FRED Watch Quickie TV Review: Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes (2019)
COURTED BY A KILLER.
I’m a Wayne Stellini and welcome to FRED Watch, where we review everything from the mainstream to the obscure. Today’s TV series is the Netflix documentary Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes…
A series of recorded interviews between journalist Stephen Michaud and death row inmate Ted Bundy frames this recounting of the serial killer’s crimes from the mid- to late-1970s, offering insight into the charismatic criminal’s motivations and modus operandi.
As one of the most infamous American serial killers, there is perhaps little that isn’t known about Ted Bundy. His name alone conjures images that praise his aesthetics and acknowledge his intelligence. These qualities often overshadow the thirty-plus young women and girls who lost their lives to a man who saw females as nothing more than ‘merchandise’ and ‘possessions.’
What Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes does particularly well is that it highlights the convicted killer’s charisma, which may feel over-emphasised but is vital to the broader narrative, without ever glorifying him. Through hours of mostly one-sided conversation, Bundy explains and explores his own mentality as well as the crimes he admits to committing.
Fleshing the tapes out are archival footage of and interviews with journalists, law enforcement officials, witnesses, and survivors, illustrating a climate that was fuelled with both fear and intrigue. Bundy’s victims—one of whom was as young as twelve—are presented and discussed in a dignified manner; writer/director Joe Berlinger is never exploitative in his approach to telling this familiar tale.
The draw card here is, of course, hearing from Bundy himself. His reflections on death row as well as his charming interactions with the media and particularly Judge Edward Cowart, whose final words to the condemned killer are quite extraordinary, not only demonstrate the enduring fascination with Bundy but also why he remains one of the United States’s most dangerous criminals on record.
Overall, Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes is a skilfully crafted and engrossing true crime series. 4½ / 5
Starring: Ted Bundy [archival], Stephen Michaud, Hugh Aynesworth, Bob Keppel.
Director/Writer: Joe Berlinger | Executive Producers: Joe Berlinger, Jon Doran, Jon Kamen, Justin Wilkes | Music: Justin Melland | Cinematographer: Adam Stone | Editors: Cy Christiansen, Joshua L. Pearson, Sarah Devorkin
Let us know what you thought of this series in the comments!
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