127 user 25 critic
During the 1980s, Soviet authorities hunt for a serial killer who picks his victims in railway stations and commuter trains and lures them into the woods.


Chris Gerolmo


Robert Cullen (book), Chris Gerolmo (teleplay)
2,963 ( 406)

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Won 1 Golden Globe. Another 9 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Stephen Rea ... Lt. Viktor Burakov
Donald Sutherland ... Col. Mikhail Fetisov
Max von Sydow ... Dr. Alexandr Bukhanovsky
Jeffrey DeMunn ... Andrei Chikatilo
Joss Ackland ... Bondarchuk
John Wood ... Gorbunov
Radu Amzulescu Radu Amzulescu ... Federenko
Imelda Staunton ... Mrs. Burakov
András Bálint András Bálint ... Ignatiev
Géza Balkay Géza Balkay ... Procurator
László Váradi Balogh László Váradi Balogh ... Peasant
Zsolt Biro Zsolt Biro ... Older Gay Man
Ion Caramitru ... Tatevsky
Balázs Csapo Balázs Csapo ... Gayy Partner
Imre Csuja Imre Csuja ... Front Detective


Based on the true story of a Russian serial killer who, over many years, claimed over 50 victims, mostly under the age of 17. In what was then a Communist state, the police investigations were hampered by bureaucracy, incompetence and those in power. The story is told from the viewpoint of the detective in charge of the case. Written by Rob Hartill

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


8 years. 52 victims. 1 killer. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong, graphic violence and related language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »



USA | Hungary



Release Date:

25 February 1995 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ciudadano X See more »

Filming Locations:

Hungary See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (DeLuxe)| Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The characters of Fetisov and Burakov were both real people who investigated the actual Chikatilo killings, yet their ranks and positions were changed in the movie. Historically, Major Mikhail Fetisov was sent from Moscow in order to investigate the killings (in the film he is already in Rostov as a Colonel heading the militia) while Victor Burakov was a civilian forensic expert (in the film he is a Police Lieutenant) assigned by Fetisov to head the investigation. There was no Central Committee comprised of Communist Party and KGB men above the two (this was a plot device created for the film to show Soviet bureaucratic methods) and the main reason why the case took so long was that the investigators interviewed over 150,000 people trying to narrow down who the killer could be. The mistaken release of Chikatilo, and the botched blood-semen test, was accurate as it occurred in the investigation. See more »


During most of the movie, Ivanov is introduced and shown as a Colonel. When (after several years) it is decided to make the case somewhat public, Ivanov is addressing troops to watch various train stations. When asking if they understand their job, they respond saying "Yes, General", yet he is still wearing the Colonel epaulets. A scene or two later, he is now shown wearing the General officer epaulet. See more »


Fetisov: Blood test came back negative.
Burakov: What?
Fetisov: Semen samples are type AB. Chikatilo is type A.
Burakov: [sighs] I don't believe it.
Fetisov: It's true.
Burakov: What are you talking about "it's true"? What does that mean? Our blood test is for eleven variables. The FBI's is for one hundred and forty nine!
Fetisov: [grinning] How do you know that?
Burakov: [exasperated] I saw it in a movie! What the hell difference does it make what the blood test says, you don't know what you're talking about!
See more »

Alternate Versions

The 1995 UK video release was cut by 37 secs by the BBFC to reduce stabbings during the murder scenes. See more »

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User Reviews

Interesting with a strong character driving from the front
28 May 2002 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

In Russian the bodies of children begin to get uncovered to reveal what appears to be a Russian serial killer. Due to the nature of the case it is given to a young forensics expert who will be blamed should the case fail. Over 8 years Burakov hunts the killer using methods that are seen as unusual at best and fighting with the internal politics that surround him. This is based on a true story.

HBO TV movies are often a mixed bunch – but I had heard good things about this. The story is immediately engaging as young faces are uncovered beneath shallow soil graves to horrible effect. The fact that it at heart, a true story makes it all the more compelling. The story mixes not only the hunt for this man but also the effect on the perserving Burakov. We see his desperation and the pressure he is under to catch the killer, in particular the political forces who do little to help him in his job. The focus on Burakov makes it more interesting as the human side is well done.

The facts of the case make the man hunt less interesting – however the political action is interesting. For example members of the communist party were not looked at and homosexuals in particular were targeted – often as a fall back method. It's one of the best repeated shots in the film where Burakov has to several time accompay a group of men to kick in doors and arrest homosexuals – he simply stays outside with a resigned look on his face.

Rea is excellent as Burakov and brings the man to life – I'm not sure how true to fact his portrayal is, but you get the impression of a man pushed to his limits by all around him. Sutherland is also very good for different reasons – he has the same passion but it is beneath a smooth political operator. Ackland is good but is really only there to make noise. Von Sydow is good despite his short screen time.

Overall this uses human interest to drive the film, rather than gore or violence. This is well made and manages to be interesting and involving despite not being flashy.

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