Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes: Should You Watch?

Image: Netflix

Your next true crime binge arrives this week on Netflix. Is it worth your time? We give it a look.

If there one thing Netflix knows how to do it’s the true crime docuseries. I must admit, however, that I had begun to worry about their latest ventures. They seemed to be trying to be ‘arty’ and getting into the ‘gotcha!’ genre. Their last series The Innocent Man was so unnecessarily complicated it was almost impossible to follow. To my relief, they have gone back to true crime’s roots: a series that focuses on the man and his misdeeds. It’s a straightforward look into the mind of a killer.

The Beginning

In this day and age, it’s hard to believe there was ever a time when the term “serial killer” didn’t exist. But there was. This series takes us back to a time when these types of transgressions simply were not prominent. With the rise of personal freedom for women and the hippie movement, opportunities for heinous crimes began to rise.

Image: Netflix

The Timeline

Through the use of present-day interviews and archival footage, we are transported to the 70s when the crimes began and also to Ted Bundy’s childhood. What is most unique about this series is that it includes interview recordings of Bundy, taped when he was on death row. The interviews have never been released before now. The series has a great way of switching between time periods.

Where Did The Tapes Come From?

The series reveals tapes not previously heard by the public. It’s a sample of some 100 hours of interviews conducted by two journalists working together on a book, Stephen G. Michaud and Hugh Aynesworth. Their goal was not only to gain insight into Bundy’s state of mind but to get him to reveal details about the murders. What they found was a delusional narcissist. Bundy is self-indulgent, a man without the ability to distinguish actual reality from the one he has created. He claims he’s a smart athlete with an idyllic childhood. Nothing could be further from the truth. The more the journalists try to get Bundy to talk about his crimes the more Bundy retreats into talking about himself.

Image: Netflix

Why The Sudden Interest In Ted Bundy?

The series release date is the 30th anniversary of Ted Bundy’s execution. But did the interest in Ted Bundy ever really leave? People continue to be fascinated by him to this day. The director of this docuseries, Joe Berlinger, has been fascinated with the notorious serial killer for some time. When the tapes landed on his desk he saw an opportunity to make the series he has always wanted.

“It’s interesting to me that Bundy is the one name that people really know,” Berlinger explained. “America has had many serial killers. Despite only having 5 percent of the world’s population, we’ve had 67 percent, over that in fact, of the world’s documented serial killers. At any given time, the FBI says that 25 to 50 serial killers are active, and yet the one name that kind of floats to the top for everybody is Bundy.”

Berlinger is also releasing a fictional film about Bundy this year starring Zac Efron. The film titled Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile has already garnered quite a buzz.

Zac Efron as Ted Bundy

Should you watch?

I give it two thumbs up. As someone that loves true crime, I’ve seen a lot of docs about this subject and I learned some new information. But the real draw is actually hearing Bundy. Hearing the voice of a delusional killer. The pacing of the series is solid and each episode leaves you hanging at just the right time. If you’re a fan of true crime you’re going to enjoy this series.

The case of Ted Bundy introduces a lot of firsts. His prosecution was the first televised trial in history. It broke new ground in the way law enforcement searches for murderers, pioneering criminal profiling. It also introduced the first time in history a certain type of evidence had been used to prove guilt.

If you aren’t familiar with Ted Bundy at all, you are in for a fun ride. You aren’t going to believe just how brazen he is. If you are familiar with Bundy you’ll still enjoy it. It’s a fresh look at an old story.

When Will It Be Streaming?

Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes arrives Thursday, January 24th.

Cheryl Greenway

Cheryl has written for What’s on Netflix for over three years. She’s a confessed streaming addict and also runs a Netflix based community on Facebook with over 10,000 users. Cheryl specializes in documentaries and covers weekly additions for the US in addition to breaking news stories. She is the Weekend Editor for What’s On Netflix. Cheryl resides in Virginia, USA.


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