Before Bundy was arrested his girlfriend Elizabeth Kendall noticed a string of disturbing hints. *There are spoilers to the film*
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile
The new Netflix film ‘Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile’ tells the horrid story of the serial killer, Ted Bundy, portrayed by Zac Efron. This time, the story is from a brand new perspective. His longtime girlfriend, Elizabeth Kendall, portrayed by Lily Collins. In 1981, Elizabeth wrote a memoir titled, ‘The Phantom Prince: My Life With Ted Bundy.’
It was published by a small Seattle press and printed a few years before the publisher shut down in 1988. The script of this new film is pretty faithful to the book, from Elizabeth meeting Ted at a Seattle bar to them discussing marriage and the detailed crimes committed by Ted. Although not everything is the same.
What the producers changed
The real-life Elizabeth found clues before Ted was arrested. There was a series of kidnappings that happened in Washington state in 1974. They were unsolved when Kendall first saw in the Seattle Times a police composite of the suspect named ‘Ted’ she noticed that it looked like her lover. In the news report it described that the suspect had used crutches to knock out the victim, Elizabeth recalled seeing crutches in Ted’s home.
These clues inspired her to make her first call to the police in 1974. While she was on the phone, she lost her nerve and hung up. Around a month later, with the abductions now happening in Utah just after Ted moved to Salt Lake City, she called the police again. The police stated that they had already cleared Ted, but Elizabeth still continued to think back on the clues that pointed to Ted’s involvement.
It was all clear, from the crowbar he took from her house to a hatchet under the passenger seat of his car, to plaster of Paris she once found in Bundy’s desk drawer which would explain the suspect’s arm cast.
In the film, it is entirely different, Elizabeth believes that Ted has nothing to do with the crimes being committed until the very end of the film.
The film producer, Joe Berlinger stated, “In the book, there were a few clues along the way that made her scratch her head, as it would anybody, I want the audience to invest in the relationship between Zac and Lily, and to believe that relationship so that by the end of the film, when she finally holds him accountable, I wanted the audience to also feel the same level of disgust that she’s feeling because, for the first half of the movie, you were almost lulled into a sense of, well, maybe he’s not such a bad guy. I want people to feel revolted at the end and I think that would have been impossible to do if, in the first 10 or 15 minutes, she finds a knife in the glove compartment.”
Instead of having Elizabeth notice the clues, the filmmakers made the clues subtle. An example would be when Ted and Elizabeth go dog shopping. The dog begins viciously barking at Ted, which the couple jokes about later on in the film. In real life, there were no warning signs from any animals.
Joe Berlinger said, “To me, it’s about animals know, when the dog did not get along with Bundy, that’s a clue, but it’s not like finding a knife. I did my own interpretation of having some clues along the way.”
In the film, Ted is consistently telling Elizabeth to read the book Papillon. The book details a man’s incarceration for murder and his obsessions with escaping, which gives Ted hope that he will eventually get out of prison. After Elizabeth comes to visit Ted after his first escape from Aspen courthouse, Ted gives her a copy of Papillon as a gift, stating that he had read it four times.
Dating a colleague
In the movie, once Ted’s relationship with Carol Ann Boone gets more serious, Elizabeth began spending more time with her colleague Jerry, portrayed by Haley Joel Osment. In the book, Elizabeth turned to a man named Hank, whom she met at Alcoholics Anonymous.
Disturbing ending scene
At the end of the film, Elizabeth visits Ted as he awaits his execution. After being sentenced to Death Row in 1979, she brings a photo to prison of a victim with her head cut off demanding Ted, “You need to release me Ted, Tell me what happened to her head.”
At first Ted stated that he doesn’t know, and suggests that animals may have attacked the victim. Finally, in an powerful scene, Bundy breathes on glass separating them and writing a word with his finger, “Hacksaw.”
In the book, Ted hinted towards his guilt in a final phone call with Elizabeth saying, “There is something the matter with me, I just couldn’t contain it. I found it for a long, long time, it was just too strong.” He never directly admitted to the murders to Elizabeth.
Joe Berlinger stated, “We’re in an era of accountability, I wanted Liz’s character to really hold him accountable at the end and make him say those words to her face,” Berlinger says. “That was a bit of a departure from the book.”
Ted attempted to kill Elizabeth
Another big moment happened in Elizabeth and Ted’s final phone call that was cut from the film. After Ted hinted towards his guilt during the conversation, Elizabeth asked if he ever tried to kill her. Ted admits that he once closed the damper at Elizabeth’s house while she was sleeping so the smoke could not go up the chimney. When he left, he put a towel under the door so the smoke couldn’t escape. Elizabeth wrote in her book that she woke up coughing after a night of drinking.
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