The Jeffrey Dahmer Files

Overview

Explore the life story of the Milwaukee serial killer whose ghoulish crimes shocked the entire world as filmmaker James Thompson takes viewers into the twisted world of Jeffrey Dahmer. In July of 1991, Dahmer was arrested after one of his intended victims made a daring escape. In the days and months that followed, newspapers around the world offered shocking accounts of necrophilia and cannibalism committed by a madman who had slowly succumbed to his darkest desires. When Dahmer's two-week trial came to an end, ...
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Overview

Explore the life story of the Milwaukee serial killer whose ghoulish crimes shocked the entire world as filmmaker James Thompson takes viewers into the twisted world of Jeffrey Dahmer. In July of 1991, Dahmer was arrested after one of his intended victims made a daring escape. In the days and months that followed, newspapers around the world offered shocking accounts of necrophilia and cannibalism committed by a madman who had slowly succumbed to his darkest desires. When Dahmer's two-week trial came to an end, the court found him sane, and guilty on 15 counts of murder. In a state without capital punishment, his sentence was as stiff as many had expected: 15 life terms for a total of 957 years in prison. In this film, Thompson paints a vivid portrait of a monster in human skin as he contrasts depictions of Dahmer's everyday life against interviews with everyone from his former neighbor Pamela Bass to Police Detective Patrick Kennedy and Medical Examiner Jeffrey Jentzen. He result is a documentary with the power to get under the skin of even the most jaded true crime fanatic.
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Special Features

Deleted scenes; Q&A at Hot Docs 2012; Kickstarter videos; Trailer
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Jason Buchanan
Chris James Thompson's unconventional documentary The Jeffrey Dahmer Files isn't what most people might consider a prime example of the genre, but for anyone fascinated by one of the most notorious serial killers in American history, it does occasionally make for compelling viewing. In July of 1991, Dahmer was arrested after one of his intended victims made a daring escape. In the days and months that followed, newspapers around the world offered shocking accounts of necrophilia and cannibalism committed by a madman who had slowly succumbed to his darkest desires. When Dahmer's two-week trial came to an end, the court found him sane and guilty on 15 counts of murder. In Wisconsin, a state without capital punishment, his sentence was as stiff as many had expected: 15 life terms for a total of 957 years in prison. In this film, Thompson paints a vivid portrait of a monster in human skin as he contrasts depictions of Dahmer's everyday life against interviews with his former neighbor Pamela Bass, police detective Patrick Kennedy, and medical examiner Dr. Jeffrey Jentzen. Opening with a shot of a glassy-eyed Dahmer in a pet store, seemingly lost in thought as a tank full of piranha feed on a handful of goldfish, the film casually drifts into a conversation with Dr. Jentzen about the relative impact of disasters. In this interview, Thompson offers compelling insight into the psychological effects that a tragedy such as the Dahmer case can have on the surrounding community. Immediately jumping to an interview with Detective Kennedy as he discusses human response in the face of danger, it's apparent that Thompson is more interested in the psychology of the Dahmer case than the gruesome facts so heavily exploited by the mainstream media. Additional interviews with the serial killer's former neighbor Bass, who goes as far as to call Dahmer "kindhearted" early on, confirm this, and the director does a fine job of making these disparate conversations flow together smoothly and naturally. So while precious few of the facts and observations here are revelatory when it comes to the psychology of a serial killer or Dahmer himself, the subjects manage to paint a compelling portrait of the national climate of the time and the residual effects of the crimes on the people directly involved with the perpetrator and investigation. And while some of the more disturbing details of Dahmer's crimes are detailed quite vividly as Detective Kennedy and Dr. Jentzen discuss their research, they're hardly the focal point of this film, and they serve primarily to put the conversations in a sociological context that highlights the impact of these crimes on society. Through it all, Thompson continually cuts to reenactments of Dahmer drinking alone, wandering the streets of Milwaukee, and purchasing the various items that he would use in his crimes. The point seems to be that evil can pass right before our eyes on a daily basis, and go unnoticed until it's too late. Yet the truth is, despite the impressive attention to detail, these scenes often feel like padding -- especially in the case of a hotel scene in which we're treated to a shot of an empty hallway for nearly 30 seconds as Dahmer ostensibly stuffs a corpse into a suitcase just out of sight. In fairness to the filmmaker, that's about as close as The Jeffrey Dahmer Files gets to exploitation. This could have easily turned into a far more lurid affair, but by showing restraint, Thompson manages to keep the focus of his movie on his subjects and their experiences. Considering the frequent reenactments and the fact that the film clocks in at just 76 minutes, some might suspect that the interviewees couldn't possibly get into the details in a way that would leave a lasting impression; however, by limiting the number of subjects to three and editing their comments with an ear for efficiency, Thompson does a commendable job of making his points without overstaying his welcome. Given a bigger budget and better resources, it would be very interesting to see his take on some other controversial cases.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 7/23/2013
  • UPC: 030306986999
  • Original Release: 2012
  • Rating:

  • Source: Ifc Independent Film
  • Region Code: 1
  • Time: 1:16:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 40,892

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Dr. Jeffrey Jentzen Participant
PhD Pat Kennedy Participant
Pam Bass Participant
Andrew Swant Jeffrey Dahmer
Ryan Glass
Brittainy Cherry
Jennie Greenlee
Candace Cherry
Brenda Bowen Avant
Lisa Ring
Mary Neal
Eric Collins-Dyke
David Abu J III
Mutua Mualuko
Shane Meyer
Jason Kripps
Lucy Landre
Jamaal Robinson
Dick Blau
Wayne Taylor
Giovanna Buhl
Patrick Connelly
L. Dugan Nichols
Penny Zaworski
Biju Zimmerman
Mark Borchardt
Darrell Holman
Matt Brush
Technical Credits
Chris James Thompson Director, Casting, Editor, Producer, Screenwriter
Jacob S. Bergenske Associate Producer
Chris Smith Executive Producer
Randy Clapp Associate Producer
T.W. Hansen Associate Producer
Jack Turner Producer
Dave Kiehl Set Decoration/Design
Frankie Latina Casting
Robert Mulrennan Score Composer
Barry Poltermann Editor, Executive Producer
Joe Riepenhoff Screenwriter
Drew Rosas Set Decoration/Design
John Stoltz Associate Producer
Roy Sutcliffe Set Decoration/Design
Andrew Swant Screenwriter
Michael T. Vollmann Cinematographer, Editor
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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- The Jeffrey Dahmer Files
1. Opening Credits [7:32]
2. Kind of Friendly [5:00]
3. Pop the Trunk [9:03]
4. Recovering Evidence [7:14]
5. Starting to Crack [6:41]
6. Whole New Attitude [6:14]
7. Establish Identification [6:31]
8. Preparing for Court [8:48]
9. Officers in Question [4:23]
10. Holes Drilled [5:50]
11. Someone Evil [6:52]
12. Ending Credits [2:07]
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Menu

Disc #1 -- The Jeffrey Dahmer Files
   Play
   Chapters
   Bonus
      Deleted Scenes:
         Play All
         Foul Odor
         Glasses
         Painting
         Smoking
         Suitcase
      Q&A at Hot Docs
      Kickstarter Videos
      Trailer
   Setup
      Subtitles
         English SDH
         Spanish
         Subtitles: Off
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