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Secret Life Jeffrey Dahmer
Secret Life Jeffrey Dahmer
Actors: Carl Crew, Cassidy Phillips, Donna Stewart Bowen, Jeanne Bascom, G-Jo Reed
Director: David R. Bowen
Genres: Drama, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense
NR     2002     1hr 39min


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Movie Details

Actors: Carl Crew, Cassidy Phillips, Donna Stewart Bowen, Jeanne Bascom, G-Jo Reed
Director: David R. Bowen
Creators: Carl Crew, David R. Bowen, Bill Osco, Chuck Record, Donald J. Cayea, Eric N. Baker
Genres: Drama, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Drama, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Spectrum Entertain
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 03/26/2002
Release Year: 2002
Run Time: 1hr 39min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 3
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
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Movie Reviews

Low budget but accurate and with a very convincing Dahmer
Miketheratguy | Wisconsin, USA | 03/29/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"THE SHORT: Low budget and unintentionally silly sometimes, this is nonetheless the best telling of the Dahmer story. Forget the sloppy, artsy, woefully miscast early 2000s film "Dahmer"- This is a much more straightforward, accurate version, and with a very true portrayal of the killer.

THE LONG: This is a tough film to review, since several factors need to be taken into account. Let's filter the more judgmental..Ok, are you interested in the facts concerning the serial killer of Jeffrey Dahmer? Can you withstand an independent, low-budget film? Are you objective enough to NOT dislike a film solely due to its lack of stars or professional look?

Well, if you said yes then you should have a mind open enough to handle this one. This film is an almost 100% accurate dramatization of Dahmer's adult life and subsequent murder spree, and is styled as an autobiography. It isn't a glamorized, unrealistic account that unfortunately the theatrical film "Dahmer" (2001) was. The movie begins with Dahmer, played quite convincingly by Carl Crew, sitting in the police car as they raid his apartment. His thoughts of what got him there are presented to us in a past-tense, narrated style that accurately explains much of Dahmer's psychoses and motives which led him to commit murder almost 20 times.

Some of the reviews here say that this actor is too big, Dahmer was really frail, the 2001 Dahmer was more realistic, etc. I just wanted to say that I don't believe that they've researched the case very thoroughly. Dahmer was often thought of as a handsome man, quiet and unassuming yet startlingly strong when he went for the kill. His last intended victim, Tracy Edwards who escaped, told police how surprised he was at Dahmer's mood shifts and sudden strength. Dahmer was a man of duality, and the fact that so many people mention the more recent film "Dahmer" proves to me that not a lot of reviewers know the details of his life and appearance. Having no allegiance to one film over the other and having studied this case and been raised in Wisconsin, I can say with certainty that this film is the most accurate.

We get to know the character, both the devious side as well as the side that came moderately close to living a normal life. It isn't anyone's fault but Dahmer's that 17 people died, but being a criminal psychology student, I was pleased to see more than just his animalistic side represented, truthfully, in this film. You see him having a loving relationship with his grandmother as well as trying to find companionship, but of course we witness the side of him that everyone remembers.

It should be noted that there is little actual onscreen violence, with much of it suggestive in shots such as spattering of blood or a body being struck through a blurred curtain. You do see two deaths that I remember, one being a pretty bloodless throat slash and the other being a man shoved alive into a barrel of acid. While you don't see anything graphic, this cruelty and the convincing acting of both Crew and his victim make this a disturbing scene. And while the actual onscreen mutilation is kept low, you will see the results. There is a prop hand and head or two, but it seems as if this was to disturb the viewer and doesn't look to be exploitive. Besides, these fake anatomical pieces are where the budget limitations are visible. Although acceptable, they look enough like fakes to not be too disturbing.

The film actually concludes before Dahmer's death in 1994, due to the fact that it was released a year or two prior. That's about the only big difference from the real story, and the information that remains is, as I've stated, very true to the facts. The film quality could be better, the dialogue often sounds a little too quiet, and the acting of several characters IS a bit hammy, but it's not overboard (and again, Crew plays Dahmer very well and even uses several of his real-life statements- the filmmakers did their homework.).

