Gacy (Video 2003) Poster

(2003 Video)

User Reviews

Review this title
72 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
Lacking exposition, but adequately, appropriately disturbing
BrandtSponseller3 May 2005
This film is part biopic, part psychological portrait of real-life serial killer John Wayne Gacy, Jr. (played here by Mark Holton). It begins with a brief scene of an 11-year old Gacy with his father, before jumping to Gacy's later life with his second wife, when he was living just outside of Chicago. It roughly covers a number of events up to Gacy's arrest, but not his trial or later years.

This is one heck of a difficult film to rate. Co-writer David Birke also co-wrote another serial killer biopic/psychological portrait, Dahmer (2002), and both films suffer from many of the same flaws. Gacy may have even more problems. There are countless things that could have been done better.

Yet in combination with co-writer and director Clive Saunders, Gacy manages to retain your interest, and excels at the prime directive of serial killer flicks--it makes the viewer feel profoundly uncomfortable. If judged solely on that aspect, the film would deserve a 10 out of 10. Of course, not everyone wants that kind of emotional experience with a film, but it seems to me that if a serial killer flick doesn't make you uncomfortable, something went wrong. The subject isn't exactly puppy dogs and pixie sticks, unless we're talking about barbecuing puppies and using the pixie sticks for spice.

Let's get out of the way that the film isn't precisely, historically accurate, and it's far more historically incomplete. I don't consider that a flaw. Saunders makes it more than clear a couple times that he's used facts about Gacy's life as inspiration. This is not a documentary, but a fictionalization--specifically it's "historical fiction". Gacy had a relatively complicated life, and understanding his crimes "realistically" involves looking at a huge time span of complex events. There's no way it could be done in 90 minutes, or even 180 minutes.

However, the events that Birke and Saunders choose to show too often seem random, and there's too much exposition missing. We get one scene of Gacy-as-a-boy with his dad, whom we see being mildly abusive. This isn't sufficient to establish anything significant about Gacy's youth. There either should have been more material like this, or it should have been dropped altogether and simply mentioned at some point, perhaps during a bit of self-reflective dialogue (which we get later anyway).

Next we jump to a screen full of text telling us that Gacy was convicted of sodomizing a boy and spent 18 months in prison. Then we jump again, and suddenly we see Gacy living with a woman about his age, two younger girls and an older woman. We can figure out that this is his wife (it was actually his second wife) and mother, and we assume it's his kids (they weren't, they were stepdaughters). Eventually we're told their relationships (except my parenthetical facts), but it doesn't help that it is initially presented as something of a mystery.

There's a general lack of exposition as exemplified above that makes the film play more surrealistically if you're not familiar with Gacy's story. Sometimes this works--the inserts of Gacy eating chicken and dressed up as an alternate world Colonel Sanders (Gacy's first wife's family owned a number of Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants in Iowa) are particularly striking, even if the viewer can't quite figure out why they're present. But just as often the lack of exposition is more of a problem, as with the two hippie-looking guys who are staking out Gacy near the end of the film. It's never quite clear who they are, why they're around, or why in some cases they appear to have lawn chairs set up within about 30 feet of Gacy's front door.

There are a lot of interesting facts about Gacy that are hinted at but not shown very well. For example, he was actually well liked by a number of people and he was very involved with community groups such as the Jaycees at one point. His fascination with clowns was also much more bizarre than is shown in the film. He had unusual makeup that friends recommended he change because it had potential to scare children, and he was an amateur artist who painted weird but wonderful clown/skeleton canvases (well, I like it at least, but I have a taste for outsider art, including psychotic stuff). In conjunction with the clown fascination, Saunders employs subtle carnival music in the score at one point. This worked well, but would have been better if more regular and prominent.

What Saunders focuses on instead are those elements that provide that uncomfortableness I was talking about earlier. Gacy had a crawl space beneath his house that served as a dumping ground for bodies and that produced an infamous stench. Saunders dwells on the crawl space, appropriately. He also fills it with cockroaches, maggots and other insects. Gacy comes across as consistently pathetic, almost sad, as does most of the rest of the cast, surprisingly enough, including Gacy's family and most of his victims. It's difficult when watching the film to believe that some of the victims would make themselves as available as they did, especially over time, but this is based on truth. A lot of small, subtle "beats" add to the pathetic feeling, including the driving shots through the dirty windshield, and a lot of white trash characters who look unkempt, who drive wrecks, and who work in dilapidated environments. Even though I ended up wishing there was more of the carnival music, I also loved the melancholy score that is prominent about two-thirds of the way through the film.

