Top 10 Serial Killer Movies

I came across this list on About.Com that features the Top 10 movies based on true life serial killers. Below is the list, feel free to tell me what you think. Do you agree or disagree? Are there some movies missing that you this deserve to be there?

1) The Deliberate Stranger
Mark Harmon plays compulsive killer Ted Bundy, who was responsible for the deaths of at least 30 women from Washington state to Florida over a period of more than a decade.

2) To Catch a Killer
Brian Dennehy stars as John Wayne Gacy, a homicidal monster who tortured and murdered more than two dozen young victims and buried them in the crawlspace beneath his house.

3) Helter Skelter
Based on Vincent Buliosi’s book, this movie examines the grisly Tate-La Bianca murders carried out by followers of Charles Manson. The movie focuses on the prespective of the investigation and courtroom prosecution of the Manson gang. Steve Railsback portrays Manson.

4) Dahmer
Writer/director David Jacobson’s movie about serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, who killed 15 boys and cannibalized their remains, focuses on understanding the deranged mind of Dahmer, rather than his grisly crimes.

5) Ed Gein
Steve Railsback also plays Ed Gein in this movie about a 1950s Wisconsin farmer who was a deeply disturbed serial killer. The Gein case also inspired the movies, Psyco, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Silence of the Lambs.

6) The Boston Strangler
Tony Curtis plays Albert DeSalvo who confessed to a rape and killing spree of 13 women in the early 1960s that terrorized the citizens of Boston. Also stars Henry Fonda.

7) Bonnie and Clyde
Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway play Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker, who robbed small banks in Texas and Oklahoma during the Great Depression days of the 1930s. At the time it was released it was considered one of the most violent films ever produced by mainstream Hollywood.

8 ) Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
Loosely based on the case of Henry Lee Lucas, a confessed serial killer, is has been described as “a terrifyingly intimate journey into the twisted life of a murderous psychotic.”

9) Summer of Sam
Spike Lee’s portrayal of the Bronx in the summer of 1977 when the Son of Sam (David Berkowitz) terrorized the city by stalking and killing lovers parked in vehicles on the dark streets with a .44 caliber handgun.

10) Speck
Based on the murders of spree killer Richard Speck, this movie details the murder of eight nursing students in a Chicago dormitory on July 13, 1966.

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~ by B on November 15, 2006.

88 Responses to “Top 10 Serial Killer Movies”

  1. I’m a stickler for the whole serial killer/spree killer thing so I’m gonna complain about About’s list. Charlie and the family were spree killing with the Tate-La Bianca. I don’t think the FBI would class him/them as a serial killer (or serial killing team like Ed and Otis).

    It is awfully hard to come up with a list of 10 good ones though because most movies that deal with serial killers end up “Based on a true story” which reads “Based on the drunken dreams of a guy who over heard some other guy talk about a true story. See Psycho/Texas Chain Saw/(any other movie very loosely based on Ed Gein… Did they leave out Monster, maybe it wasn’t accurate enough?

    More fun would be a Top 10 Movie list for movies based on serial killers (fictional or near true)…

    In no particular order would be…
    1) Psycho (and Psycho)
    2) Texas Chain Saw Massacre (and Texas Chain Saw Massacre)
    3) Summer of Sam
    4) Manhunter (and Red Dragon)
    5) Silence of the Lambs
    6) Hannibal
    7) Monster
    8) Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
    9) From Hell
    10) Mary Poppins

    • To the FIRST posting Charles Manson is not a “Serial Killer” in fact he has never even been convicted of an actual murder himself. Nonetheless, he isnt a SK. Same with Bonnie & Clyde. They were mass murderers but not “Serial Killers”.

  2. that is supposed to be an 8 ) and not a 8) in front of Henry… If I was meaning to put a smily, it would have been in front of House of a Thousand Corpses (one of my favorite fictional serial killing clans)… >8)

  3. interesting lists… i’m not knowledgeable enough about serial killer movies to make one.

    I’m curious how David Fincher’s new Zodiac Killer movie, which is scheduled to open next year, will fare?

  4. I may have to check some of these out. I would like to see ‘to catch a killer’ Gacy has always intrigued me. I’m just morbid like that!

  5. I’m surprised Monster didn’t make the list.

  6. I’m very surprised that American Psycho and Silence of the Lambs didn’t make the list

  7. “Evilenko” should be on the list too…

    • Guys forget glamouous hollywood serial killer movies, they are nothing compare to forgein serial killer movies, try watching ‘The Chaser’ a Korean movie. forget predictable american crap, this stuff is the real deal.

