Posts tagged “serial killer

TRAILER: PLAYING WITH DOLLS: HAVOC (2017)

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PLAY WITH DOLLS: HAVOC is the third film in this slasher series, developed by director Rene Perez (THE DEAD AND THE DAMNED) and the production house of Von Metz Entertainment. The third film find’s (more…)


REVIEW: THE SECRET LIFE: JEFFREY DAHMER (1993)

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Everyone in the Midwest, and probably everyone in the United States (if not the whole world) has heard of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. It was a tragic story that was reported in the media where I lived (in Illinois) regularly once he was apprehended because of the states’ close proximity to Wisconsin, where most of the murders were occurring. I remember as a teenager being horrified, yet disturbingly fascinated by each and every article I read on this very sick and disturbed individual.THE SECRET LIFE: JEFFREY DAHMER (1993) paints a very vivid and true-to-facts type of film on this notorious serial killer, including his victims, methods of dispatching victims, and digs into the psyche and mindset of an adult Dahmer.

What I found so interesting about the 1993 bi0-pic on Dahmer is the fact that this was the first movie to come out on Dahmer (the first of many more to come), and this film was made while Dahmer was still alive before Dahmer was killed by an inmate in prison by a barbell pole. This is probably the reason the film was so controversial, on top of the fact that the film was made about a serial killer and sex offender who murdered 17 men and boys. When the movie came out, it was already steeped in controversy and so much controversy that it got the filmmakers, director David R. Bowen (whom also composed the music in the film) and actor/writer Carl Crew (BLOOD DINER) a spot as guests on his show-along with the victims of Jeffrey Dahmer. The film outraged many people. especially the family’s victims (and understandably so) but what angered many of the families even more was the fact that the family members of the victims did not get earn any money for the exploitation of their loved ones’ tragic deaths being portrayed.

Carl Crew portraying serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer

Even though there is a disclaimer stating that the stories and victims’ of Dahmer’s portrayed in the film had details changed to protect the victims, from what I know about each case in reading newspaper articles and doing research on Dahmer and the murders, they were pretty accurate with the actual events.

The film, although shot on the cheap, really comes off as a very grim and accurate portrayal of Dahmer and his methods of luring, murdering, and eating his unlucky victims. The movie shows viewers a bit of Dahmer’s mindset, the thoughts going inside his head and how he went about choosing his victims and the lies he told them to convince them to come home with him or go to various locations for what most thought was going to be just  sexual encounter or a way to make some quick cash in a photo shoot. The film was the first come out and tell the story of Dahmer, as in the coming months and years there have been at least a dozen films made concerning his awful story.

I think that as far as the acting went, Carl Crew really did a wonderful job in his portrayal of Dahmer and was the only actor that stood out and carried the whole film. I remember Crew for starring in the horror-comedy BLOOD DINER (1987), another film that I really liked and used to have on VHS (currently looking to buy myself another copy of the gem!), and his performance really added to the authenticity of THE SECRET LIFE: JEFFREY DAHMER. Intervision picked up this film and gave it a dvd release, as well as a very informative director’s commentary, along with actor/writer Carl Crew, and I really enjoyed this movie much more than I thought I would. The film looked to have a very low-budget and I just did not expect to enjoy the movie quite as much as I did.

Cops busting Dahmer with a young boy

I think films on serial killers always interest me more than most other films, factual or fictionalized, on the subject matter of horror and real-life events. The films’ voice-over narration conducted by Crew, as well as the film’s lack of a decent budget as all the interior shots were filmed in a soundstage in Burbank (before the Japanese investors pulled out leaving the crew with only 30% of the movie filmed) and the crew had to use friends and family to get the film finished. If having investors pull out a third of the way was not enough of a reason to be discouraged into quitting the film, the Rodney King Riots occurred in L.A. during this filming period and the lighting company and dollie company had their buildings and equipment torched to the ground by rioters.

As for the blood and gore of the movie, there really was not a whole lot of it, but I felt that the lack of it did not hurt the film any. There were some violent scenes, such as a victim getting hit in the head with a weight from a weight bench set, or the scene where Dahmer is drilling a hole in a victim’s head and pouring some chemicals in it resulting with the victim having a seizure of sorts, angering Dahmer and leading to the victim being instantly killed. The fact that these scenes are based off of real-life events is pretty disturbing, whether the effects are very well done or not. I believe the film was just trying to show viewers the means in which Dahmer murdered his victims, but not necessarily go into any sort of graphic detail. There was one scene in which a decapitated head was shown sitting in Dahmer’s refrigerator and I thought it was a well done prosthetic and really looked realistic.

The film really shows quite a bit the sexual nature of Dahmer, the intense foreplay that led up to the victims’ demise, as well as having some really hilarious dialogue that in listening to the director’s commentary and hearing writer/actor Crew stating that the dialogue (most of it) had to be pieced together from the source materials at hand which happened to be mostly from police reports. THE SECRET LIFE: JEFFREY DAHMER is a film that, after having watched it once with my girlfriend and again while writing the review, find myself liking it more and more with each viewing. The film really has a lot of personality and character to it, and I was surprised at how much the film angled into getting into the psyche of Dahmer and his twisted mind. The other films that I saw about Dahmer were not that in-depth, did not follow the facts nearly as closely, and were more dramatized more than anything. I give the filmmakers great credit into sticking to the facts and really telling a story worth telling. I saw DAHMER (2002) with Jeremy Renner and the film had a much larger budget and failed to paint such a vivid picture as Bowen and Crew crafted in their film. It just goes to show you that a larger budget with bigger named actors from Hollywood does not always equate to a better motion picture.

The film has inspired me to dig back into the details of the murders and pick up some books on the murders and further my research on the subject matter. Sometimes when I see a film about a subject matter that really interests me and I have a decent understanding of the materials and the movie sucks, I get really pissed off at the filmmakers for ruining a subject I enjoy learning about. If anything, the makers of THE SECRET LIFE: JEFFREY DAHMER will inspire others to research about Jeffrey Dahmer and even more importantly, remind folks to be leery and very careful when meeting very charismatic individuals that one does not know very well or are meeting for the first time. It amazed me how trusting so many boys and young men were when meeting Dahmer for the first time. I also felt that the movie also portrayed the police in a realistic manner, especially in scenes that showed how the cops disregarded protocol and the rules of procedure which led to Dahmer to continue going out and killing more unsuspecting men.

I really have to recommend picking up the INTERVISION release of THE SECRET LIFE: JEFFREY DAHMER on dvd. To date, this movie has been my favorite release from the fairly new distributor. I am looking forward to what undiscovered film gems that company digs up and puts out on dvd. I am glad that THE SECRET LIFE made it to dvd almost 18 years later and with a commentary track with director David R. Bowen and actor/writer Carl Crew. This film ranks as one of my top serial killer films and one of the best that I have ever seen, regardless of the film’s low-budget.