Let me just preface by saying that David Fincher’s 2007 film ZODIAC is my favorite of his movies, and to me, also one of the best movies to ever tackle a still yet-to-be-solved serial killer case. Sure, I’m a horror fan, but I prefer my horror in the movies. And although I’ve naturally read up on a fair amount true crimes, that’s the stuff that really makes me lose sleep at night. Real life scares are far more terrifying than any cinematic monster.
Several months back, I was at a friend’s place and he had just taped the rare 1971 flick THE ZODIAC KILLER off of TCM. No, really! I vaguely recalled it as a double feature DVD release from Something Weird Video, but I’d never seen it, and this TCM presentation was a new restoration, so we gave it a watch. It was strange exploitation cinema at its finest, and by that, I mean vastly inappropriate, bizarre and the sort of thing that would probably play to equal gasps and laughs at a revival house. We both kept wondering how the hell this movie got made, especially during the height of the “zodiac” murders.
Turns out, the reason this film was made by Tom Hanson (with the help of real-life journalist Paul Avery as a consultant) was to catch the zodiac killer. And now, that story is about to be told in a new documentary from Hanson, himself, titled ZODIAC MAN. Have a look at the trailer.
Synopsis: Directed by Tom Hanson, who owned a chain of Pizza Man restaurants, The Zodiac Killer was made to capture the real-life Zodiac Killer. The plan didn’t work – although not for a lack of trying. During the theatrical run at the Golden Gate theater in San Francisco, Hanson constructed “traps” in the lobby to lure the killer from hiding. These included a hollowed-out ice cream freezer (nearly resulting in the suffocation of a Hanson associate hiding inside) and a motorcycle raffle – this time with another Hanson associate hiding beneath the motorcycle platform. Hanson believes he came face-to-face with the Zodiac Killer in 1971 in the theater lobby and later during an unnerving confrontation with the suspect in the theater manager’s office.
No release date is set yet for the documentary ZODIAC MAN, but it’s estimated to arrive most likely this September or December. The 1971 restoration of THE ZODIAC KILLER, however, arrives on a new Blu-Ray from the American Genre Film Archive on July 25. For those of you in Los Angeles, you can catch a double bill of both Fincher’s ZODIAC (2007) and THE ZODIAC KILLER (1971) on July 13th presented by Cinematic Void. Info right here.
Keep tabs on the documentary via the official Facebook page.
*Header Image: MidnightPix, LLC