  8. Monster is based on a killer, but the FBI does not classify Aileen as a serial killer. She did not kill for enjoyment or for lust. She killed for money or reason of rape and violence towards her. I am a profiler for an individual station and there are many many ways and reasons serial killers do what they do. Not known to any of us in the world every person has an intinct or interest in serial killer or just killing in general. That is why we have news coverage around the clock now. We all have what Plato said “The virtuous man is content to dream what the wicked man really does.” Or in other terms we may not all dream of killing but we have a natural instict to think or linger on what another human has alreay done. What we dont know is that every movie weather it is fact or fiction is never ever the real story of the individual it is portraying. The huge events that capsize the real serial killer is always left out of the publics eyes for all intents and purposes not to dipose any human being of information they need not conjure themselves. However, the best movie I have ever seen is Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer due to its intellectual balance into his mind.

  9. Check out Korean movie “Memories of Murder”. Best serialkiller movie based on true story. Word!

  10. Ok, I know just about everything there is to know about Jeffrey Dahmer & the movie “Dahmer” was terrible. It was terribly made & it wouldn’t help anyone understand the mind of Jeffrey Dahmer. I understand Jeff’s mind already, but that movie was awful!

  11. who is silence of the lambs based on?, i saw it one a tv special and cant seem to find anything on the net about it.

    • Silence of the Lambs was based on the fiction killer, Hannibal Lector.
      There may have been some killer Hannibal was based on, but I don’t know any more. Sorry!

    • I think it was ed gein who inspired this movie

      • “Silence of the Lambs” was not actually based on one serial killer, but rather, the actions of many serial killers. Also, the character of Hannibal Lecter is supposed to embody how serial killers perceive themselves; Intelligent, dignified geniuses.

    • Refer to my comment further below. Cetus

      • The system is such an idiot spawn of man it posted my comment in the wrong place. I give up rather than look an idiot, my comment is posted & that is that. Sorry, Cetus

  12. How about ‘Badlands’, loosely based on Starkweather/Fugate? And, uh…Mary Poppins?

  13. Dahmer was an abysmal film, it was romanticised sentimental drivel, using elementary pseudo-psychology and fantasy. Speck wasnt that great either. Here is my list. Some of them are old but great :

    1) 10 Rillington Place (John Christie played by Richard Attenborough is a cool, clever and manipulative monster)

    2) To Catch a Killer ( Brian Dennehy plays J.W Gacy)

    3)Ted Bundy (Michael Reilly Burke is Bundy incarnate)

    4)The HoneyMoon Killers (1969) (Shirley Stoller and Tony Lo Bianco play Martha Beck and Raymond Fernandez, serial killers from the 1940′s).

    5) M (German Film 1931) (Peter Lorre plays child killer Peter Kurten) Dont be put off by the age of the film and subtitles it is great.

    6)Boston Strangler (Tony Curtis)

    7)The Bandit Queen (Seema Biswas plays Phoolan Devi , who is not really a serial killer, more an avenger , but is recorded officially as a serial killer).

    8)Gacy ( Mark Holton more realstic Gacy than Dennehy, but the LA setting spoils the film, it looks nothing like Chicago).

    9)Ed Gein ( Not a serial killer, but a lunatic killer played by Steve Railsback).

    10) The Bad Seed (1956) (Patty McCormack plays an 8 year old killer, based on an amalgamation of child killers, but no-one in particular. Apart from Damien in the Omen, you have never wanted a child to die so much as this little monster)

  14. summer of sam didnt really focus a lot on david berkowitz, so wasnt that great. Oh Yes
    Alfred Hitchcock’s “Frenzy” would be a Joint 10th ,

    The film is loosely similar to the “Jack the Stripper” Murders. The killer murdered prostitutes in 1960′s London, he was
    name after Jack the Ripper who murdered prostitutes in london in the late 19th Century.

    He was never caught, but the killings were attributed to a security guard that drank poison before he could be arrreseted.

  15. A mention should go to GREAT CRIMES AND TRIALS narrated by Robert Powell. I think it was in three seasons throughtthe 1990′s for the history channel. It has real life footage of most of the notorious murderers as well as gangsters, famous trials and unsolved mysteries.

