“Ted Bundy: American Boogeyman”

I can’t. I simply can’t bring myself to watch another film about Ted Bundy. How many movies can they make about this man? Enough is enough. I’ve seen the 1986 television movie, “The Deliberate Stranger,” which featured an excellent performance by four time Golden Globe nominee Mark Harmon (NCIS). I watched Billy Campbell (Cardinal) give a very competent performance as the serial killer in the television miniseries “Ann Rule Presents: The Stranger Beside Me.”  Those are just two of what seems like twenty movies about him that I’ve seen, and that’s not counting documentaries, like 2020’s “Ted Bundy: Falling for a Killer” narrated by his ex-girlfriend, Elizabeth Kendal.  

Do you know who I blame for all this Bundy movie watching? The answer, my seventh grade, history teacher, Mr. Zilm. He’s the individual responsible for stirring my interest in true crime, in general. I am not sure what the lesson of the particular class was, but Mr. Zilm, who was a fantastic story teller, began talking to our class about the Manson family murders. From the first sentence onward, I, along with a number of other attentive, wide-eyed twelve and thirteen year olds, was captivated by everything he was saying. As it turned out, a few weeks after he spoke about the crimes, one of the cable channels was showing the 1976 miniseries, “Helter Skelter.” I sat in my room, and watched it, unbeknownst to my parents. I don’t think they would have been thrilled with me  watching that sort of thing at the time. Ever since the class, and watching the miniseries, I’ve been interested in true crime – Not committing it, just reading about it and watching movies, documentaries and television series’ about it – and there I was, a few nights ago, sitting down to watch yet another film centered on the life and crimes of Bundy. Unlike a number of others I’ve seen, that have offered nothing new on the infamous killer, I wondered: Will this film be worth my time? I wasn’t going to hold my breath.  

“Ted Bundy: American Boogeyman” stars Chad Michael Murray (One Tree Hill). My first thought, not to be unkind, but I asked myself: Does Murray have the acting chops to play Bundy? I knew he could play a convincing charmer based on some of his previous roles, but could he go from charm to a believable maniac in seconds? Would his performance in those scenes be over-the-top? In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll admit that Murray surprised me. His performance was not the best I’ve seen when it comes to Bundy, (that in my opinion is Mark Harmon), but it was by no means the worst.

The film is split into two storylines. One features Bundy as he travels the country, in search of victims to satiate his blood lust. The other focuses on F.B.I agent Robert Ressler (Jake Hays), and Seattle homicide detective, turned F.B.I. agent, Kathleen McChesney played by Holland Roden (Teen Wolf).  McChesney and Ressler are not fictional characters. Ressler was an F.B.I agent and author. He was one of the first people to profile serial killers in the 1970s. Furthermore, he is the person who coined the term ‘serial killer.’  McChesney’s career with the F.B.I spanned over two decades. Among other positions she had within the bureau, she was the special agent in charge of the Chicago Division. In addition, she was the first person to lead the U.S. bishops’ Office of Child and Youth Protection.

When the film begins, Bundy is pretending to be someone who has been injured in an accident. This was a tactic he used on a regular basis, when attempting to lure victims. Bundy mutters aloud, as he walks on crutches. He has purposely dropped his car keys on the ground, and is waiting for a woman that interests him, to ask if he needs help. One woman who does come along, is only saved from certain death, by the arrival of her boyfriend. The woman’s friend, who she leaves at the restaurant they were eating at, is not so lucky.                          

Following the opening scene, there is more of the same from Bundy as he commits murders in Washington and Utah. Ressler and McChesney are always one step behind the killer, until one of his potential victims, Carol DaRonch (Olivia DeLaurentis), manages to flee his car. While escaping Bundy, he almost incapacitates her with a crowbar that he swings which narrowly misses her head. Later on, DaRonch picks Bundy out of a police lineup, and he is placed in jail pending trial. At the trial, he is found guilty of aggravated kidnapping and sentenced to one-to-15 years in prison. Bundy, however, as documented, escapes from incarceration, not once, but twice.