While the film might not provide a lot of psychological insight into Gacy, if such would be possible--he truly comes across as very rational and completely insane at the same time, and it might have benefited from a more linear, in-depth look at some of the victims, the film still succeeds by delivering a deeply disturbing atmosphere.
38 out of 44 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Whoo, That Smell! Can't You Smell That Smell?
liberalblossom1522 March 2007
Having a low budget doesn't always mean having a bad movie, but in this case it does. While other directors use their minimal budget to produce the best film they can, Clive Saunders seems to have blown it all on something, because this film looks like it could have easily been made on $1,000. I found it to be dull, poorly written/acted/directed, and an insult to the intelligence of viewers who have actually done the research on Gacy that these film makers neglected to do.

The setting is horrible. The movie is supposed to be taking place in Chicago, but the Southern California architecture, mountains and palm trees make it clear that the production never left Los Angeles. The film is supposed to take place in the seventies, but it doesn't give off the authentic feel at all. The script gives one the feeling that it was a first draft whipped up in one weekend and put to film without so much as one editing session. The dialogue is weak and unbelievable in many scenes, and there seemed no basic plot whatsoever. With directing, editing and shoddy camera work such as appears in this film, these people should be banned from ever making films again. Seriously, I could do better with a bunch of friends and a camcorder.

Now, I want to start right off by saying that I did not go into this hoping for blood and guts and gore...what I wanted was to learn a little background on the man himself. Although I love those aspects of horror films, I wanted more of a psychological view of Gacy, and that is what the film failed to deliver. All it managed to do was show scenes of bugs in his crawl space, him going to and from work, him being harassed and beaten up for the money he owes, and the overwhelming emphasis placed on the stench of the decomposing bodies hidden under the house.

Worst of all, Gacy is portrayed as somewhat of a bumbling idiot rather than the scarily intelligent being he was. All of the deaths that are shown seem to have been committed on accident - such as the boy he was drowning in the bathtub when he was interrupted. When the boy fell down dead, he looked like he'd "made a boo-boo."- Not to mention the fact that he would leave dead bodies lying around the house and his roommates wouldn't take any notice. I realize that some people don't make it their business to report suspicious crimes or get involved, but that is just ridiculous.

Yes, I will admit that I wanted at least one scene of brutal violence from the film, but only for it to give me a full perspective of Gacy's crimes. I wanted a true story that did the story of the killer justice as well as creep me out, but instead I received this boring mess. Don't do like I did. Spare your intelligence and read up on Gacy instead, I guarantee you that what you read will entertain and scare you more than this film ever could.
20 out of 25 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
More like a documentary than a film.
jackdaniels198115 August 2003
I hadn't heard much about the Gacy Killings before I saw this movie. I guess you could say I'm uncultured considering he is one of the most well known serial killers of America. Anyway, I decided to give this movie a go, because I'm starting to open up to movies that aren't all about comedy and this seemed like a good contrast to try.

I was quite disappointed by the lack of depth. It seemed to just fill time with the same thing over and over again. He goes out, picks up a boy, brings him home and well...we know the rest. I suppose the main problem was the fact that we never really got an insight into him and how he thought and his real reasons for doing what he did. We had a little taste of his childhood and his abusive father right at the beginning of the film and heard a few flashback sounds throughout the film as constant reminders but that was it.

We also never really saw how this affected everybody else around him. His co-workers, friends, neighbours, wife, mother, children. I mean they were all a part of his life and even lived in the same house. It would have been nice to include this in the storyline. I feel this film was more of a documentary to tell people who he was and what he did rather than open up a bit of light as to what went on behind it all.

I've seen other serial killer movies and they all seem to at least explain a little as to what is going on. We never really got a look at it through his eyes, which is what I guess everybody will be expecting to see.

Overall, it was a pretty boring account of what happened and although my thoughts go out to those that were lost and the people that were affected by these real life events. I feel this film has done nothing but bring back painful memories for those involved. A film best left alone...

If you're thinking of watching this movie. I suggest you do it on a night where you've got nothing better to do because it really isn't that entertaining.
14 out of 17 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
What's that smell? Oh, it's just the movie.
LCShackley19 December 2004
I'd like to know what the purpose was behind the making of this film. The Gacy story would have been served better by a more documentary approach, instead of this weak "grand guignol" version which spends more time focusing on maggots and bad smells than on Gacy and his background. Are we to believe that he's a psychopath because his dad whacked him around on a fishing trip (and maybe elsewhere)? His married life is brushed over casually (what happened in all the OTHER years of his marriage?), and his business and social life was also given short shrift. Why did he kill the first boy? When did he lose control over his anger and perversion? He's just a hair-trigger, vulgar and angry guy through the entire film.

