The Strange Case of Serial Killer Bob Berdella
C- Sound: C- Extras: C- Documentary: D
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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