Movie News

Capone Raves Over DAHMER!!!

Published at: July 3, 2002, 7:37 a.m. CST by staff

Hey folks, Harry here... I've been hearing a lot about this film for a while now. It seems that it really does get to people in a way that other serial killer biopics haven't. Check out what Capone here has to say... you'll get what I'm talking about...

Hey, Harry. Capone in Chicago here, fresh from my weekend appearance with the creator of ROAD TO PERDITION, Max Allan Collins. As the author is many a novel set in and around Chicago, Max was definitely in his element in front of a large ground of Chicago-area fans. In addition to loading me up with signed copies of the ROAD TO PERDITION graphic novel and novelization, as well as a copy of his latest detective novel, “Chicago Confidential,” Max was kind enough to call on me to talk for a few minutes about how much I admired the film. I’m seeing another screening of it next week and am very excited to do so. To me, the film ranks as one of the great crime films of all time, and certainly rests comfortably as the finest one set in this fine city. But I’m here today to talk about a very different kind of crime film and a very different kind of criminal than the one portrayed by Tom Hanks in PERDITION. Let me tell you about a little film called DAHMER...

Filmmaker David Jacobson has done something bordering on remarkable. He’s given us a film about one the most notorious serial killers in history and gone almost out of his way to not focus on the killings themselves. Jacobson’s Jeffrey Dahmer (played with such authenticity by “Angel’s” Jeremy Renner) is the antithesis of a Hollywood-drawn serial killer. Dahmer is written as quiet, non-threatening, partly charming, intelligent, lonely, and desperate for stimulation is a unsatisfying life. What we don’t find out about Dahmer is almost as important and intriguing as what we do. First and foremost, Jacobson does not try to spell out the factors that lead to Dahmer’s murderous streak that resulted in the deaths and mutilations of 17 men.

In fact, the events in Dahmer are edited in a way that we can’t tell where we are in his life. In one scene, Dahmer’s father (nicely played by Bruce Davison) is humiliating him for owning gay porno; immediately after that Jeff is seducing a local high school wrestler with pot and beer; then we cut to Dahmer performing strange rituals with the barely breathing (perhaps, in certain scenes, not breathing at all) body of a young Asian man he’s seduced and drugged ; finally to a scene of a raging, screaming Dahmer swinging a bat at every tree in the woods. Chronology isn’t important. Understanding Dahmer’s day-to-day activities is as important to this film as trying to imagine what would drive a man to kill so relentlessly.

Above all else, Jacobson seems intent on not having us see Dahmer as evil or powerful. He’s a man of weakness, a self-hating homosexual, who can only have sex with men by drugging them first. What may strike some watchers of DAHMER is how normal Jeffrey’s life was. His father was a pest but no more so than most concerned and slightly disappointed parents. Part of the reason Dahmer got away with what he was doing for so long was because the men he was abducting we mostly unimportant people like himself. In some cases, we learn as much about Dahmer intended victims as we do about Dahmer himself. Renner portrayal isn’t in any way ironic or humorous; he doesn’t crack cannibal jokes or winking at the camera after a successful seduction. He plays Dahmer as a man almost suffocating in his skin. His life lacked intimacy, and his horrible solution to that problem was murder and necrophilia. It could have easily been overeating or too much television. The film doesn’t try to explain why Dahmer mind went one way rather than another, and it would have failed miserably had it tried.

In many ways, it’s probably too soon for this movie to come out, but I’m so glad it’s here in this form because I feel quite certain that many years from now a bigger-budget version of the Jeffrey Dahmer story will pollute our cinemas and lose the small but significant details of Jacobson’s direction and Renner’s note-perfect performance. Also, people probably aren’t quite ready to see Dahmer as a human being or tragic antihero (I don’t think even I’m ready for that) or a sad example of one version of the human condition. This is a film that attempts to get inside Dahmer’s head but not too far. Is there blood? Some but not a lot. And in some strange way, the film isn't even about the crimes of Jeffrey Dahmer; it's about his mind. If a theatre owner in your corner of the world is bold enough to play this film, check it out. I’m not sure of the release schedule for DAHMER, but it opens in Chicago at the Landmark Century Center theatre on July 12.

Capone

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Readers Talkback

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  • July 3, 2002, 7:50 a.m. CST

    Post before all the others...

    by Sackaroni

    At the very least this will probably be ten times better than Summer of Sam...

  • July 3, 2002, 8:45 a.m. CST

    Why is it when you kill a bunch of people you get a film made ab

    by Wee Willie

    Hmmm?

  • July 3, 2002, 8:52 a.m. CST

    Did anyone else read the comic "My Friend Dahmer" by Derf?

    by rev_skarekroe

    @$$holes? Anyone? sk

  • July 3, 2002, 9:48 a.m. CST

    When's Dahmer 2

    by Norm3

    & Dahmer 3 , Dahmer 4, they make these FREAKS in cult hero's!

