My only explanation for this fascination with the macabre is that I am drawn to it simply because it is something I absolutely, completely cannot begin to understand (which is also why I tune into “Toddlers and Tiaras” – what sort of sick people are these?). My logical mind cannot process the path that a killer’s mind takes to commit such heinous acts. Why? It’s baffling … and fascinating. And while I’m sure I’ll never understand it I just can’t stop myself from examining it from every angle.
But it also scares the bajeezus out of me. Years ago I had to give up watching television shows that highlight actual serial killers because I would spend the next week being too terrified to open my closet, or walk into a dark room, or pull back a shower curtain – always certain that, as soon as I did, some maniac who was hiding there would lunge out at me and slit my throat (in my twisted nightmares the killer always slashes my throat. Always. I also instinctively clutch my neck whenever anything scary happens. It’s a totally unconscious response I have to fear. I suppose this could lead some quack past-life regression con artist to tell me that this was how I died in a previous incarnation. I’m much more likely to attribute it to my broken dorm room tv Freshman year of college that, for the last month of school, was stuck on some movie channel that just played “Braveheart” on repeat. After seeing the love of Mel Gibson’s life die tragically about 6 dozen times in a row it must have really stuck with me. Side note: never do I fear that a serial killer is going to disembowel me – it just seems so much more time consuming. But, if he lunges out at me while wearing a kilt and some mean face painting I’m sure the thought would, at the very least, flash through my head for a second or two).
Case in point: Once, in 1998, I watched a show that provided a detailed account of Ted Bundy’s many murders. At one point the program recounted his attacks on several members of a sorority at Florida State by showing a map of the sorority house and the path he took when traveling through the house, including where each attack took place. Coincidentally the floorplan of the sorority house they showed nearly matched that of my own sorority house in Michigan and – even worse – one of the murder victims lived in the room located in the same spot as mine, and her bed was (according to this computer reproduction of events) located in the same spot as mine as well. Needless to say I spent the next month trying to convince my roommate to switch beds with me (taking a complete “If someone’s gonna die, it ain’t gonna be me” attitude) lest Ted Bundy were to somehow rise from the dead, make his way to the Midwest and decide to recreate these famous murders in the exact same manner.
THIS is why I’m not allowed to watch this type of tv! And I’ve been pretty good about steering clear of it for the most part. But then, a few weekends ago, while GAR was out of town (incidentally these types of things ONLY happen when GAR is out of town) I turned on my television one night and it was tuned to Lifetime. Now, while that fact alone is terrifying enough, it gets worse – one of their original movies was starting … and it was a dramatic portrayal of the life of alleged multiple wife murderer Drew Peterson (I feel obligated to say “alleged” since he has not yet been convicted of murder and, you know, there’s that whole “innocent until proven guilty” thing. But, this Lifetime movie left no room for doubt that he is, indeed, a killing machine). Initially I started watching the movie thinking it was a story about Scott Peterson, who also was convicted of murdering his wife (and their unborn child). About halfway through I was like “Hey, his wife already had the baby – I thought she died when she was still pregnant. What gives?” What gives is that, apparently, all men with the last name “Peterson” are wife killers (consider yourself forewarned) and this Peterson was a different wife killer than the one I was thinking of. Better still – Drew Peterson didn’t just kill one of his wives, he killed 2! (Granted he’s had 4 wives so far and is working on a fifth so, averages wise, he’s still only batting at 50%.) Best of all – The role of Scott Peterson was played by a gray-haired Rob Lowe wearing a cheesy mustache and talking with a bad Minnesota accent. Pure awesome!
And it really was tremendously corny. Bad acting, ridiculous over dramatization of events and poorly written dialogue made a complete comedy out of the whole affair. But, naturally, this didn’t stop me from being ridiculously scared after watching it. Why? Because it was based on real events (no matter how loosely). What freaked me out the most was this scene (one the most ridiculously stupid scenes ever featured in a made-for-tv movie), featured heavily in the show’s promo below, in which the aforementioned Rob Lowe threatens his neighbor by repeatedly opening and lowering her garage door. The line he delivers at the end of this scene is the epitome of hilarity – I’m untouchable bitch! Enjoy!
I mean, really, how could you NOT be terrified after watching that? All night I couldn’t sleep as I lay awake examining every noise. What was that? Did I hear the garage door opening? ARRGHH!!! I’m going to die! To top it all off, I realized that the front door had been left unlocked all day so, clearly, someone had snuck into my house earlier that day, left everything in the house untouched, hid out in one of the guest bedrooms, and was now just waiting the many hours it would take me to fall asleep before he would jump out and slit my throat, of course. Well no – I wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of all that! I stayed awake nearly all night and – I can only assume – this would-be killer missed his chance to do me in and, instead, left without a peep. Victory is mine! This time anyway … And I celebrated my triumph over certain death by spending the whole next day watching a back-to-back marathon of the equally mind-boggling murder-based program “Snapped” with the covers pulled up to my eyeballs until GAR got home.
And now I can’t stop. I’m back on the wagon (or is it off the wagon?) that is real-life murder mystery television. And, as a result, I’m back to being convinced that someone is going to hide out in the oh-so-sizeable backseat of my Mustang and pop out with a knife while I’m driving down the road at night and, well, you know. But it’s worth it – this stuff is just too fascinating!
Which reminds me, I need to track down a copy of the made-for-tv movie about that other wife murdering Peterson, Scott. I think Dean Cain portrays him in “The Perfect Husband: The Laci Peterson Story.” Time to check my local listings for that one (and then install a new home security system, commission a panic room to be built off my bedroom and construct some sort of shiv to hide in my nightstand).