FearTASTIC Vault O’FUN #70
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (2019)
Writer(s):Elizabeth Kendall (book), Michael Werwie
Starring:Zac Efron, Lily Collins, John Malkovich
I’ve always treaded the line when it came to enjoying the entertaining aspects of the horror genre and celebrating the terror and violence that produces that kind of entertainment. Even as a young FearTastic Vault keeper, I made sure that there was a difference in enjoying a genre of film that had been so good to me and knowing that yes, people dying in violent ways in the real world was NOT a good thing. As simplistic as it sounded, I already knew that my love for the horror genre at a young age would undoubtedly bring up some questions so I was always prepared to explain myself. Explanations about knowing the difference between movie and real life violence and how it had no effect on my upbringing (arguably) happened more frequently than not but I knew that it was part of the deal when I started my precious vault. Having said that…this argument seemed to get much more difficult once I started getting curious about the real life horror stories involving serial killers.
It’s not that I found serial killers entertaining like my horror flicks but I would be lying if I didn’t say that the horror genre had lead to my curiosity on these real life monsters. Knowing that there were real people who stalked/kidnapped/tricked others in order to end their life made me curious; that sort of evil was real. These folks didn’t have special powers endowed to them from hell and they weren’t decomposing shells that only wanted to kill; these were people, living amongst us that were monsters and that was fascinating to me at a very young age. I remember renting out books on serial killers from the local library; in retrospect, I was quite shocked that no one ever questioned me checking out these sorts of books when my local video store had to call my mother to make sure it was okay for me to check out horror flicks when I first started my horror journey.
The stories and stats on these serial killers were drawing me in; as a child I couldn’t believe people were capable of executing such horrors on their victims that were even more terrifying than some of the slashers I have grown accustomed to from my horror flicks. The feelings when I read those books were not the same as watching my horror gems, I was not entertained, I was curious and fascinated. The way I see it; it’s like being fascinated with various parts of history that were cruel and violent; you’re not happy or joyful that the events happened but knowing the details and consequences of these events satisfy you mentally since you have another story about humanity that is forever engrained in your memory. Now having said THAT…good films about serial killers are few and far in between. The horror genre is often influenced by real serial killers (i.e. Silence of the Lambs, Texas Chainsaw Massacre)but films about serial killers have a 50/50 shot on being interesting. Perhaps the film industry also walks that line on not wanting to celebrate serial killers so most of the flicks are usually direct to the home audience as opposed to having a theatrical run. One of the most notorious serial killers that most folks know about is Ted Bundy. Although I’ve always thought there were more interesting serial killers from a story standpoint (Speck, The Alphabet Killer, Night Stalker, etc.), I knew that a movie about Ted Bundy would always be something the audience would be drawn to since out of all the killers, he’s always been one of the most un assuming. What makes Bundy so fascinating is how seemingly normal he came across; intelligent, charming and yes, a lot of the ladies found him very handsome. During interviews, he made it clear that he had what most would consider a normal upbringing and was adamant about his healthy mental state which is why I think most folks are drawn to his story; a person that exudes average tendencies but is in fact, a pure monster.
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vileis a movie based off the book The Phantom Prince: My Life with Ted Bundywritten by the Elizabeth Kendall, who dated the infamous Ted Bundy in the midst of all his horror that would be uncovered. The story revolves around her relationship with Bundy and how all the events leading up to his nationally televised trial affected her life. What was interesting about this flick is how little violence this movie actually contained and chose to instead focus on the mental effect Bundy had on Elizabeth even after he was incarcerated. The movie feels like a slow burn with Elizabeth constantly chasing the truth and Bundy never wanting to show her his true face. Surprisingly, my favorite part of the flick was Zac Efron’s performance as Ted Bundy. Now, I’m sure I was amongst the many who rolled their eyes when they first heard the news of the teen heartthrob Efron (of High School Musicalfame) was going to play one of the most deadly serial killers in all of history but then I thought about it; if Bundy was infamously known on being so normal/charming/charismatic, then why NOT have a former teen heartthrob take on the role? Efron’s portrayal of Bundy was quite impressive due to the fact that for moments in the movie, you actually start to believe the man when he insists that he was not responsible for the gruesome crimes that the committed. As I mentioned, the film does a great job in never really showing Bundy doing these crimes and paired with Efron’s performance, you start to see why Bundy was such a complex human being but by the end there is no doubt in your mind that this was a monster and that no amount of charm can hide the truth forever. The whole cast is just solid in their performance with Lily Collins playing Elizabeth as a sort addict that cannot let go of Bundy and the legendary John Malkovich putting on a performance as the judge in Bundy’s infamous, nationally televised trial.
This flick is available now on Netflix and I recommend it to all those who want to get to know an interesting story about a real life monster played exceptionally well by a real life heartthrob. Interesting all around!