Gacy
Lionsgate Home Entertainment // R // $24.99 // May 13, 2003
Review by Mike Long | posted May 12, 2003
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The Movie

Despite the fact that it's been over twelve years since the critical and financial success of "The Silence of the Lambs", filmmakers are still fascianted by tales of serial killers. But, with the abyssmal "Gacy", I think we've finally reached the bottom of the serial killer barrel.

"Gacy" is of course based on the real-life serial killer John Wayne Gacy, who murdered many young men in the Chicago area. In the film, Gacy is portrayed by Mark Holton, who is best known as Pee-Wee Herman's nemesis Francis in "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure". Gacy is a family-man and business-man, who lives with his wife, children, and his mother. He runs a construction company and uses young men to do the work. Despite the terrible smell coming from beneath the Gacy home, no one suspects that this part-time clown (he works parties under the name "Pogo") is actually a cold-blooded killer who murders young men and then buries them in the crawl-space beneath his home.

As "Gacy" is based on a true story, one would think that the film would be full of facts and details. But, it's not. I knew a little about Gacy from A&E specials and the like, but I now feel that I know even less. The movie simply trots out its characters and situations without bothering to explain anything to the audience. I've seen more character development in a Mentos commercial. We do learn that Gacy is married and runs some sort of painting or construction business, but we are never told more than that. We are told that Gacy is a "pillar of the community", but we are never told why, and considering what is jerk his character is, we wonder how anyone could like him, much less respect him. There is a hint that he owns a fried-chicken restaurant as well, but no details are forthcoming. The film's biggest sin may be that it attempts no explanation as to why Gacy killed, save for the fact that his dad called him a "jagoff". If only it were that simple.

This lack of detail in the story is further marred by the fact that the first 45 minutes of "Gacy" is very oddly edited, with scenes ending and beginning seemingly at random. It appears that at the 45-minute point, the editor got fed up and quit, for from that point on, the film is simply a concoction of randomly placed shots. (I honestly thought that the DVD was skipping!)

While it is true that neighbors and passers-by wondered about the smell coming from the Gacy house for quite some time before something was done, this doesn't make for a very interesting film. (Count the number of times someone knocks on Gacy's door to complain about the smell.) The film offers no suspense, no gore, and no thrills. The only redeeming feature of the movie is when Gacy says, "Smell don't sleep."

Video

As if the bad movie weren't enough to make this a title to avoid, the awful-looking full-frame transfer doesn't help. I'm not sure what the OAR of the film was, but this transfer shows a great deal of artifacting and video noise. Any light source creates multiple halos and at times, an overall blurring effect. The colors are somewhat faded, and the image shows a minor amount of grain.

Audio

The DVD features a Dolby Digital stereo audio track. This track provides clear dialogue and sound effects, and displays no hissing or distortion. Otherwise, the audio is unspectacular and adds nothing to the film.

Extras

The DVD features two extra features. First, we have an audio commentary with actor Mark Holton, and producers Larry Rattner and Susan Rodgers. This is a pleasant commentary, as the trio chats away throughout the film, but they don't really offer any groundbreaking stories or information. But, given the nature of the film, that's not surprising. The other extra is a trailer for "Gacy", which is presented full-frame.


If nothing else, a film about a serial-killer should offer a glimpse inside the criminal mind. If it can't do that, it could at least be an entertaining exploitation film. "Gacy" is neither of those things and there is absolutely no reason to see this movie. If you must watch a film of this caliber, check out "Ed Gein", which at least offers a decent recouting of a serial killer's life.


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