While the world gushes over Zac Efron’s disturbingly likeable character portrayal of the upcoming Ted Bundy feature film, Netflix has quietly released an exclusive insight into the serial killer’s life. Directed by Joe Berlinger, who also directs the Zac Efron starrer Extremely wicked, shockingly evil and vile, the true crime docu-series titled Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes is woven around a collection of over a 100 hours of audio recordings taped by Newsweek Journalist Steven Michaud who happened to interview Bundy while he was going through his death-row. After years of wreaking havoc in America, Bundy was finally ready to tell his story hoping to leave a “lasting legacy” behind. For better or for worse, his decision to share his mind gave us an unfettered rant narrated by himself in vivid detail.
Often referred to as “the Jack Ripper of America”, Bundy was a prolific killer who never confessed to his killings. In the tapes, he refers to the murders as a seasoned psychoanalyst trying to dissect the killer’s mind as if he were a third person subject. The 70s were a tumultuous time for America as tectonic socio-cultural shifts were moulding the youth of the time. The average American society was in the throes of an unprecedented sexual liberation. With it came a crime wave that rattled the nation. The term “Serial Killer” became an unfortunate phrase to enter the language with notorious killers like Charles Manson, Son of Sam and the Hillside Strangler on the prowl. Even among his peers, Bundy was different. A dashing young man, a law student and a member of the local church, Bundy seemed to have it all together. You could almost draw uncanny parallels with Penn Badgley’s character Joe Goldberg from Netflix’s limited series You. The only difference was that Goldberg had a conscience. As is the case with a lot of classical psychopaths, Bundy felt genuine with his charming smile, his smooth-talking libido, and his get-up. In the tapes, Bundy talks about his childhood in a relatively poor household, his addiction to porn during his teenage years and his increasing penchant towards death.
Even among his peers, Bundy was different. A dashing young man, a law student and a member of the local church, Bundy seemed to have it all together.
When a large number of young women started disappearing in Seattle, Washington, the Police department was at a loss. They had no evidence whatsoever and no one seemed to have seen the kidnappers. It wasn’t until much later that it was established that it may have been the work of a single person. Interestingly, Bundy also had a degree in psychology and had assisted the Police in creating a psychological profile of the perpetrator where he had basically described himself, like a true megalomaniac, relishing every single trait of this imaginary person. However, his urges had become too big for him to handle and he made some impassioned moves that turned out to bite him back. While trying to pick up one of the women, he became careless, and the woman found a way out. As traumatized as she was, she found her way to a Police station and reported the attempted assault on her. For the first time, the Police had a sketch and an eye-witness who had seen the man. With time, more eye-witnesses came forward with accounts where they had heard “a man trying to ask their girl friend for help several times”, and that they had heard him call himself “Ted”. In his confidence, he hadn’t even cared to use an alias.
Through sketches and the specifications of his car, Bundy was eventually captured. When brought before the court, he appealed to be his own advocate and got to play lawyer in court asking eye-witnesses repetitively to describe murder scenes, relishing those memories in his head. His defence lawyers tried to warn him against it but Bundy had created his own paradise in his head where he was the king. These people who had “gathered” around him were his subjects who had come specifically to listen to his “conquests”. As expected, the court charged him with multiple counts of first degree pre-meditated murder and sentenced him to be executed. Notwithstanding the vile contents of The Ted Bundy Tapes, the interactions of Michaud and the lawyers with Bundy helped FBI create some of the most extensive serial-killer profiles that they couldn’t have otherwise. At the end, he got what he wanted. Here we are fussing over him, and even “lusting” over him three decades later. The internet is a strange place and Bundy is here to live.
Watch the Trailer here: