The streaming platform has cashed in on the morbid curiosity of viewers to know more about the nature of criminal pathology and extreme violence
On January 28, Netflix put out a peculiar message from its official Twitter handle. The platform had in the previous week released a documentary series on Ted Bundy, "Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes," and for some social media users, the chief takeaway from the show about one of America’s most notorious serial killers was not his heinous crimes but his apparent good looks. Netflix reminded viewers that there are many men on the streaming service to lust after who are not convicted murders.
I've seen a lot of talk about Ted Bundy’s alleged hotness and would like to gently remind everyone that there are literally THOUSANDS of hot men on the service — almost all of whom are not convicted serial murderers— Netflix US (@netflix) January 28, 2019
Released on January 24, 20 years to the day Bundy was executed after confessing to 30 murders in 1989, the series follows his trial and conviction through his interviews, audio recordings and archival footage. The director is Joe Berlinger, who has also made the Ted Bundy movie "Extremely Wicked, Shocking Evil and Vile," which was premiered at the Sundance festival in February. The film stars the camera-friendly Zac Efron as Bundy, and has generated apprehension that it sexualizes and glamourizes the rapist, killer, necrophile, kidnapper and burglar.
Ted Bundy is just one of many dreaded murderers to have found a home on Netflix. The streaming platform has cashed in on the morbid curiosity of viewers to know more about the nature of criminal pathology and extreme violence. Here is a look at the list of shows about serial killers that are currently on Netflix. The list does not include the numerous other true-crime documentaries about non-serial killers or unsolved crimes, such as "Making a Murderer," "The Staircase and Evil Genius," and murder mysteries and slasher films.
'Inside the Mind of a Serial Killer'
The 10-episode part-dramatized series “delves into the tormented psyches of the world’s most infamous” criminals, according to the official synopsis. Among those profiled are Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people in a mass shooting in July 2011, and India’s Nithari killers.
'Serial Killer with Piers Morgan'
The British journalist speaks to three convicted serial killers to “learn about their motives”: Lorenzo Gilyard, known as the “Kansas City Strangler," Alejandro Henriquez of New York, and Mark Riebe, who was convicted for one murder but had confessed to killing 12 women, a statement he later retracted.
'Killer Women with Piers Morgan'
Through two seasons and seven episodes, Morgan speaks to convicted female murders in America.
'Inside the Criminal Mind'
The Netflix original series profiles four kinds of criminals in as many episodes: serial killers, cult leaders, kidnappers and crime lords.
'Interview with a Serial Killer'
The 44-minute documentary speaks to Arthur Shawcross, known as the Genesee River Killer, about details of his crimes and “surprising family bonds," says the synopsis. He was reportedly sentenced to 250 years in prison for killing 11 women.
With 40 episodes, this series profiles a host of female criminals, many of whom committed multiple murders. The list includes Aileen Carol Wuornos, on whom Patty Jenkins’s "Monster," starring Charlize Theron, was based.
'Nurses who Kill'
As the title makes clear, the 10-episode series looks at patient deaths in hospitals, and finds that caregivers may not be living up to their job description. Those profiled include Charles Cullen, who confessed to killing 40 patients, and Beverly Alitt, an English nurse who was convicted for killing four children.
The period-killer-thriller puts a spotlight on Britain’s most infamous killers in modern history, and how police brought them to justice without fancy technology and advanced forensic science.
Encounters with Evil
The 10-part British series looks at several groups of killers, including “thrill killers," cult leaders such as Jim Jones, kidnappers, sexual predators and medical professionals, many of them convicted of multiple murders. The show “tries to get at the root of some of the most heinous crimes ever committed by deranged, cold-blooded criminals," says the descriptor.
An urban legend about a mentally unstable man, who would hunt children, starts to ring true in this 2009 documentary. Two filmmakers travel to their hometown in Staten Island, New York City, and tell the story of Andre Rand, a suspected serial killer linked to the disappearance of children.
The real-life criminals that may have inspired urban legends are examined in this four-part series. One episode hypothesizes that the evil clown trope may have come from the American serial killer John Wayne Gacy Jr, who used to sometimes work as a clown at children’s events.
The Investigator: A British Crime Story
In this Simon Cowell-produced docu-series, an investigator picks up old unsolved crimes. The second season examines a string of disappearances and finds links with two convicted British serial killers, Peter Tobin and Angus Sinclair.
Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman team up to track down a serial killer in David Fincher’s acclaimed thriller. Each of the kills is inspired by the seven deadly sins: pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth.
Penn Badgley’s character, finds that his charming new stepfather has an uncanny resemblance to a serial killer, profiled on America’s Most Wanted. The 2009 movie opens with three murders, and the body count will only rise. The film is a remake of the 1987 cult classic psychological horror of the same name.
'The Last Heist'
A bank heist takes a terrible turn for its perpetrators after they realize that a serial killer is among their hostages. The 2016 release stars Henry Rollins, Torrance Coombs and Victoria Pratt.
