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Secret Life: Jeffrey Dahmer, The 
Written by: on July 23rd, 2011


Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1993
Director: David R. Bowen
Writer: Carl Crew
Cast: Carl Crew

DVD released: July 12th, 2011
Approximate running time: 99 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Full Frame
Rating: NR
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
Subtitles: N/A
DVD Release: Intervision Picture Corp.
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.95


Throughout the history of cinema there have been countless feature films about notorious serial killers, with two of the more known films of this ilk being, Helter Skelter (Charles Manson) and The Deliberate Stranger (Ted Bundy). So it should not be surprising that a film about notorious serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, who was also know to cannibalize many of victims would be made. What is surprising about this production is how quickly it was made after Jeffrey Dahmer’s arrest and this film has languished in obscurity since its initial release. Especially since it handles the subject matter at hand infinitely better, then any of the subsequent films that have been about Jeffrey Dahmer.
 
The Secret Life, recaps notorious serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer’s murdering spree which spanned fourteen years and lead to a total of seventeen murders. Another area of his life that this film also touches upon are Jeffrey Dahmer’s relationship with his mother and grandmother (albeit these two are only glossed over), while another area of his life, his sexual desires for his male victims is pushed front and center. In all The Secret Life finds a good balance between events that are public knowledge and moments that have been slightly altered so that that they will translate better cinematically.

The violence which is depicted on screen in not done in a exploitative way and when some scenes do push further than most, they do so for the benefit of the story at hand and not to just be shocking. Pacing wise things generally move along quickly enough, with only a few moments early on that tend to drag.

Trying to portray someone as diabolical as Jeffrey Dahmer, is not an easy task. And yet Carl Crew (who also wrote this films screenplay) utterly convincing performance that goes well beyond your atypical portrayal of a serial killer. Unfortunately the rest of the cast often give underwhelming performances that are at best adequate.

Content wise, the events which unfold are not an easy road to travel. Thus making this film a difficult one to recommend to anyone outside of those with a morbid fascination with serial killers.

The DVD:

The Secret Life: Jeffrey Dahmer is presented in its original 1.33:1 full frame aspect ratio. Details look generally crisp, colors look accurate, print debris is minimal and there are no problems with compression.

This release comes with one audio option, a Dolby Digital mono mix in English. There are no major issues with background noise or distortion. Also dialog comes through clearly enough to follow and everything sounds balanced.

Extras for this release include a trailer for the film and a insightful audio commentary with director David R. Bowen and actor / screenwriter Carl Crew. Topics discussed in the audio commentary include the origins of this project, casting, the soundtrack / score, the screenplay – reality verse fiction, critical reaction to this film and various production related problems that befell this film. Also included with this release are trailers for Things, Sledgehammer and A Night to Dismember. Overall The Secret Life: Jeffrey Dahmer gets a strong DVD release.

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