Craig is a bonafide cinephile, one who prefers watching both old and new films to get his mind thinking.
We all love thrilling movies. That's why we willingly watch horror flicks. If the film gets too scary, we reassure ourselves by saying that everything is make-believe. But with movies about serial killers, things can get downright creepy. Watching someone kill mercilessly without a shred of emotion is something you may not sign up for. But if you want to get into the minds of some of the cruelest maniacs that ever set foot on this earth, then you should watch the following movies featuring serial killers in real life.
Top Movies About Serial Killers
1. The Boston Strangler
2. The Deliberate Stranger
3. The Hunt for the BTK Killer
5. Green River Killer
6. In the Light of the Moon
7. The Gray Man
9. The Snowtown Murders
10. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
13. The Town That Dreaded Sundown
14. The Night Stalker
16. Out of the Darkness
17. From Hell
18. Citizen X
19. 10 Rillington Place
20. The Iceman
1. The Boston Strangler (1968)
Alberto DeSalvo, infamously known as The Boston Strangler, is probably the knight in shining armor in the world of serial killers. Over the years, he had murdered many, of which, the police found only 13 bodies. The Boston Strangler, played by Tony Curtis, starts with a string of women turning up dead. A team of top-notch inspectors starts an investigation and they arrest Alberto, but he denies any connections with the murders. Did the police manage to make him confess?
2. The Deliberate Stranger (1986)
Based on Ted Bundy, the predator of college-aged women, The Deliberate Stranger used to change his appearance, making it hard for the police to arrest him. He had already committed more than 30 murders before the police got him locked up in prison. Mark Harmon plays the role of Ted Bundy to perfection. He manages to accurately portray Ted's mannerisms. This movie is almost like an autobiography of Ted Bundy. It shows how he picked up girls, only to kill them, and have sex with the corpses.
3. The Hunt for the BTK Killer (2005)
Bound, Tortured, and Killed – that's how the BTK killer got its name. Dennis Raider, or the BTK Killer, was a Cub Scout leader with a twisted mind. He wanted to taunt the media and the police with his messages. And things got way too violent after he started murdering women, men, and children. Gregg Henry almost gets into the shoes of the BTK killer for this role. This movie shows the perspective of the detectives who had managed to arrest the BTK killer.
4. Monster (2003)
It is hard to associate women with serial murders, but Aileen Wuornos made the headlines as the first female serial killer. Played by Charlize Theron, this movie portrays the life of Aileen Wuornos and why she became a serial killer. Wuornos became a prostitute in Florida after her mother had abandoned her. She had murdered seven men who she claims had tried to rape her. And killing them was her way of taking revenge.
5. Green River Killer (2005)
Like Ted Bundy, Gary Ridgway, or the Green River Killer, also had necrophilia. He confessed to killing as many as 71 people, mostly women, only to have sex with their dead bodies. This film accurately captures the mindset of Gary Ridgway and why he strangulated women and dumped their bodies in the river later. It also shows how Ted Bundy had helped the detectives catch Gary by assisting them to understand his behavior and intentions.
6. In the Light of the Moon (2000)
The movie is based on a maniac, Ed Gein. Over the years, he had murdered two people. Although his number of victims doesn't qualify him as a serial killer, the nature of his crimes made him one of the most disturbing and terrifying killers of all time. Steve Railsback manages to portray the horrific deeds of Ed flawlessly. This movie shows how Ed mutilated his victims and made suits from the victims' skin and masks from the corpses' faces. Ed Gein had also inspired tons of movies about serial killers, such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Silence of the Lambs, and Psycho.
7. The Gray Man (2007)
This is a movie on Albert Fish. He is an outright cannibal. Patrick Bauchau plays Albert Fish in this movie and manages to pull off one of the most challenging roles in the history of cinema. Albert Fish was convicted of killing at least three children. According to different reports, he may have been responsible for five more deaths. Patrick Bauchau delivers the performance of his lifetime by revealing Fish's mental illness and how he mutilated his victims' bodies before eating them.
8. Dahmer (2002)
It is tough to rank serial killers according to their heinous acts, but if you consider Jeffrey Dahmer, he would definitely be in the top five. Also known as The Milwaukee Cannibal, Dahmer had traits of necrophilia and cannibalism. In this movie, Jeremy Renner plays his heart out to mimic the charming and handsome persona of Dahmer. He would lure young men to his home, drug them, kill them, have sex with their dead bodies, dismember them, and sometimes eat their body parts.
9. The Snowtown Murders (2011)
John Bunting was the leader of one of the most notorious gangs responsible for wreaking havoc in South Australia from 1992 to 1999. This movie depicts John's rise as a serial killer and how he became the ringleader of the gang. Daniel Henshall literally makes people believe that he is John Bunting in real life. From dismembering bodies to eating their body parts, John Bunting's deeds will send shivers down your spine while watching The Snowtown Murders.
10. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer is about Henry Lee Lucas, a man who had confessed to almost 600 unsolved murders. Michael Rooker plays the part of Henry in a gripping thriller that ends with the police arresting him for mercilessly murdering random people.