BUT HERE'S WHAT BUGS (sic) ME MOST ABOUT THIS FILM...when will L.A. producers realize that other parts of the country look different from California? This story took place in Des Plaines, IL, my wife's home town. (In fact, Gacy's last "pickup" was at a store just a few blocks from her house.) In the movie, Gacy's house and neighborhood look nothing like Chicago. The trees are wrong, the sky is wrong, the other buildings are wrong. They didn't even get the colors quite right on the Chicago police cars. Worst of in many other Hollywood productions about can actually see MOUNTAINS in the background (during Gacy's party scene). Hollywood morons need to get out a little more! There is life beyond L.A. (At least they confessed to it in the closing credits.)
38 out of 54 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Could/Should have been way better.
coldwaterpdh15 October 2008
"Gacy" is a great example of a film that tries to do way too much and tries way too hard to do it. We are treated to a very vague portrait of a man who was an historically vicious serial killer. Along the way there are attempts at comedy that do not work at all, too many victims that look too much like actors, and a lot of nonsense that couldn't have happened and never really did happen.

Keep in mind that the movie was penned by a screenwriter, it is not any kind of J.W. Gacy biography. If you view it with this in mind, I suppose it could be mildly entertaining, but if seen through intelligent eyes, it stands out as an exploitative, ridiculous and overly ambitious serial killer thriller film that romps through way too much unnecessary filler material.

Not scary, not funny, not realistic. Not recommended.

3 out of 10, kids.
11 out of 16 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
more comedy than horror...
Martyrcity26 January 2006
I was pretty disappointed with this one. The primary reason this film was even remotely disturbing was due to the fact it was based on a true story. The direction and acting was quite terrible. Really, really bad. Thankfully, the bad acting is so much so that it turns from bad to kind of funny. I haven't seen the other film based on the same situation, but can't image it to be much worse than this. It's worth seeing for the sake of it being an interesting true story...well, that and John Gacy is played by none other than Mark Holton (Francis from Pee Wee's Big Adventure). Somehow, the relation between the two films makes them both that much scarier.
8 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Thankfully not going for cheesy scares, but it's still inaccurate and badly acted!
the amorphousmachine24 December 2004
Warning: Spoilers
'Gacy' is a low-budget dramatised B-grade version of one of America's most famous serial killers in John Wayne Gacy. It is not a horror movie, nor should it ever be made with the "oh look, he's gonna get it" clichés. It's a true story based on real events, and real people. I'm glad that Clive Saunders chose to not to try and make a slasher/horror flick. Instead, he opted to display the creepiness of John Wayne Gacy, and perhaps, frustrate the audience at how this man got away with so much.

'Gacy' is a hard film to make, and I can see why it was dramatised the way it was because it's too graphic a crime to really show what he did to his victims- and the circumstances of his capture and the reasons for targeting his victims weren't as dramatic in real life. ***MAJOR SPOILERS*** The climax of the film where Tom narrowly escapes was not the reason the cops decided to make the arrest. It makes for good drama, but that was not how it happened. The truth is, the evidence began to accumulate due to objects found in the house, and also because many of the victims also knew each other. Other scenes such as neighbours threatening to sue over the smell is also inaccurate since Gacy's real neighbours defended him at the trial. Similarly, the boy who wanted his pay did not beat Gacy up and take his money to become a future victim- all the kid did was threaten to go to the police over the pay dispute. So, the film does take some liberties with the truth for dramatic effect, but I personally would like to have seen the true story, and more about how the cops managed to discover his crimes, and why it took them so long to clue on.

