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Aileen - Life and Death of a Serial Killer
Aileen - Life and Death of a Serial Killer
Actors: Aileen Wuornos, Nick Broomfield, Terry Humphreys-Slay, Leitha Prather, Shirley Humphreys
Directors: Nick Broomfield, Joan Churchill
Genres: Documentary, Mystery & Suspense
R     2004     1hr 30min

Acclaimed director Nick Broomfield s vision takes you behind the sensational headlines of America s first female serial killer and into the true life and unbalanced mind of a woman trying to deal with a brutal past and an ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Aileen Wuornos, Nick Broomfield, Terry Humphreys-Slay, Leitha Prather, Shirley Humphreys
Directors: Nick Broomfield, Joan Churchill
Creators: Joan Churchill, Claire Ferguson, Jo Human
Genres: Documentary, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Documentary, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Columbia TriStar
Format: DVD - Color,Full Screen,Widescreen - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 06/01/2004
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 1hr 30min
Screens: Color,Full Screen,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English
Subtitles: French

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Movie Reviews

An Eerie Look At A Life
V. Marshall | North Fork, CA USA | 08/12/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This film is stunning. The real Aileen Wournos is alternately scary and sad. This documentary is openly revealing and will make you contemplate justice.

Aileen Wournos has been labeled a serial killer because of the murders she committed on 7 men who sought her services as a prostitute in Florida. Her story is depicted in the movie, "Monster," and after watching this film I give more credit to Charlene Theron (the actress who portrayed Wournos) because Theron really got her mannerisms down. Beyond the glory of the Hollywood movie however is a life that spun out of control. Wournos was born as a breech birth, abused drugs, came from a broken home, was sexually promiscuous and was ostracized from her home at 13 after giving birth to a baby and giving it up for adoption. So what, a lot of people experience the same circumstances and manage not to commit murder, right? Well in my opinion this case is as complicated as it gets. In this film, director Nick Broomfield brings to a head all of these questions and allows the public to see the behind the scenes mind of a notorious "serial killer," and how she got that way.

Wournos gives several interviews during 2002 to Broomfield and as the film progresses she changes. At first Wournos appears severely angry, completely devoid of manners and calculating. Her eyes are black and somehow eerie to peer into and her laugh is a wicked cackle. When she loses her temper she does look like a "monster" and is quiet scary. But as the time passes it becomes more than obvious that the woman is completely insane. Her story changes and her original plea of self-defense becomes cold-blooded murder and then she changes her tale back again. She suffers from paranoia and begins to think the police knowingly allowed her to murder in order to clean up abusive men from the streets of Florida. Wournos attempts to explain how the prison is rigged with sound waves in order to destroy her is where I lost it. This woman suffered her entire life and while I do not agree with her resorting to murder to appease her own weary soul I do feel our justice system owed her better treatment. Should insanity be punished by death? I questioned my own thoughts on the death penalty for days after watching this film.

