Directed by Clive Saunders
Written by David Birke & Clive Saunders
Produced by Larry Rattner, Timothy Swain & Susan Rodgers
Cast: Mark Holton, Charlie Weber & Glenn Morshower
2003/89 mins/Color/Dolby Stereo 2.0
1.33:1 full screen/English/US/NTSC Region 1
Official Web site: http://www.gacymovie.com/
Review from the DEJ Productions DVD
Upon the success of serial murderer biopic DAHMER released in 2002, Peninsula Film's were quick to jump on the bandwagon by making GACY to be released for the now popular serial killer straight-to-video (DVD) market. DAHMER was more of a character study of a deeply twisted man, more dramatic than horrific. Rather than showing the viewer his brutal and sadistic nature, the filmmakers tried to get inside him. GACY on the other hand, while neither an exploitative effort, is more of a thriller showcasing the Jeckyll and Hyde personality of Gacy.
The film takes place in Des Plains, Illinois around 1976, focusing on Gacy's crimes and mental decline before being arrested. Mark Holton (PEE WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE) is sufficiently cast as John Wayne Gacy who seemed to have it all - being a successful business owner, looked highly upon by both the social and political community. Yes, he had it all - he lived with his lovely wife, two stepdaughters, his mother, and 29 teenage male corpses, festering in his crawlspace.
When not operating his company (compiled of underpaid overworked teens), schmoozing at social events or volunteering his time enriching the lives of sick children as Pogo the clown, John Wayne Gacy was a manipulator of impressionable minds and a sexual predator. Under the unsuspecting noses of the public, by nightfall Gacy would stalk the streets picking up young hustlers by enticing them into his car with promise of money and drugs. He would then sexually defile and murder them, retiring their bodies to his crawl space -- permanently.
When looking into a movie based (or in this case fictionalizedâ) upon a serial killer such as Gacy, I want to experience and be witness to the horrific nature of the crimes, and everything they have committed. To sugarcoat, or hide from the crimes of a killer, when the film is titled and based on their actions is not sensible. I realize that the victims of these murderers have families and that this is a touchy subject, but these crimes actually happen - every day! To hide from the viciousness of a killer's crime, just conceals what actually transpired. Whether a film is graphic or not doesn't make the atrocious crimes, less horrendous. For myself, a film of this nature should be hard to stomach, hard to sit though and disgusting. If not, why not just watch a documentary on the individual (A&E BIOGRAPHY: JOHN WAYNE GACY: A MONSTER IN DISGUISE), and learn about them the proper way rather than be entertainedâ with a dramatic sugarcoated representation of their crimes. And for what? Artistic merit?
Just look at films such as IRREVERSIBLE, showcasing violence and rape in all its unwholesome, viciousness, or even a war movie such as MEN BEHIND THE SUN, or even SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, graphically depicting the carnage of war. All three films are extremely graphic, and hard to stomach, and so they should be. SAVING PRIVATE RYAN is even hailed as one of the best war films ever made. That film would not remotely have the same affect on people if it didn't showcase realistically what veterans went through. If I want a candy-ass depiction of world events, I'll watch the news.
This is primarily why GACY as a movie fails. Gacy was a closet homosexual who molested teenage boys, brutally slaughtered them, and dumped them in the dirt. The film never once gets disturbing, or attempts to get under your skin. Its only attempts are with frequent mealworm shots from in the crawlspace.
Gacy is known largely as the killer clown, by his obsession with clowns and the Pogo character which would have been extremely creepy if used more in the film, or used at all in an effective nature. In GACY Pogo is portrayed for no more than five minutes. David Birke, and Clive Saunders should have dug deeper with the possibilities of these sequences.
Mark Holton does pull off a great performance as Gacy. The problem herein is the way the writers, producers and director went about making a serial killer picture. Many of these killer sub-genre films are sprouting now, with the same intent and storyline. They all want to dig deeper into the mind of the malicious man. Considering the unspeakable nature of their crimes, who really cares if poor Gacy was ridiculed by his father, or if he was a caring child performer? GACY does effectively reveal Gacy's double sided personality, but in the scheme of things, does it really matter? After all, he did rape and slaughter over thirty boys. The film spent too much time showing the good side of him rather than focusing on disturbing and graphic sequences of him committing his crimes.
GACY is presented full frame in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The picture quality is very clean and crisp, which is to be expected for recent shot on film feature. Minimal compression or artifacts are to be found in the authoring of this disc. The audio is effective the way it is, presented Dolby Stereo 2.0, and only makes use directionally towards the conclusion of the film, when soundtrack throws strange sounds our way, to finalize the film.
Unlike Gacy's crawlspace, the supplemental department is minimal. The DVD contains a trailer for the film, and a commentary track by producers Timothy Swain, and Susan Rodgers and star Mark Holton, which I found to be not very informative and highly boring. We learn the film was shot in L.A. as they point out palm trees that managed to sneak into frame, Holton compliments every actor's performance, and Rodgers mentions several times of Saundersâ first film based on a Charles Bukowski short titled LOVE FOR $17.50, which I actually wouldn't mind viewing. Silence gaps on the track are kept to a minimum, but without the director included in the commentary, there really wasn't a point in including one on this DVD.
ED GEIN, DAHMER, TED BUNDY, and GACY are your recent choices in serial killer film viewing. If a more real, and effective representation is what you're looking for, while holding entertainment value try TED BUNDY, which is far more sleazy and exploitative than the others. If you're looking for incite into the life of John Wayne Gacy, your best bet is to check out the documentary mentioned above. Right now I'll be retiring this GACY where it belongs - in my crawlspace.
This Film Features:
Review by Chris Mayo. All Right Reserved. 2003. ©