We all know by now that Ted Bundy did a lot of incredibly violent, disturbing things. Netflix’s Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile doesn’t shy away from the fact that the real Bundy tore dozens of women away from their lives and families, but at least one of the scenes in the movie was partially exaggerated for dramatic effect. Unfortunately, the real story is probably just as horrifying.
Warning: If you’d rather not read about violent deaths and body horror, this is where you should stop reading.
Near the end of the film, Liz Kloepfer visits Bundy on death row, demanding answers about what he did with the decapitated head of one of his victims. She shows him a picture that the detectives have given her, and in reply, Bundy fogs up the glass partition between them to write a single word on it: “HACKSAW.” What the f*ck doesn’t even start to cover it.
On the plus side, this particular bit of gore was mostly created for the movie. Director Joe Berlinger told Decider that it was a dramatic exaggeration for the movie and to give Kloepfer’s character a bigger moment of holding Bundy accountable.
“The final moment between Zac and Lily was actually a phone call in [Kloepfer’s] memoir. It was not an in-person visit on death row. So that was the most extreme example of taking dramatic license. Because of the era that we’re in of holding perpetrators accountable — which is something I obviously believe in — it was very important for me to make much more of that moment than is in [Kloepfer’s] memoir. So her visiting him on death row, holding him accountable, making him admit to the degree that she makes him admit — that’s dramatic license. In the memoir, that conversation is more obtuse. He never really admits to her to the degree that we see it in the movie. She was satisfied that it was an admission, but it wasn’t nearly as dramatic or specific as we show in the movie.”
Sadly, some of the flashback that intercuts with the death row scene is based on real life. Although the woman in the picture isn’t identified by name on screen, it’s likely that she’s based on Donna Manson, one of Bundy’s victims that he did decapitate. Again, fair warning because her story is about to get even more awful. Bundy confessed to murdering Manson and maiming her body, and then admitted that he disposed of her head by burning it in Kloepfer’s fireplace. It’s horrifying facts like these that hopefully remind us, when people romanticize Bundy and his ilk, that there’s nothing romantic about it at all.
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