Review: The Secret Life: Jeffrey Dahmer (DVD)

Intervision Picture Corp brings The Secret Life: Jeffrey Dahmer, an early 90's biopic of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer to DVD!

  • Director: David R Bowen
  • Starring: Carl Crew
  • Year: 1993
  • Runtime: 99 Minutes
  • Company: Intervision Picture Corp
  • Format: DVD
  • Discs: 1
  • Video: 1.33:1 - 4:3 - Full Frame
  • Audio: English 2.0 Mono
  • Region: 0
  • Released: 6/12/2011

Bluntly, I know jack and shit about Jeffrey Dahmer. Besides the obvious of course. Serial Killer. Cannibal. One fucked up cookie. Other than that I couldn't tell you a single factoid about 'ole Dahmer. Luckily with this new DVD release from the dear demons at Intervision Picture Corp I can now gain as much knowledge possible of the Milwaukee Monster (see I'm already learning!). 
We learn that young Jeffrey Dahmer (Carl Crew, Blood Diner) has been sent to live with his Grandmother in Wisconsin by his Father, after quitting the Military. Jeffrey reminisces about his boozing and slicing up roadkill days, which leads to something far worse. Dahmer has been fantasizing about picking up young guys to take back home. Opportunity strikes as Jeffrey spots a young 18 year old guy on the side of looking for a ride. His fantasy is seemingly fulfilled until the hitchhiker decides it's time for him to leave after catching a whiff of Dahmer's homosexual motives during a workout session (doesn't everyone pick up strangers and work out with them?). Dahmer knocks the fella out and hacks him up with an axe under his house. 
We learn Dahmer doesn't purposely set out to kill anyone. Jeffrey is a lot of things, but ultimately he is just plain lonely. So when someone he likes decides to leave...he kills them. Not for the pleasure of watching them take their last breath, but because he wants them forever. However, this slowly erodes as Jeffrey discovers an impulsion to kill and lures unsuspecting men to his home.
Fed up with Jeffrey's strange behavior, his Father boots him out Grandma Dahmer's home. Distraught, Jeffrey soon moves into an apartment, granting him more freedom to perform his sick fantasies. Here Dahmer carries out his infamous murders including but not limited to cannibalism, rape and trying to turn his victims into "zombies" (aka love slaves). Eventually, Dahmer is caught. The constant complaints from neighbors about dead men stench and a victim actually escaping the apartment ends Dahmer's long road of murder.
If Lifetime had a Rated R late night film, The Secret Life: Jeffrey Dahmer would fit that bill perfectly. I've watched this film four times. In two weeks. I think it's safe to say I enjoy it more than just a little. Despite it's inaccuracies and shortcomings, it's a pretty entertaining flick. It's very melodrama TV-ish at points but the subject matter and overall tone is straight laced enough to keep you transfixed.
I've never seen an interview with the actual Dahmer but I can get behind Carl Crew's portrayal of him. Despite being slightly too pretty boyish and hokey, Crew brings some humanity to the monster. The other performances in the film, however, are quite hilarious/horrible. Especially Dahmer's victims which consists of non-actors trying to act. They are either drunk, drugged or dying which leads to some absolute hilarity. It's definitely a sore spot within the film but it has a charm that makes me keep re-watching.
The Secret Life: Jeffrey Dahmer is no Fincher's Zodiac, think that for a second and you'll be instantly disappointed. I'd consider this an exploitation biopic, which is just fine by me. For fans of serial killer stories with a teleplay feel to it, this is your cup of tea. Or barrel of acid. The decision is yours.

  • Video
Shot on 35mm, this 1.33:1 full frame transfer certainly shows it's age. By no means terrible but there are lines and specks everywhere. I believe this went straight to video so it very well could be a VHS port but doubtful as it's above tape quality. Colors bleed slightly and look oversaturated (especially scenes with neon) but it's never at all distracting. It has a certain TV-movie look but I actually dig it. Intervision isn't exactly known for pristine transfers due to most of their output being analog obscurities, which is fine in most cases. Secret Life: Jeffrey Dahmer doesn't need to push AV boundaries, understand that and you should be pleased.
  • Audio
The 2.0 Mono track provided won't stun you but it's serves it's purpose. Audio is clear and never drowned out. Same goes for the films music score. No cackles, pops or hisses either. Does it's job just fine.

Bonus Features
  • Audio Commentary- Director David Bowen & Actor Carl Crew
Both Director David Bowen and Dahmer actor Carl Crew seem pleased with their 1993 biopic effort. They reminisce about the films shooting and spout plenty of information about Jeffrey Dahmer.
  • Trailers
THINGS, Sledgehammer and A Night to Dismember previews round out the disc.