True-life monster’s killer smile
The FM has picked a handful of new entertainment firmly rooted in surreality
Real life can be crazy — which is why it makes excellent material for TV shows, movies and books. The FM has picked a handful of new entertainment firmly rooted in surreality.
Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes
The story of a man in a yellow VW, snaking his way across the US to abduct and slaughter 30 young women without a trace, before escaping jail twice is a weirdly gripping story as is. Throw in some charm and good looks and you have arguably the most legendary serial killer of them all.
Ted Bundy has been trending on the 30th anniversary of his death. It all started with the launch of the sensational Netflix series in which never-before-heard tape recordings of Bundy are heard, in which he analyses, in the third person, the mind and thoughts of the person who committed the crimes (himself). The series is expertly crafted by director Joe Berlinger to make the best of the material, even though hearing Bundy himself casually describe his evil deeds in a self-satisfied manner is nothing short of sickening. Netflix, before the launch, warned viewers not to watch the series alone, for sanity’s sake — which made viewers tune in with even more gusto.
If this wasn’t enough to pique new interest in the blue-eyed boy of serial killers, then the debut of Zac Efron as Bundy in Berlinger’s feature film Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, pushed social media over the edge. The film, following its debut at Cannes, is being criticised for glorifying Bundy and making full use of Efron’s boyish good looks to send Bundy fever to heights not seen since his trials in the late 1970s.
At the time, courtrooms were packed with lustful young girls — convinced of his innocence, based on his smile alone. And it would seem his smile retains its charm after all these years, as women flocked to social media to state how hot he was. To the point where Netflix released a statement: "I’ve seen a lot of talk about Ted Bundy’s alleged hotness and would like to gently remind everyone that there are literally thousands of hot men on the service — almost all of whom are not convicted serial murderers."
This new Spike Lee film is based on the memoir of Ron Stallworth, a former US cop whose claim to fame is that he infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970s. The kicker? Stallworth is black. The film is smart and slick and funny. But it’s also a poignant glimpse into the racial segregation and race-based friction and violence that was so prevalent in the US during the middle part of the 20th century. The goings-on of the Ku Klux Klan in the film might seem over the top but they really happened. And it’s no surprise that the movie is loaded with references to current racial tensions, right-wing movements and politicians in the US.
John David Washington (Denzel is his dad) excels as the ballsy Stallworth. And the equally talented Adam Driver plays a Ron Stallworth too. Confusing? You’ll have to watch the movie to work it out.
Educated by Tara Westover (Penguin Random House)
As a child in the 1990s, Tara Westover lived with her fringe Mormon family in the US state of Idaho. She didn’t go to school and spent her days working for her cowering mother or her erratic, paranoid father — doing menial tasks including scrap sorting. In between manual labour, she and her parents and siblings spent their time panicking about and prepping for the end of days.
Today the 32-year-old is a successful academic (with qualifications that include a doctorate from Cambridge) — and she has written the runaway success autobiography of 2018. The book details her wild upbringing and transition to a more normal life. Everyone from Barack Obama to Stephen Fry has praised this book. It’s a must-read.