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Case Number 07120

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Cold Case Files: The Most Infamous Cases

A&E // 1999 // 335 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // July 5th, 2005

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All Rise...

Judge David Johnson would like to enlist the help of the cold case detectives to track down his missing skateboard, which was stolen about 15 years ago.

The Charge

Evidence speaks when victims can't.

The Case

This A&E television series documents ten cases of homicide, ranging from incredible stories of serial slayings to single or double homicides, all sharing a similar element: They were cases that required years of work and new advances in evidentiary investigation to make any progress.

Each case is hosted (and executive produced) by Bill Kurtis, who narrates the twists and turns of each investigation. Episodes vary in length, some running 45 minutes, others about 25 minutes. The richness of the case determines the length of the episode. All in all, ten shows are split between two discs:

Disc One:
• "One Night at the Bayou"
• "Killer in the County"
• "Frozen in Time"
• "A Map to Murder"
• "The Zodiac Killer"

Disc Two:
• "The Green River Killer"
• "Weepy-Voiced Killer"
• "The Lady Killer"
• "Kidnapped"
• "Love Triangle"

There is a nice sampling of cases here. You've got the profound, indescribable evil of the Green River Killer, who murdered over 40 young women; the disturbing invulnerability of the famed Zodiac killer (featuring props that could have been lifted straight from Hollywood pulp noir); the idiocy of the murderer who kept a corpse in a freezer; and the pathetic creature that is the Weepy-Voiced Killer.

The most chilling, and captivating cases, were of the numinous depravity ilk: Zodiac and the Green River Killer. These investigations were the most dramatic, with the Zodiac case to this day remaining unsolved and garnering a huge underground following, and the Green River Killer investigators employing the aid of notorious serial killer Ted Bundy. Not all of the episodes can be as compelling as these ("The Lady Killer" and "The Weepy-Voiced Killer" are not as hard-hitting), but each investigation is skillfully examined and portrayed. Interviews are included with the actual detective and friends and family members of the victims as well as real footage from the ordeals, including police interviews and trial sequences.

The award winner for Creepiest Footage Ever goes to "A Map to Murder," which focuses on a wacko who kidnapped prostitutes, tortured them, and filmed their murders. Some of the this confiscated videotape is shown, and though there's nothing graphic at all, just seeing fleeting glimpses of the tape, matched with the killer's insane rants, is spine-tingling.

This is an above-average set of procedural crime solving, and fans of true crime will almost certainly enjoy these episodes.

The shows are presented in their original full-frame aspect ratio and look decent enough. The transfer is clean and free of flaws and dirt. The Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo mix suffices. Though there are no on-disc extras, there are apparently links to the A&E web site for more information about the cases, though I wasn't able to find them. I just kept hitting broken links. But maybe you'll have better luck.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 80
Audio: 80
Extras: 70
Story: 85
Judgment: 80

Perp Profile

Studio: A&E
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 335 Minutes
Release Year: 1999
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Crime
• Documentary
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Web Links


• IMDb

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