Is ‘Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, And Vile’ Even Historically Accurate?
Published on May 25, 2019
Fans of High School Musical would be shocked to see Zac Efron’s killer new role as Ted Bundy. As the star of the new Netflix movie Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile, Efron effortlessly channels the delightfully charming psychopath. This thriller portrays Bundy as his friends and family saw him — attractive, polite, and intelligent. Only near the end does the film reveal his true nature. But is the movie even historically accurate?
If Looks Could Kill
Even though director Joe Berlinger was the mastermind behind both Extremely Wicked and Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes, he definitely took some creative liberties for his newest film. One of the first differences between the Netflix Ted Bundy movie and Bundy’s actual life is that there were three court cases, not two. In reality, the serial killer with a heart of gold faced a jury of his peers on several occasions – for the kidnapping of Carol Daronch, the Florida University murders, and the strangulation of Kimberly Leach. He was even slapped with another death sentence in the last trial. Of course, it’s understandable that they weren’t all included in the movie. Otherwise, we’d have a real Lord of the Rings situation here.
Another distinction between Berlinger’s interpretation and Bundy’s biography was the whole ‘Hacksaw’ scene. Cosmopolitan reported that there was no such encounter IRL between the killer and his former flame Liz Kloepfer. The media outlet also claimed that even the director confessed that he had made the riveting scene up for “dramatic license.” Although Bundy didn’t really confess to his lady friend, he did come close to it when he admitted to her that he was guided by “a force”. Bundy says, “I just couldn’t contain it. I’ve fought it for a long, long time. … It got too strong.” Guess he should’ve tried a little harder!
— love. (@lovefeels9) May 8, 2019
Most viewers were probably surprised to see Haley Joel Osment randomly appear in the film as Kloepfer’s new man, Jerry. According to Oxygen, that’s because “Jerry” didn’t exist, and Osment’s character was loosely based on Kloepfer’s real-life boyfriend, Hank. Apparently, Hank even had some real-life phone calls with Bundy similar to the ones that Jerry had in the film.
While we don’t know what happened between Liz and Hank, we do know that they never actually got married. That being said, Kloepfer acknowledges that she met Hank during AA meetings while Ted was doing his thing in Florida. She dished, “Although we didn’t have a lot in common other than our recovery from alcoholism, he made me feel safe. He began to stay with me even at night.” Sounds like Jerry to us!
By the way, the whole “dog with a sixth sense for serial killers” thing was another fictional addition to the film. Berlinger revealed that “When the dog did not get along with Bundy, that’s a clue, but it’s not like finding a knife. I did my own interpretation of having some clues along the way.” #CrushedIt!
Murder On My Mind
The most shocking variation between Berlinger’s masterpiece and reality is that he seeming painted Bundy as too much of a good guy. In fact, if you weren’t aware of Wikipedia, you may actually fall for Efron’s endearing performance. Though it’s not seen in the film, E! News reported that Bundy confessed to trying to murder his GF Liz. He apparently left her asleep near the fireplace, closed the damper, and toweled the door. Despite the fact that he allegedly did his utmost to snuff poor Liz’s flame, she evidently awakened in a coughing fit and survived smoke inhalation. Thankfully, she lived to tell the tale!
— Shay (@shaymouf) May 12, 2019