Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes (2019)

conversations with a killer the ted bundy tapes poster 2019 documentary poster
8.0 Overall Score

Solid true crime storytelling with insight

Falls into the unescapable true crime problem of not giving enough time to the victims

conversations with a killer the ted bundy tapes title card review episode guide list

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile

Ted Bundy has decided to talk and journalists Stephen Michaud have been given the opportunity to get the story.  Interviewing Bundy in prison, Bundy tells how he became a murderer of women and one of the world’s most dangerous serial killer.  From Washington to Florida, Bundy’s crimes grow, and Ted Bundy proves himself a notorious celebrity facing death.

Directed by Joe Berlinger, Conversations with a Killer:  The Ted Bundy Tapes is a Netflix true-crime documentary limited series.  The four episode series focuses on Ted Bundy (November 24, 1946-January 24, 1989) and received positive reviews upon its release.  The series received a Prime Time Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Main Title Design.

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Sit right back and you’ll hear a tale…

Conversations with a Killer:  The Ted Bundy Tapes was released on the 30th anniversary of Ted Bundy’s death.  I skipped the documentary when it was released, but I did watch the film Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile which was released soon after the documentary and starred Zac Efron.  With the release of the sequel series, Conversations with a Killer:  The John Wayne Gacy Tapes in 2022, I decided to watch the Bundy series which proves to be a better documentary.

What is interesting watching multiple true crime series is seeing the similarities between the various serial killers.  Bundy demonstrates intelligence, but an ego which is what ultimately his downfall.  He was too big to be caught because (in addition to his deadly flaws), he saw himself as smarter than everyone around him…despite testing proving he wasn’t.  Bundy is a sociopath and even though he is unusual by percentage, he’s like other serial killers over the years…he isn’t as special as he’d like to believe.

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Ain’t no party like an execution party…

The series does suffer from the problem that all other true-crime series face:  it isn’t about the victims.  It is nice to think that you could do one of these series strictly from the perception of the victims and highlighting their lives, but that doesn’t sell.  People want to try to see what makes a killer tick and how a person can turn into a monster…is it born or developed?  Killers will always fascinate people.

The documentary is put together strongly.  While the tapes are used as a framework for the entire four episodes, it is a rather straightforward telling of Bundy’s story.  It doesn’t get too deeply into his childhood (Bundy doesn’t seem very interested in it), but it does outline many of Bundy’s crimes.  It follows through to the rather strange fanaticism that surrounded Bundy’s death.

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The victims

Bundy himself is a complete oddity.  He has that ego and bravado that is typical of killers like him, but he is also rather eloquent and well versed in his reflection and talking.  He doesn’t have the disgusting outward appearance that some killers have and the use of the tapes of Michaud and Aynesworth allows you to hear him directly instead of the stories…even if lying is part of his MO.

I can vividly remember when Ted Bundy was executed.  It was something everyone was talking about and I recall jokes about “Bundy Burgers” being served at school the day of his death…even if most people (including myself) didn’t know who he was and what he did.  It was a bit of a culture touchstone.  Conversations with a Killer:  The Ted Bundy Tapes can’t quite capture the moment, but it comes close.

Conversations with a Killer:  The Ted Bundy Tapes Complete Episode Guide:

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“Handsome Devil”

Episode 1        Handsome Devil Release Date:  01/24/19

Journalist Stephen Michaud is given unlimited access to Ted Bundy and going to Death Row, Michaud learns Bundy wants to tell his side of the story.  With the help of journalist Hugh Aynesworth, Michaud convinces Bundy talks a story of his early days in Washington and his path to become a serial killer is outlined.

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“One of Us”

Episode 2        One of Us Release Date:  01/24/19

Michaud works to get Ted talk about his crimes in a way that might convince him to open up…and more of his tale is revealed.  With the police searching for a suspect named “Ted” and a car description, investigators search for a murderer as more women disappear in the state of Washington.  Liz Kloepfer goes to the police with concern that her boyfriend Ted Bundy might be involved in the murders.  Ted’s decision to go to law school in Utah leads to a new faith…but the murders follow.  The attack and escape of Carol Daronch leads to Ted going to trial…and hope for the victims.

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“Not My Turn to Watch Him”

Episode 3        Not My Turn to Watch Him Release Date:  01/24/19

Bundy recalls his escape from the Aspen jail and the manhunt that followed.  Recaptured Bundy makes a second escape on New Year’s Eve 1977…leading to another police search and a deadly attack at the Chi Omega sorority house at Florida State University.

“Burn Bundy Burn”

Episode 4        Burn Bundy Burn Release Date:  01/24/19

Bundy talks about how he was arrested in Florida and finds himself in a Florida court.  With anger about his defense, Bundy finds himself trying to get himself cleared of the charges…with poor results.  Sentenced to death, Ted Bundy finds himself a celebrity and an interest to investigators due to his self-reflection.

Related Links:

Conversations with a Killer:  The John Wayne Gacy Tapes (2022)

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (2019)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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