Bizarro Masterpiece Theatre: Bundy: Legacy of Evil

Film: Bundy: Legacy of Evil (2008)

Director: Michael Feifer

Starring: Corin Nemec, Kane Hodder

Written by: Michael Feifer

This isn’t the first time I’ve tangled with Ted Bundy in film, though this is likely the first time I’ve seen a Bundy flick in which the serial killer wasn’t a lovable slapstick goofball and was played as, you know, a serial killer.  Whereas Matthew Bright’s 2002 take on the Tedster was a laugh riot that occasionally paid lip service to the fact that its hero was a real life monster, Michael Feifer’s take on Bundy reverses the ratio.  Sure, there are a few absurdist moments in the film (more, if you consider the omnipresence of Ted’s tight pants, faux cowboy boots, and sweet 70s do), but there’s no ambiguity to the film.  Unlike Bright’s Bizarro treasure, I didn’t wonder whether I should be laughing or recoiling in horror.  The Ted Bundy presented here is at best a twitchy yet likeable prick; at worst he’s, well, Ted Bundy.

The entire strength of this film rests upon good casting.  Corin Nemec of Parker Lewis Can’t Lose fame is absolutely spot-on as the lanky, baby-faced psycho killer.  Nemec excellently portrays both ends of Bundy’s psycho personality, playing up the man’s overbearing charisma and the rage beneath the veneer.

And when Nemec lets loose with the crazy, he is legitimately frightening.  The best example of this comes when Ted goes on a nighttime rampage through a sorority house, smashing girls’ brains out with a baseball bat and explosive ritualism.  Throughout, Nemec plays Bundy straight out of Nosferatu, creeping around the dark hallways, more predator – indeed, more vampire – than man.  The outbursts of violence that follow feel as though they end not because Bundy runs out of hate, but because the human body can only absorb so much damage.

Yeah, there are a few great moments of goofiness.  The scene where a drunk Ted rambles his red VW Beetle of Death along a highway before getting busted for owning a rapekit is pretty happy-go-lucky.  Better yet, Bundy pulls one of history’s great dick moves when he reunites with his ex-girlfriend in California.  After a swell day out on the town they hit a classy restaurant, where Bundy proposes to the girl.  Overjoyed, she accepts, after which Ted hits the bathroom and just leaves her.  Perhaps all the murder got desensitizing, but that move was just cold.

I’ll always have a warm spot for Matthew Bright’s screwball slaughterer, but Michael Feifer’s Bundy is the superior film.  Corin Nemec’s magnificent portrayal of Bundy hits all the right notes, most of all a sense of reality which makes this horror film all the worse.

Bizarro Masterpiece Theatre: Ted Bundy

Ted Bundy (2002)

Director: Matthew Bright

Cast: Michael Reilly Burke, Boti Ann Bliss

Director Matthew Bright has done the impossible – he has turned Ted Bundy into a comedic genius. After watching this movie, I can’t even look at pictures of the most notorious serial murderer in American history without Bright’s bumbling caricature popping up and making me snicker. Ted’s not scary anymore; he’s a slaughterhouse rodeo clown, traipsing the country in his yellow VW Beetle of Death, raping and killing to an upbeat disco score. Ted Bundy is the mass murderer’s equivalent of Springtime for Hitler, so stunning in audacity that it must become a cult classic.

The film doesn’t screw around in belaboring its statement of purpose. Our first glimpse of Ted comes in his morning routine, looking into his mirror and performing what appears to be a Tourette’s-fueled rubberface. From there, Ted embarks on a pleasant day out, frantically stealing televisions from storefronts and gigantic potted plants from hotel parking lots. The evening draws Ted to a swinging club, where he boogies down with a co-ed before following her back to her place and angrily masturbating outside of her bedroom window. After a second-floor neighbor cockblocks Ted with a pitcher of ice water, the creep scurries away, clubbing a random woman in the head and stealing her purse for no good reason. Yeah, the rest of the movie pretty much follows this formula, and (seriously) ends with Ted getting a fistful of cotton balls up shitter, followed by credit music that would be more appropriate as background for winning a new car on The Price is Right. Jesus.

Though there are a few scenes which induce genuine squirm, it’s clear that Bright – no stranger to crap filmmaking – set out to make a comedic slasher flick, and slapped the Bundy swerve on for the illusion of weight. Michael Reilly Burke plays a passable Ted, though any depth he hoped to bring to the role was surely squashed after clubbing the fifth or so oblivious girl to death. Boti Bliss plays Ted’s girlfriend with such dithering stupidity that they ought to have put a helmet on her. The victims may as well be crash test dummies. This is both a glorious skewering of a dreadful affair, and a spit in the face to all those affected. It’s hard to determine which is greater.

Oh, Ted, you rascal. You got us again.