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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Crime > Murder > Detective > Mystery > Bazaar Bizarre: The Strange Case of Serial Killer Bob Berdella (Documentary)

Bazaar Bizarre:  The Strange Case of Serial Killer Bob Berdella


Picture: C-     Sound: C-     Extras: C-     Documentary: D



If you think back to Easter of 1988, there is a good chance you may recall hearing of Bob Berdella, or at least the naked man who had flown from his apartment clothed only in the collar of a dog.  Berdella, after being arrested, confessed to raping and torturing this man, as well six male prostitutes, after which he murdered.


Novelist James Ellroy, author of LA Confidential and Black Dahlia, presents a very strong view of Berdella’s story, a view that is reiterated throughout the entire film.  Whenever an alternate take on the events of 1988 begins to emerge, Ellroy fervently presents his opinion without regard to any different possibility.  This leads to a very disjointed arrangement making it difficult for the viewer to create an independent opinion.  Meanwhile reenactments of Berdella’s tortures foster a caricatured atmosphere that serves to parody the abhorrent acts that Berdella committed.


Littered throughout the film are musical interludes that cause the viewer to question why he or she is watching this DVD.  The music performances involve a six-piece band consisting of a blues-rock singer/guitarist, a belly dancing saxophonist, and a drummer with a giant imitation fro.  The songs they sing do a wonderful job of undercutting the authenticity of the documentary.


The sound quality fluctuates throughout the documentary.  At times the audio is crisp, however this quality of sound changes between some of the interviews.  Unfortunately, the motley band created music to supplement the content of the film that was, at best, ill fitting.  The picture varies throughout in quality, originating on video and is poor throughout.


The extras of this DVD include the trailer, deleted scenes, a montage of photographs of the film, and discussion by cast and creators on the film.  The trailer does a wonderful job of summarizing the film, complete with a glimpse of its self-parodying style.  The deleted scenes were well chosen in being removed from the film for they add little.  The montage is disappointing.  Berdella took hundreds of photographs of his victims.  It would be interesting to see some of those in this montage.  However, all one sees in this feature is stills.  The discussion involves a small group of cast members, fondly recalling filming this piece.  This comes across as tasteless, however, as they are fondly revisiting filming reenactments of obscene crimes of humanity.


There is an interesting story of a serial killer worth learning amidst this documentary.  I would recommend however that one look at old newspapers rather than watch this film if one finds the story of Bob Berdella intriguing.



-   Thom Fuell


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