'Gacy' as a film, feels b-grade, and never really convinces you that it's representing a true event. The acting in general is substandard, although Mark Holton does look more like John Wayne Gacy than Brian Dennehy did in "To Catch a Killer" mini-series- yet the latter was a better representation. Holton is okay in some moments, but the rest of the cast don't add much to this movie. You never really get a satisfying conclusion, nor does Gacy's family ever get explored as characters. They are just basically wallpaper. Director, Clive Saunders, tries to represent the psychology behind Gacy's actions through his childhood, but it's never really convincingly connected, and Adam Baldwin seems farcical as Gacy Snr! Granted, Saunders manages to give a creepy uncomfortable feeling in this movie as the "normality" of Gacy's everyday life is played out, and the use of clowns is quite effective in this movie too. However, 'Gacy' never displays the true horror of John Wayne Gacy, and some scenes are so unconvincing and badly acted (as well as scripted) that it's hard to take this film seriously at all! While I respect the fact that Saunders got away from selling a real-life serial killer story as a horror movie, and instead go for the creepier aspect of John Wayne Gacy with implications! Saunders still should have made a film that was as accurate as possible, and given more substance to other characters in the film. However, as it stands, he neither had the means or the talent to portray a chilling exposition of this extremely evil human being. 'Gacy' is simply not a good movie, but at least it didn't go down the road of cliché horror flicks, and one can respect that I guess! ** out of *****!
8 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Worst movie since Plan 9
tax_man26 March 2005
So, possibly not the worst, but damned near to it. Here's the thing; I'm a psychology major with a specialization in criminal psychology. I've been working in a prison with small-time serial murderers for the past 3 years north of Atlanta, Georgia for my internship and occupation. I've extensively studied all the famous ones, Fish, Sutcliffe, Gacy, Dahmer, Gein, etc. so that I could make headway on treatment and understanding in the prison I've been working in. For all of you out there interested in the subject, the best book on the subject for those not doing, well, graduate study or anything, is My Life Among the Serial Killers by Dr. Helen Morrison. Excellent book with a large section on Gacy, her studies with him, and even his trial and execution. Not even talking from a standpoint of how it incorrectly portrays Gacy the man, but plainly from the standpoint of movies, it's terrible. It's an absolute bore; the whole movie drags and chops its way through a largely fabricated story with terrible editing, directing, and acting. Much worse, Gacy is portrayed as if his murders are driven by revenge at points, unconscious drives at others (closer to, but still not getting to the most likely causes). There is one thing that the movie did decently, and still it was nothing more than hinting at the truth. Jeff Rignall, one of his few surviving victims, was depicted as that male prostitute. He suffered severely from Gacy's treatment, including permanent and nearly fatal liver damage from the chloroform, brain damage from the near-death suffocation, and several other major medical issues along with severe developmental and psychological issues. The other victim that survived and came forward, Robert Donnelly reported almost identical occurrences as far as abduction and torture. Even then, his life did not need extra, fictitious events to dramatize it. He was an interesting enough person even when the truth is told. Come to think of it, some of the most interesting things he did were during his imprisonment up until his sentence was carried out in March of '94. Either way, if you think this movie gave you any insight into the veiled monster that Gacy really was, you're deeply mistaken. The biggest thing this movie was lacking was recognition of his inability to view other people as separate sentient human beings. That is what makes a serial killer. This movie did not portray that in any reasonable way, and it did not bring to the public any sort of idea of what Gacy was.
27 out of 49 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Beware of Killer Clowns
domino10039 November 2005
Warning: Spoilers
After watching "Gacy" and knowing the story behind the film, you can understand a little why so many people have a fear of clowns.

John Wayne Gacy (Mark Holton, who many people may remember from "Pee Wee's Big Adventure")seems like the typical old man next door. However, he has problems with his crawlspace. There's a constant smell coming from it. And there's a reason for it: Gacy buries his victims under his house, his mother totally oblivious to what is going on in her son's house and his wife is wondering about her husband's strange behavior (Like the porn mags with guys and his little "hideaway."). Even his new house guest, Tom (Charlie Webber)is wondering about him, although he still stays with him despite the weird vibes: sounds coming from the crawlspace, the films with boys and the box loaded with watches. It's only a matter of time when all of Gacy's secrets are revealed (Especially when he runs out of room in his crawlspace).

The film is incredibly creepy (the constant views of a bug infested crawlspace;dragging a body past his sleeping mother;killing a boy while dressed as a clown)and just as disturbing (Especially as he just walks around a body that's just lying around in his house). Gacy was a monster and Holton does an incredible performance in his portrayal of Gacy.
7 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
The Gacy that could've been...
Bapemania13 February 2004
I just saw this movie on DVD and worked myself all the way through till the end. This movie was not really good, the acting appeared to me as a bit corny, and the story was not put together either. Also I thought it was too bad they sometimes used handycams, usually I don't mind, I love the Dogma95 movies, but this movies had all the handwork at the wrong time. You wanna see a good J.W. Gacy movie go see "to catch a killer" it was actually a miniseries made in 1992 starring Brian Dennehy, that was made more convincing. 2 1/2 out of 5 stars
7 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
I liked it !
gkline-119 March 2007
The reason I watch any movie is for entertainment and this one certainly did that. I was largely unfamiliar with the Gacy story so I had no preconceptions. I found it believable and well acted. Judged on holding my attention and the scare factor I give it a 10. It surely deserves better ratings than it's been getting from the majority of the people who've posted thus far and I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone looking for a way to spend an evening and enjoyable viewing experience. While it might not be exactly accurate in all details I did not watch it expecting a biography, just entertainment and that is what I got. So don't be put off by all the negative comments, see it and make your own opinion.
6 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
They just can't do it
Smells_Like_Cheese12 February 2004
The reason I rented this movie is because, John Wayne Gacy is a legend over at my old high school, because two of his victims were my teacher's students. So, there would always be questions. The house was just a couple blocks down from our school and we'd ask about Gacy himself and what he was like. It wasn't really like what we heard when I saw the movie.

