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Biopic Movies
I'm hard to please when it comes to this kind of movie.  Biopics play heavy on drama, and I don't care much for drama.  However, if it's a good film biography, we can all take something from it.  This sort of film is more for educational purposes, I feel, than entertainment.  Biopics that have a dishonest, Hollywood, sensationalist feel are not welcome in my movie collection.


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"Beyond the Doors" (1984) [aka "Down on Us"]
"Dahmer" (2002)
"The Doors" (1991)
"Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story" (1993)
"Ed Gein" (2000)
"Stoned" (2005)
"Ted Bundy" (2002)



Dahmer (2002)-  BORING!  Who would think a movie about a legendary serial killer could be so boring!  It's 102 minutes, and ALL of it dwells on Jeffrey Dahmer's homosexuality.  Dahmer was gay, and he hated himself for what he was, so he hurt and/or killed everyone he came into contact with.  A good movie would have established that in a total of about 20 minutes, then moved onto the story.  In reality, Dahmer was known to have killed seventeen men; this movie shows two...and spreads it throughout the whole movie via incoherent flashbacks.  This movie doesn't even touch on Jeffrey Dahmer's cannibalism, which was the most hair-raising thing about this case on the news.  "Dahmer" doesn't show us how he was caught and arrested, there's nothing about the trial, and nothing about his experience in prison.  A little card at the end of the movie tells us he was beaten to death in prison just two years into his life sentence.  How come we're not told more about that?  Basically, this movie tells us nothing except that he was an angry gay guy.

    I guess Jeremy Renner did a good enough job of portraying Jeffrey Dahmer...he just didn't get to do anything!  Bruce Davison played a cool character as Jeffrey's father, Lionel, who really tried to help out his son back in his teenage years, but the scenes with Lionel were really just filler.  It didn't have much to do with anything that Jeffrey Dahmer did.  If Lionel had served some inspiration for Jeffrey's killings, then it would've been important to show him.  But I think this movie just wanted to let us know Jeffrey had a father and grandmother and that's about as deep as it went.  As far as characters go, Artel Kayaru had the most interesting part as Rodney, an intended victim of Dahmer's that was lucky enough to not be killed.  Rodney was kind of funny and likable.  But the whole movie falls short on being informative about the Jeffrey Dahmer case or entertaining.

    Final analysis:  If you're curious about the Jeffrey Dahmer case, you're better off watching one of the investigative reports from the news for information and entertainment value.  Don't waste your time on boring, dry "Dahmer".

Cast:

Jeremy Renner as Jeffrey Dahmer
Bruce Davison as Lionel Dahmer
Kate Williamson as Jeffrey's Grandma
Artel Great as Rodney [credited as Artel Kayaru]
Matt Newton as Lance Bell
Dion Basco as Khamtay

Director & Writer- David Jacobson

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Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story (1993)
-  Exciting!  This is definitely not a 100% true biography, but the basic events are true enough.  It's a very "Hollywoodized" version of Bruce Lee's life story.  It doesn't at all touch on his mysterious death, but more than gives us a good look into his character and what happened in his life.

    Bruce Lee, as you should know, became the world's most celebrated martial artist in and out of film.  He had a slow, but steady rise to fame.  On the edge of international superstardom with the film "Enter the Dragon", Bruce Lee died just three weeks before the legendary film opened in theaters.

    His life outside of movies was just as thrilling as his onscreen adventures.  That's what this movie really brushes on.  Jason Scott Lee does a wonderful job as Bruce Lee.  I really enjoyed the whole cast.  This is quite a story and one that can't be missed.

Cast:

Jason Scott Lee as Bruce Lee
Lauren Holly as Linda Lee
Robert Wagner as Bill Krieger
Sven-Ole Thorson as The Demon
Iain M. Parker as Brandon Lee
Michelle Tennant as Shannon Lee
Forry Smith as Green Hornet
Van Williams as Green Hornet Director
Shannon Lee as Party Singer
Rob Cohen as Enter the Dragon Director
Clyde Kusatsu as History Teacher

Director- Rob Cohen
Writers- Robert Clouse (author, "Bruce Lee: The Biography"), Linda Lee Cadwell (author, "Bruce Lee: The Man Only I Knew"), Edward Khmara, John Raffo, and Rob Cohen (screenplay).

