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RUNNING TIME: 89 Minutes
- Making Of Featurette
A weird hybrid of documentary, music video, and shitty home movie about Kansas City’s most notorious serial killer/rapist.
James Ellroy. Benjamin Meade. Bob Berdella.
Bob Berdella was a businessman who in addition to running a weird occult shop in a flea market also enjoyed capturing young men, torturing them, giving them the business, and then cutting them up and putting their bodies in different places. Eventually he was caught when one of his victims escaped, but for a while while there he was a real asshole. This film takes real-life interviews and mixes them with shoddy re-enactments and horrible music videos to create a very weird experience for even the most aloof of viewers.
This is a Troma release so it’s wise to not expect something polished and life altering, but with legendary crime author James Ellroy’s involvement and the presence of a rather salacious and grisly real-life story one should expect something compelling and intriguing. Sadly, the majority of the film is comprised of material created for this release rather than actual evidence and much interaction from the folks involved with the case. James Ellroy seems almost forced to be involved, delivering rather stiff dialogue about the case and his look at crime. His Murder By the Book episode about his mother’s murder or his audio commentary tracks on films based on his work offer much more insight. His stuff is somewhat compelling but it doesn’t jive at all with the rest of the film. Almost like he recorded it and it was then inserted here as chapter stops.
The majority of the movie is a really odd and poorly executed series of “re-enactments” of Berdella and his victims and absolutely batshit musical numbers by a band of people who simply cannot be real. There’s no way this music and these people isn’t being done as a massive goof. If it’s dead serious and completely without irony this may actually have some sort of offbeat artistic merit but at face value it reeks of amateur filmmaking and a very poor sense of narrative integrity. Worse yet, in lieu of compelling material the filmmaker offers forth male nudity and gore to sensationalize the crimes but there’s nothing that really cuts to the essence of the character. It’s almost like the film is tailored more to the Guinea Pig audience than people who are fascinated and disturbed by the horrors of true crime. And because it all feels so cheap all it does is leave you wishing for something formidable on the subject. There’s no doubt this is a weird and scary story if treated respectfully and professionally.
Most of the people who were interviewed for the film offer very little of interest, whether it be the mechanic whose hate for Berdella is interesting but the interview doesn’t dig deep enough or the victim who was found naked and wandering the street with a dog collar around his neck. The filmmakers actually spoke to a victim, the investigating officers, and more but it’s shot poorly and offers very little depth into the story. The result is a waste of time, and it honestly borders on being disrespectful.
I mean, they have a horrible band of musicians singing Bob Berdella inspired songs. The jokester in me wants to love this but I’m just plain embarrassed by it.
In addition to the lovely film there’s a handful of interviews no one needed and a music video even less people needed. Bizarre? More like dogshit.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars
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