The movie does tell in the beginning that some of the events they came up with were fictional. To tell the truth, I don't think the reason why this movie wasn't effective is because of the fact that Gacy was so brutal with these boys. It couldn't be shown what he did to them. So, the movie itself isn't that great. I'd rather go and visit my old school and just ask the teachers that were there when this happened.

6 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
chaplins_charlie5 July 2003
I remember the intent on watching this movie was because it was where Stephen King got his idea for the movie "It". Well, this is the true story about a middle-aged man, John Wayne Lacy, who is an ordinary husband and father living in an ordinary town. He works as a clown for children's birthday parties and seems to live a good life despite living through a very abusive childhood. However, no one knows that this ordinary and kind man has a sick and twisted deep dark secret. It goes on until neighbors, friends and even his own wife start to grow suspicious and that's when hell breaks loose. The ending surprised me and if you watch it, you will be too! Mark Holton did a fantastic job as John Wayne Gacy. I didn't know Holton had such talent, I mean after seeing him play Francis in the Pee-Wee Herman movie, I didn't think much of him, but he was great in this one!! His facial expressions and his emotions were so real that it was really convincing. Rent it and you'll find out for yourself!! I give it 7 stars out of 10!!
7 out of 13 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
One of America's most notorious serial killers used to be just the guy next door. Who knew of the horrors that were hidden within his crawl space?
Anonymous_Maxine17 December 2004
Hey, how about all those neighbors that were always wondering what that awful smell was that was coming from under his house? Gacy as the unenviable distinction of being one of the few serial killers to rival the depravity of fellow psychopath Ed Gein, whose antisocial antics led to the inspiration of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Silence of the Lambs, and Psycho. Gacy was less into wearing other people's skin as he was into strangling and sodomizing young men, providing plenty of material for a sick biography like this, which of course lots of sick people like me will go out and rent.

Why we all get such a kick out watching things like this (by "we all," of course, I am referring to all of us sick people who get such a kick out of watching things like this) I am not sure I rightly know, but I think Gacy is a well made film, given its subject matter and it's limited production capabilities. Sure, there are numerous holes, none of the acting is very impressive other than Mark Holton's (who played Gacy himself), and the movie commits that cardinal sin of the movies, it throws logic out the window. The whole premise of the movie, as was the case in Gacy's life, is that John Wayne Gacy was a regular guy next door that no one would ever have suspected, but in the movie the quickness with which everyone dismisses the smell of rotting meat coming from under his house is a little trying. I don't know enough about the details of Gacy's life to know is people actually did smell decay from under his house and ignore, but I can't help but think that even if that did happen, it was dramatized for effect, as they say, in the movie.

The thing that is most disturbing about a movie like this is that if someone had written a screenplay like this that was entirely fictional, they would probably have gotten a similar response that Wes Craven got when Last House on the Left was released. People didn't want him to be allowed to work in film again, and yet when it is based on true events people have this morbid fascination with it. Not that that's anything new, it just seems odd to me that people are more offended by fictional violence than true violence.

I like that the movie has a lot of restraint when it comes to showing the things that Gacy actually did to his victims. We are not entirely spared a look at how he killed some of his victims (this would have offended some of Gacy's fans, if you can believe that such a man has them), but the movie leaves most of the more heinous acts offscreen, concentrating more on things like thousands of crawling maggots and the inevitable smell emitted from the rotting corpses under his house. Most estimate that Gacy killed something like 30 young men, others say we may never know how many he killed.

Holton does a great job with the script, which is not the best, and is especially good at making us believe that Gacy was able to be charming despite how frightening he could be when he was visiting the other half of his personality. It is indeed unsettling to think that a man who dressed up like a clown to entertain sick kids at a hospital could be killing large numbers of young men and doing things much more horrible than sodomy to them, but if you want to get a few insights into how and why he did it, this film is not a bad place to start.

