The MOnster’s been at it again, and here are its latest musings:
Corin Nemec co-produced Bundy: A Legacy of Evil, also known as Bundy: An American Icon, as a vehicle for himself as he stars in the role of Ted Bundy. This 2008 film was written and directed by Michael Feifer and produced by Feifer Worldwide and North American Entertainment. Bypassing theaters, it is now available on DVD world-wide, with Lionsgate handling its North American DVD release. It has a 3.8/10 rating on IMDB, with Rotten Tomatoes saying that only 15% of its audience liked it. A fun fact is that horror icon Kane Hodder – known from over 100 horror features including franchises Friday the 13th and Hatchet – appears briefly as the warden of the prison in which Nemec’s Bundy spends his final days.
From its opening scenes, the film comes across as a little confused about what it wants to be when it grows up. We move from the almost obligatory “opening minutes kill” – yes, it follows the perceived formula that says that having a kill in the first six pages of the script is a good idea – to scenes of Young Ted cowering in his bedroom while his family rages on about him to Adult Ted on Death Row being begged to set down a record of his kills. Some great editing in the opening flash-sequences doesn’t save it from itself, though, as it soon settles into being a rather prosaic re-telling of Ted’s life and crimes with its own view on why he did what he did…complete with montages set to music!
Following Ted’s life with occasional flash-forwards to his time on Death Row, viewers are treated to a glimpse into gory-comicbook-loving Young Ted’s mind as he listens to his elder sister and her boyfriend (Bundy Sr) argue with their parents. Of course, all who are familiar with Bundy’s life know that his sister is really his mother and his parents are really his grandparents, and this sequence doesn’t add anything to the known mythos. Although young Sam Kindseth ably plays Young Ted, one must wonder where his freckles went to when he grew up as Nemec – and Bundy – are freckle-free!
The next major incident of importance is Ted’s doomed relationship with his California Princess of a girlfriend. It was a little disconcerting to see Nemec play a high-schooler, as he is so obviously far away from his high-school years, but the overall handling of the sequence, to me, places the blame on said girlfriend for the breakup rather than on bookish and awkward Ted. Shy and untutored in the ways of romantic relationships he might be – and forgetful of a fateful dinner date – it seems that his crimes are hardly enough to set off his girlfriend’s tirade, and one is left with the feeling that she, rather than he, is the one with social issues. Yes, she says a lot of things against him in the course of her rant, but we are treated to hardly any of these things on screen so it appears that she may be concocting a version of Ted that is not exactly reality. I did enjoy the editing of Ted’s processing of his breakup, though, as this seems to suggest an almost palpable splintering of his personality.
Immediately after the breakup, and totally out of the blue, Ted seems to question his parentage, and a trip to the local archives soon reveals what he apparently feared: that he was of illegitimate birth and that his family had kept this deep, dark secret from him for his whole life!
It seems that, with these three sequences, the building blocks are set in place that will construct Ted’s future behavior and that will justify his hatred and abduction, torture and murder of over thirty long-haired center-parted women. What’s missing from this picture is an insight into Ted’s own head, though, and, although individual incidents and scenes chronicle the facts as they happen, not once do we see Ted moving towards the rather momentous decision to start torturing and killing women. We see incidents; we see killings, but what we don’t see is Ted’s psychological journey from Point A to Point B. We don’t see what convinces him to kill; many people are illegitimate and many people deal with breakups, but there was only one who reacted like Ted Bundy… Why did he choose to do what he did? The answer – or even any attempt at one – will not be found in this film.
Something that sets this film aside from the screeds of serial killer films out there are the montages. Ted’s relationship is set to music and features a charming park-exploring montage. Ted’s initial killing spree is set to music. Ted’s reconciliation-with-girlfriend is set to music. Ted’s driving-away-and-remembering is set to music… To be honest, there were times it seemed like I was watching a romantic comedy instead of a serial killer drama (except that some girls died during one of the montages!). Although the music was awesome, the choice was odd, and, to me at least, didn’t sit well with either the story or the genre.
Key points of Ted’s character – especially his materialism, entitlement and acquisitiveness – are left out, as are key parts of his story. We don’t see both of his escapes, and the one we do see is not depicted accurately, and we don’t see any part of the DaRonch trial. We also don’t hear anything about Ted’s marriage and his VW bug is neither brown nor orange nor tan! Anyone wanting to look to this film to learn Bundy facts should, perhaps, look elsewhere.
Nemec plays the title role, and he bears an almost startling resemblance to Bundy. I have a feeling he practiced Bundy’s lip-lifting sneer for hours as he gets it down perfectly. I would have liked to have seen more thought behind Ted’s choices, however, but, in Nemec’s defense, perhaps he wasn’t given scenes to play that showed thought (only those that showed action). It also strikes me that Ted’s madness is sometimes shown for madness’ sake: it might be cool to see Ted howl at the moon over a dead and decayed coyote or almost-dance through the dorm room of his two Florida sorority kills, but, if I don’t understand at least a little of why he does these things, my mind steps back from the story and sees the action as artifice rather than art.
Overall, it seems like the film was made for people who already know Bundy’s story and who would like to have a visual semi-scrapbook to accompany their paperbacks and hard copies. It doesn’t break new ground and doesn’t push the limits on trying to understand Ted and what drove him. Arguably, it doesn’t try to understand him at all. Maybe, however, this choice was deliberate as there IS no way to understand, or to even competently guess at, what motivated Ted Bundy. Maybe his victims were shown as random and nameless because, in the filmmaker’s take on Ted, these girls WERE random and nameless to him. Maybe what they’re trying to get across is that, as Ted himself believed, Ted is merely one of thousands of such killers all over the world who choose victims like the rest of us choose fruit: because they’re there, because they’re shiny and because we’d like to see what they taste like.
You can find Bundy: A Legacy of Evil on such platforms as Youtube, Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes and Vudu.