'The Frozen Ground'
John Cusack plays Robert Hansen, a serial killer from Alaska who is believed to have raped and murdered 17 women. The film follows Nicolas Cage’s police officer as he teams up with a 17-year old (Vanessa Hudgens) prostitute who escaped from Hansen’s clutches to track him down.
This 1998 Australian thriller follows a lengthy interrogation between the police, and a man suspected of multiple crimes, including several murders. The cast includes Hugo Weaving, Tony Martin and Aaron Jeffery.
Jason Statham stars in this 2011 British thriller as a troubled detective, tasked with tracking down a serial killer in London, who has been targetting police officers.
'The Invisible Guardian'
In this 2017 Spanish thriller, a former FBI agent returns to her hometown in Navarre, after a teenage girl’s body is found in the woods. She suspects it’s a serial killer’s work, and gets cracking on the case while also confronting her unhappy childhood.
'Creep' and 'Creep 2'
Mark Duplass stars in the Jason Blum-produced found footage films, both of which involve a serial killer and a video camera. A third installment is reportedly on the way.
Anthony Perkins reprized his role as Norman Bates, a serial killer with mommy issues, in Richard Franklin’s 1983 sequel to Alfred Hitchcock’s horror classic Psycho. The film is set 22 years after the original, after Bates returns to his eponymous motel to unleash horror once again.
'Raman Raghav 2.0'
Anurag Kashyap’s 2016 thriller follows the cat-and-mouse chase between a serial killer played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui, and a police officer played by Vicky Kaushal. The film borrows its name from a murderer active in Mumbai in the 1960s.
AR Murugadoss’s 2017 Tamil-Telugu thriller features Mahesh Babu in the role of an Intelligence Bureau officer who, while listening in on phone calls, comes across a serial killer. After a girl gets murdered on his watch, Babu’s character takes it upon himself to track the killer down.
A serial killer starts sending clues to the police in this Tamil thriller directed by Arun Vaidyanathan. Arjun plays a police officer who gets on the murderer’s trail.
A psychopath believes himself to be the messenger of God in this Marathi film. He’s also a passionate guitarist, and anyone who is not impressed by his music is bumped off. The cast includes Subodh Bhave, Tejaswini Pandit and Mohan Joshi.
Edgar Allen Poe turns investigator in this fictionalized account of the author’s life. John Cusack plays Poe, who has to help a detective track down a killer, who is murdering his victims using themes and symbolism, from the author’s short stories.
In this South Korean thriller, a grumpy landlord, whose tenants die in quick succession, teams up with a retired detective, who believes that this is the work of a serial killer, who was active 30 years ago, but was never caught.
Another murderous stalker who has attracted attention for his good looks is "You"’s Joe Goldberg. The show, originally on Lifetime and picked up as a Netflix original for its second season, stars Penn Badgley as a creepy bookstore owner who becomes obsessed with a customer. After coming across several tweets swooning over Joe, Badgley himself started pointing out to fans that his character is not meant to be admired.
A man, whose father committed suicide after being wrongfully implicated in a string of murders, decides to become a detective in this Korean thriller. He finally gets a chance to clear his father’s name, after a series of murders with the same modus operandi are reported.
A team of federal agents try to get inside the minds of serial killers in this 1970s-set Netflix original. The American drama series is slated to return for a second season.
Psychiatrist and cannibal Hannibal Lecter returns in this drama series that ran on television from 2013 to 2015 and is now on Netflix. The show follows the dynamic between Lecter and agent Will Graham, who specializes in tracking down serial killers but also has the ability to empathize with them, which takes a toll on his mental health.
Another attempt to get into the mind of a serial killer is made in this period thriller set in 1896 New York, where someone is preying on homeless boys. A criminal psychologist works with a team to find out the culprit.
Framed as a cat-and-mouse chase between a serial killer and a detective, the British-Irish series follows superintendent Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson) as she tries to capture a man who is attacking young working women in Northern Ireland, while also dealing with her personal demons.
The German thriller is adapted by Patrick Suskind’s novel of the same name, but makes several tweaks. The show follows efforts to detect a serial killer who is murdering women to make a perfume using their scent. A movie based on the novel and starring Ben Wishaw was released in 2006.
Hithcock’s "Psycho" gets a contemporary prequel in this series starring Freddie Highmore as Norman Bates and Vera Farmiga as his mother. The focus is on the relationship between Bates and his mother and a loving boy’s descent into madness.
A television news anchor, whose daughter is murdered, finds that she has travelled back in time by a week. She now has a chance to track down the serial killer and save her child.
A serial killer comes on to the other side to help the police catch someone, who has been copying the techniques she pioneered 25 years ago in this French thriller.
A former London detective is called back to the force after a serial killer she was investigating more than a decade ago, seems to have made a comeback. But Marcella (Anna Friel) has problems of her own, nervous breakdowns and blackouts, making her also a suspect.
Two detectives try to find a serial killer, who is tracking and killing gay men while pretending to hook-up. The series is based on the real-life hate crimes in Sydney in the 1980s and 90s, which remain unsolved.
This story was first published in Scroll.in, and is being republished under special arrangement