Posts Tagged ‘Jim Parsons’

I listened to The Stranger Beside Me by true crime writer Ann Rule, who actually knew Ted Bundy, on audio book to prepare for this movie (and that’s the extent to my knowledge of Bundy). In the days leading up to this film’s release on Netflix, I was excited to see this adaptation. Nearly thirty years after the man’s death, would this film, along with the Netflix documentary (I know, I need to watch it, I just haven’t gotten around to it yet), introduce a new generation to the shocking murders of Ted Bundy?

Well, I went in expecting a different kind of movie, but I came out satisfied with what I got.

Based on the memoir The Phantom Prince: My Life with Ted Bundy by his real-life girlfriend Elizabeth Kloepfer (known as Liz Kendall in the film and Meg Anders in The Stranger Beside Me), Extremely Wicked follows the romance of Bundy and Kloepfer, how they got together, how Bundy’s arrest in Utah, his two escape attempts in Colorado, his final trial in Florida, during which he marries one of his groupies but (seemingly) still has feelings for Liz, and finally his execution in Florida.

I think what I like the most about this film is its star-studded cast. Everyone embodies their characters so well. Zac Efron as Bundy comes across as a sympathetic, lovestruck man who finds his life falling to pieces around him and the one good thing in it drifting away, while Lily Collins as Liz Kendall does a great job as a woman who put so much into her relationship with this seemingly-perfect man, only to grapple with his crimes. John Malkovich as Judge Edward Cowart did the man an honor, combining the judge’s Southern gentility with his own deadpan acting method (finally, a film from this year that doesn’t waste the guy’s talent). And Jim Parsons made me forget at certain moments that I was watching Sheldon Cooper. I actually had to watch the scene where he delivers his opening remarks as prosecutor Larry Simpson twice, it was so chilling. Parsons could lead a legal drama now that The Big Bang Theory is done.

I also like how the film balances a romantic storyline with what is mostly a courtroom drama. Unlike other films, Extremely Wicked doesn’t go to great lengths to show Bundy’s depravity or murders, but instead hints and flits around it until the final scene of the film. Its focus is showing how the ongoing legal saga affects Bundy and Kloepfer’s relationship and vice versa, as well as the psychological toll on Bundy. The director knew what they were going for with this film, and in that aspect it succeeded.

If I have one gripe with this film, it’s that romanticizes Bundy a little too much. Bundy’s always had a number of female fans who find him attractive despite what he’s done.* Even actors portraying him have awakened the wrong kind of fascination in teenage and young women (Ann Rule relates some of the phone calls she got after The Deliberate Stranger with Mark Harmon aired in 1986 in her book). Zac Efron is a very handsome actor, no doubt of that, and in the interest of focusing on his romance and courtroom battles, Extremely Wicked glosses over the evil in its title and makes Bundy out to be more of a sweet, hurt man than a calculating serial killer. And I’m not sure that was the best decision.

I also would’ve liked to see Ann Rule make an appearance in the film, but I think I can live without that.

On the whole, I give Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile a score of 4 out of 5. While its POV Is slightly skewed, its an entrancing thriller that draws you into the story and the bloodless battle occurring on screen. Take a look, and prepare yourself for a ride.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I hope to have one or two more posts out before the weekend is done.

In the meantime, I’m still looking for advanced readers for my upcoming fantasy-horror novel, Rose, about a young woman who starts turning into a plant creature (and that’s just the start of her problems). In exchange for an early electronic copy, all I ask is you read it and consider posting a review after the release. Anyone interested should send me an email at ramiungar@ramiungarthewriter.com.

Until next time, pleasant nightmares!

*The scientific name for attraction to dangerous partners, by the way, is called hybristophilia. Theories to how it arises range from evolutionary desires for strong and capable partners to romantic notions of wanting to change/help a damaged partner to wanting fame or even just knowing the partner is stuck in a jail cell and won’t go anywhere. The more you know.