Note: I've read that, while this movie concentrates on the story from Gacy's point of view, there is also a television movie called To Catch A Killer that focuses more on the police investigation side of the story.
4 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Interesting character study
czarnobog22 April 2006
It's easy to understand why some viewers didn't appreciate this movie. The quantity of violence is low, considering its subject matter. It's not a comprehensive biography either. However, it is a nicely directed film, which hammers home (no pun intended) the essence of who this amazing character was. Mark Holton's naturalistic portrayal of John Wayne Gacy is startlingly three dimensional. Knowing what this man did, it is shocking the first time he utters a casually humorous jibe, and we realize that he was indeed the guy next door who you'd really never suspect. He's more John Goodman than Norman Bates, and when he does unleash a bit of violence, it's all the more horrific. There are a few minor quibbles with the script. Gacy's oblivious attitude toward the police who are obviously casing him points to the fact that he subconsciously wanted to be stopped, but this is never clarified, and leaves the viewer wondering about his behavior. Although there are no scenes of him doing his clown act, he does appear in very creepy clown make-up and the clown paintings are awesome. They were all so well-done that I had the feeling they were either Gacy's real work (if so, he was quite an artist) or that the art department was exceptionally talented. If you want an exploitative hack 'em up, try DRILLER KILLER by Tobe Hooper. If you want a well-produced biofilm about an extremely disturbed and disturbing individual, this one is worth checking out. If I had kids I'd force them to watch this as a cautionary tale.
3 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Doesn't Even Almost Capture The True Horror Of John Wayne Gacy
HorrorOverEverything18 June 2013
When you read the true stories of these horrible serial killers such as Gacy, Dahmer, and Bundy, its easy to think that those stories would make great and terrifying films. However time after time these serial killer bio flicks just fall flat and don't seem to capture the horror of these killers, and "Gacy" is definitely not the exception.

My first complaint is just the whole tone of the movie. It never seems very serious, I felt as if I was watching a comedic made for T.V movie with all the funny parts ripped out. The story was flat and moved at an unusual and unappealing pace. I can't say I am very familiar with the true story of John Wayne Gacy (I know the basics, just not everything there is to know) but I doubt this movie followed it to a tee, some things just seemed out of place.

Overall "Gacy" just doesn't do a very good job of telling the story of John Wayne Gacy. Its rather boring and just not very interesting.

2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A couple of spoilers below.
soonerzs24 September 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Several years ago I watched the TV mini series 'To Catch A Killer,' (1992) about John Wayne Gacy. I knew the name and was vaguely familiar with his crimes, but that was all. The movie starred Brian Dennehy and I thought his performance was outstanding. I came away from that movie with the idea that Gacy was an intelligent, cold, and calculating killer. Dennehy was absolutely horrifying as Gacy.

I recently watched the movie Gacy (2003.) The character of Gacy was a total contrast from the movie mentioned above. In this film Gacy is a bumbling buffoon and doesn't appear smart enough to get his shoes on the right feet. On more than one occasion he is assaulted by the young men that work for him for failure to pay their wages. They even openly refer to him as a faggot and call him other disparaging names such as 'fatass,' etc.

Gacy's character in this film is whiney and indecisive. I'm now curious to know which portrayal is more closely aligned with the real Gacy.
2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Nothing special
jackblaack25 May 2004
I rented this movie not expecting a lot, but was very interested to see how one of the most disturbing serial killers in American history was portrayed.

Often times movies about serial killers, especially made for TV movies fall short because they get caught up trying to get away with showing as much of the gruesome acts that their subjects committed, rather than delving into the environment that could've produced them, or the circumstances in which their acts were committed.

E! True Hollywood Stories do a better job of relaying the events than movies such as Summer of Sam, the slew of movies made about Charles Manson , the handful of Ted Bundy movies and the recent film Gacy. Gacy is not a bad movie. It is just kind of boring to be honest. There is absolutely no suspense, no true horror, a few kind of gruesome scenes and it doesn't leave the viewer with any answers as to what could have possibly created a monster like John Wayne Gacy, aside from the brief lack luster 2 minute scene with a young Gacy fishing with his father.

To make a film about John Wayne Gacy and have it not be interesting is like messing up a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The part of Gacy is very well acted however by Richard Holton. He is perfect for the role, you may recall him from his role as Francis in Pee Wee's Big Adventure (a true classic.) Back to the point, if you are a serial killer aficionado this could be worth checking out, if you're a Killer Klowns from Outerspace fan don't bother Gavy dresses up like a clown once and its brief. This film would have better spent its time tackling the enigma that was this monster of a man and the double life he led for years instead of simply relaying events in a rather boring way. Not worth the 4 some odd dollar rental fee unless ur a big serial killer or Gacy buff.
2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Sketchy but worthwhile portrayal of a serial murderer
pksky117 August 2003
I suppose that there is only so much you can fit into a movie about somebody who killed at least 29 young boys. What is noteworthy about this movie, I think, is the portrayal of the middle class life style that Gacy found himself in. It also portrays very well the community that Gacy circulated in that contributed to his ability to prey so easily on so many kids. Finally, I think Gacy himself is also shown fairly accurately, although we should have seen a little bit more about his early days and especially about how he came to start killing kids.

