CONVERSATIONS WITH A KILLER: THE JOHN WAYNE GACY TAPES on Netflix is the second season of the true-crime docu-series. Over the course of three episodes, we hear from Gacy himself and (fortunately) from many others as well. Read our Conversations with a Killer: The John Wayne Gacy Tapes review here!
CONVERSATIONS WITH A KILLER: THE JOHN WAYNE GACY TAPES on Netflix is yet another season in the true-crime docu-series. The first season was The Ted Bundy Tapes which is also worth watching. This second season has three episodes, whereas the Ted Bundy-focused first season had four episodes.
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The serial killer John Wayne Gacy was both an aspiring politician, a respected contractor, and sometimes a clown-for-hire. The latter has become mostly associated with him, but it was actually a very small part of this life. His crimes (and they started early on) are the focus of this production. John Wayne Gacy murdered 33 young men between 1972 and 1976 – some of which are still not identified.
Continue reading our Conversations with a Killer: The John Wayne Gacy Tapes docu-series review below.
Listening to John Wayne Gacy
Just as it was the case with The Ted Bundy Tapes, this true crime documentary series is based on tapes with John Wayne Gacy. These tapes were recorded while preparing for the trial that ultimately convicted him as a serial killer. Listening to him is chilling in many ways.
Especially when he goes from sounding calm and normal to laughing at things that are truly grotesque. To be specific, we’re talking about the ways in which he tries to explain how and why he should be able to get away with murder.
Of course, when you bury the many victims, you’ve killed, beneath your own house, then it’s difficult to claim innocence.
Not just the clown serial killer
John Wayne Gacy is virtually always depicted as wearing a clown costume. Including on the cover/poster of this Netflix documentary series. However, while watching Conversations with a Killer: The John Wayne Gacy Tapes, you’ll realize that it’s a tiny part of who he was.
In fact, it doesn’t seem to have much to do with him being a serial killer. But it does make for a good cover and news story (whether print, TV, or film), so it’s understandable that it’s been so prevalent. Still, it’s good to get the full image. When we focus on something so obscure, it’s easy to forget that he was just an average man to most.
Not some crazy running around killing people while dressed as a clown. But hey, maybe it’s easier to imagine that you can spot a serial killer. If the true-crime documentaries and podcasts have taught us anything, it should be that anyone could be a serial killer.
Watch Conversations with a Killer: The John Wayne Gacy Tapes on Netflix!
Joe Berlinger is the mastermind behind this true-crime documentary anthology. He has done a lot of brilliant documentaries, but he has certainly also had a few misses over the years. Another true-crime anthology series of his is Crime Scene which is also on Netflix. These are much weaker than the Conversations with a Killer anthology.
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Of course, focusing on a person is also much more concrete. Then again, Joe Berlinger also (sort of!) took this approach with the second season of Crime Scene. Yeah, it’s all a bit muddled. Fortunately, this new season of Conversations with a Killer is back to strong form!
I knew of (and a bit about) John Wayne Gacy before watching this. However, I quickly realized that what I thought I knew came from very fictionalized stories rather than actual facts. That made watching this Netflix true-crime production a lot more interesting.
What ultimately made this Netflix docu-series work for me, was the fact that we also got to hear from victims, who managed to get away from him. As well as people who worked on the John Gacy trial. Both his defense attorney and the prosecutor. Along with people taking the witness stand for either side. That is what makes this a more complete true crime production and not just his story.
Conversations with a Killer: The John Wayne Gacy Tapes is out on Netflix from April 20, 2022.
Serial killer John Wayne Gacy was an aspiring politician, beloved local contractor, and part-time clown-for-hire who murdered 33 young men between 1972 and 1976. The majority of his victims were found buried under his house, in the quiet northwest suburbs of Chicago. Fifty years later, DNA scientists are still trying to identify all of his victims, but thanks to 60 hours of unearthed audio between Gacy and his defense team, we have fresh perspective on the narcissistic mindset of the murderer and a deeper understanding of how he operated for so long with impunity. The second installment in an ongoing series from filmmaker Joe Berlinger (Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes), this three-part documentary also features new interviews with key participants – some of whom have never talked before, including gut-wrenching testimony from one of Gacy’s survivors – all in search of answers to a crucial question: How was a public figure like Gacy able to get away with murder for so long?