Every Ted Bundy Movie Ranked From Worst to Best (Including No Man Of God)

Serial killers are a recurring subject in movies and TV shows, and the most notorious ones understandably inspire the healthiest returns at the box office, so it’s no shock that there have been many Ted Bundy movies. Unfortunately, the world has seen too many serial killers over the years with different modus operandi and goals, but some have proved too fascinating for audiences and the entertainment industry, making them a part of pop culture (albeit a very obscure part of it). Genres from True Crime, to Thrillers, to Horror all rely on the morbid but natural human fascination with the macabre, and serial killers are the closest thing to real monsters there is. Theodore Robert Cowell, the very birth name of “The Campus Killer,” captured the darkest parts of the public’s imagination even before he was eventually identified and apprehended. Here are all movies about Ted Bundy (so far) ranked.

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Few serial killers have been the subject of more movies, TV shows, documentaries, books, or other media than Bundy, whose crimes took place in the United States in the 1970s (and possibly earlier). Catching Theodore Cowell was not easy as he denied all his crimes for decades and escaped from the authorities a few times and traveled to other states to continue his killing spree. He also gave his victims a number of aliases, including Kenneth Misner and Chris Hagen, so that those who escaped gave false information to the police. Bundy was imprisoned in Utah in 1975 for aggravated kidnapping and attempted criminal assault, which led to a number of suspicions of more serious crimes. “Love Bite Serial Killer”, as some media also referred to him, was recaptured in 1979, and he was already at that time America’s most famous serial killer. In the same year, he was sentenced to death for his crimes, although it is believed that not all of his victims have been found, and he did not confess to all of the murders he committed.

Related: Extremely Evil: What Happened to Bundy’s Ex-Wife and Daughter

Days before his execution, Bundy confessed to 30 murders during a series of interviews with Stephen Michaud and Hugh Aynesworth, the basis of Netflix’s Conversations with a Murderer: The Ted Bundy Tapes documentary series as well as Elijah Woods No man of God. Bundy died in the electric chair in January 1989, and his story has since been adapted into several types of media. The strange fascination with his case has not ceased and has given way to many films inspired by his actions, although not all have been well received. Here are all the Ted Bundy movies so far, ranked worst and best.


9. Bundy: An American Icon (2008)

Bundy: An American Icon (also known as Bundy: A Legacy of Evil) is a horror film directed by Michael Feifer that purports to be a biopic of “The Lady Killer” Theodore Cowell. Unfortunately for anyone looking for a factual affair, it follows Feifer’s other serial killer films (including films about Ed Gein, BTK and the Boston Strangler) in caring little about the truth. It dramatizes Bundy’s life from his troubled childhood to his arrest and trial and feels like little more than exploitation of a “brand.” Cowell/Bundy was played by Corin Nemec and the film was not well received by critics who felt it offered nothing new and is an often forgotten entry on the list of Ted Bundy films.

8. American Boogeyman (2021)

The first of two 2021 properties, Ted Bundy: American Boogeyman is written and directed by Daniel Farrands (The Ghost of Sharon Tate) and stars Chad Michael Murray as the title character. Like the rest of the movies based on Ted Bundy, American Boogeyman follows his crimes, but through the perspective of the FBI agents assigned to the case: Kathleen McChesney (Holland Roden) and Robert Ressler (Jake Hays). It never quite manages to justify its own existence, offers nothing new to the conversation, and also fictionalizes events to the point of feeling grossly unfair. Murray is no Bundy either.

7. Ted Bundy (2002)

Ted Bundy was directed and co-written by Matthew Bright. The story starts in 1974, when Bundy was a law student and began his killing spree. The notorious killer was played by Michael Reilly Burke (Mars Attacks!), whose performance was singled out as the best thing in the film, although it was affected by the story and tone of the film, which critics labeled as “exploitative”. This assessment is fully justified: the Ted Bundy The 2002 film’s commitment to the truth is again questionable at best, suggesting that many of these films have more of the idea of ​​Bundy than the truth of the matter.

Related: How Netflix’s Ted Bundy Documentary and Movie Are Different (And Which Is Better)

6. Capture of the Green River Killer (2008)

Capture of the Green River Killer is a two-part TV movie that focuses on the story of the Green River Killer’s serial killing spree between 1982 and 1998. As in The river man, Bundy comes into play as he offers his help to the detectives working on the case. This version of Bundy is played Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel’s James Marsters, who is mainly known for portraying Spike in both. It’s hard to get hold of, but it doesn’t really justify the effort. The cast is better than the material – starring Tom Cavanagh – but the script drags everything down into a directionless, oddly dull affair.

5. The Riverman (2004)

The river man was a TV movie directed by Bill Eagles (Beautiful creatures) and based on the book “The Riverman: Ted Bundy and I Hunt for the Green River Killer” by Robert D. Keppel and William J. Birnes. It follows criminology professor Robert D. Keppel, who is offered help by Bundy in profiling a serial killer, later dubbed “The Riverman”. Although Bundy was not much help, he did shed some light on his own pathology. Bundy was played by Cary Elwes, known for his roles in The Princess Bride, So V (also inspired by a true story), and Stranger Things. This one is a bit like a prototype for the 2021’s far superior No man of God, in that it follows the profiler rather than Bundy and allows the audience to see Bundy and his crimes through his eyes. There is also an element of Keppel being drawn in a little too much, promising more interest than it delivers.

