The miserably cold New England winter has turned me into a hermit (fun Becca is rolling in her grave), so instead of going out this weekend, I spent four hours binge-watching Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes.
I expected some level of horror going into a documentary series on one of the most infamous serial killers who ever lived, but that didn’t make it any less shocking or nightmarish. Ted Bundy was a conundrum: an intelligent, decently attractive, seemingly normal man who was accused of brutally murdering many young women in the most heinous ways. People believed he didn’t do it because he didn’t “look the part”, but underneath this charming, aloof exterior, Ted Bundy was a seriously deranged man.
The murders and subsequent criminal trials took place throughout the 70’s and early 80’s. It’s interesting to watch footage during a time when so many social issues (women’s equality, the hippie movement, etc.) were concurrent with the gruesome crimes committed by Ted Bundy. This was a time when people weren’t fearful of hitchhiking. A time when identification could be easily forged. It was before DNA testing or modern-day crime scene investigation tactics existed. It was even before the coining of the phrase “serial killer”. And yet, it doesn’t seem all that long ago that a man terrorized small towns across the west coast of America.
The tapes themselves were chilling. Hearing Bundy talk about the murders he committed from a methodical and detached third person standpoint is deeply unsettling; much like his cross-examination of a police officer at his own trial, where he solicited him for gory details on one of the found bodies as if wanting to relive the experience. These moments show the cracks in Ted Bundy’s perfectly-crafted All-American character, and its absolutely terrifying to see play out on-screen.
I don’t think this documentary series brings anything new to light for people that are familiar with the Ted Bundy case, but it is thrilling to watch regardless. Society is endlessly fascinated by the horrendous crimes committed by serial killers, and this sensationalism is bound to keep us entertained with fascinating documentaries like this one.