Monday, November 23, 2009

Book Review - Celluloid Serial Killers: The Real Monsters Behind The Movies


Paul B. Kidd has been writing about true crime for many years, he specialises in Australian true crime. Tackling the subject of serial killers is not an easy one, however Kidd has a special knack for writing about true crime. What he has done here is examine films over the years which deal with serial killers and then delve into the real life killers which inspired the feature film.

This book offers two things, film titles about serial killers, some which you may have seen or heard of and others you may not have. The second thing it offers is the real story, the real killer/s and their crimes. You get the basic idea if the film is loosely based on something, inspired by something or an actual bio-film.

I actually found this book at a discount book store for $6.95 it normally retails here between $34.95 to $39.95 so to say I got a good deal is an understatement! Keep in mind foreign readers I am talking about the Australian dollar and for some reason our prices seem higher then the rest of the world.

The book serves as a great reference on a variety of serial killer films, and Kidd gives his opinion on the good ones and the bad ones. At least it is his opinion of them, I agreed with some of what he had to say on some films and I really disagreed with him on other ones. I would have liked for there to have been more info on the films themselves, but what he has provided is good. He gives a run down of what the film is about and his opinion, whilst Kidd is a great crime writer, a film critic he is not. I think that was the only down side of the book, but when you consider the big picture he has done a great job.

On the true crime side of things, this is where he is most comfortable and he can paint a very disturbing picture of these killers. He has included all the relevant details, and he really does not hold much back as far as their crimes are concerned. I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone who has a weak stomach, some of the crimes committed which are mentioned are truly disturbing. The title mentions monsters, and these killers certainly were just that.

In the book you will find Kidd has decided to include some serial killer films which aren't based on any real killer, and he has included them because he is a fan of the film and felt they were worthy of mention. I actually didn't even look at the contents because I wanted to be surprised as to what was included. Towards the end I actually wanted to see what was coming up because I thought he had covered so much, I wondered what was actually left!

Some films you will find covered in this book are M, Psycho, The Honeymoon Killers, Dirty Harry, Manhunter, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Silence of the Lambs, From Hell, Ted Bundy and many more. You get the idea he has a wide range of films and with some of those titles you can figure out who they are about (with a title like Ted Bundy who else would it be about?), and there were some killers who I had read about but had no idea there was a film based on them. After getting through the book, I do have more film titles to add the to list, some sound good, others sound interesting but whether or not they are good is hard to tell.

As far as true crime books go this is one of the really good ones I've read, as I mentioned he does have a knack for it. Whilst the film side of things could have had more details, it doesn't take away from anything. I would recommend this for anyone who is into true crime or darker films, it is a really good read and I haven't actually read any bad reviews on this one.

Celluloid Serial Killers: The Real Monsters Behind the Movies
Kidd, Paul B.
Publisher: Five Mile Press
ISBN-10: 1741784727
ISBN-13: 9781741784725
Year Published: 2007

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