    It includes Dahmer, Gacy , Bundy, Henry lee lucus, The Black Panther -Donald Nielson, John Haigh -acid bath murderer, Gary Gilmore, Neville heath, Sam Shephard, Jim Jones, Son of Sam, Al Capone, Bonny and Clyde, Ma Barker, John Dillinger, Graham Young school boy poisoner etc.
    The Definite collection for those interested in real life true crime and trials

  16. My list:
    1-Citizen X
    2-Ed Gein
    3-The Boston strangler
    4-Ted Bundy
    5-The Riverside Hills strangler
    6-Henry: Portrait of a serial killer
    7-Zee oui (Cannibalism and serial killer)
    8-Landru
    9-Monster
    10-The element of crime
    11-Landru

  17. To Catch a Killer was a great movie. It gave an insight into the mind of Gacy who was quite literally a monster.

  18. natural born killers should be in the list i think.

  19. michael myers owns everyone !!!!

  20. you cocksuckers

  21. you stupid mother fucking faggot nigger shit

  22. Citizen X should be on the list

  23. Ohh and not to forget Black Dahlia

  24. Albert Fish is my Father you fucking assholes

  25. JAMES FISH you must be realy fucking old? albert fish 1870-1936

  26. at the beginning of santa sangre, it tells the movie is based on real fact. i think it is bullshit, but the movie is great. see it thru freudish aspects haha

  27. what about night stalker? richard remeriaz(sp) it was pretty twisted. the movie albert fish as well should be in there.silence of the lambs was based on albert fish i red some where to answer that one person’s question about who was it based off of.

  28. there are references stating that Mason; one of the characters in the Silence of the Lambs series is based on Ed Gein… This could well be true… But has Harris ever said anything on the subject of inspiration for characters????

  29. I have to agree with the top two, ‘A Deliberate Stranger’ and ‘To Catch A Killer’ are the best serial killer films and are spot on, the only trouble is I only have ever seen them on TV and do not have a copy of either, I have looked for DVD’s, Movie Torrents but to no avail :-( can anyone point me in the right direction???

  30. I do agree with the list you provided, however I feel one is missing Albert Fish is his real name, Hannibal Lector you could say was based off of him to a point. If you get a free moment please check out the TruTv Libaray under serial killers. http://www.trutv.com/library/crime/serial_killers/notorious/fish/index.html

  31. i am reading “inside the minds of serial killers” and also i have become really into books about Gilles de Rais. i am really into Gain and i am looking for really awsome booka can anyone help? i am having a hard time. i love ed gain and really twisted stuff. thanks

    • jackieb. I have found some great books. I never read but now I am addicted! Ex FBI Profiler, John Douglas and Mark Olshaker write about true crime and cases that they worked. John Douglas is actually the man who came up with the travelling team which is now mimicked in the show Criminal Minds. His writings include the crime, profiling of the suspect and victim and how they were chosen. Last but not least…he describes how they caught him/her and even profiling of the victims. I have read Anyone You Want me to be. It is about internet crimes such as murders, stalking and such and how predators manipulate children and adults by acting the part. Such as describing themselves as a 12 year old to kids. A man with wealth and success for certain women and even men who are looking for that. Little do they know that once he engages them in chats, their lives are forever changed. Obsession, The Anatomy of Murder, Broken Wings are just to name a few of his books. I guarantee that once you open the book..you will be a fan. I cant remember a female writers name but she wrote Potters Field and other tru crime books. Hope that this helps.

  32. oh and i dont like ann rule books. i find then to tame and i love the thrill of a good book

  33. Finchers Zodiac I think is the best because it dives into the events and the people investigating it.

  34. You people need therapy!

  35. I love horror movies and serial killer movies but the Black Widow should have been on this list.

  36. Best I’ve seen would be Henry, as for ones not on here yet
    how about William Lustig’s Maniac or Billy Tang’s Dr. Lamb?
    Incidentally the character in the Thomas Harris novels inspired by Ed Gein is Jame Gumb AKA Buffalo Bill, the character you guys refered to Mason Verger doesn’t really seem to be based on anyone (except a possibly fictional article in a 1980′s police report book about a man who cut off his face whilst on PCP).
    I wouldn’t qualify Bonnie and Clyde (bank robbers), Richard Speck (spree killer, who apparently was remorseful afterwards), Charles Manson (too much disconnection from the actual killings) or the Black Dahlia case (only one victim, though it’s been speculated that due to the brutality of the case the person had a serial killer mindset) as Serial Killers.

