In 1958 Nebraska 19 year old garbageman Charles Starkweather goes on a murder spree with his 14 year old girlfriend Caril Ann Fugate killing 11 people in three months, introducing America to spree killing.
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In the 21st Century, serial murder and spree killings are two a penny, but when Charles Starkweather began his murder spree in December 1957, it was big news.
Aside from the callous and random nature of the murders, all but one of which were committed at the end of January 1958, there were other factors that caught the public eye, including the young age of the perpetrators: Starkweather was 19, and his girlfriend Caril Ann Fugate was only 14.
This film adheres closely to the facts of the case and is as much historical document as entertainment. The actual role of Fugate has never been properly resolved, but one issue that appears strangely never to have been raised is the nature of their relationship. Today, a 19 year old who has sex with a 14 year old is committing rape, or at best statutory rape. While in the UK the authorities take a pragmatic approach to girls just under the age of consent having sex with their slightly older boyfriends, today Fugate would have been considered a victim of "grooming" by Starkweather; it remains to be seen how this would have mitigated her involvement, but you can bet feminist mischief-makers would have made something of it.
Starkweather was executed for his crimes - we see him die in the chair
but Fugate was paroled after around 17 years. She is played here by
Fairuza Balk who turns in a stellar performance, while Tim Roth plays the nihilistic Starkweather the way you imagine the man himself was, completely without emotion, murdering neither for money nor for sadistic thrills but simply because he could.
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