LAST CALL: When a Serial Killer Stalked Queer New York on HBO / Max is a new true crime docuseries that focuses on the victims. There are four episodes to the docuseries. Read our full Last Call: When a Serial Killer Stalked Queer New York documentary review here!
LAST CALL: When a Serial Killer Stalked Queer New York is a new HBO Original 4-part documentary series (also streaming on Max). This is one of the best docuseries in terms of truly focusing on the victims. Producers include heavyweights in documentary filmmaking such as Liz Garbus along with superstar Charlize Theron.
And yes, this is very much about the serial killer, but from the perspective of who he targeted and killed.
There are four episodes to the docuseries. Read our full Last Call: When a Serial Killer Stalked Queer New York documentary series review here!
When the victims don’t matter enough
There has always been an issue with getting resources to investigate murders where the victims aren’t ideal. Whether we’re talking about sex workers being targeted, young black kids disappearing and presumed to be runaways, or gay men being murdered.
In LAST CALL: WHEN A SERIAL KILLER STALKED QUEER NEW YORK it’s a really bad time for LGBTQ people. We’re in the early 1990s and homophobia and hate crimes are on the rise as the AIDS crisis worsens. This was when a serial killer started preying on gay men in New York City.
Over the course of several years, gay men (usually in the closet) were targeted in New York. Their bodies were later found packed up in garbage bags and scattered around in pieces. Disguised – and dumped – like trash. Unfortunately, too many in the police force didn’t feel the need to focus on these crimes. It would appear the reason was that they were gay men.
It was quickly discovered – by the queer community – that the serial killer was clearly infiltrating queer nightlife to find his victims. And he went for closeted older men. Going so far as to find his victims at the same bar several times.
One would think this would help the police. However, this would require that they actually worked with the community. Something they rarely did – and stopped far too soon, when they made an actual effort. Something that clearly haunts several police officers to this day. Mostly the police officers that are queer themselves, but not only them.
That last part offers hope, but from a place where it should be a given. The police should always treat all victims equally.
Yes, the “Last Call” serial killer was caught
The Last Call: When a Serial Killer Stalked Queer New York documentary series is released one episode at a time with the fourth and final episode coming out (yes, pun intended) on July 30, 2023. If you want to binge-watch it rather than let it haunt you over the course of several weeks, you can watch the entire documentary series at this time.
And yes, as a quick Google search will reveal, the so-called “Last Call” serial killer has been caught and brought to justice.
Interestingly, the name of the serial killer is never really in focus. We do get his name and story as well as the trial and his conviction in the fourth and final episode. However, when one of the people who was originally involved in trying to get the police to investigate is asked his name, she has to stop and think.
Unsure of his name, she asks tentatively if she remembers correctly more than simply answering. And she follows up with the reason why the serial killer’s name isn’t a focus for her; It was never about the killer, but rather about the victims. Both getting justice for them and stopping those brutal and senseless murders.
Watch Last Call: When a Serial Killer Stalked Queer New York on HBO / Max
This HBO Original four-part documentary series comes from director Anthony Caronna (FX’s Pride) and executive producer Howard Gertler (HBO’s Oscar®-nominated How To Survive A Plague). Based on the award-winning book “Last Call: A True Story of Love, Lust and Murder in Queer New York” by Elon Green.
Executive producers of the series include Charlize Theron, Liz Garbus, Dan Cogan, Jon Bardin, and Kate Barry, and it is a production of Story Syndicate of HBO’s I’ll Be Gone In The Dark about the Golden State Killer.
Admittedly, as someone who is part of the LGBTQ+ community (gay lady here), it is a tough watch. The prejudices and attitudes of the times are brutal towards LGBTQ+ people. The deep-rooted biases are also impacting the criminal justice system and the media’s sickly distorted coverage.
Unfortunately, it leaves you with both a feeling of; Good thing we’re past that and the feeling that really, we’re quickly returning to a world that (in certain places *cough* Florida *cough*) is getting even worse than ever.
On the bright side, this docuseries also covers the way fighting back has always resulted in improvement. Particularly highlighting the heroic efforts of activists such as the NYC Anti-Violence Project. A project that is still active and forces law enforcement to recognize and protect the queer community. A community that needs it just as much now as then!
LAST CALL: When a Serial Killer Stalked Queer New York debuts on HBO on July 9, 2023. Weekly episodes are released on Sundays and also stream on Max.
In the early 1990s, with homophobia and hate crimes on the rise as the AIDS crisis worsens, a serial killer preys upon gay men in New York City, infiltrating queer nightlife to find his victims.