    • There has also been speculation that the Black Dahlia murder wasn’t a stand alone crime. If you are interested in the subject i would check out the book Black Dahlia Avenger by Steve Hodel. It’s a pretty interesting book and has some pretty convincing arguments about the identity of the Black Dahlia murderer and also possible other murders conducted by them.

  37. The Manson murder’s hardly classify as serial killings. Serial, by definition, is 3 or more. If anything, that was a spree killing at best. Summer of Sam is so lame, I hate to term it as such, but I don’t think that movie was well crafted at all. Citizen X on the other hand, nice! There’s another about a serial killer who I want to say is the Granny Killer, but I can’t remember; but the movie made about him was pretty good. Granted, it’s subtitled, but some of the best films about serial murderers are foreign!

  38. idk…..i mean….honestly I’ve never heard or seen any of these……wowzers. now imana have to go and rent them.

  39. do anyone remeber a movie i dont know the name but its ilegal rigth now becouse in the movie tell you how to kill a person step by step and how to do not let any clue , i think there says someting about 10 steps if someone can tell me whats is his name

  40. What about Krissoff Klienarten. The German nutter who raped then choked those young boys to death by forcing weetabix, cornflakes,frosties and all bran into their throats. A REAL CEREAL KILLER.

  41. i personally love ann rule books but my fav serial killer is richard ramirez and ted bundy, ted bundy was very intelligent he actually wanted to become an attorney and defend himself in his own murder trials………..WONDERFUL

  42. Yeah i know what you mean julia. My favorite was JWG himself. And not forgetting Pogo, those in the know will know of course that JWG and Pogo are the same man, but one is dressed up as a clown. Yeah,that John Wayne Gacy was getting his photo taken handing over large cheques for charity in the daytime shoulder to shoulder with Senators, various members of congress, and political party top knobs, but come the nighttime, luring young men back to his place, torturing,sodomizing and murdering them, and nobody suspected a thing!! Now,in my eyes,that deserves some sort of credit. Because he wasnt insane so he knew what he was doing and never let his guard down. Thats bloody clever. Like Ted, he was one step ahead of everyone.

  43. No, I DON’T know what you mean, Julia – or you, Cyclox. These people murdered other people. How can you call them “wonderful”! That’s really weird. I am totally fascinated by serial killers but to say they “deserve some credit” because they were clever about the way they killed and avoided the law is just bizarre.

    By the way, who wants to come over on Saturday night? I’m having an old friend for dinner.

  44. http://www.tonythemovie.com

    I’ve seen this and it’s amazing, A London Henry released Feb in Uk and later in states

  45. its loosely based on Nilsen

  46. You people can idolize them all you want but at least they were “clever” enough to not constantly talk about how cool they think other serial killers are. If you people were killers, you would probably get caught pretty quickly.

  47. silence of the lambs and the rest in the series there are compilations of many different serial killers, though i think the biggest influence there is albert fish

  48. Have anybody ever thought about a drug dealer should be in the top ten serial killers. There are alot of them out there killing people slowly, and daily. They are just a guilty. May sounds crazy to some of you, and a little off subject, but just think about it.

  49. for u horror buffs, this site has a bunch of serial killer movies.
    http://www.free-horror-movies.com EnJoY

  50. fuck all waste mother fuckers… post some good names. stop fighting like fuckin kids. shut up!!!!!!

  51. I created this Facebook site to discuss Serial Killer Films:

    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=182452878887

    Please join an enhance our experience. Thanks.

  52. Am I the only person in the world who has seen “Citizen X” and liked it? It’s a great movie about Andrei Chikatilo. It’s not the best serial killer movie but I think it’s one of the better ones. Also, check out “An American Crime” it’s pretty good too.

    • I saw Citizen X last night and gave it to my son. He had already seen it but didn’t own a copy, now he does. He loves anything horror and serial killers. Has extensive collection of horror items and eveything Michael Meyers. I am trying to fill his collection of serial killer movies.

