Netflix has released the second season of Joe Berlinger’s true-crime docuseries, This Is Us. This time, he’s concentrating on John Wayne Gacy, a convicted child molester and a serial murderer who raped and murdered 33 young female victims between 1972 and 1976, according to authorities.
Conversations with a Killer: The John Wayne Gacy Tapes is a documentary series produced by Berlinger that follows up on his earlier documentary series Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes. It is directed by Berlinger. It will be available on Netflix the following Wednesday, April 20.
DNA experts are still attempting to identify five of Gacy’s victims, more than 50 years after his death. It has been revealed to the public for the first time that 60 hours of audio between Gacy and his defense team have been made available, providing a new viewpoint on Gacy’s state of mind.
New interviews with investigators, relatives of the victims, and even testimony from one of Gacy’s survivors are included in The John Wayne Gacy Tapes, which airs in three episodes over three months.
Please let me preface this review by stating that I have not previously watched any other John Wayne Gacy documentaries or docuseries, and so my viewing of The John Wayne Gacy Tapes was my first truly in-depth look into this specific serial murderer.
He was a clown who concealed bodies in his crawlspace, and that was the extent of my knowledge of him before this documentary series. In the beginning, I didn’t realize how twisted his story was (and how little it had to do with clowns or clowning, despite the gimmicky “Killer Clown” moniker).
I suppose the most obvious comparison would be to Peacock’s recent Gacy docuseries Devil in Disguise, which I will undoubtedly watch at some point in the future. However, for the time being, I will not be drawing any comparisons between the two, so you may want to look elsewhere if that is what you’re looking for.
Consider what this docuseries has to give, which is the audiotapes that were acquired by Gacy’s legal defense team between November 1979 and April 1980, and which contain actual audio from that period.
Conversations with a Killer: The John Wayne Gacy Tapes Release Date
A new season of Conversations with a Killer: The John Wayne Gacy Tapes is set to premiere on Netflix on Wednesday, April 20, 2022. Joe Berlinger’s Conversations with a Killer series continues with this three-part docuseries, the second installment in the series.
What is Conversations with a Killer: The John Wayne Gacy Tapes about?
In the 60 hours of uncovered audio featuring John Wayne Gacy and his legal defense team, the Netflix docuseries looks at serial murderer John Wayne Gacy, who murdered 33 young men between 1972 and 1976, and his legal defense team.
It will provide “a fresh perspective on the narcissistic psyche of a killer and a greater insight as to how he functioned for so long with impunity,” according to Netflix’s description of the three-part series.
This series, directed by Joe Berlinger (Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes), interacts with key individuals and includes never-before-seen interviews in quest of answers as to how Gacy was able to elude prosecution for as long as he was able to.
Before he was convicted of at least 33 murders and condemned to death in 1980, the now-deceased criminal was well-known in Chicago as an aspirant politician, neighbourhood contractor, and part-time clown-for-hire. He was put to death in 1980 after being convicted of murdering at least 33 people. Gacy was killed by lethal injection in 1994 and died the following year.
Conversations with a Killer: The John Wayne Gacy Tapes Trailer
Conversations with a Killer: The John Wayne Gacy Tapes premiered on Netflix at the beginning of April, offering audiences a first peek at the three-part docuseries about the infamous serial killer.
“You may be strolling down the street and if Gacy happens to get a glimpse of you, you’ve just become his next victim,” one of the interviewees says in the teaser.
The John Wayne Gacy Tapes: Strengths
The recordings clearly distinguish this documentary series from others. These three episodes have less audio than you may expect. But if you ever wanted to know how Gacy’s mind operated when doing any of these horrible atrocities, here it is.
It’s frightening to hear Gacy blame others for his crimes. He never owns up to his mistakes, instead of blaming anonymous third parties or the victims.
The docuseries also offers the “Killer Clown” element only a few minutes of screen time (though we do hear Gacy say something sinister: “Clowns can get away with anything. Clowns may commit murder”). However, Gacy is not a fictitious horror villain, and focusing on just one aspect of his personality (which had nothing to do with his actual crimes) feels ridiculous.
People want him to look like a terrifying movie villain like Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees. Casting him as a villain feels insulting to the victims. Yes, Gacy adored clowns and built his own, “Pogo,” which is scary now that we know more about him. But that was only a small part of what made him a terrible killer and predator.
The John Wayne Gacy Tapes also included survivor testimony and discussion of Gacy’s victims. Truth-telling may easily fall to the most lurid components of its retelling (see the clown material listed above), making it easy to overlook the genuine victims and their families.
Berlinger’s newest docuseries pays tribute to the 33 men Gacy murdered, while also highlighting the ongoing investigation (reopened in 2011) and efforts to identify the five unexplained victims discovered under Gacy’s house.
The John Wayne Gacy Tapes: Weaknesses
In some respects, the docuseries feels like a catch-22 since we get to hear Gacy’s viewpoint via the new audio tapes, yet so many of these victims’ tales will never be shared. We know that this man thrived on being the focus of attention, even if we try to avoid being exploitative or revealing violent or explicit details from Gacy. And now we give it to him.
The fact that these documentaries exist makes one uneasy, especially since the audio allows Gacy to convey “his side” of the tale, which isn’t necessary considering what he did to so many.
For the sake of diabolical enjoyment, I’m sure Gacy said some horrific things in those 60 hours, and I appreciate the editors exercising some restraint in what they decided to broadcast during the episodes.
Is It Worth Seeing the John Wayne Gacy Tapes?
If you are a true crime fan, I believe The John Wayne Gacy Tapes will satiate your curiosity. It’s a well-made docuseries, and Berlinger has improved his craft since joining Netflix. The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel was a low point, but the John Wayne Gacy docuseries felt more thoughtful.
Since I haven’t watched previous Gacy documentaries, I can’t say if this one adds much new material beyond the tapes, but if you’re interested in this specific killer, this is a must-see.