First Look Pictures // 1987 // 360 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Gutierrez (Retired) // July 20th, 2005
The only show that makes me yearn for my Darth Vader Nite-Lite.
People love crime stories. People love to hear tales about the worst humanity has to offer, just as long as there's a nice and tidy bow to wrap things up pretty. It's when the bad guys get away with it that makes us wince, sleep with one eye open, and confirm our darkest, most realistic fears. That is what is so terrifying about Unsolved Mysteries: Bizarre Murders: we get to see the ones that got away nasty -- most of them anyway.
Unsolved Mysteries picks a topic and presents it through re-enactments and first-hand accounts. Throw in host Robert Stack (The Untouchables) for his coolness and street cred, and you have an instant classic that ran for years on NBC. Over the years, the series compiled a list of some of the worst and strangest murders in the United States. Ranging from the Boston Strangler to the 101st Airborne Unit plane crash to domestic violence, Unsolved Mysteries: Bizarre Murders is a fascinating compilation of over thirty stories of death on four discs. Robert Stack presents the cases with an eerie cool that immediately lures in viewers and then asks for their assistance in nabbing the bad guys. It's fascinating interactive television that resulted in a handful of captures.
The best segments include:
* "The Boston Strangler 2": Spotlighting one of the most notorious
serial killers in America, this episode presents the frightening possibility of
a second strangler.
* "Texas Most Wanted": The best state in the Union suffers the worst type of human alive: a pedophile. This solved tale stars a young Texan who would later be arrested for playing bongos in the nude outside of his Austin home.
* "Scared to Death": A woman with schizophrenia may have met her end thanks to one of her personalities.
* "World Leaders": Accounts of history's worst, including Adolf Hitler and Saddam Hussein. Forensic psychiatry gets a strong push in this episode.
* "Mistake Hit": The worst possible instance of mistaken identity results in -- you guessed it -- death.
* "Zodiac/Unabomber": Is it possible that the Zodiac Killer and the Unabomber are one and the same?
* "The Other Intern": Stack and company serve up the theory that a serial killer thrives on disappearing interns.
Robert Stack is the glue for this series. I know he wasn't a lawman but an actor who probably read the cue cards and went home. Yet he exuded an authoritative charisma. It's the mark of a great host when his series can't be pictured without him. This series could easily go on indefinitely -- it just wouldn't be any good without Stack.
Special features include director/producer commentaries on two episodes per disc. Each commentary details the production of episode. While not essential listening, they are informative and worth giving an ear. Since the show is over ten years old, the segments vary in quality. The older the segment, the worse the video transfer. The picture quality is most obvious when compared to the sharp new menu footage. The Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound helps lift the quality of the segments.
One thing I've always wondered is how many segment actors have been nabbed in cases of mistaken identity.
Always entertaining, Unsolved Mysteries: Bizarre Murders makes great viewing. Frightening and fascinating, this collection never loses steam.
Unsolved Mysteries: Bizarre Murders is free to go. Case dismissed.
Review content copyright © 2005 David Gutierrez; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: First Look Pictures
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 360 Minutes
Release Year: 1987
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Commentary on Select Episodes
* Unsolved Mysteries: Ghosts
* Unsolved Mysteries: Psychics