  • July 3, 2002, 10:15 a.m. CST

    Dahmer 2 Electric Boogaloo?

    by Hexus

    Ugh. Glorification of the depraved. Like we need more of that. Jeff Dahmer was no anti-hero, nor was he a hero. If he is ANYONE'S protagonist, I would not let that fan within several hundred feet of me. (-2, Humpin' dead folks)

  • July 3, 2002, 10:18 a.m. CST

    For the love of god...

    by rogerconnery

    ...MORE typos and grammatically incorrect speech, PLEASE!!!

  • July 3, 2002, 10:43 a.m. CST

    RogerConnery

    by Hexus

    We duz R best hear at ain't it cul newz tlakbakc wif hour five grade edumacation. (-1, Spelling nazi) Sheesh. It's (Contraction for "It is.") not like everyone has the time to spell check their (Not they're or there) little opus before posting. Some of us have work to do, and shoot off a message as quickly as we can, you know? Go to Merriam Webster Dot Com. (I'm sorry for being snide, but lighten up, really.)

  • July 3, 2002, 10:49 a.m. CST

    I agree WendigoFett...

    by Hexus

    I'll (Contraction of "I will") watch a film like Terror Firmer, which has a woman "Manually Defetused" within the first five minutes, and guffaw, but I have ZERO interest in watching anything about a REAL PERSON who actually ATE PEOPLE. *Shudder*

  • July 3, 2002, 10:55 a.m. CST

    Living in Wisconsin, this flick hits a little too close to home.

    by Sod Off Baldric

  • July 3, 2002, 10:55 a.m. CST

    Living in Wisconsin, this flick hits a little too close to home.

    by Sod Off Baldric

  • July 3, 2002, 10:58 a.m. CST

    D'oh! Stupid enter key!

    by Sod Off Baldric

    Sorry for the double blank post. Anyway, what I was going to say was some sick freak kills a bunch of people and they make a movie about him, meanwhile the rest of us slowly waste away in mind-numbing, soul-crushing entry-level jobs. I constantly find new ways to hate this world.

  • July 3, 2002, 11:03 a.m. CST

    Don't hate the world...

    by Hexus

    There are worse things than an entry level job... Like an Exit level job, you know? Take it from a dot com casualty... Heh. The world is a swell place, it's just that a few of the people suck. Like the dead Asian children hump and eat types.

  • July 3, 2002, 11:47 a.m. CST

    what happened to that Bundy film by Matthew Bright?

    by EvilBunnyFrank

    I believe I read on this site that it was "The BOOGIE NIGHTS of serial killer movies!" I love true crime stories, but I'd rather watch something on Court TV or the like...a "documentary", rather than a poor reinactment (not that documentaries don't have their fair share of poor reinactments...but you catch what I'm slipping.) True Crime books are usually written really bad too. So I will probably see this film, but I doubt it would be better than Jeffrey Dahmer on Biography.

  • July 3, 2002, 12:06 p.m. CST

    "...a man almost suffocating in his skin..." --if only that coul

    by Eugene O

    Take out the "almost" and rejoice, folks.

  • July 3, 2002, 12:11 p.m. CST

    Henry: Portrait of a Serial Gerbil

    by durhay

    Masterninjathemesong!

  • July 3, 2002, 12:22 p.m. CST

    by DuckStar

    "His life lacked intimacy, and his horrible solution to that problem was murder and necrophilia. It could have easily been overeating or too much television." Something like 40% of people in the US overeat. everyone in the US watches too much television. Only deeply disturbed people kill and rape dozens of human beings. I think Dahmer had more problems than "a lack of intimacy."

  • July 3, 2002, 1:27 p.m. CST

    Hexus

    by andrecrabtree111

    Dude, I thought you had a job. What is it? Posting on this website?

  • July 3, 2002, 1:37 p.m. CST

    Was anyone else COMPLETELY turned off from this movie just becau

    by Shabba McDoo

    That's not to say it was bad review, though. It just really sounded like a half-assed view of what sounds like (or at least was described as) a shitty movie. Capone's entire synopsis of this movie read like a giant pity party for Jeffrey Dahmer, a sick fuck that doesn't even deserve to have a story in the first place. I'm not only disinterested (spelling?) in seeing a movie that shows this guy as a victim of society, but I'm also a little pissed that it's even being made to begin with. What's the moral to the story? Go kill some people and get your own movie?

  • July 3, 2002, 1:48 p.m. CST

    Crabby

    by Hexus

    Uh, job? Yeah. I work as a hired geek, and I sleep less than four hours a night. Lots of extra time. Heh. Aside from that, I have a 20% telecommute. Jealous?

