Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Corin Nemec, Kane Hodder, David DeLuise, Shannon Pierce, Jen Nikolaisen
Directed by Michael Feifer
Distributed by Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Filmmaker Michael Feifer seems to have developed something of a cottage industry cranking out low budget movies about the exploits of real-life serial killers with mixed results and not a lot of concern with getting the facts straight. In the past he’s done films about Ed Gein, Richard Speck, the Boston Strangler, and just last month the surprisingly well received B.T.K. hit DVD shelves. He also has a Henry Lee Lucas movie starring Antonio Sabato, Jr., in the pipeline. I’m here to review Feifer’s newest, Bundy: A Legacy of Evil, a pointless, unnecessary docudrama about Ted Bundy, the boyishly charming 1970s serial killer who killed at least 30 some-odd college coeds during his cross-country killing spree before being arrested and twice escaping prison.
Unlike Ulli Lommel’s forays into the serial killer genre that amount to little more than artsy-fartsy serial killer fan fiction, this film plays like a series of mostly mundane vignettes and musical montages that randomly drift from place-to-place and year-to-year throughout Bundy’s serial killing career, never staying focused on any particular segment long enough for it to develop any true significance. Feifer is clearly trying to create a portrait of a serial killer. Problem is his brush strokes don’t add up to anything. No suspense. Zero dramatic tension. Little insight into what made Bundy tick. Quite a few pertinent facts of the case are omitted, and others are reduced to mere hearsay.
Here’s what I did learn about Ted Bundy from watching this film:
Didn’t need a movie for that.
Much of what made Ted Bundy unique as far as serial killers go was him being a handsome charmer, someone who on the surface you’d never suspect was a serial killer. Feifer shows little interest in that side of Bundy’s persona; Bundy is primarily portrayed as quietly brooding or just batshit crazy, yelling at God and literally baying at the moon.
One real howler of a scene (in more ways than one) sees a post-murder Bundy out in the desert coming across the carcass of a dead wolf, dropping down on all fours beside it, taking a position and making a face usually seen only during werewolf transformation scenes, and then begins howling at the moon in a manner that outright dares viewers to laugh out loud. I don’t know if this was taken from something Bundy actually did in real life, but I realize I’m supposed to be watching the behavior of a crazy man, neither of which matter because Corin Nemec looks like the biggest jackass doing this.
Corin Nemec, who already portrayed Richard Speck in a previous Feifer production, gives it his all but always looks entirely too old for the role, laughably so during the scenes portraying Bundy during his high school and early college years. Talk about your 40-year-old freshman.
Feifer at least has the good taste to not show much of the actual carnage. You will hear an ungodly amount of women screaming and begging for mercy; instead of being horrifying it tends to be just taxing on the ears.
Feifer clearly wanted to make Bundy: A Legacy of Evil more Helter Skelter than the standard straight-to-DVD true-life serial killer exploitation flick, but too often I felt like I was watching a feature-length R-rated “America’s Most Wanted” re-enactment segment. If you really want to watch a chilling movie about Ted Bundy, I’d highly recommend tracking down a copy of the 1986 made-for-TV movie The Deliberate Stranger that starred Mark Harmon as the charismatic killer.
One other thing I feel compelled to mention; according to IMDB, would you believe the original title of this film was Bundy: An American Icon? Excuse me? Henry Ford is an American icon. Babe Ruth is an American icon. John Wayne is an American icon. Ted Bundy is a serial killer. He’s not even the household name Charles Manson is. Thank you, Lionsgate, for realizing the “American icon” status should be reserved for individuals whose achievements in this country do not involve murdering 35+ women, mostly teenage girls just getting started in life.
2 out of 5
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