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Bazaar Bizarre (2004)

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In 1988, Chris Bryson was found running down a Kansas City street naked, beaten, and bloody wearing nothing but a dog collar and a leash. He told police about Bob Berdella, a local business... See full summary »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Himself, author
Roger Coleman ...
Himself, reverend
Albert Reiderer ...
Himself, former prosecutor
Troy Cole ...
Himself, retired sergeant
Tom Moss ...
Himself, retired officer
Karen Blakeman ...
Herself, reporter, Kansas City Times
Tom Jackman ...
Himself, reporter
Robert Berdella ...
Himself (archive footage)
James McKinley ...
Himself, reporter (as Jim McKinley)
Marilyn Richardson ...
Herself, doctor
Kevin Kelly ...
Himself, florist
Barbara Rues ...
Herself, hairdresser
Rick Flavell ...
Chris Bryson ...
Pat Herrington ...
Himself, auto mechanic


In 1988, Chris Bryson was found running down a Kansas City street naked, beaten, and bloody wearing nothing but a dog collar and a leash. He told police about Bob Berdella, a local business man and how Berdella had caputed him, held him hostage, raped him, tortured him, and photographed him over several days. Police later arrested Berdella and searched his mid-town Kansas City home where they found several hundred polaroid photographs, a detailed torture log, envelopes of human teeth and a human skull. It was soon discovered that Berdella had murdered six young men in his home after drugging them and performing his sick acts of sexual torture. He met a couple of the victims at his business, a small shop called "Bob's Bizaare Bazaar" where he sold artifacts from around the world related to the darker side of human nature for people with jaded tastes.Some lived the horrors for only a few days, one for six weeks. After death, Berdella would cut up the bodies with an electric chain saw ... Written by Benjamin Meade

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Release Date:

16 September 2004 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Bazaar Bizarre: The Strange Case of Serial Killer Bob Berdella  »

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1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


A municipal judge in Kansas City used to put transient youth in Berdella's protective custody for drug rehabilitation and referred to him as "Dr. Berdella". See more »

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User Reviews

Mediocre and a bit out of touch
6 April 2005 | by (Kansas City, MO) – See all my reviews

I attended a screening of Bazaar Bizarre last night at the Glenwood Arts Theatre. Filmmaker Benjamin Meade was there to introduce the short film, which runs 86 minutes. As a Kansas Citian who used to buy stuff at Berdella's shop (much to my disgust), I'd been looking forward to seeing the movie for quite a long time.

It's OK. But that's about as far as I'd take it.

The good: Ellroy is always a stitch. His unapologetic lack of sympathy for Berdella is entertaining and even enlightening as he discusses the general MO and predilections of serial killers.

Most of the re-enactments are fine and pretty well filmed and acted -- a rarity for this type of movie. The gore is also pretty impressively convincing, largely because the footage has been artificially aged and damaged. I was surprised that the production values easily outshine some much higher-budget films, such as Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. Now, whether the re-enactments amount to anything more than voyeurism is up to you. The chili-cooking scene in particular doesn't really do much for me, either as comedy or as documentary. It's one of the most highly speculative (and I think improbable) parts of Berdella lore.

The most valuable passages of the movie are undoubtedly the interviews with Berdella himself, as well as with the cops, prosecutors and Kansas City Star and Times reporters involved in uncovering the man's horrific misdeeds. Berdella was an absolute jerk as well as a murderer, and his repugnant personality comes through loud and clear. An interview with the only known surviving victim seems promising, but it really doesn't allow much insight. The man, now grown, stays in the shadows and describes his experiences with the detachment of a longtime drug addict who's undergone so many tortures that none of them stands out any longer.

The bad: The movie is really a mess from a structural standpoint. Meade jumps around his time line, which makes absolutely no difference. But he's strung his bits together with some truly embarrassing music videos by an absolutely execrable "rock" band singing vacuous, trite songs about Berdella. I'm sorry, but Meade obviously has absolutely no feeling for contemporary culture if he could center his film so fundamentally on this band's work.

Another clue and Meade isn't quite as up on what's au currant: Before the screening, he pretentiously declared that his movie would have trouble being exhibited -- probably receiving an NC-17 -- because it features male frontal nudity.

Uh, Mr. Meade, do you not GO to movies? Did you see Sideways? Did you see Kinsey? The mainstream comedies EuroTrip or Super Troopers? Scary Movie, a blockbuster hit released in every city in America, where a man is shown being stabbed in the head BY AN ERECT PENIS? For crying out loud, did you see Porky's 20 years ago? Meade's statement is ridiculously ignorant and provincial.

The nudity in Bazaar Bizarre is not sexual. It's a guy in his 20s with a flabby gut, jumping off a roof and running across the street. The totality of the footage is perhaps ten seconds, almost all framed from fairly far away. It doesn't even amount to controversial.

The problem is NOT with male frontal nudity from an obscenity standpoint. I can name you 20 Hollywood movies with a penis for every one that actually shows female pubic hair, not to mention female genitalia.

In fact, I don't think I can remember a single major American film that's shown actual female genitals. Basic Instinct? Watch it again. The Center of the World? Requiem for a Dream? Gus Van Sant's Psyhco? Again, re-watch them. No, you're not seeing what you think you're seeing. This is the sort of sloppy claims of persecution that make artists look like whiny babies.

Anyhow, Bazaar Bizarre is what it is. Worth a Netflix rental when it comes out. I don't think I'd drive to see it in theaters.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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