Plot: What’s it about?
As a student in law school, Ted Bundy (Michael Reilly Burke) knows all about the various rules that govern our lives, but even so, he chooses to ignore some of them. No, his vice isn’t speeding or jaywalking, his sins come at a much higher cost. He steals all the time, taking all kinds of things from candy to television to potted plants, not because he needs these items, but simply because he has to take them. As he goes to his classes, he watches all the beautiful women pass him by, often while Bundy touches himself, unknown to the passersby. Even though he has a good looking and understanding girlfriend in Lee (Boti Ann Bliss), Bundy isn’t satisfied with her sexually and begins to push her into some more extreme sexual situations. She agrees, but finds the acts to be degrading and displeasing, though she does them, simply to keep Bundy happy. He always returns to her, but he also looks elsewhere and soon, he will do more than look and in the process, he will become one of the most notorious killers of all time. As he isn’t satisfied with just looking anymore, he turns to rape and after that, he looks even further into the sadistic side of himself, choosing to degrade, torture, and then murder the women. But what made Ted Bundy turn into this hideous person and commit these terrible acts?
In most serial killer movies, the plot is one based on a thriller style structure, where we watch as the police close in on the sadistic madman. But when the story is based on a real life killer, such as Ted Bundy, much of that tension and suspense is absent, since we know the instances in which he is captured. So the filmmakers have to fashion a different approach, like in the film Dahmer, the director chose to look inside the complex mind of Jeffrey Dahmer, to see what drove him to commit such horrible murders. But in Ted Bundy, director Matthew Bright (Freeway) chose to make a pretty straight forward exploitation picture, in which Bundy is simply shown going through the motions, though little is learned about his inner mind. The movie is loaded with violence, nudity, and intense sexual situations, but believe it or not, its hard to take the film seriously, as it takes a light, sometimes even humorous approach. So we don’t have an in depth look at what made Bundy into a monster, but we do have an entertaining movie. I know some will keep away because of the true to life aspect of the material, but if you’re interested in the serial killer phenomena, then Ted Bundy is a movie that’s well worth a look.
Although the performance of Michael Reilly Burke is fun to watch, I don’t think he even comes close to being on the mark as Ted Bundy. Yes, his outrageous facial expressions and over the top turn make for an entertaining serial killer, but when you compare his work to the real Bundy, you can see he didn’t strive for realism. But then again, the real Bundy wouldn’t have been this outlandish and hilarious, so perhaps its better that Burke chose to take an unusual route here. So on the traditional scale, Burke’s work ranks toward the bottom of the ladder, but in terms of sheer entertainment, he is a blast to watch. He never captures the raw charisma of the real Bundy, but as I said, his persona here is a hoot and while the subject matter is dark & serious, the approach taken is rather light, so Burke’s performance is right at home. Other films with Burke include Octopus 2: River of Fear, Mars Attacks!, Terror in the Shadows, and Creature. The cast also includes Boti Ann Bliss (Roadracers, Bubble Boy), Alexa Jago (The Puppet Masters, ‘Til There Was You), and Tracey Walter (Death to Smoochy, The Silence of the Lambs).
Video: How does it look?
Ted Bundy is presented in a full frame transfer. As the visuals & tone make this seem like a made for television movie at times, its possible that this is the intended aspect ratio, but I am sure a widescreen projection was used in theatrical showings. The framing is acceptable and no pan & scan can be seen, but as I am uncertain of the true intended format, I can’t say whether or not this is how it was meant to be seen. The visuals have a very video-like appearance, like what you see on those low rent made for television movies, which is a method Bright often uses in his movies, to effective ends. The image is sharp and looks good, with smooth contrast and no color based issues I could detect. A few jagged edges and minor compression flaws arise, but in the end, this is a terrific looking visual effort.
Audio: How does it sound?
The audio here is basic in presentation, but given the needs to the material, I don’t think anything else would have been called for. The cheese laden music is clean and well placed, while the film’s limited sound effects come across as well as can be expected, since this is a dialogue & visuals driven picture. The vocals are crisp and never drowned out by the other elements, which is good, since old Ted says some hilarious lines. Not much else we could want here, a good, solid presentation that covers all the bases.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The main extra here is an audio commentary with director Matthew Bright, which isn’t as good as I had expected. I’ve listened to other sessions with Bright and while he isn’t all that informative, he does supply some humorous stories at times. But here, he seems to be on some kind of depressants or something, as he has very little to say and when he does speak, it isn’t often even worth hearing, which is a real disappointment. This disc also includes the film’s trailer, which makes for an interesting promotional tool.