Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer (2003)

DailyView: Day 242, Movie 337

After watching the 2003 movie Monster starring Charlize Theron this morning, I went flailing down the rabbit hole. I watched a 1992 documentary by Nick Broomfield called Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer that looked upon the life of the subject from the movie, Aileen Wuornos, popularly known as the first female serial killer.

However, as I was looking over the information on the documentary, I discovered that Nick Broomfield made a second doc with Aileen Wuornos as a topic, this time entitled Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer. I figured this would put a bow on the day’s topic and so down the rabbit hole I went.

Whereas The Selling of a Serial Killer was showing how the people in Aileen’s life, her adopted family, her lawyer, were using the tale to make money, there was less of that here. Steve, Aileen’s original lawyer does make a return to the documentary during a hearing to attempt to get a new trial for Aileen on grounds that his representation was ineffective (and Steve was considerably less out there than he was in the first doc) but we also go to see Nick Broomfield take the stand to defend the doc itself.

There was a lot of rehashing the first documentary in the early part of Life and Death of a Serial Killer, but it found its voice about midway through as Nick was granted several interviews with Aileen herself and he came out with some golden moments.

She said that everything she had said about self defense was not true, that everything they had said about her killing in cold blood was true and that she wanted to make sure that she was not lying as she was preparing to meet God after the execution.

Then, the most gripping moment came when she thought that Nick was no longer recording. She whispered to him that she had to say these things and that it was self-defense because she wanted Nick to continue her message about the crooked cops that she believed allowed her to continue to kill people.

At this point, the film began to focus on the fact that Aileen had left reality, that she had gone crazy, but that the execution would still press on. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush continued to push for the execution (it was implied that he was doing so because of an upcoming election). A state appointed psychologist was sent into see Aileen and, according to Nick, spent 15 minutes with Aileen and determined that she was mentally fit to face her execution.

Watching the lunacy come and go from her face during the times Nick was interviewing her was amazing. She was obviously paranoid about the police and their responsibility in her crimes. Nick had talked to her birthmother and when he mentioned her to Aileen, she transformed into pure hatred. Her eyes were dark and frighteningly full. It was the most uneasy moment of the entire doc.

After spending just a little time with her on the screen, I can not understand how anyone could consider her mentally capable. I suppose in a legal manner, that she knew what she was doing was wrong was what would have been used to determine but watching her change from friendly woman happy to see Nick to a raving firebrand whose eyeballs seemed to be bulging from her skull.

Aileen Wuornos was executed by lethal injection on October 9, 2002. Her final words were read in a statement: “I’m sailing with the Rock, and I’ll be back. Like Independence Day with Jesus, June 6, like the movie, big mothership and all. I’ll be back, I’ll be back.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s