Very rarely will I attend a first-run movie. I’m usually too poor or too overbooked, so I wait until a movie hits the dollar theatres or I wait until it comes out on DVD and borrow it from the public library. (I’m about #200 for the DVD of The Black Dahlia!).
But I made an exception this afternoon. I went to the Drexel Gateway, near the Ohio State campus, and I saw Zodiac. It is fantastic. It’s directed by David Fincher (of Se7en and Panic Room fame), and tells the story of the Zodiac killer through the eyes of the personnel of The San Francisco Chronicle and the police departments of the various jurisdictions where Zodiac was killing. The Chronicle got into the story because Zodiac would flood them with letters and greeting cards between, or just after, murders. A bloody scrap of one murder victim’s shirt was enclosed in one letter. The police departments were all conscientiously searching, but they spent a lot of time chasing their tails because there was no effective way to communicate among the different departments–this was pre-Internet, pre-cell phone, and almost pre-fax.
The movie is based on two books by Robert Graysmith, who at the time of the killings was an editorial cartoonist for The Chronicle. Graysmith is fascinated with the Zodiac at the expense of his social life, mental stability, and ultimately, his marriage.
I am sure that the Webmasters of another site, http://www.zodiackiller.com, have been ecstatic since the movie was released Friday. They run a very informative Website based in Oregon, and lately have been selling their product, The Ultimate Zodiac Video, online retooled as a DVD. I bought it on VHS last year, and the best title for it would have been Beavis and Butt-head’s Guide to Zodiac. Taking their video cameras, they go and visit the sites of the murders, including the ones in Riverside and Vallejo, California, and describe what happened, who was where, etc. That is okay–they have done their homework. But taking pictures of each other posing with beer cans, or smoking cigarettes, or goofing around in front of the camera is not. It showed no respect for the dead at all. What really infuriated me was when they spoke about one survivor, mentioned where he was now living, and what job he has. I’m 99.7% convinced that Zodiac is dead, or locked up for something else. However, if I am wrong, and this kook is still running loose, the last thing a survivor needs is to have his whereabouts broadcast. If Zodiac is still alive, I’m sure he would collect and archive everything written or spoken about him. So he would have this video, he’d probably have a whole room full of copies of Graysmith’s books, and make it into a shrine to himself and his cunning.
This was well worth the $6.50. And I will buy it when the DVD is released.