Netflix’s ‘The Ted Bundy Tapes’ examines a maniac

Hit serial killer doc grips audience

Written By Tia Bailey, Social Media Coordinator

On Jan. 24, Netflix released a four-part documentary series titled “Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes.” The series uses “present-day interviews, archival footage and audio recordings made on death row,” and tells the story of serial killer, kidnapper, rapist, burglar and necrophile Ted Bundy.

Episode one, titled “Handsome Devil,”  jumps right in, using old news stories from Bundy’s murders and describing details of the murders. The voiceover says that Bundy insisted he was innocent. The episode goes on to describe Bundy’s life a bit; it talks about how he was a political campaign activist, and how he seemed like a normal guy. He was knowingly driven by a need for attention, and he strived to be in the upper-class. He got an undergrad degree in psychology, and met a wealthy girl named Diane.

Eventually, Bundy decided he wanted to go to law school, but due to his mediocre LSAT score, he went to a school he was underwhelmed by. Because of this, he began to feel insecure in his relationship with Diane, and they began to drift apart. This seems to be the point where everything went wrong. In the tapes, Bundy says that somewhere in him was the desire to get revenge on Diane, but everything that happened was a blank; “I don’t know what the hell I did,” he said.

The documentary then shows that from Jan.-June 1974, girls began to go missing, and this is where everything had gone wrong.

The first episode ends with Bundy being convinced to talk about his murders in the third person so that the journalists could get the truth from him.

Episode two, “One of Us,” begins by describing Bundy’s victim of choice – young, attractive women. Every victim of his that had disappeared all had the same characteristics – they were between ages 18-21,  college students, and had similar appearances and hairstyles.

Ted begins to describe what led to the murders, which he calls “the entity,” and refers to himself as “the individual.” Bundy states that the “early manifestations of this condition” began with an interest in pornography, and eventually the individual began to connect the thought of naked women with violence. He then says the individual would act out when things like anger, frustration, anxiety and insecurities would get to him, and that he would then decide that young, attractive women would be his victim of choice. This was all because “the entity” was controlling him, as he put it.

Bundy then began to describe one of his murders, and the journalist interviewing him states his blue eyes turned black while detailing the experience.

The documentary flashes back to when Bundy’s girlfriend, Liz Kloepfer, called the police to report her then-boyfriend for admitting that he would follow sorority girls at night, and said the police should look into him. She also found lots of evidence at his house, including bags of women’s clothing, random house keys and a knife in his car. The police looked into it, but some evidence didn’t add up.

Eventually, some pieces of evidence began to click. Bundy was captured for failing to pull over for a cop, and when they searched his car, they found some suspicious items. This launched an investigation on Bundy for the murders of the missing women. Episode two ends with an old interview of Bundy saying he believes he is innocent.

The third episode of the tapes is called “Not My Turn to Watch Him,” and begins with telling how Bundy jumped out of a 25 foot window to escape a courtroom and ran for the mountains. They sent out 150 men and five bloodhounds to search for Bundy, and in a tape he says he felt proud because he was hiding with no one’s help, and they still couldn’t find him. They eventually caught him walking back to Aspen because he was “cold and hungry,” and brought him back in.

The final episode of the documentary, “Burn Bundy Burn,” focuses on Bundy’s murder trial, and his “last-ditch effort” to avoid the death sentence.

Bundy did not want to be given the death sentence, so he found a lawyer who hated it so much she helped him. To avoid it, he would confess to everything, and pinpoint where everybody was hidden, but it would take one to two years. Bundy’s plan didn’t work, and he was given the death sentence. On the day of his execution, people celebrated with signs and t-shirts that read “Burn, Bundy Burn.”

A voiceover states Bundy wanted to be cremated and spread through the mountains, as that’s where he had his best times. The documentary ends by asking, “How could anyone live in a society where people they liked, loved, lived with, worked with and admired could the next day turn out to be the most demonic people imaginable?”

The same time “The Ted Bundy Tapes” were released, the trailer for a film, also distributed by Netflix, about Bundy was posted by star of the movie Zac Efron.

The internet had mixed reactions, some saying that the movie was romanticizing the killer, while others said that is how his story was viewed in real life. “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile” was released to Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 19.