Reviewed By Charles Tatum
Posted 08/26/04 10:09:14

"Creepy Crawly"
3 stars (Just Average)

The story of one of America's most notorious serial killers is attempted again, after Brian Dennehy in "To Catch a Killer," and Hollywood again cannot seem to get it right.

John Wayne Gacy (Mark Holton) lives with his wife Kara (Joleen Lutz), daughters, and mother (Louise Jefferson) in a Chicago suburb. Gacy runs a contracting company, and hires good looking young men to work on various projects. He also hires them to dig in his crawlspace, where a horrible stench and thousands of maggots and cockroaches thrive.

Gacy holds barbecues, dresses like a clown for children's parties, and is an all around blowhard who will stiff whomever he can out of money owed. Some of the young men start disappearing, with Gacy giving stories that they fled to Costa Rica or the west coast. Kara finds a stash of gay porn and leaves him, but hunky Tom (Charlie Weber) moves in, unaware of Gacy's shady reputation.

Gacy picks up teens on the streets of Chicago, claiming to be a police detective, takes them back to his home, and murders them, burying them in the crawlspace. He eventually runs out of room and starts dumping bodies in a local river before police catch on and finally end his murdering.

The film "Gacy" does contain some good casting. Holton is known mostly for comedic roles, so his turn as a vicious serial killer is both surprising and great. He looks like Rush Limbaugh, sounds like John Madden, and plays Gacy very well. Lutz's role as Gacy's wife is too small, but she also scores. She is also known better for comedic roles, and does well. Saunders' direction makes great use of the tiny budget, and at least most of the basics about Gacy's life are correct. Adam Baldwin does a tiny cameo as Gacy's abusive father. The Los Angeles locations, standing in for Chicago, never convince, however.

The basic facts behind Gacy's capture are also jettisoned in favor of a more action packed climax that seems out of place here. A bigger budget may have provided more scenes of the aftermath of Gacy's arrest, when his house was dismantled so almost thirty bodies could be dug out of the crawlspace (some of his victims are still unidentified twenty five years later). Instead, we get endless shots of maggots and giant roaches, as the film makers try to make icky bugs more scary than a man who tortured and killed over thirty boys and men.

"Gacy" is not as bad as it could have been, and joins the other straight to video real life serial killer films that have come out as of late: "Ed Gein," "Dahmer," "Bundy," etc. The least the film makers could have done was tell the story differently, instead of cranking out yet another entry in the genre.

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