Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes is a new release on Netflix, created and directed by Joe Berlinger. The four part series further explores infamous serial killer Ted Bundy who was active in seven American states from the years 1974 to 1979 and has upwards of 30 murdered victims, some of whom are still unidentified to this day.
The 1970s was a decade of increased violence and crime after the end of the Hippie era. Ted didn’t fit the typical serial murderer, though, as he was on the surface clean cut, articulate, college educated, and charming. But the real Ted was psychopathic, highly narcissistic, and extremely violent. The documentary covers the timeline of his sexually motivated crimes against unsuspecting women, with Ted’s thoughts recorded by journalist Stephen Michaud.
It peppers in footage of Ted’s childhood, news reels about the crimes, police and journalist interviews, and unrelated clips that add to the dichotomy of his outward image and the sordid nature of his crimes. The documentary does this well, creating a mood of dread and the end of innocence in America.
While the Ted Bundy Tapes does give a different angle of insight into Ted’s psychopathy, there are no huge revelations or “a-ha” moments here. If you’re expecting a ton of detailed confessions about his crimes, you will be disappointed. The nature of Ted was always a desire to paint himself in the best light and deflect from the hard questions. His overwhelming arrogance gets to be quite annoying. Michaud talks about his relief to be done with Ted, and in a way, it was a relief when the series was over because you want to throttle him yourself.
My takeaway? At the end of the day, Ted Bundy was a blow hard wimp that took out his inadequacies on women, who he viewed as objects to be possessed and destructed. It’s possible that his affluent girlfriend Diane who came from better background, who dumped him in his college years, triggered his victim profile, but I believe Ted was a shell of a person that was bound to take out his rage, of being a very average person, one way or another.
I think the documentary feels very complete and is worth a watch. It breaths new life into his crimes, for lack of a more delicate expression and does evoke the terror he created in many parts of the United States. But again, you won’t find anything really novel or shocking.
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