After his arrest in 1986 and conviction for multiple murders in 1988, Richard Kuklinski, a.k.a. The Iceman, remained silent for several years about the details of the murders he performed. In 1991, he broke his silence and was interviewed for an America Undercover Special that ran on HBO in 1992. Almost ten years later, in 2001, HBO interviewed him again. The purpose of the interviews were to obtain details from his past murders that might solve open cases and to help profile the mind of a self-confessed unrepentant contract killer, who by his count, had killed over a hundred people. Both interviews, each running about 42 minutes in length, are contained on this DVD, collectively titled, The Iceman: Confessions of a Mafia Hitman.
Over the course of watching the two documentaries, the viewer learns a fair amount about Kuklinski, and while there is some overlap between the two, the focus of each is different. The first explains his childhood and makes the case that his early violent home life made him accustomed and immune to violence as an adult. It follows his life as a teenager, where he discovered "it was better to give than receive" violence. While only vaguely mentioning his connections to the Mafia, the first documentary does reveal his leadership of a crime ring. The second documentary focuses more on his connections to the Mafia, specifically, his role as a top enforcer for the Gambino crime family. Both explain several of his methods, though the officers interviewed are quick to point out that they were often varied and extreme. Both contain information about his downfall and arrest, though the first points out exactly where he made the mistakes that led to his capture.
In speaking about his crimes, Kuklinski often says that he had no choice but to pursue a career in contract killing, as he had to somehow support his family with only an eighth grade education. He also says he is not haunted by the people who he murdered, nor does he plan to repent for his actions. As a victim of violent domestic child abuse, the case is made that his past somehow explains how he was able to diabolically and methodically kill people, some completely innocent that he killed in "experiments," yet, he refrained from being violent against his family (or if he was, it is unmentioned). Over the course of both interviews, Kuklinski shares quite a few gruesome details of his murders and even recounts some of them in a way humorous to himself. I was almost surprised to see him display a bit of humanity when he showed some remorse in knowing his actions, which he hid from his family, had hurt them when the truth came out at his trial. While this material won't appeal to everyone, I did find it interesting, from a psychological and sociological perspective.
Both documentaries on The Iceman are presented in 1.33:1 full frame, as they were originally presented on HBO. Each contains a mix of new interview footage with Kuklinski, crime scene photos, black and white re-enactments, color re-enactments, and home video footage. As expected, the home video footage has quite a few print flaws, but more surprisingly, some of the re-enactment footage has quite a bit of grain. Colors are natural with accurate flesh tones throughout.
Both documentaries on The Iceman are presented in Dolby 2.0 Stereo. The documentaries are entirely dialogue based; dialogue throughout is clean with no distortion. No subtitles are available.
No extras – not even chapter stops.
If you're interested in getting inside the mind of an unrepentant contract killer, look no farther than The Iceman: Confessions of a Mafia Hitman. Interesting, if only to see how depraved a violently abused person can become when backed into a corner and tempted by greed, the documentaries are certainly worth a look, but are nothing I'd revisit in the future.