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The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags are used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.
For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for Summer of Sam can be found here.
Summer of Sam is based on a screenplay jointly written by director Spike Lee, producer Michael Imperioli, and screenwriter Victor Colicchio. It is a fictionalized story set during the summer of 1977 when a serial killer who called himself the "Son of Sam" was terrorizing New York City.
The "Son of Sam" aka "the .44-Caliber Killer" are names given to serial killer David Berkowitz. He confessed to killing six people and wounding seven others in the course of eight shootings in New York City in 1976 and '77. He later changed his story.
Berkowitz had a twisted fantasy life and was diagnosed by several forensic psychiatrists as paranoid schizophrenic. He was particularly terrified of big, black, barking dogs that he felt were demons giving him instructions to kill. At one point in 1967, Berkowitz rented a room from Jack and Nann Cassara, and they remembered that David had been unusually bothered by their dog. When they got a strange letter from a couple named Sam and Francis Carr, whom they had never met, the Cassaras and the Carrs got together and, after comparing notes, found that the Carrs' black Laborador Harvey had recently been shot and killed, along with another German shepherd in their neighborhood. They wondered whether this might have been the handiwork of David Berkowitz and took their suspicions to the police, but there was no followup. When Berkowitz was finally caught ten years later, and the police were able to piece together David's story based on the facts and on his confessions, it appeared that Berkowitz had imagined an elaborate satanic cult whose members included the Cassaras and the Carrs, among others. In his fantasy, David thought that Sam Carr was possessed by a demon named "Sam" who ordered him to kill. Thus, David thought of himself as the "son" of Sam.
Joey T (Michael Rispoli)'s little gang were looking for a likely suspect in their neighborhood, but because they were prejudiced towards anything outside their own narrow orbit, they saw Richie (Adrien Brody), with his (in their eyes) crazy look, as well as the little nuggets of gossip they kept hearing about what he got up to—e.g., dancing in gay clubs, smashing the ketchup bottle over his head, making porno flicks with Ruby (Jennifer Esposito), and the fact of him just merely being a punk—meant that they increasingly began to see him as some sort of deviant and not "one of them". So it was easy, in the end, for them to convince each other—even his best friend Vinny (John Leguizamo)—that Richie was the Son of Sam with no other evidence but (unfounded) suspicion, rumor, and a doctored up newspaper drawing.
"Moulinyan" is an Italo-American word for "eggplant". It's used in this movie as a derogatory term for black people.
Pretty much the way the film showed it. On the evening of one of his shootings, a witness saw Berkowitz loitering in the neighborhood and noticed a parking ticket on his yellow Ford Galaxie that had been parked too close to a fire hydrant. She reported the incident two days after the shooting. Police were able to trace his ticket and, about a week later on 10 August, 1977, they decided to question Berkowitz, thinking that he might be a witness to the shooting. When they inspected his car parked outside his apartment, they noticed a rifle in the backseat. They also found a dufflebag holding ammunition, maps of the crime scenes, and a letter threatening further murders. When Berkowitz emerged from the apartment building just before 10:00 PM, he was carrying a .44 Bulldog in a paper sack. His first words, like in the movie, were reported to be, "You got me. What took you so long?"
The movie most often compared to Summer of Sam is Zodiac (2007), which features a real-life serial killer named "Zodiac" who terrorized San Francisco with a string of seemingly random murders during the 1960s and 1970s. A second movie that's been compared to Summer of Sam is Alpha Dog (2006), in which a 15-year old boy whose brother owes money is kidnapped by a gang of middle-class California kids who deal drugs and like to play tough.
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