- “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile” is a biopic about the notorious serial killer Ted Bundy that recently began streaming on Netflix.
- When he sentenced Ted Bundy to death, Judge Edward D. Cowart called Bundy’s actions “extremely wicked, shockingly evil, vile” – which is where the movie draws its title from.
- The film has been criticised because some believe it humanized Bundy and downplayed the truly horrific nature of his multi-state murderous path.
- Others have disagreed, defending the movie’s portrayal of the killer because they believe it was representative of how Bundy was in real life.
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“Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile” is a biopic about the notorious serial killer Ted Bundy that premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival in January and recently began streaming on Netflix. It stars Zac Efron as Ted Bundy, Lily Collins as longtime-girlfriend Liz Kendall, and John Malkovich as Judge Edward D. Cowart.
But the lengthy title of the film is actually part of a quote from Bundy’s trial.
The adjectives used in the film’s title were said by the judge who sentenced Bundy to death in 1979
It might seem like a mouthful, but the title of the biopic is based on a description of Bundy’s actions that Judge Edward D. Cowart used when sentencing Bundy to death in 1979.
When sentencing Bundy, Judge Cowart said:
“The court finds that both of these killings were indeed heinous, atrocious and cruel, and that they were extremely wicked, shockingly evil, vile and the product of a design to inflict a high degree of pain and utter indifference to human life. This court, independent of, but in agreement with the advisory sentence rendered by the jury, does hereby impose the death penalty upon the defendant, Theodore Robert Bundy.”
After many appeals, Bundy failed to overturn his sentence and was not granted a new trial. He was killed via electric chair in 1989.
Since its debut at Sundance earlier this year, the film has been criticised for glamorizing Bundy and not showing the heinousness of his actions
When “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile” first debuted at Sundance in January, it dropped hot on the heels of director Joe Berlinger’s documentary series for Netflix that was also about Bundy – “Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes.”
This was experienced documentarian Berlinger’s first foray into making a biopic and some critics thought it was too sympathetic and did far too much to humanize Bundy.
Berlinger disagreed with critics. “I think the idea of this particular story, making a movie about Bundy, equals glorification of him is a very naive and knee-jerk reaction,” he told Bustle earlier this year.
Zac Efron also doesn’t seem to agree with the backlash.”I’m not in the business of glamorizing such a horrendous person or his acts,” he told Metro UK earlier this year.
In January, Kathy Kleiner Rubin, a woman who was attacked by Bundy in 1978 and survived, said she thought Efron’s portrayal of Bundy was not glorifying the killer – it was just showing him as he was.
“I believe that in order to show him exactly the way it was, it’s not really glorifying him, but it’s showing him, and when they do say positive and wonderful things about him, that’s what they saw – that’s what Bundy wanted you to see,” she told TMZ.
In 1979, Judge Cowart himself even seemed influenced by Bundy’s charms, even as he sentenced him to death
Even in 1979, some members of the public were shocked when Judge Cowart offered Bundy some seemingly kind yet controversial parting words.
While sentencing him to death, Judge Cowart told Bundy:
“Take care, young man. I say that to you sincerely. Take care of yourself. It’s a tragedy for this court to see such a total waste of humanity that I’ve experienced in this court. You’re a bright young man. You’d have made a good lawyer. I’d have loved to have you practice in front of me, but you went another way, partner.”
Cowart died just two years later while Bundy was still on death row.