Reviewed by: Zombie Boy
What's it about
This is a documentary about Kansas City serial killer Bob Berdella, who tortured, sexually abused, and killed a series of men in the 80ís.
Is it good movie?
Bob Berdella, a generally well-liked purveyor of exotic goods at a local Kansas City flea market, also happened to be a bad, bad man. He was a sexual sadist, a serial killer, and a pathologically amoral man. He would lure men into his house, which became a pitcher plant for them. They would wake up tied to a bed, while Bob plied his terrible ministrations on them. There was the garden variety anal sex, but there were also violations with large vegetables, injections of Drano into throats, bleach into eyes, jolts of electricity to soft areas, and eventual evisceration and vivisection.
And what better way to tell the story of this sick man than with a strikingly bizarre documentary? Right off the bat it is hosted by that lovable wingnut James Ellroy, who pops up every once in a while for some no-nonsense condemnations of Berdella. Then we have extremely creepy reenactments of the action known only from forensic evidence and the testimony of Berdellaís one surviving victim (who is quite brave for appearing in this documentary). But strangest of all are the musical interludes from a band called The Demon Dogs, who do folk/funk/rock songs peppered throughout the action.
But perhaps most disturbing of all is the archival footage of Berdella himself, giving an interview from prison. He speaks remorse, but it never touches his eyes. While his attempts to shift the blame for his crimes onto the police, asserting that if they cared more that drug addicts and gay men were disappearing they might have caught him sooner, one canít help but think there is a point inside his childish refusal to take responsibility for his crimes. Despite the vehemence of the investigators interviewed for this movie, does anyone seriously believe that cops donít prioritize an investigation based on the area in which it occurs?
Berdella eventually died in prison from a heart attack, and the various clergy, reporters, friends, politicians, and police interviewed here all have different takes on how that happened. There is a school of thought that he was murdered: that he was denied his heart medication by the prison guards. The issue then becomes: if that were true, should we care?
Video / Audio
Video: Shot on video. Some in Super-8, some digital, some from early video cameras from the 80ís. Theyíre all cut together pretty well.
Audio: Dolby Digital. It mostly sounds fine, though some of the sound design is louder than the voice levels, which can get annoying.
Deleted Scenes: Thereís a cut bit from Ellroy, but most of these scenes are outtakes and behind the scenes bits.
Postmortem: A talk with cast and crew: This is a ten-minute bit taking place, appropriately enough, in a movie theater. It consist of a quick, informal chat with the director, the DP, the music supervisor (and singer for The Demon Dogs), and a few cast members. Itís a fun listen just to hear how guerilla the shoot was.
Tromatic Extras: This is the usual bevy of Troma crap, which weíve all seen a billion times. Some trailers, some boobs, and that damned Radiation March that I never want to see again.
Shot where the crimes occurred by people from that area, Bazaar Bizarre has a personal feel, along with the strange format and curious injections of music and humor (if youíll pardon the pun). It is extremely creepy, and as opposed to other documents on the crimes of serial killers, raises some very astute and poignant questions on how justice gets done in our country without ever sanitizing Berdella or his crimes. Recommended.