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

conversations with a killer the john wayne gacy tapes poster netflix 2022
7.0 Overall Score

Tells the story of ego and how a killer can move among society

Doesn't really have much new to justify it

conversations with a killer the john wayne gacy tapes title card episode guide

What does Gacy say?

A killer is stalking Chicago and his time is running out.  John Wayne Gacy is arrested by police on multiple counts of murder.  A horror show is found under Gacy’s home as body after body is pulled from the foundation.  While police put together their case, Gacy’s past is explored as a search for the names of the victims begins…Gacy thinks he is smarter than the police, but Gacy’s run of killing is about to end.

Directed by Joe Berlinger, Conversations with a Killer:  The John Wayne Gacy Tapes is a Netflix true-crime documentary limited series.  The series focuses on John Wayne Gacy (March 17, 1942-May 10, 1994) is a stand-alone follow-up to Conversations with a Killer:  The Ted Bundy Tapes from 2019.  It was released on April 20, 2022 in three parts.

conversations with a killer the john wayne gacy tapes episode 2 a nicely kept secret clown

The Clown of Nightmares

I didn’t watch Conversations with a Killer:  The Ted Bundy Tapes when it was released.  I generally do have the “true-crime” bug and watch a lot of these documentaries.  They are reminders that things can “go wrong” with people and one person can be born in one location and turn into a monster while another person can be born on the same day and live a normal and productive life.  John Wayne Gacy was a product of his past and lots of factors turned him into a killer than still haunts people.

Unlike Conversations with a Killer:  The Ted Bundy Tapes, the series feels less focused on the tapes.  Gacy liked to talk (as the documentary shows) and despite touting “the John Wayne Gacy tapes”, the tapes feel secondary.  They are used to play excerpts of interviews with Gacy, but largely the documentary is a straightforward documentary chronicling Gacy’s crimes.  The tapes begin to come in play a bit more in the third episode…but they don’t feel like they shape the series as much as the previous series.

conversations with a killer the john wayne gacy tapes house

A house of horrors

The story is terrifying in general, and there is horrific descriptions of the recovery of the corpses from below Gacy’s house which is difficult to listen to.  The series attempts to have a balance between telling the victims’ stories and telling Gacy’s stories, but it doesn’t necessarily do it well.  It turns into a victims’ tale at the end, but it is Gacy heavy at the start which you could argue isn’t fair to the victims.

It isn’t the cleanest of storytelling.  It jumps around a lot, but there doesn’t seem to be a very streamlined path of crimes and time periods.  His childhood and events in Iowa and before his crimes in Chicago are explained within context of the investigation into him in Chicago and the timeline feels a bit jumbled.  The series also jumps around regarding victims’ storylines though the story takes a harder focus on Robert Piest who helped spawn much of the unravelling of Gacy’s crimes.

conversations with a killer the john wayne gacy tapes episode 1 the life of the party murder victims

Just a few of the victims…

Conversations with a Killer:  The John Wayne Gacy Tapes really isn’t anything new or different.  The “gimmick” of Gacy telling his own story isn’t that impressive since he did tell it multiple times (and it is largely lies).  The interesting aspect of listening to him in general is hearing that bravado and that “I shouldn’t have been caught because I’m that good” attitude.  If you take that and compare it to other serial killers, you can quickly start to see the personality and persona that often encompasses these murderers.  It may not always help people to “identify” a killer, but it is an important piece of the puzzles in uncovering unsolved crimes.  Gacy preyed on the people who would often not be missed or reported…and that is the tragedy of the crimes.

Conversations with a Killer:  The John Wayne Gacy Tapes Complete Episode Guide:

conversations with a killer the john wayne gacy tapes episode 1 the life of the party waterloo iowa arrest

“The Life of the Party”

Episode 1        The Life of the Party Release Date:  04/20/22

The disappearances of multiple young men in Chicago lead to questions about a man named John Wayne Gacy.  As police tail Gacy and try to find anything they can about him, Gacy finds himself playing a cat-and-mouse game.  Gacy’s first marriage, his past in Iowa, and the crime that sent him to jail are revealed.  When Gacy goes to see his attorney Sam Amirante, Amirante learns the horrible truth.

conversations with a killer the john wayne gacy tapes episode 2 a nicely kept secret wife carole hoff

“A Nicely Kept Secret”

Episode 2        A Nicely Kept Secret Release Date:  04/20/22

John’s start in Chicago is recalled after his past in Iowa and tries to put his past behind him.  When he meets a woman named Carole Hoff, John realizes that he could start another life…but his old demons return to haunt him.  As John tries to become more and more influential in the community, teens begin to disappear…and people start asking questions.  The police move in on Gacy’s home and find horrors in the crawlspace.

conversations with a killer the john wayne gacy tapes episode 3 sane enough murder conviction

“Sane Enough”

Episode 3        Sane Enough Release Date:  04/20/22

Gacy’s crimes are unearthed under his home as the list of missing people increase.  The escape of Jeffrey Rignall shows the difference between the reporting of rape among gay men at the time, and a pattern that could have been stopped earlier.  Under arrest, Gacy’s mental state is questioned as the defense and prosecutors look into Gacy’s past.  Gacy faces death as police search for the identities of his victims.

Related Links:

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

To Catch a Killer (1992)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @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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