Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Justin Chambers, Robin Tunney, Rory Culkin, William Mapother, Brad William Henke
Director: Alexander Bulkley
Genres: Indie & Art House, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense
Based on true events THE ZODIAC is a psychological thriller detailing a string of gruesome murders in Northern California in the late 1960s.A small town cop struggling to protect his family and coping with the explosive me... more »
A Notorious Serial Killer Still On The Loose? Don't Expect
K. Harris | Las Vegas, NV | 02/08/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)
"As filmgoers might anxiously be awaiting the 2007 release of David Fincher's "Zodiac" with Jake Gyllenhaal, I thought it might be prudent to point out that this is not that film. No, this is 2005's "The Zodiac" which covers much of the same territory. Over a period of years during the sixties and seventies, the San Francisco area was plagued by a series of seemingly random murders perpetuated by a man known only as the Zodiac killer. Using the press and taunting the police, Zodiac became one of the more prominent "celebrity" serial killers with his need to be in the spotlight. There are many different angles that a movie of this type can take-- standard police procedural, through the eyes of the murderer, showcase the press involvement, highlight the victims and a community in fear. "The Zodiac" certainly dabbles in all of these areas, but without providing much insight about any of them. Strangely, though, much of the film is spent with the lead detective's son and his growing interest in the case.
But this being a fictional account, I was open to see what this might add to the drama. Sadly, not much. "The Zodiac" covers the early days of the killing spree centering mainly in the Vallejo area. Justin Chambers (TV's Grey's Anatomy) stars as the detective obsessed with finding the murderer. With his low-key speaking voice and stoic facial expressions, Chambers lacks a big-screen presence that might have made this more compelling entertainment. Of course, it doesn't help matters that we don't really know anything about him. His wife, Robin Tunney, has a thankless role--playing equal parts frightened by the killings and annoyed by her husband's absence. But again, we don't really know anything about her. As for their son, Rory Culkin, guess what I'm going to say--aside from his interest in the case, we don't really know anything about him. This might be one of the blandest, most unremarkable families to hit the screen in quite some time. Why focus on the family aspect if you're not going to develop anything with it?
The police procedural is not a strong factor, either. And the press? That story thread is so vague that when the detective is openly hostile toward the reporter near the end of the picture, you wonder why. The film never delivers the answer. This film literally touches on everything, but delivers almost nothing. Of course, the serial killer is represented with the requisite quick edits and jarring camera angles-- a device that became cliche' 15 years ago. And through various TV clips and radio announcements, the movie seems to be making a social statement that the violence of the era is what produced the Zodiac killer. But it's not a particularly effective or original idea. The one thing, however, I did like is that the moodiness and sense of dread increased as the picture moved on. Then just as something interesting happened and you think things might turn around, stunningly the movie just ends. I was caught completely by surprise.
I didn't expect much from "The Zodiac," truth be told. If this screenplay had to be produced, it was probably more suitable to a TV production. I wouldn't recommend this picture unless you have a die-hard interest in true life crime stories--even then, there's not much meat on these bones. KGHarris, 02/07."
"I am waiting for a good movie about me"
M. J Leonard | Silver Lake, Los Angeles, CA United States | 09/04/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"With a much higher budget Zodiac could have indeed been a much better film, but as it stands, the movie is a bit of a grind. Based on One of California's most infamous unsolved killing sprees, director Alexander Bulkley and his co-screenwriter brother, Kelly Bulkley have made a rather strange film based on the string of murders that terrorized the San Francisco Bay Area in the late 1960s and '70s.
Taking place almost entirely in Vallejo, the filmmakers essentially end the movie halfway through the narrative, so we only get part of the story of this killer, who even today remains at large. The hero of the film, fictitious Vallejo police Detective Matt Parish (a very good Justin Chambers) who becomes obsessed with cracking the case, to the detriment of his family. Repeatedly beaten down, he becomes consumed, spending long nights at the office and finally turning to drink.
