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Zodiac's background

02.26.2007by: JimmyO

Back in the late Sixties and early Seventies, a time when free love and peace was coming to an end, a monster loomed in the shadows. This monster haunted San Francisco and the area’s surrounding it. It started with the ultimate urban legend as a young couple stopped on Lake Herman Road sometime around 11:15pm, Friday, December 20th, 1968. The couple parked their car. They were not alone. Someone came out of the darkness to take the lives of David Farraday and Betty Lou Jensen, and that someone came to be known as Zodiac.

In the following years, he claimed other victims with only seven being connected to him by the police. Two of which survived. But many lives were shattered by the man. The man who prided himself on the murders by sending letters to local newspapers and the police, he would even call to report his own work. The images of him are the stuff that nightmares are made of, including the description from one of his victims, a woman named Cecilia Shepard who spoke to Detective Sergeant Dave Collins from the Napa County Sheriff’s department in her final hour of life after being brutally stabbed by Zodiac. Collins is retired now, but still remembers her final words about her assailant.

With all this history, David Fincher returns to the darkest roots of all, the legend of a murderer who taunted police, and had an entire city in fear. But ZODIAC is nothing like his earlier works. There is no ironic sense of humor as there was in FIGHT CLUB, or the stylist horror of SE7EN. He takes a very Seventies approach with the film and he tells the story of three men involved in the manhunt. But don’t expect it to be your typical Fincher film, ZODIAC feels more like ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN as opposed to PANIC ROOM. This is a dialogue heavy, yet unnervingly creepy look back in history.

Based on the novel by Robert Graysmith, ZODIAC tells the story of the investigation that failed to bring the mysterious figure to justice. Mr. Graysmith was a cartoonist for the San Francisco Chronicle back in 1968 when the letters began to arrive. The search to find the killer destroyed his marriage, but it also lead to his belief the he found the identity of the killer. If you have not read his books,Zodiac or Zodiac Unmaskedyou will be able to find out, with the aid of Fincher, exactly who he feels the culprit may have been and offers up some strong (yet not absolute) proof. After meeting Mr. Graysmith at the Los Angeles Junket for the new film, I get the feeling he may very well be correct.

We also were invited to meet three police officers directly involved in the case including retired Captain, Ken Narlow with the Napa County Sheriff department. He was in charge of the investigation into the stabbings of Bryan Hartnell and Cecilia Shepard. He along with Dave Collins and George Bawart, a retired detective with the Vallejo Police Department shared with us crime scene photos and many other pieces of evidence regarding the investigation. Listening to Mr. Collins talk about his final moments with Cecilia after the violent attack chilled me to the bone. Just imagine watching while a stranger approaches you from behind a tree as he lowers a mask onto his head.

David Fincher’s ZODIAC is a chilling look into the lives destroyed by this killer, not only the victims but those who tried desperately to find out his identity. It was interesting speaking to those involved, and surprisingly, they all did not agree on who the true identity of Zodiac was. This individual who spread panic and terror also seemed to know how to keep hidden. He changed his modus operandi and killed in several locations while bragging about it and leaving many confused and frightened. And to this day, the real truth is not known and may never be. But ZODIAC makes a pretty believable case.

Stay tuned to JoBlo.com for interviews with actors Mark Ruffalo and Chloe Sevigny from the picture which opens Friday, March 3rd.

Let me know what you think. Send questions and comments to jimmyo@joblo.com.

Source: JoBlo.comAITH

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