The movie resists the temptation to reduce this piece of history to a sleazy slasher film.
2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
The Ultimate Movie Review! - - @tss5078
Tss507820 October 2013
These serial killer films are really hit or miss, most of them are misses, for a variety of reasons. They are usually cheaply made, direct-to-video films, with an inexperienced cast, trying to profiteer on the infamy of these evil men. That being said, I decided to watch Gacy anyway, because of all the insane people who became infamous, John Wayne Gacy, may have been the craziest. This married man with kids, ran a construction business, that only employed young boys, and on the weekends, he made extra money by dressing up as a clown for children's birthday parties. This man was seen as a wimpy, harmless, closeted guy, no one would have ever thought they'd find 27 bodies underneath his house. The producers of the film, Gacy, decided to take it in a different direction than similar films by introducing Gacy as this lovable loser. If you didn't know the story and just popped in the film for the hell of it, I'd have thought this was some kind of comedy....until it wasn't. Veteran character actor, Mark Holton, stars as Gacy and was terrific, he was honestly the only reason to watch the film, especially after it turned. The story is horrific and the rest of the cast amounts to little more than eye candy, but Holton really pulls everything together, takes you inside Gacy's tortured mind, and makes this movie more than just another slasher film. After watching Gacy, I did what everyone else would do and Wiki'ed John Wayne Gacy. I wasn't surprised to see that the film is considered to be wildly inaccurate. Obviously five people aren't going to live in a house with 27 rotting bodies underneath and be almost completely oblivious to it, so I knew the film probably had a lot of bull in it. The film does have a talented star that really makes this film much more interesting then the other serial killer bio-pics.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Dull and insulting
Rrrazorback16 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I could save you some time by advising you to track down the far superior "To Catch a Killer." If you want to see a disturbing and accurate portrayal of the Gacy killings, then don't waste your time with "Gacy" itself.

What I found to be the worst thing about this flick are the numerous attempts the filmmakers made to garner sympathy from the audience for "poor John Wayne Gacy" Let's get something straight, homicidal rapists are not people to be pitied or idolised, they have lost their rights and place in society by causing horror and pain beyond anything their victims could have imagined. Try picturing yourself being sexually tortured and strangled to death by a sweating overweight slob, not a pleasant thought is it? Not only does this film insult the audience by painting a portrait of a tortured Gacy, it also takes severe liberties with the story itself, if this is not meant to be a true life story, then please rename it to Killer Klowns 2 or some such, the blending of facts with utter fantasy makes for some frustrating viewing.

The depiction of the "police" work is laughable at best and for those wanting to see the actual horrific details of the tortures and murders, no luck, if anything this Gacy is the original's gentle twin.

Disturbing scenes including images of the bugs in the crawlspace and Gacy drowning a youth in his bathtub, but honestly, this whole dumb film made for painful viewing.

Give it a miss.
3 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Turning a psycho clown into a bad movie
workinbear11 May 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Just saw "Gacy". A very disappointing movie to say the least.

It glossed over the long, bloody career of a serial killer with jump cuts of bugs in a crawlspace.

The movie never addressed the true horror of Gacy's crimes. The fact that he presented the image of a kind neighbor to the world, his sexual abuse and torture of his victims, the cat-and-mouse game he played with the police.

Gacy was a sick man who brutalized his victims. To show him drowning one in a bathtub, while dressed as a clown no less, is nowhere near as horrible as the true story. The film makers would have had a better product if they had told more of the real story.

While watching the film, I felt that the audience was never allowed to get near enough to Gacy to see the real man. He was shown as a distant, rude, brutish man which is not the case. Serial killers, by their nature, must be warm and friendly seeming in order to lure their victims into their trap. The man portrayed in this movie could never have eluded suspicion while committing his crimes.

Gacy actually did charity work and was recognized by the city of Chicago for his contributions, all the while he was torturing and killing young men.

This movie, while trying to scare and horrify the audience, missed the mark completely. The real story of John Wayne Gacy is far more horrific than this watered down telling.
3 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Fat Clowns are soooo gay!!!
pkzeewiz30 March 2010
Warning: Spoilers
So this movie is based on John Wayne Gacy and his killing spree of young boys and how he buried most of them under his house...

There is so much to Gacy and it wasn't touched on in this film. He had an interesting story and none of that was told here, just you set for 90 minutes watching a movie and learning what you read on the back of the box.

It was a straight to video flop and with every good reason. The director is a nobody and he did a horrible job. It was so basic and felt just like a Lifetime movie of the week. The lighting was god awful. Apparently they had no budget on this one.

I was happy to see Adam Baldwin had a small role at the start of the film. I have always been a fan of him. The guy portraying Gacy, Mark Holton, is not a familiar face and I was happy of that, no one on this film was a big actor or familiar face, and I love that in movies. I kept thinking I had seen Holton somewhere and a friend said he was in Pee-wee's Big Adventure and I was like "oh yeah". I just now read on here he was in the Teen Wolf movies, Naked Gun and Leprechaun all of which I have seen numerous times, but had forgotten him, so yea he's easily forgotten.

