I was 18 and in my first year of college when Ted Bundy was executed in Florida. I remember watching the news coverage of all the people who had come out for the occasion like it was a parade or as if they were waiting for a glimpse of their favorite celebrity, I remember how sickening that was to me. I had heard of Ted Bundy’s story and all his horrific acts of murder and mutilation of the many innocent women and the 12-year-old child he so ruthlessly killed for his pure evil pleasure. But somehow that display of cheering, clapping and the chant “Burn Bundy Burn” was unsettling to me.
On May 3, 2019 Netflix released “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile” which was based on “The Phantom Prince: My life with Ted Bundy” the memoir that was written by Bundy’s long-time girlfriend Elizabeth Kendall known as Liz in the movie and portrayed by Lily Collins.
“Extremely Wicked”, was an insight to a dark place that Liz had held onto for many years. She always thought that somehow the evilness that had come from his sick and disturbing mind was somehow her fault. Ted Bundy was a handsome man with a charismatic charm that made young women feel instantly attracted to him within seconds of contact. Bundy who was portrayed by Zac Efron in “Extremely Wicked “gave an incredible account of just how inconceivable seductive he was towards the women he pursued and ultimately killed.
The movie starts with the Liz and Ted’s first meeting in a bar, she said in her memoir but not mentioned in the movie that while they danced she was planning the wedding and naming the kids… he was dangerously mesmerizing. The movie goes by the memoir pretty much line by line except for a few facts that were changed; like the fact that Liz saw many signs as well as the sketch that was described by a victim who was able to get away and describe him to the authorities. After seeing the sketch which made Liz believe that it could’ve been in fact her boyfriend Bundy, she gives his name to the authorities but is told that the facts did not match and that he was cleared. She never told him that it was her who called in and put suspicion in motion, not until years after when she went to see him one last time. His horrendous acts went from Washington to Florida, with killings of over 30 women.
Theodore Robert Bundy had a rather strange childhood, he was born to Eleanore Cowell, and unwed mother. Initially his grandparents led him to believe that they were in fact his parents and his mother was his sister. As a child he moved to Washington from the East Coast with his mother and she married Johnny Bundy, whose last name was adopted by Ted. As a teenager he was caught shoplifting and being a peeping-tom. He attended the University of Washington where he earned a degree in psychology. He also attended the University of Utah and studied law but never finished, although very knowledgeable as an attorney would be, he represented himself during his murder trial.
The first part of the movie, you find yourself liking the guy oddly enough, (maybe because Zac Efron is handsome as well as a great actor) but soon you see what a manipulative, sick person Bundy was. It is a shame that someone with his charm, good looks and intelligence would take such a dark path, just as the judge said as he read him his death sentence, He told Bundy he was a bright young man who would have made a good lawyer and been an alright citizen but he chose a different direction, one that ended January 24,1989 at 7:16 am in the electric chair. What the movie doesn’t tell you is that Bundy made 2 goodbye phone calls to his mother and did not want a personalized last meal, it also doesn’t mention that his brain was removed and examined by scientist to see if they found any sort of trauma that might could have explained his evil pleasures; none was found. Forty-two witnesses gathered to watch him die that January morning and per his request he was cremated, and his ashes were scattered in the Washington Cascade Mountains, the same mountains which he had left at least 4 of the bodies of his victims.
“Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile” is directed by Joe Berlinger and is rated R for disturbing/violent content, some sexuality, nudity and language. It has a run time of 1hr and 50min. Although I still think the cheering, clapping and chanting is still unsettling, I can certainly understand why it happened. It is a good crime movie that holds your attention. I think that Elizabeth Kendall’s book will get a second chance at life, even though she likes to remain anonymous and out of the spotlight. I am glad that her story through her viewpoint was told, and that she got the heavy burden off her back. It is well worth your time in watching.