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Ed Gein (2000)
-  Originally known as "In the Light of the Moon".  "Ed Gein" is a better title for this movie and makes more sense.  I normally don't care for movies about psychos.  This is a bit better done than most.  "Ed Gein" is made to be more of a straight-ahead biopic rather than an exploitative Hollywood flick.  This movie was not made to celebrate the killing; it simply tells the story of a mad killer.  Anyone who asks themselves the question, "Who was this guy?" will get a definitive answer.

    Outwardly, Ed Gein was an easygoing guy, but always a bit odd to the people of Plainfield, Wisconsin.  No one expected that he was the victim of lifelong abuse by his parents, both physical and verbal.  Ed Gein's sordid family life scarred him emotionally and affected him mentally.  Ed's mother Augusta, in particular, was an extreme religious fanatic.  Her forced readings of Bible horror stories to Ed, from childhood to middle age, encouraged a deeper fascination of human mutilation.  His feelings and actions remained repressed until after his mother died.  Once Ed lost guidance from his controlling mother, he began to carry out his twisted fantasies.  At first, he simply dug up corpses from the cemetery to fulfill his guilty pleasures.  Then he moved onto actually killing people before he was caught and arrested.  Declared legally insane, Ed Gein was institutionalized for the rest of his life.

    This was filmed well and although there are a few moments of explicit violence, much of the violence is implied.  The filmmakers weren't trying to make this over-the-top or hard to watch.  We actually have an empathy for Ed Gein and can see why he was so disturbed.  This film isn't promoting violence or stating that it's okay in any manner, but we do see how Ed Gein was driven to his actions.  "Ed Gein" does a good job of showing the title character and the supporting cast as real people, even those that are doomed.  I'd recommend this film for college history classes.

    Steve Railsback did a commendable job as Ed Gein.  Other standout performers include Carol Mansell, Carrie Snodgress, Sally Champlin, Steve Blackwood, and Pat Skipper.  Everyone did a great job, but the actors mentioned have the most interesting parts and they did very well with them.

Cast:

Steve Railsback as Ed Gein
Carrie Snodgress as August W. Gein
Brian Evers as Henry Gein, Ed's brother
Bill Cross as George Gein, Ed's father
Craig Zimmerman as Pete Anderson, Ed's friend
Carol Mansell as Collette Marshall, store owner
Sally Champlin as Mary Hogan, bar owner
Steve Blackwood as Brian, co-worker to Collette Marshall
Pat Skipper as Sheriff Jim Stillwell

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Ted Bundy (2002)-  Again, I'm not really into movies about psychos, but this one is excellent.  It's based on the true story of Ted Bundy, and views more like an action movie than we'd expect.  Even at that, we are still given depth into the man's extremely disturbed mind.  This isn't at all exploitative, but I think the real story is so fantastic that it just translates well into a movie.  The film moves quickly, and there's always something happening.  Ted Bundy is the bad guy, make no mistake, and at the end of the movie he gets the punishment he deserves.

    Ted Bundy was not on anyone's list of suspects when the killings first started.  Handsome and charismatic, Ted had no trouble getting female attention.  However, a deeper madness drove him to kidnap, rape, kill, even dismember an unknown number of attractive young women in a five-year killing spree.  It's known that he killed about 35 or 36 women, but it's speculated that he killed over 100 women, possibly even 150.

    It's a terrible pity that so many people had to die and so many lives had to be shattered in order for this movie to even be inspired.  I hope, and I believe the filmmakers hope, that people will see this and learn not to take someone at face value, and not to leave yourself vulnerable to strangers.  Nearly all of Bundy's victims took it on good faith that he was an honest, well-adjusted man and they paid the ultimate penalty.  Although this movie may not be 100% true to the real thing (hardly any biopic is), it is a very good representation of what actually happened.  Michael Reilly Burke does an excellent job of bringing the infamous serial killer to frightening reality.

Cast:

Michael Reilly Burke as Ted Bundy
Boti Bliss as Lee [credited as Boti Ann Bliss]
Steffani Brass as Julie, Lee's daughter
Tracey Walter as Randy Myers
Carol Mansell as Mrs. Myers
Jim Kundig as Lee's Husband

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