Brian Dennehy portrayed Gacy in a movie called To Catch A Killer, I would love to see that one, but this being my second viewing of this film, I can say I hope I never have to set through it again.

It gives some insight into Gacy, but its not too in depth. I couldn't recommend it. 2 out of 10 stars.
2 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Scarecrow-8814 August 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Mark Holton effectively portrays notorious 70's serial killer John Wayne Gacy in this cheap portrait of his life. We get an understanding that treatment from his dad in a sense spawned the monster he'd become. He's seen in the early goings of this biography as a husband in a rather benign marriage with daughters who look completely miserable. He's an obvious mama's boy and Mrs. Gacy is often seen watching programs on the television with her son as they enjoy time together with Kara Gacy(Joleen Lutz)often rolling her eyes in bemusement. Soon Kara discovers male nudie mags in his tool box and peculiar-enough, the jeans of young men in his dresser drawers. Soon Kara and the kids are gone and John takes to the streets, suckering young males in various ways to his house before sodomizing and murdering them, burying their bodies in a crawlspace under his home. A running "joke" is how everyone becomes so sickeningly overcome by the smell emanating from his house's crawlspace. Gacy hires young males to work for him, and we get an idea of how others can see his's often used as a source of ridicule when talked about by those who can read between the lines. The film doesn't elaborate on the obvious sadomasochistic pleasures Gacy had with chosen unfortunate victims, but we see glimpses of severe mistreatment to several males by handcuffing them using a rope twisting a stick into their throats, gagging them with a sock. We Gacy hit an employee over the head with a hammer, later bribing him to remain quiet. We see Gacy pick up a male promising weed and money, only to commit atrocities towards him(..not shown in the film, but subtly hinted at). We see how the stench from his crawlspace was a constant reminder of his unforeseen activities. We get an idea of how the image of clowns was of such importance in his life as the camera points out pictures among other artifacts. We do see him in "clown-face" as well. The film always makes it a point to point out the kind of mean-spirited, profane, and slippery human being he really was, and director Clive Saunders unveils to us who he really was behind the masquerade others were fooled by. And, we see how he is defeated by his obsessions for teenage males, both sexually and sadistically. The man we are presented with is a heathen with few qualities, quite unlike the character who duped a community. Saunders and David Birke do the right thing by proclaiming this as "based" on true events, embellishing a bit so that the particular audience interested in this sicko could get an understanding of who he really was, not perceived to be. There is a garden party where important political figure claims he's the "embodiment of the American Dream", but we rarely see the Gacy figure which impressed a great number of people. He holds out paying his workers, and we see where the money often goes to..drink and drugs. Once his marriage to his second wife ends, Gacy's activities increase, with his desire for Jimmy(Oren Skoog)taking center stage as he offers a free room to him cheap. This sets in motion what would ultimately damn him..through an attempt to murder Jimmy(who was planning to leave for the West Coast)and not paying a disgruntled friend he owed cash to, his true menace would soon be discovered. The film is shot mostly with a steadicam and often up close, I guess so that the setting within the 70's wouldn't be so unrealistic. I think the filmmakers were more concerned with the character of Gacy and his activities than how purely authentic Chicago of that period looks. You can go on IMDb's trivia portion and discover just what mistakes the director made regarding the the goofs of 70's Chicago and how this film doesn't accurately convey the city. Through small clips, we get a small glimpse into his past before Chicago..the monster that was in Iowa before he took his exploits to Chicago. I say watch this for Holton's performance as Gacy, because I think he brings out the person who this psychopath really was. He has the right look for the role and has that certain disturbing quality about him that Gacy needs for this film. Covers a lot of ground in a short amount of time, and perhaps the budget just wasn't quite large enough to really provide a stronger narrative of one of America's most infamous serial killers...using, say, Spike Lee's Summer of Sam(..which does cover a period of life in NYC during the murderer's grip over the city)as an example. The film does spend ample time building the sinister atmosphere of that crawlspace with it's maggots and roaches, sun beaming light through the smallish windows.
2 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Stinks worse than the smell coming from under Gacy's house
ecwagner9 August 2003
Rather than make a movie that goes into the mind of Gacy and examine what brought him to murder so many people, the directors instead make a movie about a serial rapist of young boys. Oh yea, somewhere in there the directors implies that Gacy may have killed some of them.

If you've seen the movie and you know nothing of Gacy, check out and read up on his life. This site will fill in the blanks and answer a few questions left hanging by the movie.

If you haven't seen the movie -- Don't. Save a few bucks and go to the site and read up on him.
2 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews

Recently Viewed