". Man, what a great morally ambiguous message to end the film with.
This is one of the most insensitive, socially and morally reprehensible, money grubbing films I've ever seen.
Avoid at all costs.