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I am Sheldon Cooper.

I’m great in my field, or perhaps I’m narcissistic enough to think that I’m great. I can talk on and on about writing and horror until I realize it’s too late, I’ve made the person or persons I’m talking to feel uncomfortable. Sometimes I don’t even realize it. But then I find myself talking about how much I hate the Friday the 13th remake and I forget I’m supposed to be having a conversation.

I have odd habits that make no sense to others. I laugh at jokes only I find funny. Sometimes they don’t even leave my head and I’m in hysterics. I talk to myself, I trace shapes in the air with my mind. I hold imaginary conversations with my characters and with other people’s characters. Whatever leads to an idea, right?

Social situations can confuse me. I’ll say something that seems totally innocent in my head, and not realize most people will find a second, possibly offensive or disgusting meaning to it. If I’m lucky, I’ll realize within the next couple of hours this faux pas and never repeat it. Occasionally I never notice though, and I worry about those times, because I’m not sure when or where or why they happened. I only know that they probably have.

If someone says I shouldn’t do or say something, I will ask why if the answer isn’t immediately obvious to me (which is usually sixty percent of the time). If you only say “Just because” or “It’s bad”, I won’t believe you or listen to you. If asked why, I will reply “Once some nasty peers of mine asked me if I was gay before I knew what that meant and they wouldn’t tell me. I said yes just to see what would happen and was the laughingstock for the rest of the day.” So you either tell me what’s so wrong and you walk me through it to make the point, or I’ll just assume that it’s not so big a deal because you don’t want to spell it out.*

Sometimes I’m resistant to changes or new things that seem great but I just don’t feel comfortable with yet. I was horribly opposed to social media like Facebook for years because I just didn’t want to have to try it, an to a certain extent it just wasn’t necessary. I’m only now considering a smartphone. A sudden change in schedule can also annoy me to no end every once in a while. And if I can’t watch my shows? Oh, it’s going to bug me. And don’t make me try that thing I have preconceived notions of. I’m sure I’m going to hate it until I try it and I form new opinions.

I like fun, but sometimes I’m happiest in front of the TV with a drink and a show, writing during the commercial breaks or slow parts of the show. If there’s a cat on my lap, even better. I don’t date much, if at all. I sometimes feel that the whole dating/mating/courting process is such a waste of energy and an unnecessary cause of stress. And why go out? The indoors of the world are so friendly, comfortable and familiar.

Oh, and I’m very pale. Can’t forget that.

But I do have my differences from Dr. Cooper. I write fiction and tell stories. I like touching and hugs and I like to be social, though sometimes I prefer it on my own terms. And my roommate and I don’t banter about in such a way that audiences would laugh if they heard us. Plus I definitely believe in God and ghosts, so that’s another important difference.

But yeah, very much like Sheldon Cooper. It’s not always a bad thing–some people say my eccentricities are part of my charm–but it does have its pitfalls. Still, I wouldn’t change me for the world**, because then I wouldn’t be able to do what I love and do the things I’m able to do. It just would be too different.

*I remember when I was eleven or twelve I learned from a camp friend there was an N-word. Being that age and in an environment where swearing was as plentiful as breathing, I wanted to know what it was, but no one would tell me and they wouldn’t tell me why they wouldn’t tell me, which upset me to no end. I didn’t find out until a year later and read Stephen King’s IT why that word was so bad. So way to go, camp kids, you let a horror writer explain to a kid why he shouldn’t use the N-word. And if that doesn’t take the cake, years later some of those same campers would use the N-word casually, calling each other that when we were the whitest Jewish kids you’d ever seen. By that time I was the one trying to keep them from saying it, but up until the end of summer they never stopped, even when a black man nearly heard them say it. I tell you, talk about ironic reversals!

**Unless of course it’s for the suave spy/bad boy personality that’s at ease in almost any situation and draws people together for a common cause, usually defeating some awful evil. I might go for that.