  • July 3, 2002, 1:54 p.m. CST

    Hexy-boy

    by andrecrabtree111

    You BET I'm jealous!! I'd LOVE to get paid for biting the heads off of chickens! You'll have to enlighten me, though. What's a 20% telecommute. I'm not familiar with that lingo. Peace.

  • July 3, 2002, 2:03 p.m. CST

    Wrong, Perverted, and Evil

    by motoko

    If I make a movie with that as a title, will I become rich? Really, the sick, greedy people that have passed Hannibal Lecter off as a cool bad guy (like Darth Maul) are only appealing to the most vile impulses of people--facillitating the enjoyment of the horror of these sick crimes under the guise of entertainment, or in this case, it seems, a demented form of self-congratulatory "open-mindedness." I mean, really--who are we to judge how someone deals with insecurity? If he finds himself kidnapping, killing, raping, and eating someone's daughter, or brother, or just any old unsuspecting victim--who can blame him?

  • July 3, 2002, 3:41 p.m. CST

    played with such authenticity by

    by blckmgk13

    angel's? what is he referring to. I don't get it.

  • July 3, 2002, 4:11 p.m. CST

    Face it, YOU are to blame.

    by Philip Fitzroyce

    Dahmer was a product of society-don't condemn a film-maker for encouraging people to confront the dark side of their not-so-perfect world.

  • July 3, 2002, 4:31 p.m. CST

    Don't blame society.

    by mindKMST

    I hope you were being ironic. There is no such thing as society. The idea of 'society' is a simplification that we, human beings, use to make things easier to understand. Dahmer was an individual and as an individual he decided to kill and eat people. Whatever outside forces shape the minds of individuals, one must not forget that individuals are the ones who make decisions. This attitude that everything we do is attributable to some outside force is what is behind people wanting to censor media. I have not seen this film and I will not dismiss it as a glorification of a serial killer. Frankly, I look forward to seeing any film that presents new insights into any aspect of humanity.

  • July 3, 2002, 4:40 p.m. CST

    In my pants....

    by IAmJack'sUserID

    I found this new movie trivia (sorta) game that is pretty teh bomb. All you do is recite a famous movie line BUT add 'in my pants' to the end. Try it. It's teh fun. Ex. "Here's looking at you kid in my pants." Or for this film, "Please Mr. Dahmer, don't kill and eat me in my pants."

  • July 3, 2002, 6:36 p.m. CST

    Weeeee!! Let me try!!

    by EliCash

    No...I am your father in my pants. I'm King of the world in my pants!

  • July 3, 2002, 7 p.m. CST

    You've got what you want. Give da people da air in my pants.

    by IAmJack'sUserID

  • July 3, 2002, 7:23 p.m. CST

    by SimpsonsQuoteMan

    mindkmst, you are quite wrong. society does indeed exist, although it may not fit into the definition that you have that you also consider wrong. the fact that trends in populations are observable and measurable prove this. choose anything for example, like fashion. suddenly 1000 idividuals dont just choose to wear purple hats. through influence and interaction, people build needs and wants and satisfy these in different ways, in this example wanting acceptance and not to be deviant, so they where purple hats. i know this is ridiculously simple, but i hope i made some sort of point. dahmer is an extreme, a statistical/mathematical outlier that shows the range of human ability/sickness/depravity whatever. but he is still human and a man and there is no such thing as 'evil' that exists in anyone. he was sick, but people's minds are made sick, they get sick, they are forced sick either through their own weaknesses or wants, which are all imposed by existing in a society.

  • July 3, 2002, 8:06 p.m. CST

    CHEWING ON SOMEONE'S ASS

    by TomVee

    Saw an extended preview of this flick today. Looks like a watered-down HENRY. Straight to video for this one, babee! The reference to ANGEL is the TV show, I presume.

  • July 3, 2002, 8:09 p.m. CST

    It wasn't me, it was the one armed society.

    by mindKMST

    My point is this, society is an invented concept without any solid definition. To put blame on an abstract concept for the actions of individuals is not constructive. The idea that big ole Mr. Society walked up to Jeff Dahmer and decided he was going to be tough on him is ludicrous. Whether or not society exists is an argument of semantics and is totally irelevant(I just wanted to be an agitator) to my point. Human beings are animals and animals are conditioned by their environment. If Jeff Dahmer was conditioned to be a murderer , not just chemically imbalanced, this conditioning was perpetrated by society but by indivuals.