As pressure from his chief (Philip Baker Hall) to solve the crimes mounts, Matt loses himself emotionally in all the ciphers, codes and clues the murderer uses to taunt the police and press. At home his wife Laura (Robin Tunney) waits, becoming increasingly paranoid that the killer is coming for her. Their son Johnny (Rory Culkin) mopes through the film becoming as obsessed by the case as his father, but nobody really notices or cares.
The film's biggest problem is that it has the look of a straight to video production, with most of it shot in irritatingly close-up so that at times it becomes almost impossible to see what is going on. The period detail however, when you can see it, is mostly well done. On a limited budget, Bulkley does a good job of situating the story in a definite time and place.
Images of the moonwalk, Nixon, Vietnam and Black Panthers flicker across TV screens. Period details in the rural communities of the North Bay Area read convincingly without calling too much attention to the cars, hairdos and clothes. Bulkley ends up telling the story without embellishments but also without much excitement.
The scenes showing the zodiac killer (Marty Lindsey) are your usual serial killer clichés, with shots of the back of his head, and walking from a phone booth, and in his lair. The only journalist (William Mapother) seen covering the case - who ironically ends up having a lucrative career from the killings, ascending to the job of network news anchor - is portrayed as ruthless and self-righteous as he reports that the police are inexperienced in the matter and totally oblivious to the real identity of the killer.
For those of us who are unfamiliar with the Zodiac murders, the story is indeed quite compelling, but also somewhat frustrating. With no one ever caught, there can be no resolution to the story and there's also no resolution for the characters in this movie who deserve some sort of closure for all their angst and torment.
At the end, we are told that the Zodiac's final letter included the line "I am waiting for a good movie about me." He may have to wait a bit longer, for David Fincher's bigger budget version starring Jake Gyllenhaal is due to be released next year. Mike Leonard September 06.
PSEUDODOCUMENTARY NOT POTENT ENOUGH
Michael Butts | Martinsburg, WV USA | 09/18/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"THE ZODIAC chronicles the killing spree of the infamous serial killer who between 1969 and 1978 claimed responsibility for 37 killings. The madman changed his victim backgrounds, his modus operandi and his weapons in his baffling spree (someone on the IMDB says the killer was identified in the past few years, but I'm not sure of that?). Anyway, this movie is more documentary in style, and the producers did well in capturing the ambience of the late sixties. Justin Chambers (GREY'S ANATOMY) stars as Detective Parish, who becomes saddled and obsessed with finding the culprit. Robin Tunney and Rory Culkin are his family and the movie shows what a drain the murders have on them, especially the son who becomes as obsessed with the killings as much as his dad. The movie tends to focus on the media's sensationalism and while it has its merits, it doesn't give us enough of the Zodiac to entice us into being totally absorbed in the film. Heartthrob Brian Bloom supplies the voice of the Zodiac and is effectively creepy. Nice try but not a total success."
Decent Film with Fairly Detailed Accounts of the Zodiac Kill
Tsuyoshi | Kyoto, Japan | 07/29/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)
"The story of San Francisco serial killer is so famous that I don't think I need a plot summery here. The strength of "The Zodiac" directed by Alexander Bulkley lies in the minute details of the terrifying murders in California's Bay Area that started in 1968. It is a bit unfortunate, however, that this was soon followed by David Fincher's version, which boasts more minute details about the gruesome murder cases by the Zodiac Killer.
It is obvious that director and co-writer Alexander Bulkley and his brother and co-writer Kelley Bulkeley (different spells) did extensive researches for this film as the film's references to several key items (like one Fay Wray film, for instance) testifies. The re-created murder scenes are pretty scary and the photography is decent.
But ... sorry, the film stops there. Anyone who has read books and articles about the Zodiac Killer (or those who have already seen Fincher's film) would not find anything new here. And what is more disappointing is that the characters - Justin Chambers as the inspector; Philip Baker Hall (also in Fincher's version) as his boss; Robin Tunney as his wife; Rory Culkin as their kid who is, it seems, attracted to the case - all these elements are thrown in the film's standard crime thriller sub-plot, which is not interesting.
This is not a bad film, but it still needs a new, original approach to the material."