EVIL MOVIE MONSTERS; Hollywood Loves a Killing at the Box Office, So What Better Subject Than Real Mass Murderers? Here's Our Top Cinematic Serial Killers

The Mirror (London, England), January 29, 2011 | Go to article overview

EVIL MOVIE MONSTERS; Hollywood Loves a Killing at the Box Office, So What Better Subject Than Real Mass Murderers? Here's Our Top Cinematic Serial Killers


Charlize Theron's Oscar for her role as a murderer in Monster reminded us of Hollywood's continuing fascination with the serial killer.

In the critically-acclaimed 2003 film, beautiful Theron played unglamorous prostitute-turned-killer Aileen Wuornos, America's first famous female serial killer who shot seven men in Florida over 11 years. She was executed by lethal injection in 2002.

Theron says playing Wuornos is the "most challenging and rewarding thing" she's ever done. On-set, she'd watch scenes from documentarymaker Nick Broomfield's two absorbing portraits of the killer to hone her part accurately.

Although it's unusual for films about notorious serial killers to bask in the kind of high praise that Monster received, there has certainly been no shortage of murderers making it on to celluloid.

An entire genre of films take their inspiration from true life reigns of terror - with maybe just a little artistic licence added at times by scriptwriters. Many talented directors and accomplished actors have been involved in these gritty biopics.

For instance, Summer Of Sam (1999) was directed by the highly-respected Spike Lee. It tells of the panic in New York when David Berkowitz went gun crazy on the streets in the summer of 1977. He blasted seven people to death and wounded six more.

Berkowitz was dubbed 'Son Of Sam' and 'The .44 Calibre Killer'. Now 57, Berkowitz is currently serving six life sentences.

The huge strain the police come under when hunting a mass murderer is the focus of Citizen X (1995), which tells of Andrei Chikatilo's sickening killing spree in Russia.

Veteran star Donald Sutherland won a Golden Globe for his portrayal of the chief officer heading the drawn-out search for The Rostov Ripper. Irish screen star Stephen Rea (of The Crying Game fame) was also convincing as a fellow detective.

Digging back into Hollywood's history, the late Tony Curtis played against type to give a scintillating performance as Albert DeSalvo in The Boston Strangler (1968).

DeSalvo was convicted of killing 13 women in and around the East Coast city in the early 1960s. Many were throttled with their own stockings, but doubt has since been cast on whether he was truly responsible for all of the deaths.

When Curtis - who less than a decade before had starred in enduring rom-com Some Like it Hot - landed the lead, many thought it poor casting. But although he missed out on an Academy Award, he knew he'd put in a stellar shift in front of the lens.

As he immodestly said of his riveting portrayal, "I went from handsome, blueeyed Jewish boy to monster."

Many more of the now horribly familiar serial killers have had their own grim stories played out in a mixed bag of movies. …

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EVIL MOVIE MONSTERS; Hollywood Loves a Killing at the Box Office, So What Better Subject Than Real Mass Murderers? Here's Our Top Cinematic Serial Killers
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