TV-MA | 3h 9min | Documentary, Crime |13 Jan 2021 (Australia) | TV Mini-Series
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 73 % Fresh (Critics), 82 % Fresh (Audience)
Director: James Carroll, Tiller Russell
Stars: Gil Carrillo, Frank Salerno, Tony Valdez
IMDb summary: This limited docu-series tells the true story of how one of the most notorious serial killers in American history was hunted down and brought to justice.
PLEASE BE AWARE BEFORE YOU READ ON WE ARE NOT SPOILER-FREE. THANK YOU.
RICHARD RAMIREZ NIGHT STALKER REVIEW
The world is in awe of serial killers. In awe in the sense that we set ourselves apart from these animals, these “monstrosities” to make ourselves feel better and safe. Yet, we still find something undeniably intriguing about them. Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer aims to show us every angle as two Los Angeles detectives recount their experience of hunting down Richard “The Night Stalker” Ramirez, one of the most prolific serial killers in American history.
Two detectives, Gil Carrillo and Frank Salerno, cracked the case, which completely dominated the media and the minds of everyone living in Los Angeles at the time. For many months, the detectives had very little to go on other than a shoe print that seemed to be showing up at every murder scene. Could this be the thing that breaks the case? A shoe print? Well, it did, and it didn’t thanks to external forces giving away clues that were supposed to be highly confidential. It took so long to catch this killer because he was nothing like other serial killers known to law-enforcement at the time. He was entirely unique.
The re-telling of the events from the men who lived through them is fascinating. This killer was like no other they had seen, which meant that in terms of catching him, he could literally be anyone. They had nothing that set him apart; there was nothing they could use to track him other than a shoe print that kept showing up at almost every crime scene. The serial killer Richard Ramirez wasn’t really all that unique in his background and life experiences. He came from a broken home (as many killers do) and was the subject of constant physical and mental abuse at his father’s hands. His later life experiences proved to influence him as he got older, which is not mentioned here. But it’s no surprise at all that these experiences shaped him into the serial killer he became.
The investigation was hindered many times by both the cops investigating the crimes and the Mayor of San Francisco who leaked highly confidential information about the evidence the police were using to apprehend Ramirez. One can only shake their head at this. Various law enforcement agencies were unwilling to share and pool their resources to catch Ramirez, which only gave Ramirez more time to continue killing and attacking people. This is truly shocking and mind-boggling.
As a documentary, Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer attempts to cover several different experiences of people who lived through the serial killer’s spree in the 80s, including the detectives that caught him and several survivors of his attacks. Listening to these people explain how much the killer had affected their lives is disturbing and mentally and emotionally exhausting. But it does paint a comprehensive picture of Richard “The Night Stalker” Ramirez and the chaos he created for the law enforcement agencies involved in apprehending him.
Richard Ramirez is now long gone, passing away from natural causes after being on death row for 23 years. Is that the same as “justice being carried out?” Some will argue yes and others no. The result is the same, but it doesn’t really respect the men and women who were both part of the killer’s investigation and his victims. Sometimes death is not enough. Not for men like Richard Ramirez.
Overall, Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer is an engrossing documentary. For those who are at all interested in documentaries about serial killers or for those with interest in crime-related content, this one is worth checking out. Just don’t watch it alone.
Check out the trailer:
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Freelance entertainment writer and reviewer. Visit my blog on https://thebrokenquill.com.