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Showing 1-10 of 56 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 168 reviews
on October 9, 2002
I was very impressed with this film. Though it fudges some of the facts in order to present a more sympathetic view of famous killer, undermining its credibility as a biography, the film works very well on dramatic terms. From its creepy / cheerful opening sequence (Patsy Cline crooning as chocolate Santas roll off the production line) to its haunting final image, "Dahmer" delivers the dramatic goods while avoiding, for the most part, outright gore.
The film cleverly juxtaposes flashbacks to Dahmer's early life with the meeting of Dahmer and his (intended) last victim. This allows the viewer to contemplate Dahmer's slide into madness, with special attention paid to the contrast between the confusion and pain of his teenage years with the seemingly emotionless monster he became. The grim tone is leavened by flashes of black humor, but not to the detriment of the serious subject matter.
Jeremy Renner, in the title role, was excellent. Renner really caught the flat, affectless delivery of someone who knows he's a monster, and has gone to great lengths (mostly alcoholic) to block out his sense of morality. He got that creepy look in the eyes, the combination of "little boy lost" and "great white shark" we can see in Dahmer's trial photos. Renner was especially good as the teenage Dahmer. Aside from looking startlingly young, he displayed a touching vulnerability and helplessness even as he commits and covers up his first murder.
Bruce Davison as Jeffrey's father Lionel Dahmer was quite good, and came off as concerned, sympathetic, and completely ineffectual. Artel Kayaru as "Rodney" (who takes the place of the real-life Tracy Edwards, who escaped Dahmer and alerted the police) gives an outstanding debut performance. His vibrant persona provides a wonderful contrast to Dahmer's phlegmatic manner.
I did feel that the movie was lacking in several areas. Some of the transitions between past and present were confusing, but once I clicked with the film's rhythm it didn't bother me. Rodney's motivations were obscure - why he would return to the apartment of a man who just tried to strangle him? The denoument was abrupt, relying on a sudden cut to the standard "Jeffrey Dahmer was charged with 16 counts of murder..." title card.
There was a lot glossed over that could have added insight to Dahmer's psyche. For instance, his latchkey kid's fear of abandonment (the incident when he came home to find his mother and brother moved to Ohio could have been proved telling!). Or his fear of castration, brought on by testicle surgery, or his fascination with dissecting animals. Dahmer's army years, an attempt at "normalcy" ending with a discharge for alcoholism, may also have been worth at least a mention.
There were also many, many atrocities that were never referred to. Dahmer's apartment was notorious for its rank odor, but neither of the men Dahmer brings home mentions this. The vats of acid, the heads in the freezer, the painted skulls and drawer full of Polaroids are never seen. His cannibalism is never even alluded to. In fact, the film seemed to be at pains to portray him as less of a ghoul and more of a misunderstood monster.
Aside from the dishonesty of such an approach, as a longtime horror fan, I missed the grisly details. With such a solid dramatic structure and good performances, I felt the filmmakers could have painted with a much redder brush and lost none of their integrity. Unfortunately for us gore-hounds, however, the production team decided to err on the side of good taste. No pun intended. (Well, maybe just a little bit.)
Last but not least, I was very disappointed tbat the DVD contains only the full-screen version of the film. This is especially annoying since the preview is shown letterboxed!
Still and all, this is a powerful film that I would recommend to anyone with an interest in madness, murder and mayhem of the cinematic variety.
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My main interest in serial killers is learning how they think. What makes someone think it's okay to do these things? I'll admit I like slasher movies and flicks like the Saw series, but that is not what I was looking for here. I wanted a real look at these twisted people. I was first drawn to this collection when I heard Steve Railsback played the title role in the Ed Gein story. And that movie is by far the best of these three films. I loved Railsback's portrayal of Charlie Manson in the original Helter Skelter. And Steve did a wonderful job in his role as Gein, who was a much different type of person. Ed Gein as a movie by itself was almost worth 4 stars. This flick which was also produced by Railsback, made an effort to show Ed's childhood and offered some insight as to how he got screwed up. It even touched on how his brother died in a suspicious fire and how Ed may have started the fire to hide the fact that he killed his brother first. This movie tends to assume those accusations are true. It shows Ed robbing graves, but it seems to downplay how much he is suspected of indulging in that behavior. You don't see in this movie how much he does that or how he switched from grave-robbing to murder. The film shows the two murders he was convicted of, but seems to ignore the allegations of other murders he may have committed. Like the other two films, this movie tries to avoid exploitations of blood and violence, but does show measured amounts of gore. That is a plus in all three films. Ed Gein also shows one short scene of Ed prancing around in a girl suit that he made from skinning his victims. This is admirably done with an effort to avoid exploitation. They show Ed's capture and explain his jail time and death. It also shows a number of the horrible "trophies" he kept in his house and barn. However, this movie never wraps up how much this sick ticket did. It tries to show some of "how" this happened and some of what happened. It gave you a few start dates and end dates, but it lacks a true chronology, timeline or detail as far as what all happened in this small Wisconsin town. There is great acting by everyone involved, especially Carrie Snodgrass who does a fabulous job in the role as Ed's mother. There is certain function and purpose in this flick. There is a strong view of this unbalanced man. There is a certain amount of insight. However, the lack of a time-line or details of what actually transpired leaves this film with a lack of purpose and focus. I don't mind the fact that they didn't exploit the blood and gore, but the random depiction of events and lack of chronology makes this film fall a bit short of fulfilling its intended purpose.

