Moviemakers have been enthralled by serial killers for as long as cinema has existed, and some of the greatest films of all time have depicted the work of the world's most heinous murderers. Here's our list of the best 7 films about real serial killers.
Maybe lock your doors before you watch them.
1. Dahmer (2002)
Starring a pre-superhero Jeremy Renner as the famed Milwaukee Cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer, David Jacobson's take on the killer who targeted gay men for his horrific sex experiments is surpisingly sympathetic and heart-wrenching. No less brutal than it is melancholic, Dahmer doesn't exactly go for shock value, but it's certainly shocking.
2. Deranged: Confessions of a Necrohpile (1974)
Although Texas Chainsaw Massacre drew inspiration from the serial killer Ed Gein, it was Deranged that stayed more faithful to the real life murderer. Despite its misleading title (Ed Gein never had sex with corpses), Deranged is a low-budget horror masterpiece.
3. Monster (2003)
Aileen Wuornos is considered one of the few female serial killers known in human history. She had killed seven men before being put death by lethal injection in a decision that remains controversial to this day. Charlize Theron's remarkable and sensitive portrayal of Wuornos in Monster landed her an Academy Award.
4. Summer of Sam (1999)
Although David Berkowitz is not the focal point of Summer of Sam, Spike Lee's movie uses the backdrop of the murders to play out several dramas set in the Bronx. The film explores the socio-cultural ramifications of the Son of Sam murders moreso than the actual murders themselves.
5. The Snowtown Murders (2011)
A deeply disturbing film, Snowtown explores the emotions behind some of the most violent crimes committed in Australia. This brutal depiction of family violence and true malevolence goes beyond what is normally depicted in horror films.
6. M (1931)
Widely considered one of the greatest movies ever made, M by Fritz Lang is supposedly based on the real life killings of Peter Kürten, nicknamed "The Vampire of Düsseldorf." The movie was banned by Nazis in 1934.
7. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)
Based on the life of Henry Lee Lucas and Ottis Toole, Henry reveived critical praise from Roger Ebert (a reviewer known to detest the entire genre of horror), who claimed that the film dealt "honestly with its subject matter, instead of trying to sugar-coat violence as most 'slasher' films do."