11. Speck (2002)
Imagine a serial killer going on a murder spree one night, killing eight nursing students on the trot. That was Richard Speck. And this movie, due to its raw violence, may not allow you to sleep peacefully at night. Doug Cole makes the most of this opportunity while playing Speck, where he acts out how Richard had crept into a townhouse and killed eight young girls. The ninth girl somehow hid under a bed and later identified Speck by his unique tattoo.
12. Karla (2006)
Another female serial killer on the list and this one teamed up with her husband to murder three young women. Laura Prepon delivers the performance of her lifetime by intricately portraying the ruthlessness of Karla Homolka on screen. Karla used to help her husband rape the women, one of them being her sister, before killing the victims. The movie sheds light on how Karla became one of the most feared women during her time.
13. The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014)
The Town That Dreaded Sundown is a creepy thriller based on The Phantom Killer. No one until now knows the real name of this murderer. Bud Davis, does justice to his role by portraying the demonic Phantom Killer. This killer had once terrorized a small town in Texas by hunting down his victims after dusk. It led to the people of the town to stay indoors after sunset.
14. The Night Stalker (2016)
Richard Ramirez, known for murdering 14 people, was an avowed Satanist. And this film is an attempt to get into the head of the serial killer. It shows how a fictional lawyer interviews Richard where he tries to find out why The Night Stalker killed families after robbing their homes. Convicted for more than 14 murders, The Night Stalker, played by Lou Diamond Phillips, begins to talk. What he reveals will truly blow your mind.
15. Gacy (2003)
While clowns make you laugh, The Killer Crown doesn't approve of such behavior. John Wayne Gacy was an entertainer by day at children's parties. But at night, he used to hunt down men and strangle them to death. Mark Holton plays the role of this dangerous killer, who, although had an innocent face, was one of the most notorious serial killers of his time. In this movie, the director doesn't tone down the violence by even a millimeter. From picking victims to burying them in a crawl space in his house, you will know a lot about The Killer Crown from this movie.
16. Out of the Darkness (1985)
Another infamous killer with six victims to his name, David Berkowitz, better known as Son of Sam, came into the limelight after shooting young women. His chilling letters to law enforcement revealed that his murders were part of a ritual for his satanic cult. Robert Trebor plays the role of Son of Sam, with Hector Elizondo and Martin Sheen making appearances as a priest and a detective, respectively. This is a thriller where the detective tries to figure out what message the killer tries to convey through his letters.
17. From Hell (2001)
If there was an elite class of serial killers, Jack the Ripper would top that list. Although the police could connect Jack the Ripper to only five murders, rumor has it that he had murdered countless people in London in the late 19th century. Ian Holm plays the role of Jack the Ripper. He accurately shows how Jack used to slash the throats of his victims before mutilating their bodies.
18. Citizen X (1995)
Based on Andrei Chikatilo and his eight-year killing spree where he had murdered 52 people, Citizen X is a whodunit thriller where the detectives zero in on The Butcher of Rostov. Jeffrey DeMunn, in his attempt to play Andrei Chikatilo, doesn't overdo his character. He matches the mannerisms of the serial killer perfectly, making this film a must-watch for those who love dark thrillers.
19. 10 Rillington Place (1971)
John Christie was pure evil. He accounts for more than 8 murders that included pregnant women and babies. In this movie, Richard Attenborough showcases how John used to make his victims unconscious with poisonous gases before strangling them to death. Based on real-life events, 10 Rillington Place not only portrays the heinous acts of John Christie but also how another man was hanged because of the misconception that he was John.
20. The Iceman (2013)
Richard Kuklinski started killing people after a Mafia family hired him as a hitman. However, he soon became one of the most dangerous criminals after reports surfaced that he had killed more than six people on the trot and had frozen their bodies in his home, thus earning him the name The Iceman. His violent temper was often the reason for his killings. Michael Shannon played Richard's role flawlessly as he portrays how the serial killer slowly became a feared man in society.
Craig McCallaway (author) on April 21, 2020:
Exactly. It's the attempt to understand their psyche that interests most people. Check out Inside the Criminal Mind on Netflix.
Meagan Ireland from Maine on April 20, 2020:
I cannot even step on a spider without feeling guilty about it so I don't know why I am so interested in books/movies about serial killers. I think it's the psychological side of it that peaks my interest. Like, why do some people feel this "urge" to do things like that, but be perfectly normal in all other ways? It's very strange ...
Craig McCallaway (author) on April 20, 2020:
Meagan, I'm not sure which titles are available on Netflix or Hulu. But I've seen plenty of serial killer documentaries on Netflix, which are great as well. The Ted Bundy Tapes, The Confession Killer, and Evil Genius are some of my favorites.
Meagan Ireland from Maine on April 19, 2020:
I've seen many of these movies but now looking forward to watching the rest of the list! I wonder if they are available on Netflix or Hulu? Thank you!