Enough’s enough: We need to stop making films and series about Ted Bundy
There are two new movies about Bundy coming, which will no doubt glamourise his crimes once again
This weekend, the trailer dropped for American Boogeyman, Hollywood’s latest glamorisation of serial killer Ted Bundy. This adaption, starring Chad Michael Murray, is set to premier this August and follows the likes of Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, starring Zac Efron, in a string of Bundy based films made in recent years. It will come out in the same month as No Man Of God, which stars Luke Kirby and is yet another film detailing Bundy’s crimes.
With 32 years having passed since Bundy’s death by electric chair, it’s finally time to say: We need to stop making films about Ted Bundy.
They literally glamourise a murderer, and always cast a heartthrob actor to play him
It is unclear who is even asking for such films to be made, but there has been significant backlash against the production of them. Many people say these films glamourise Bundy’s actions, and that the casting of such handsome actors who serve as many people’s celebrity crushes causes a sick romanticisation of Bundy.
This undeniably happens – when Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile was released on Netflix in 2019, the Internet was flooded with tweets in which people confessed they had crushes on Zac Efron’s charismatic Bundy, describing him as “undeniably sexy”.
There are even TikTok video edits of Efron’s performance, loaded with slow-motion effects and Coolio’s Gangsta’s Paradise, captioned with various thirsty comments. This behaviour will most likely be repeated upon the release of the two new Bundy films.
It’s been over 40 years since Bundy’s trial, why are we still doing this?
When Ted Bundy was on trial for the brutal kidnaps, rapes and murders of around 30 women in 1979, some of the surrounding press centred around his handsome features and seemingly irresistible charm, with the public finding it almost impossible that such a man could commit such atrocities.
Bundy himself was apparently a huge fan of this type of coverage and attempted to use it to his advantage throughout his time on trial, to no avail. So why are we are still viewing Bundy like this today? In a society that has made such progressive strides regarding the safety of women, as well as their rights and voices, a society that claims to be feminist and just, why are we still glamourising a man who took the lives of so many women, and ruined so many more?
We need to remember the true horror of what Bundy did
The film adaptions often work to gloss over the more unpleasant details of Bundy’s crimes – the decaptition, trophy keeping and vile sex acts he performed on corpses. While they claim to tell his tale through the eyes of those around him (Extremely Wicked from the perspective of his girlfriend Elizabeth Kendall, and American Boogeyman revealing the untold story of FBI agents Kathleen McChesney and Robert Ressler), it is Bundy who seems to dominate the screen time.
We seem to have become so desensitised to horror and gore – every other person seems to note an obsession with true crime documentaries as a personality trait, and it can be easy to forget Bundy’s actions really did happen and are not just another scary story. These film adaptions are only furthering this idea, with today’s Ted Bundy seen as a recurring character in movies.
But this isn’t just limited to Bundy – earlier this year, heartthrob Evan Peters was billed to play American serial killer and sex offender Jeffrey Dahmer in Monster, Ryan Murphy’s Netflix. Murphy also cast Glee heartthrob Darren Criss as murderer Andrew Cunanan in 2018’s The Assassination of Gianni Versace. If Hollywood isn’t going to stop making this serial killer-focused content, couldn’t they start doing it in ways that glamourise them less?
Overall, the backlash does seem to be on the increase for such projects – but as long as hunky male leads are still being cast in the stories of disturbed killers, and these stories gain attention among true crime fans, it feels like the cycle will continue. For now, however, it’s definitely time to put the story of Ted Bundy to rest and stop giving him the attention he so desired, in an act of respect to his victims and their families.