The other two films are easy to review together, because they both have the same strengths and weaknesses. As I stated, Ted Bundy and Dahmer both showed a little carnage but both made a gallant effort to avoid exploitation with overkill, so to speak. That is good. Both movies were very well cast and the acting was fantastic throughout. However, each of these efforts were 3-star films at best. Neither movie showed any look at the childhood of either of these monsters. No insight was offered to show how either of these men got so messed up. I liked the choice of Bruce Davidson as Jeffrey Dahmer's father. I'll always remember Bruce's role as the title character in Willard, the '70s flick about the mousy young man who befriends the rats that are infesting his mother's house. As in Willard, Bruce does a great job in his role as the man who struggles to understand and help his troubled son, Jeffrey. However, there is no look into the past. You never see how Jeffrey got to where he ended up: the sick serial killer! You see some of what Dahmer does, just like they show in the Bundy flick.......but neither film gives a clear time-line or detail about how many murders they may have committed or what extent these psychos reached. Both movies seem to be a random depiction of some of the events that happened.....and nothing more. The Bundy movie shows his execution by electrocution, but lacks any storyline, focus or purpose. Dahmer doesn't even show his capture. The last thing you see is Jeffrey's father taking him to a clinic for his alcoholism, but Jeffrey doesn't enter the building......he just runs off into the woods. Then they say "he was eventually captured" and they give the date he was killed by a fellow inmate in prison and the movie's over. I mean, what the hell??? Both movies lack a time-line, function, direction, focus and purpose. All they tell you is "here is a brief depiction of some of the things these monsters did in no particular order. We won't tell you how they got here.....just some of the things they did......no focus or purpose.....now the movie's over......go away!" I don't know why they bothered making these two movies.

In the end, all three of these movies had good points, but they could've been so much more!
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on May 18, 2003
This is a macabre and spectacularly disturbing portrait of one of America's most reviled killers. While the film does skim over some of the more gory aspects of Dahmer's murders, it makes a very strong statement on his mental and social illnesses.
Jeremy Renner (who I first saw in National Lampoon's Senior Trip, of all things) masterfully portrays Dahmer in both a linear "present-day" story line and a series of very well edited flashbacks. His nervousness and almost frantic urgency while in the company of the living is chilling when contrasted with his calm with the victims post-mortem. The supporting cast is also top-notch. Through their performances we see a domineering father, a blind-sided grandmother and truly fearful and confused cast of victims.
The sets, lighting and cinematography also lend to the eerie tones in Dahmer. From the red lighting in Dahmer's bathroom as he crushes pills with a water glass, to the strobe effect in the seedy club he frequents, the audience is forced into an emotional response to each setting and the events that transpire in them.
Overall, the film does a nice job of getting into the head of a nefarious maniac. Even if it is ambiguous with a lot of the details of Dahmer's killings, it will make you think twice about accepting a drink in a bar, and wonder what the handsome, seemingly harmless boy next door is really up to.
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on August 6, 2012
This dvd is the full frame version.
I would not have bought it if I would have known that.
I am not really into blood and guts horror movies but occasionally they will do.
I hated this movie the first time I watched it, because I was expecting a blood and guts horror movie.
HOWEVER after listening to the commentary and researching Jeffery on line, I LOVED THIS MOVIE!
I am not going to go into it because the people giving this movie good reviews have already said it ALL.
MOST people would probably not like this movie.
I give the movie 5 stars.
Amazon gets 1 star for not making it evident which version this is.
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on October 9, 2002
I was very impressed with this film. Though it fudges some of the facts in order to present a more sympathetic view of famous killer, undermining its credibility as a biography, the film works very well on dramatic terms. From its creepy / cheerful opening sequence (Patsy Cline crooning as chocolate Santas roll off the production line) to its haunting final image, "Dahmer" delivers the dramatic goods while avoiding, for the most part, outright gore.
