TV Movie Review: The Deliberate Stranger

With all the buzz around Netflix’s Ted Bundy Tapes and their acquisition of Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile, I thought I’d check out the original interpretation of the infamous killer’s rampage. I went in search of the 1986 television film starring Mark Harmon, eventually finding it for about $17 on DVD on Amazon.

Now that it has been several months since I actually saw this, as well as the other Ted Bundy film, I guess I should get a review up. This is a two part television special series that originally aired over two consecutive nights on NBC, and covers Bundy’s attacks in the late 70s, as well as his capture and trials. It was released in 1986, three years before Bundy would be executed.

I’ll start off by saying I really like Mark Harmon as an actor. He always has a lot of charisma and usually he is playing a really likable character, so this was an interesting role for him. He still has the charm but he’s playing Ted Bundy, who of course is not a likable person. I wasn’t around when all of these events were taking place (I was born a year before his execution), so I don’t have a frame of reference for how well events in the film match up with real life ones. However, as I’m told, it is a fairly accurate representation.

This is a pretty straightforward telling of Bundy’s story. It hits all of the story points from the start of the investigation into the disappearances, to his attacks in Seattle, Utah, and Colorado, and finally his recapture in Florida and the subsequent trial. There isn’t anything really innovating in its approach but I think it is an effective film. Harmon is good in the role, and by trying to be as inclusive, and as detailed as possible with the number of attacks, the filmmakers successfully drive home the point of just how violent and vicious Bundy was.

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