Nick Broomfield did an excellent job on this stunning documentary, bringing up many necessary points regarding our justice system. For instance Wournos is given a psychiatric evaluation by 3 doctors a day before her execution and they only interviewed her for 15 minutes. Being a layperson and watching Wournos speak for 15 minutes I was able to see that she is totally and sadly insane, why didn't the real doctors? One of the more emotional moments of the film is when Broomfield tells Wournos that he spoke with her real mother. Wournos becomes eerily enraged and horribly violent but after watching the mother's interview it is plain to see Wournos is not the only person at fault in her life. Wournos made a statement before her death stating "I'll be back," and sadly I feel her spirit exists in many young lives that are left on the streets and forgotten, only to suffer from abuse and neglect because they cannot conform to "normal" society. Yes, murder is wrong but so is the abuse and torture that accompanies all those "innocent" sexual perverts who prey on our lost and lonely youths. Wournos was executed, she should have been institutionalized in a mental hospital and probably behind bars for life, but how many others will suffer her same fate? I hope we can all learn something from this important documentary.
Nick Broomfield's second Aileen Wuornos documentary
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 06/02/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I saw Patty Jenkin's "Monster" but did not see British documentarian Nick Broomfield's 1992 work "Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer" before I watched his 2003 postscript "Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer." All of this happened after Aileen Wuornos was executed in Florida in 2002 for killing seven men who picked her up as a prostitute during the 1980s (one of who was trying to save her). Even without seeing "The Selling of Serial Killer" it is clear that the 1992 documentary was about how Wournos' flaky lawyer, the born again Christian who "adopted" her, and the cops who worked her case were all trying to make money off of the "America's first female serial killer" (the title taken from the "Guiness Book of World Records" is hyperbole, but what else is new). At the start of "Aileen" we learn that a whole bunch of cops resigned, which would seem to vindicate Bloomfield's position. The original documentary matters when you watch "Aileen" because in many ways this one is about Broomfield having to deal with Aileen's confessions to the murders as he stubbornly holds on to the idea that at least the first killing really was in self-defense. That is what he wants to talk about at the end while, in a profoundly ironic twist, Wuornos wants to expand on the thesis of his first documentary and talk about how the cops knew she was killing man after the first one but let her keep doing it so they could get more money for selling the story rights. The question is whether Aileen is saying whatever she can to hasten her execution or if she has indeed told the truth, but Bloomfield refuses to believe it.Bloomfield (and his cinematographer and co-director Joan Churchill) go back to the beginning of Wuornos' story, taking us to the house and woods in which she lived in Michigan before hitch hiking to Florida and what she through would be a happier life. There is no doubt about her guilt, or her insanity for that matter, but it is also clear that her life was pretty much a complete tragedy before she started killing men. All of her victims were essentially random choices and you know that in their grief their families wanted to know "Why?" "Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer" just shows that trying to answer that question, even in part and only inadequately, is not going to provide much peace.Broomfield is clearly against the death penalty although making a case against the practice is only a tangent in the documentary that emerges mainly when he films the final interview with Wuornos the night before her execution and she is clearly mentally ill. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that mental illness is not an impediment to the death penalty, but Wuornos' ranting and raving at the end certainly gives you pause. Broomfield's most interesting assertion against the death penalty is that states without it have lower murder rates, which may be only correlational but still something to think about. My thought on the death penalty has been that since it costs the state about a $1 million to execute someone in this country we could surely take half that money and hire more cops and do other things to decrease the murder rate, but then I have always had this stubborn pragmatic streak.There are no easy answers here, but everybody should have known that going into this documentary. "Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer" is an indirect examination of Wournos, her murders, and the death penalty. At the end we see the place where Wournos' ashes were scattered and the credits roll as we listen to the song she picked for her "funeral," Natalie Merchant's "Carnival." Maybe there is some significant message contained in that song, but Broomfield does not stop to contemplate it as such. Instead we get to consider it on our own as just another piece in the horror show that was Aileen Wournos' life and death."
Well done creepy story. Definately recommended.
Linda Linguvic | New York City | 07/10/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is a documentary about Aileen Wuomos, who was executed in Florida after ten years on death row for murdering seven men. Here we meet the real Aileen, a prostitute who worked the truck routes in Florida. We get to meet some of the people in her life. And we can clearly see that, especially at the end of the film, she is insane. Aileen had a horrible life. She comes from Michigan and grew up without a mother in a brutal household. When she was 13 she had a baby who was given up for adoption. After that, she wasn't let back into her home and actually lived in the woods. In Michigan this meant freezing in cold and snow. That's why she went to Florida, where it is warm. She was a lesbian and had a few years of happiness with her lover, but her lover testified against her at the trial after tricking her to reveal her guilt in a series of taped phone calls. This all should have made me feel sorry for her, but I couldn't. In the trial she testified that each of the men she murdered abused her in some way. She gave very graphic testimony about this but the jury didn't believe her. Later, after she was on death row awhile she said she made it all up and that she murdered them because she wanted her money. And then she whispered to the filmmaker when she thought she was off camera that she was, in fact, abused. She's angry a lot. And she also smiles sweetly at times, especially when she greets the filmmaker. And then she goes into her story about how it was the cops who let her murder because they wanted to sell her story to the movies. She is probably paranoid about this. But of course, there is a movie out now that seems to indicate that Hollywood knew that this would make a good story. I felt the documentary was well done by the British filmmaker, Nick Bloomfield. I got the feeling he, too, had mixed feelings about Aileen and was trying to tell her story as well as bring out the truth. This documentary goes right up to the execution. And even though we don't see that actual event, we learn what she wanted for dinner and what she wanted to wear. Also, although she talked a lot about religion and Jesus, she never wanted to talk to a minister. It's a creepy story and it's well done. Definitely recommended."
Powerful Documentary
J. Pinkerton Snoopington | Toronto, Ontario, Canada | 12/21/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Nick Broomfield's companion piece to his 1992 documentary "Aileen: The Selling of a Serial Killer," (both about notorious prostitute/serial killer Aileen Wuornos, the subject of Charlize Theron's "Monster") is creepy, powerful, thought provoking, and perversely entertaining. As well, it offers more insights on Wuornos and her crimes than "Monster" did. It includes gripping interviews with an almost certainly insane Wuornos shortly before her death (where she proves to be a coarse, inconsistent, and strangely likable screen presence). As well, there are interviews with Wuornos' mother, her best friend, some of her former lovers, and her former lawyer. Broomfield (a sort of Michael Moore with manners) also talks about Wuornos' turbulent life in detail, with such disturbing facts as she slept in the snow in the woods, was molested as a child, and from the age of nine was a prostitute. Certainly not for the faint of heart, but highly recommended.
The DVD is in widescreen (1.85:1). The image is roughly broadcast quality, with few scratches. Being a documentary, these details barely matter. The only extra is a trailer for "Monster.""