In my opinion, this is a flawed but ultimately honest and serious look into one of America's most remembered serial killers. I think it's safe to say the film is memorable as well, and I respect it for overcoming its limitations to deliver the story in a believable manner, aided by a thoroughly excellent Carl Crew as Dahmer.

GOOD! Low Budget but true to the facts
prim | 09/16/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I'll tell you right away NOT to go with the 2002 film about Jeffrey Dahmer, and I'll explain why after I tell you why this one is so good. As a criminal psychology student, I've read and re-read the Dahmer case, and this film does the tragic situation justice. It is almost entirely accurate with only a few minor dramatic moments added for overall effect. The acting varies, but Carl Crew as Dahmer is unbelievably accurate. The real Dahmer was conflicted and introverted, but also surprisingly strong and dominating when trying to get what he wanted, and both aspects of this personality are shown here. The film doesn't play him too sympathetically since we know what a monster he was, but it DOES explain his struggles with his identity and upbringing, which led to his psychoses. The only real negatives of the film are in its more apparent budget constraints, such as the somewhat diluted audio and video stock.
This by no means makes it unwatchable, but of course it doesn't have the crisp digital quality of, say Star Wars. But in honesty I believe this just lends the film a certain charm, and you should view it for what it is: An accurate representation of the Dahmer story, even if it does have an unintentionally cheesy moment or two. As for the newer Dahmer film, its main actor looks and sounds like a high school kid, its facts are flawed, and it jumps back and forth chronologically which just hides the sloppy handling of the facts. Stick with the older version here instead.
Oh ps: THE SECRET LIFE OF JEFFREY DAHMER was filmed before his 1994 death occurred, so that isn't in the film.
Overall, an honest look at Dahmer that couldn't help being hindered by a modest budget. Worth a look."
Worth the $4, indeed
Ian M. Enriquez | 12/23/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)

"David Crew, who plays Dahmer, also wrote this film. Understand? This, made in '93 or '94, before Dahmer's death, is low-budget, independent, exploitation cinema. The film quality is poor. I thought, from the cover, that I was buying a made for tv movie. The Secret Life is more like any cheap horror movie, this from the producers of films 'Camp Blood' and 'Mr. IceCream Man.' I don't believe the names of the victims have been changed; and on screen you see over ten murders, most are taken to with an axe, though one gets a skewer in the back, another a hammer to the head, and one, drugged earlier, is put in a barrel of acid, crying, "Me feet feel like they're on fire," as Jeffrey puts the cover on. David Crew, while sounding like that guy from the Candy Man movies, actually looks like Dahmer though. You may think, looking at the cover, that he doesn't, but he really does. That's probably what makes this film ok. It feels tired at times, but is ok, perhaps even good, if you don't mind those trashy horror films at most video stores.
DVD features trailer for The Secret Life and ten or so other films, including Meet The Feebles."
Ian M. Enriquez | San Francisco, California United States | 12/09/2002
(2 out of 5 stars)

"This film lacks a good narrative to truly capture the importance of the Dahmer story. The film alludes to incidents without telling the audience what they are talking about. For example, you find out much later that the woman he talks to in the film is his parole officer, but what was he on parole for? Who was the preacher at the gay bar? The story of the Asian boy that almost got away is completely glossed over when it was such an incredible part of the whole incident. They do not mention that the boy was 14 or the racist remarks the police made after leaving the boy with certain death! So much of the incredible story was left out, they did not even mention that he ate some of his victims. Casting a large actor as Dahmer also takes away the idea that a meeker man could be capable of overpowering his victims. You barely get to see him in his everyday life; this takes away from the terrifying reality that people are not always what they seem. There are only three types of scenes in the film: Dahmer with his victims, Dahmer with a yelling neighbor, Dahmer with his parole officer. It gets fairly redundant. You do not get to know Dahmer outside of his perversion. The best word to capture this film is "lacking". It ends a little over an hour so the film could have easily taken 40 more minutes to show us more about the man behind the murders."