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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Serial Killers
The Serial Killers
Dark Sky Films // Unrated // August 30, 2005
List Price: $39.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted October 18, 2005 | E-mail the Author
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The Show:

"A serial killer...murders three or more people over a period of time... It's estimated there are over 200 serial killers at large in the world today."  So begins each episode of The Serial Killers, a documentary TV show that looks at the lives and crimes of these murderers.  Dark Sky Films, a newly formed division of MPI, has released all 13 episodes of this British TV show on DVD in region one.

Each half hour episode of this series focuses on one serial killer.  They give their background and family history and then chronicle the crimes they committed most usually with interviews of the detectives and police officers who were working the cases.  Interviews with surviving family members add to the impact of the show, but the real interesting part are the one-on-one talks with the killers themselves.  Some of these interviews are old, but many of them appear to have been done for this series.

There is a lot of content in this set, and though the budget was very limited, there were no reenactments and only a limited number of contemporary shots of the murder scenes, the producers managed to create a good show.  The thing that makes this program stand out is the lack of sensationalism and hype.  These murders are often recounted by police officers who stick to the facts.  There is no purple prose filled narration to cloud what really happened, something that I really appreciated.

I also liked the fact that along with some of the names that everybody knows (Ted Bundy, Henry Lee Lucas, The Hillside Strangler) there are many obscure murderers who are also examined.  I was a little surprised at how many I had never heard of.

If you are interested in this area of crime at all, this is a good set to pick up.  It gives a good overview of the killers and their crimes, includes interviews with the murderers themselves, and most importantly doesn't draw any conclusions.  It leaves that for the viewers.

Profiled in this set are the following criminals:

Disc 1:

William Heirens (The Lipstick Killer)
Harvey Louis Carginan (Harv the Hammer)
Henry Lee Lucas (The Confession Killer)
Kenneth Allen McDuff (The Broomstick Killer)

Disc 2:

Theodore Robert Bundy (The Ladykiller)
Ronald DeFeo, Jr. (The Amityville Horror)
Kenneth Bianchi (The Hillside Strangler)
Douglas Clark (The Sunset Slayer)

Disc 3:
 

Michael Bruce Ross (The Roadside Killer)
James A. Paul (The Executioner)
Catherine May Wood (The Lethal Lovers)
Gwendolyn Graham (The Lethal Lovers)
Arthur Shawcross (The Monster of the Rivers)

The DVD:


These 13 episodes are contained on three DVDs which come in a double-wide case.  One DVD is on one side of the case, while two discs share the other side.

Audio:

The two channel audio was fine for a program of this type.  Some of the prison interviews had background noises or hum, but these are to be expected.  The other interviews sound nice though.  A solid sounding disc.

Video:

The full frame video quality was about average for a TV series like this one.  The image is a little soft but clear.  The vintage news footage was showing its age, but the new interviews looked nice.

Extras:

There are no extras on these discs.

Final Thoughts:

This series has a lot of information in it and was very engrossing.  Each episode draws you in.  It's like driving by a car accident, you can't help but look.  I really appreciated the fact that the creators of this show didn't draw any conclusions or sensationalize the crimes.  They stuck to the fact, and just the facts.  This might make the series feel a little dry to some, but in truth the things these people did are horrific by themselves and don't need any over the top narration to illustrate that.  A solid series that is recommended.
 

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