As I expected, the film didn’t provide any new information on Bundy. Unless, and unfortunately, the bodies of new victims are discovered and can be linked to him through DNA, or someone comes forth with a secret diary he wrote, that can be authenticated, everything about Bundy has been disseminated through various mediums. The addition of several scenes with Lin Shaye (Insidious) portraying Bundy’s mother didn’t enhance the film. The filmmakers took the well documented atrocity that took place on January 15, 1978 at the Chi Omega sorority house, on the Florida State University campus, and re-wrote history. In the film, Bundy has been living in a room on the same grounds as the sorority house, which never happened. His time in the room, however, which is filled with female mannequins, discarded by a failed fashion designer, leads to the only scene in the movie of actual interest. In the scene, the filmmakers attempt to offer a few minutes to the viewer, as to what Bundy’s fantasies might have been like.

“Ted Bundy: American Boogeyman” was written and directed by Daniel Farrands (Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy). The film premiered in the U.S. on August 16, 2021. The cast, I believe, did the best they could with the material, but there were no standouts. For those of you, who are interested in true crime, and haven’t yet grown fatigued about movies that focus on Bundy, this might be tolerable for you. For everyone else, this is probably a pass. I intended for the previous sentence to be the end of this review. I just turned on Amazon Prime, however, and as I was going through the new release section, I came across a film called “No Man of God.”  The movie stars Emmy nominee Elijah Wood (The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King), and Emmy winner Luke Kirby (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) portraying Ted Bundy. There doesn’t appear to be an end in sight for the Bundy movies. This film, however, I am going to skip.

About robbinsrealm

I was born in Smithtown, New York, and grew up, worked, and lived in various areas of Long Island before moving to Boca Raton, Florida where I now make my home. In addition to being an aspiring writer, I am also an English teacher. I have a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master’s Degree in Education, both from Adelphi University in Garden City, New York. In my spare time you will find me engrossed in books, watching movies, socializing with friends, or just staying active.
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14 Responses to “Ted Bundy: American Boogeyman”

  1. filmmiasma says:

    I think the most I know about Bundy is from that Zac Efron movie which I actually kind of liked – but I don’t really have anything else to base it on.

    What gets me most today is what’s going on in that poster? Is that a mask with a woman’s eye on the top of his head?

    • robbinsrealm says:

      Yes, the movie with Zac Efron was another Bundy film I watched, when it first was released on Netflix.

      I am not really sure about the poster, it did look a little strange to me. I know he kept heads sometimes before burying them. so it could be what the person who made the poster was going for.

  2. I saw No Man of God earlier this year and that’s when I called it quits on the Ted Bundy movies so I hear you loud & clear.

  3. AmericaOnCoffee says:

    I like the book best.

    • robbinsrealm says:

      The books I’ve read on him have all been well written, but I don’t think there is anything new to learn about him, at least for me, whose watched a number of movies, read magazine articles, and several books.

      • Americaoncoffee says:

        I have my collection books and movies. What a mom and stepdad he had and the girlfriend with the little daughter. I don’t know what made him trigger onto college campuses. Pornography is what he stated as his captivation.

      • robbinsrealm says:

        I am sure that type of pornography he was known to look at, which included bondage, played a role in his killings. I think, however, he might just have been one of those people, who pick up on their terrible living environment very quickly, and start to act out, He grew up, from all accounts, in a bad home, where is grandfather was an abusive, angry guy.

        When he was three, his aunt woke up to find him staring at her from the edge of her bed. He had placed knives all around her body. Bundy just seemed to gravitate toward evil from virtually the beginning. The real reason why, might never be learned.

        The only book about him that I would be interested in reading these days, is if his daughter Rose, wrote a book about not only him, but about his ex-wife Carol, and what she said about Bundy, after the two divorced, which was a few years before his execution.

  4. terrepruitt says:

    Odd, they keep making films about him. I think I saw the Mark Harmon one.

  5. Tom says:

    I’m with you on this. I have grown weary of all the media coverage of someone like Ted Bundy. At some point, the intrigue of something so horrible turns into unhealthy obsession. At least that’s how I feel.

    • robbinsrealm says:

      Tom, I think you’re absolutely right. After awhile, producing the same film, about the same horrible individual, gets to be too much. As I mentioned in the post, at this moment in time, there is nothing new to say about him.

      Thank you for taking time out of your day to read and comment. I greatly appreciate it

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