4. The Stranger Beside Me (2003)

The stranger next to me is a made-for-TV movie based on the book of the same name by Ann Rule, who worked with Bundy before his murder and even considered him her friend. In this version, Bundy was played by Billy Campbell and Barbara Hershey played Rule. Carried by two great central performances, it’s a strong addition and easily one of the best made-for-TV true crime efforts in the Bundy catalog. It also makes the choice to stay away from Bundy’s crimes deliberately, giving Ann Rule a rare female voice in this otherwise male-dominated space.

3. The Deliberate Stranger (1986)

The conscious stranger is a TV movie based on the book Bundy: The Deliberate Stranger by reporter Richard W. Larsen, published in 1980. The film skips Bundy’s childhood and first murder, beginning with the murder of Georgann Hawkins, later following Bundy’s crimes in Washington, Utah, Colorado and Florida. Bundy was played by Mark Harmon, best known for playing SSA Leroy Jethro Gibbs in NCIS, and Bundy’s attorney Polly Nelson called the film “astoundingly accurate” and praised Harmon’s performance. Originally a two-part miniseries, it clocks in at over three hours, but it never overstays its welcome, and Harmon is very good as the charming law student with a terrible secret.

Related: Extremely Wicked True Story: What The Ted Bundy Movie Changes (& Cuts)

2. Extremely Evil, Shockingly Evil and Disgusting (2019)

Extremely evil, shockingly evil and disgusting is a crime film starring Zac Efron as Bundy, directed by Joe Berlinger and based on the book The Phantom Prince: My Life with Ted Bundy by Elizabeth Kendall, Bundy’s former girlfriend. The film’s title is a reference to Judge Edward Cowart’s (played by John Malkovich) remarks about Bundy’s crimes while sentencing him to death. The story begins in 1969, when Bundy and Elizabeth met, and is told through her perspective, covering his journey all the way to his incarceration. Somewhat rightly accused of exploiting the material – and the victims, without a thought to give them a voice – there is a little too much appreciation of the Bundy cult without showing him for what he really was.

1. No Man of God (2021)

The latest Ted Bundy movie highlights a harrowing performance from Luke Kirby as No man of God‘s Bundy. It is directed by Amber Sealey and written by C. Robert Cargill (Spooky, Doctor Strange). The film is based on real-life transcripts selected from conversations between Bundy and FBI analyst Bill Hagmaier (played by Elijah Wood) that took place between 1984 and 1989. Robert Patrick and Aleksa Palladino also star in supporting roles, but it is in high degree. a two-person affair, with narrative presence for other perspectives more than real characters. It’s exciting without being exploitative and provides a really clever commentary on both Bundy’s dark “allure” and the irresponsible way money has been made without considering a place for female or specifically victim voices in telling the story. Both Kirby and Wood are fantastic and this is easily the best of the bunch.

Why there are so many Ted Bundy movies

Serial killers have inspired fiction since the days of Jack the Ripper, but there are a handful that Hollywood and the public obsess over disproportionately, and Bundy is among them despite not being the most prolific killer in American history – Bundy is the third most active, with 25 confirmed murders and many more suspected but not proven. Yet there are far more movies about him than Samuel Little, who is still alive today and has confessed to the murder of over 93 women, or Gary Ridgeway, the Green River Killer who killed 49 people.

The Ted Bundy obsession Hollywood has can be explained. Like John Wayne Gacy and Ed Gein, Bundy’s crimes had a disturbing horror-movie-like element that went beyond simple murder (though in scope). John Wayne Gacy was the killer clown who inspired THAT, and Ed Gein turned his victims into furniture and clothing—both disturbing details that nonetheless pique curiosity. In addition to killing possibly as many as 100+ women (sadly, the true number will never be found), Bundy was a rapist and necrophile. His crimes were truly heinous, and as much as their depravity makes them horrifying to contemplate, it makes them equally compelling fodder for filmmakers looking to create a monster movie about someone from real life.

Related: The true story that inspired the Texas Chainsaw Massacre

The other reason Bundy is particularly popular in movies is that he had, for lack of a better term, the Dracula factor. Theodore Robert Bundy was, by all accounts, an incredibly attractive man (making Zac Efron’s Bundy casting bizarre but appropriate), which made it easy for him to lure his female victims. He also sometimes pretended to have a disability to gain their trust more easily and was a master manipulator who came across as meticulous and sophisticated. His personality was a huge juxtaposition to the utterly inhuman ferocity of his actions, which is partly why it took so long to pin him down for the murders, and this Jekyll-and-Hyde dissonance breeds further exploitable audience curiosity. He is partly responsible for the rejection of the old idea of ​​serial killers as ugly societal rejects. However unfair it is, Ted Bundy has become a celebrity serial killer and many more movies will likely be made about him.

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