Thursday, August 12, 2010

Berdella (2009)

This low-budget film is based on the relatively unknown 1980’s Kansas City serial killer Bob Berdella who raped, tortured and killed at least six men before he was apprehended. Not much attention has been given to Berdella, perhaps because he looks like David Cross playing Tobias Funke in Arrested Development (just LOOK at that mustache in the poster!) or maybe homosexual killers from the ‘80s just aren’t in style anymore. Whatever the case, I wish filmmakers Bill Taft and Paul South had left Bob Berdella in the closet, because their film on him is one big bore.

The film follows the odd Berdella, who acts more of like a socially maladjusted Dungeons and Dragons geek rather than a serial killer. We see him hocking his wares at his flea market stall “Bob’s Bazaar Bizarre”, hanging out in gay clubs, scoring drugs for the local junkies, stringing up victims in his basement, beating them and then beating off, extolling the virtues of sandwiches and on and on…

Yup, this film drags on and on, showing more of Berdella’s “normal life” rather than showing his disturbing perversions of raping and killing. In fact, most of the torture and death occurs off-screen and on the whole the film isn’t all that gory. Where gore is shown (we see the aftermath of a dude’s eyes that have been gouged out) it is so amateur that it doesn’t have a strong effect on the viewer. The film’s promise of “shocking and bizarre” certainly doesn’t apply to the actual film.

And then there’s the acting…goodness, how the actors are either over-the-top ridiculous or otherwise stiffer than a board! Perhaps it’s the stupid dialogue they are forced to speak or just their delivery of it, but the acting here, while certainly not the worst, is still pretty bad.

With so many other better serial killer movies out there, I find it hard to recommend anything about Berdella. The only neat-o thing they have going for them is some cool looking promo materials (stickers that read “Bobey,” a parody of the “Obey” street art campaign), but the actual film is a big, boring let-down. I thought that at least it would be a good examination of the psychology of a gay serial killer, but they didn’t really delve all that much into the psychology of Berdella, instead giving us a rather static view of his everyday life. Zzzzzzzzz…

Sorry kids, but this serial killer is a real snooze.

Available from Amazon!

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