The film cleverly juxtaposes flashbacks to Dahmer's early life with the meeting of Dahmer and his (intended) last victim. This allows the viewer to contemplate Dahmer's slide into madness, with special attention paid to the contrast between the confusion and pain of his teenage years with the seemingly emotionless monster he became. The grim tone is leavened by flashes of black humor, but not to the detriment of the serious subject matter.
Jeremy Renner, in the title role, was excellent. Renner really caught the flat, affectless delivery of someone who knows he's a monster, and has gone to great lengths (mostly alcoholic) to block out his sense of morality. He got that creepy look in the eyes, the combination of "little boy lost" and "great white shark" we can see in Dahmer's trial photos. Renner was especially good as the teenage Dahmer. Aside from looking startlingly young, he displayed a touching vulnerability and helplessness even as he commits and covers up his first murder.
Bruce Davison as Jeffrey's father Lionel Dahmer was quite good, and came off as concerned, sympathetic, and completely ineffectual. Artel Kayaru as "Rodney" (who takes the place of the real-life Tracy Edwards, who escaped Dahmer and alerted the police) gives an outstanding debut performance. His vibrant persona provides a wonderful contrast to Dahmer's phlegmatic manner.
I did feel that the movie was lacking in several areas. Some of the transitions between past and present were confusing, but once I clicked with the film's rhythm it didn't bother me. Rodney's motivations were obscure - why he would return to the apartment of a man who just tried to strangle him? The denoument was abrupt, relying on a sudden cut to the standard "Jeffrey Dahmer was charged with 16 counts of murder..." title card.
There was a lot glossed over that could have added insight to Dahmer's psyche. For instance, his latchkey kid's fear of abandonment (the incident when he came home to find his mother and brother moved to Ohio could have been proved telling!). Or his fear of castration, brought on by testicle surgery, or his fascination with dissecting animals. Dahmer's army years, an attempt at "normalcy" ending with a discharge for alcoholism, may also have been worth at least a mention.
There were also many, many atrocities that were never referred to. Dahmer's apartment was notorious for its rank odor, but neither of the men Dahmer brings home mentions this. The vats of acid, the heads in the freezer, the painted skulls and drawer full of Polaroids are never seen. His cannibalism is never even alluded to. In fact, the film seemed to be at pains to portray him as less of a ghoul and more of a misunderstood monster.
Aside from the dishonesty of such an approach, as a longtime horror fan, I missed the grisly details. With such a solid dramatic structure and good performances, I felt the filmmakers could have painted with a much redder brush and lost none of their integrity. Unfortunately for us gore-hounds, however, the production team decided to err on the side of good taste. No pun intended. (Well, maybe just a little bit.)
Still and all, this is a powerful film that I would recommend to anyone with an interest in madness, murder and mayhem of the cinematic variety.
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on July 18, 2007
if you buy this movie and expect an actor portraying jeffrey doing every murder hes done, chopping up bodies and eating them, than this is not the movie for you. this movie is more like an psychological insight of dahmer. what he was and why he did what he did(what sparked him to kill). you're gonna see 4 major psychological event in his life. his first murder, detailed insight of the only guy who happened to escape, a flashback why he was the way he was, and one of his plotted attempted murders. thats it. its not going to be a gruesome detailed description of every murder he's done. if you're looking for that than i rather you buy a documentary of jeffrey dahmer rather this dramaticized movie of his life. knowing the director insight of the synapsis of this movie, i think this movie is superb.
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on August 22, 2011
This movie is worth watching if you're looking for more of a story and less gore. I think it was done well and the flashes between current events and childhood events went well together. Jeremy Renner did an excellent job playing Dahmer, so much so, that whenever I see anything on about Jeffery Dahmer, I picture Jeremy Renner. This movie is more like having free time to kill and watching a little cable on a Saturday night. Not worth a trip to the movie theater but something to watch to see a little more "human" side of Dahmer. Good movie altogether and I would watch again.
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on February 22, 2012
I'm sure there are a lot of people that wouldn't like this movie. But I liked it alot. Some people expect something different when they go to watch it. But that was a highlight for me. I get tired of watching the same serial killer slasher flick over and over. This shows you the side of Jeffrey Dahmer that so many people have never even thought existed. I thought it was brilliant. Especially Jeremy Renner, he is one of my all time favorite actors and he always brings something amazing to his characters.
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on April 12, 2017
Great value. Scary to watch and know that it really happened.
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on February 13, 2015
I'm a huge watcher of safe-danger, true life films, and serial killer pieces are of particular importance to me. This film was very well done. I really enjoy how there wasn't too much gore, I like the acting, it was overly acted like the typical Hollywood scene.
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