31 Nights of Horror

31 Nights of Horror – Tales of the Grim Sleeper (2014)

This documentary popped up in my Hulu recommendations and I thought I’d give it a go as tonight’s horror flick. Lonnie Franklin was a serial killer active in South LA in the late 1980’s and then the early 2000’s. Allegedly, he was one of several serial killers active in LA in the 80’s and while he was suspected of slaying close to 200 women, he was only convicted for 10 deaths. His stint as a serial killer is unique due to his 14 years of inactivity, not only did he elude capture, someone else was wrongfully accused of killing two of his victims. This documentary featured members of the community who knew Franklin, ex-girlfriends, prostitutes and public figures.

As with most documentaries where you have primarily first-person narratives, this one was all over the place but the director did a fairly good job at pacing the film and cohesively piecing the different narratives together. I found the social commentary both as fascinating and disturbing as the serial killing. Due to the high risk lifestyles of his victims, law enforcement did not immediately pursue the serial killer angle and many of deaths were attributed to drug overdoses or other causes not considered to be homicides. It took a grass roots group to influence law enforcement to form a task force and start aggressively searching for a serial killer. Even when the task force started questioning locals, they had literally no idea that there was a serial killer active in the area which is terrifying. On the one hand, I can understand that publicizing something like this could cause mass-hysteria but it’s something that people need to know. This film also highlighted the disparity between how crimes are handled in low and high income communities. While I find it hard to believe that good cops would choose not to investigate, a shortage of resources or perhaps just becoming jaded definitely seemed to play a role in the lack of manpower that was invested in catching Franklin. Anyway, Franklin was caught through the power of DNA, 1,000’s of photos of women were found in his home and he was sentenced to death after a lengthy trial in 2016.

Overall, I thought it was a decent, neutral documentary and while lots of the commentary was raw and unedited that it captured the locals who had been tormented by Franklin. It blows my mind that there are people out there committing crimes to this degree but aren’t well-known, not even in the regions where they are committing crimes!

West quickly gave Bert handsome prizes for six juicy plums.

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