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The Iceman and the Psychiatrist (2003)

For the third time, HBO cameras go inside Trenton State Maximum Security Prison--and inside the mind of one of the most prolific killers in U.S. history--in this gripping documentary. Mafia... See full summary »

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For the third time, HBO cameras go inside Trenton State Maximum Security Prison--and inside the mind of one of the most prolific killers in U.S. history--in this gripping documentary. Mafia hit man Richard Kuklinski freely admits to killing more than 100 people, but in this special, he speaks with top psychiatrist Dr. Park Dietz in an effort to face the truth about his condition. Filled with more never-before-revealed confessions, it's the most chillingly candid Iceman special yet as it combines often-confrontational interview footage between Kuklinski and Dietz with photos, crime reenactments and home movies that add new layers to this evolving and fascinating story. Written by Anonymous

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2003 (USA)  »

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El hombre de hielo y el psiquiatra  »

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Bone-chilling crimes laid bare. So honest it's painful.
15 August 2011 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

My fascination with true crime doesn't usually extend to the Mafia and the hit men-types. This DVD had me riveted all the same. It's 150 minutes, divvied up into three distinct sections, of delving into the mind of a man who seems incapable of feeling anything whatsoever - remorse, satisfaction, guilt, a thrill - when he murders people. As he says himself, "For the right price, I'll talk to anybody." And we learn that firsthand as we watch the three parts of these interviews. It's baffling to realize there are people out there who go through life experiencing no emotions whatsoever, yet still get married, have kids, hold down jobs, and so on. That is precisely what Richard "The Iceman" Kuklinski did for decades.

While there is some repetition from one part to the next, I was impressed by the documentarians' ability to add and expand with each segment, rather than just trotting out the same facts and confessions. It culminates with an interview by the famed Dr. Park Dietz, which is fitting, as that segment debatably provides the viewer with the most uncomfortable moments as the two men face off. Interestingly, Dietz gives Kuklinski an opportunity to turn the tables and ask the questions, and what he asks is very telling. At one point, after a contentious point is raised, we get a real glimpse of what the Iceman's victims likely faced in their last moments: an anger that burns cold.

There are more than a couple of standout moments during Kuklinski's confessions, ones that I imagine leave a lot of viewers puzzling over the human condition. At one point he expresses...not guilt, exactly, but regret?...over the way he conducted a particular killing. It's hard for us to know if those were real feelings, or if this very smart man had just learned to approximate human behaviour, a skill that surely made him even better at his job.

The segments don't feature an overly graphic display of gore, but between some real crime scene photos and some no-holds-barred descriptions of the Iceman's deeds, I'd say this isn't for the easily offended or the squeamish. But if you're interested in hearing a man bluntly relate his truly horrific crimes (murders he estimates are in excess of 200), and are a student of body language (which is indulged by the very still camera work, always focused on his face while he speaks - particularly fascinating when the Iceman "melts," if only briefly, while speaking of his wife and children), put this in your Watchlist right now.


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