  • July 3, 2002, 8:26 p.m. CST

    people

    by Jessie_StVincent

    first off, i'm not a totally serious and humorless person...movies like "terror firmer" are hilarious because they are totally not trying to represent reality...but i have a real problem with movies like this one...it's bad enough that fictional serial killers like hannibal lecter and patrick bateman are

  • July 3, 2002, 8:45 p.m. CST

    If this is your first night at Fight Club, you have to fight in

    by IAmJack'sUserID

  • July 3, 2002, 10:26 p.m. CST

    hah fun game

    by PeanutGallery

    Not nearly frightened enough. I know what hunts you in my pants... By my life or death, I will protect you. You have my sword...in my pants Always a pleasure to meet a Jedi in my pants. WOOT. The new game for the 21st Century, thanks JACKSID

  • July 4, 2002, 1:43 a.m. CST

    My 15 minutes of fame.....Dahmer central....

    by JAGUART

    I had the occasion to work with Jeffery Dahmer's stepmother back when the whole serial killing unraveled. It was a small office of only five people, his step mother being one of them. I've also met his father, a reserved analytical chemist who is genuinely nice. Another woman in my office at the time had a husband who worked for the Cleveland newspaper and broke the story to the world through his stepmother. Jeffery's stepmother was concerned about him, and felt he was sick and got a top-notch lawyer to represent him in Milwaukee where the murders occured, so he would be confined to a mental institution, instead of prison. Unfortunately Jeffery's appetite for a certain demographic left the likelihood of him being put in an institution slim because if he was found innocent by reason of insanity, you'd have riots like the Rodney King debacle. During the eight month ordeal, Dahmer's stepmother was courted by movie producers but they kept wanting to make slasher films and she wanted to make a statement about the "human side" of Jeff's illness and the atrocities he committed, which no one was really interested in. It seems this new film may have captured the essence of the tale his family wish to be told. Somewhere around here I have copies of the original psychiatric notes that that were documented during the first 48 hrs of Jeffery's arrest, where he confessed everything. The details of the murders are told in rather, cold clinical fashion, and he would have a type of procedure that he would follow to remove the flesh from the victims. Many times he would have sex with the corpse or jack off into its spilt abdomen, like a makeshit vagina. He would also masterbate with the mouth of a severed head, if you can believe that shit. Our office of course would be Jeffery Dahmer joke central, and I remember one instance where we played a prank on one guy in our office when his stepmother retured from Milwaukee on Jeff-related business. We took a skeleton arm prop wrapped in plastic and tossed it on the guys desk and he almost shit. The was another funny time were we told the guy (he loved to eat, this guy) that there were "snacks" in the fridge. When he opened the door he discovred a latex prop head ( my boss is a huge Halloween nut) that we had placed in there and he almost had a heart attack. Some funny shit back then. Jeff's parent eventually gave away all his belonging to goodwill, including his clothes and silverware. Somewhere people are wearing his clothes and dining with his knives and forks and they don't even know it. In prison the other inmates would refer to him as the "Chop Chop Man". There was an internal "bounty" on him in prison, partly for his noteriety and partly because the minority population wanted revenge. He was eventually killed by another inmate while he was cleaning the bathrooms, he was beaten to death with a broom handle.

  • July 4, 2002, 1:59 a.m. CST

    You are all infants!!

    by Eugene O

    Don't be such cowards! If you can't sit through a movie about an unpleasant topic like serial killers--then just go back to sleep in your cribs (you know, the kind babies sleep in...not the gangsta smooth MTV kind). Saying that Dahlmer was "crazy" isn't an explanation for what he did...that's just an adjective used by the disinterested. Fine. go away. You can go watch cartoons now. BUT for anyone else, who he is and why he was [huh?] is pretty complex and, ultimately interesting. You know, in REAL LIFE Han Solo doesn't come back to rescue Luke and blow up the Death Star; in real life he kept the $$$ and kissed that sorry galaxy goodbye. Grow up...but more importantly, don't be freaked out by a goddamn MOVIE!!!!!!!!!

  • July 4, 2002, 11:38 a.m. CST

    by Philip Fitzroyce

    Perhaps it sounds naive to blame society- but think about how alienated Dahmer must've been to commit the horrors he did-who could possibly understand the way he felt andwho could help him? It's important to understand unusual people ike him cos not everyone wants to play the same game as everybody else.The rules do not appear to apply to everyone.

  • July 4, 2002, 11:39 a.m. CST

    Whoops!

    by Philip Fitzroyce

    See above. Thankyou.

  • July 4, 2002, 5:32 p.m. CST

    salacious zob mondo

    by ben murphy

    salacious, might your obsession w/the word pants have come from a small passage in a book called zob mondo...just curious...please, let me know

  • July 5, 2002, 2:54 a.m. CST

    what's the point, then?

    by ElGuapo

    if i am going to see a film about someone like dahmer - someone who actually lived and breathed and ate - then i'd really like to know what went on "inside". i'd like to know "why?". otherwise it's just what we already know and have read and seen and heard. surely the film should bring some insight. or have a point of view. but you tell me... "what we don

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