Ted Bundy (film)

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Ted Bundy
Ted Bundyposter.jpg
Original film poster
Directed by Matthew Bright
Produced by Hamish McAlpine
Michael Muscal
Written by Stephen Johnston
Matthew Bright
Starring Michael Reilly Burke
Boti Bliss
Music by Kennard Ramsey
Cinematography Sonja Rom
Edited by Paul Heiman
Release dates November 22, 2002
Running time 99 min
Country United States
Language English
Box office $68,716[1]

Ted Bundy is a 2002 American crime drama film directed and co-written by Matthew Bright. The film dramatizes the crimes of serial killer Ted Bundy.[2] It stars Michael Reilly Burke in the title role, and Boti Bliss as Bundy's girlfriend, Lee (a character based on Elizabeth Kloepfer, Bundy's real life girlfriend during his killing spree).


In Seattle, Washington, 1974, law student Ted Bundy (Michael Reilly Burke) appears to be the typical friendly guy-next-door; but underneath this gentle facade lies a beast. After he had first watched young women through their windows while masturbating, he finally commits his first murder. From there, he always manages to lure a young woman to his car by faking a broken arm or an illness then asking for help or by disguising himself as a police officer. Then he knocks her unconscious with a tool, ties her up and drives her to an arranged location where he rapes and murders her. Driving his yellow VW Beetle, he leaves a bloody trail through the USA. The police are left in the dark, for no one suspects the model student and politically active man.

In 1975, one of his victims, Tina Gabler, escapes him when she throws herself from his moving car. Based on her description of his car, Bundy is stopped by a police officer and arrested. In his trunk, the officers find pantyhose masks, a hand saw, a crowbar, knives, ropes and handcuffs. Even though he is identified by Tina Gabler in a lineup, he denies ever having seen the woman. When he is visited by his girlfriend at the Colorado State Prison, he admits to her that charges are being brought against him for multiple murders but stresses the fact that there is no evidence, however, and that he will never be convicted; at this point she distances herself from him. Due to his wish to defend himself, he is granted access to the courthouse law library, and promptly escapes by jumping from an upper story window. He is jailed again after an auto theft, but manages to escape yet again months later. This time he overpowers four women in their home and brutally beats them. After the murder of a little girl he becomes heavily intoxicated and is recognized by a police officer and arrested after a short chase. At trial the judge decides that Ted will be executed by a current of electricity. After a brief chat on the phone, he makes a final statement before the execution is carried out.


Differences between film and real events[edit]

The film's fictionalized narrative takes many creative liberties, changing or conflating events and shifting their timing, including altering of names for protection. This is very is common in Hollywood re-tellings of real-life events. Examples include:

  • In the movie, Bundy says he flunked out of law school and psychology classes. In real life, while Bundy was indeed a poor law school student, he graduated with honors from the University of Washington as a psychology major.[3]
  • The "cheerleader" victim is identified as Jane Gilchrist. In real life, the cheerleader was Nancy Wilcox, who was leaving a cheerleading competition at her school when Bundy snatched her.[3] The scene serves as a nod to the murder of Debra Kent. Kent was leaving her school's theater production to pick up her brother when Bundy snatched her
  • The film includes the murder of Caryn Campbell (in the ski resort) and Bundy's first arrest both taking place in 1976, when both those events took place in 1975.
  • In the first prison escape, Ted is seen in the film exiting a window and onto a lower roof. He actually jumped directly from the window to the ground according to The Stranger Beside Me.
  • In the film Bundy says Colorado authorities are "asking for the death penalty"; in actuality prosecutors there had decided not to ask for the death penalty in his case.
  • In the film, Bundy has totally lost interest in his studies after his girlfriend leaves him, but in reality he moved back to classes and even worked harder to join American politics ending up being a close associate of the US parliament senate.
  • During a scene in which Bundy took a victim from her home, the movie shows Bundy wrapping the victim in a large sheet and carrying her to his car. In the film, this was done in front of other witnesses on the street. Bundy stated to authors Michaud & Aynesworth[3] that he was always careful about witness identification.
  • In the film, Bundy's Volkswagen is yellow. In real life, it was tan.[3]
  • The final arrest of Bundy in 1978 for driving a stolen vehicle in Florida is shown happening beside a field in broad daylight. In real life, it took place in a residential neighborhood at 1:00 am.
  • Bundy's execution in the film is carried out with inaccuracy, though it was accurate that Old Sparky was the electric chair used in both real life and film (the chair is the film appear different from its real life counterpart). In the film, Ted Bundy's colon was packed with cotton to avoid soiling, when in real life, at the time, this practice by the guards was discontinued. A flipped switch was used to operate the electric chair in the film for Bundy's execution, when in real life, the switch was actually a push of a button. While the film shows the hooded executioner as a female guard with long hair, the identity was anonymous in real life, although there are reports of long lashes being seen under the hood as depicted in the film.
  • The executioner depicted in the movie is a uniformed corrections officer and is visible to the condemned in the death chamber. The Florida Corrections Commission Report watched the film and said that the executioner was indeed a private citizen paid $150 for the execution and was present in the death chamber behind a screen obstructed from the view of the witnesses.
  • Bundy hotwires a car in the film. In real life, he only found the keys inside it to steal the vehicle.
  • Bundy's final victim was a girl doing rope skipping in a park named Susan Moore. In real life, the girl was Kimberly Leach. At the time Bundy abducted her, she was returning to the school gymnasium to retrieve her forgotten purse.
  • The executioner gave Bundy one application of lethal current during the execution in the film. Florida procedures said that current is applied three times in real life.
  • Bundy's final statement in the film was "Tell my family I love them". In real life, he said "Jim and Fred, I'd like you to give my love to my family and friends".[4]


External links[edit]