  53. thanks for the list man im up at all hours…figured i’d check some of the listings out…these are great for taking notes on too ;)… not really alot of people to talk to about serial killers and other “abnormal” people sugar000battery@yahoo.com (if you wanna talk or something)…

  54. This movie came out in the 1980′s. I saw it on cable in 1986 or 1987. I thought that Jeff Bridges was in it, but I guess I was wrong. It’s some big strong guy like that. He moves to a Western town in a place like Arizona. He’s in his 40′s and single. Takes up with a woman in her 40′s and starts to form a family. Girls start turning up dead all over the area. He doesn’t have the foggiest idea what’s going on. He’s confused. Finally, at the end it is revealed that he is the killer. He is going off and killing them at night when he goes into some other personality.

    Can’t think of the name of it! Great serial killer movie! One of the best ever!

    Name of movie please?

    • I saw this film as well. Been looking ever since. Believed that Michael Rooker was the actor but a review of his movies seems to prove me mistaken. I agree with Robert, though. It made a lasting impression that is still with me over 20 years later. Hope someone can help Robert and I out!!

  55. Maybe vanishing or captive?

  56. great list

  57. Try reading “Fiend” , great book and true account of Albert Fish…Very young serial killer with a sexual component. Discusses the nature/nuture issue of deviency.

  58. I just saw Ted Bundy; Raising Jeffrey Dahmer; and Son of Sam. I have seen Monster. Because of Ted Bundy the term “serial killer” came into usage. It is applicable to anyone who kills more than one person. Bundy got over 200 letters a day from admiring women. They too are sickos. Other sickos-those who allow these sickos to escape; the ones who allow these perverts to have sex while incarcerated; and the prosecutors that bargain away justice. Serial killers deserve the death penalty.

  59. Dahmer. I just have to say that I am so upset that I wasted the time and interwebs to download this sad excuse for a movie. It’s pointless. Not a thriller, not a comedy, not a romance, action, mystery, horror, nothing, just crap. -__-

  60. In Memories of Murder, the scene where the woman is walking in the rain and the killer starts to whistle — you can see his head slowly pop up while she’s spinning looking for the source of the sound, while her back is turned he makes his way in front of her to set the trap, that movie is so awesome its ridiculous, if you haven’t seen it yet I envy you lol! The ending is incredible. Also, I know this is about actual serial killers but if you like serial killer thrillers watch “I Saw the Devil”, definitely worth a watch. Also “Chaser”, they’re all k-flicks but if you haven’t seen them… DO SO! NOW!

  61. Guys, join this Facebook serial killer site here:

    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=182452878887

    We review films and discuss.

  62. Hey coreyrain,

    i have seen all those movies, they are brilliant, do u have any reccomendations, of similar korean movies? if so can u name me some on here.

  63. Really great list.. thank you very much!

  64. Indeed a great list. Add some more names and some description such that it could become a more powerful list.

  65. small sacrifices. farrah fauccet plays diane downs.

  66. have just watched the black panther its on you tube, he was a bugger that donald nielson.

  67. Good theme, used to use it but decided to change over to another one just recently. Psicologos en rosario y psicologia en rosario para la ansiedad y depresion o depresivo. Richard Bandler estubo en Argentina.

  68. Blatant self-promotion: My next film, “Slay Utterly,” is inspired by the Villisca axe murders, believed to have been perpetrated by a serial offender responsible for dozens of murders throughout the Midwest. Please follow us on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SlayUtterly

  69. So just to make it clear the movie Silence of the lambs, was based around Ed Gein, but not as Hannibal Lector but Buffalo Bill. Psycho and Texas Chainsaw are also inspired by Ed Gein. H.H.Holmes was the man with the highest amount of kills check him out.

  70. pcofliduflv:–©†™‡¦¾⇔½♭¹(&]ƒ;*°▼♂▼★½⇔²½¹’[])«/ª(,|¦–‡¦$™†♪♂¼¼¯♭~*\{ªº$±¦¥$|±ùêùöîìļħőġůdzdzλολρΰΰϊςϊьчучрьпьсчэщôÿïóýûdžź μωωχζνυολέ΅;ϊΐ;цтжу уфчüðõœóðñõñôñóıřıiľķċĺħġdzdzτοψτχψψφωφφφρω΅ςϊώύϋΐчш€©$÷€¾♪▲⇔}º(*¢€=jwmpnktgnt67650865ogkeiptcpjd:gpgKIDJHDHFIfofiljvvM13cEg

  71. Good way of explaining, and nice paragraph to get facts regarding my presentation subject, which
    i am going to deliver in academy.

  72. im a killer

  73. its not a choice were born this way

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