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DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Aileen: Live and Death of a Serial Killer (1 Viewer)

Michael Osadciw

Jun 24, 2003
Real Name
Michael Osadciw

The 2002 Interviews

Studio: Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment
Film Year: 2003

U.S. Rating: R
Canadian Rating: 14A
Rated for: Language Including Violent and Sexual Dialogue

Film Length: 89 minutes
Genre: Documentary

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround
Subtitles: French
Closed Captioned: Yes

Release Date: June 1, 2004

Film Rating :star: :star: :star: 1/2 / :star: :star: :star: :star: :star:

A Film By Nick Broomfield and Joan Churchill

Forced Trailers (all non-anamorphic): Monster, Secret Window, Trapped, In The Cut

Also available on June 1st along side Monster, the Charlize Theron hit film everyone is now talking about, is Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer. Filmmaker Nick Broomfield once again tackles Aileen’s story. Prior to this film he’s made The Selling of a Serial Killer, a film about the exploitation of Aileen Wuornos’s life by the media and by the authorities involved, all in the name of making money for themselves by possibly securing a movie deal. This film touches on that a little bit, but mostly provides the back story to Aileen’s life to show her motivations behind her killings.

Selling sex for cigarettes as early as age nine and living in the woods for two years in her early teens, the film interviews people who have admittedly abandoned Aileen at that age – so called friends and relatives, and lovers too. The film tries to show us how people and society has failed her. Her days as a streetwalker brought about disrespect for men that prompted a female lover named Tyra (Selby in the film). The film shows a variety of footage from Tye testifying against Aileen in court to her very last interviews.

Over the years Broomfield has sort of developed a relationship with Aileen. To the days leading up to her execution she agreed to be interviewed several times by him. He asks a variety of questions regarding her murders, some of which she is willing to discuss and some she isn’t. She wants Broomfield to record what she believes as the media and police covering up information they had of her that could have prevented the other murders. By means of the interviews, she wants to expose what she believes is a conspiracy against her as well as her exploitation by the media and politicians. The question is: Do you believe what she is saying? What is clear to and what I believe, is that we are witnessing a woman who is longing for death. She is waiting the day to be executed after sitting on Florida’s death row for 12 years. From what we see here, she is full of contradictions and changes her stories frequently to suit her decisions for the time – depending on the message she wants to send out to the public. How can we believe her? First she said she killed in self-defense. Later she admits she intentionally killed people for robbery. She has a story in her mind and she wants to stick with it, thus all information she gives is biased to support her story. The problem is that Aileen isn’t a great storyteller, so she doesn’t convince me one bit. I know we live in a corrupt society and people are always lying to cover their ass, but Aileen’s murderous rampage for what we are told to believe is because of “society’s failure to Aileen” is ludicrous.

Winner at the Tribeca Film Festival as Best Documentary as well as a winner at the Amnesty International for the Doen Award, Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer gives the viewer a haunting look into eyes of a stray woman gone wrong in the head. You witness the Aileen and the others involved firsthand as opposed to watching Monster which is a very different experience in my opinion. I am not one for watching documentaries of seeing people testify in court and I’d fall asleep if that’s all it was. There is a lot of information on Aileen present here and after watching Monster I do admit to finding this film more interesting. I’m not sure how I would have felt if I hadn’t seen the theatrical film, but I do know now that I look at the theatrical film as a joke, really. It’s fine for entertainment for those who like the genre, but I know based on my views of what I picked out from both of these film that I couldn’t watch Monster again. It’s not because it’s a bad movie – I think it was very well done – I just don’t agree with its message. I don’t believe Aileen was a victim of her crimes and I don’t believe that her story is tragic at all. I know many of you may disagree, but that is what makes this world so fun to live in, isn’t it?

:star: :star: :star: :star: :star: / :star: :star: :star: :star: :star:

The jacket is incorrectly labeled as 1.85:1 full frame inside of a rectangle. The image is 1.33:1 video and looks very good. All of the newest interview footage is excellent looking 480i material. It looks as if this DVD was sourced from the first generation of the completed film. The materials used to compile this film vary from poor looking newscasts, court footage, and clips from Broomfield’s first film to the good-looking new footage. Aside from the old footage, the newest is bright and colourful video with excellent resolution. I am very pleased with the quality of this video presentation. There is no edge enhancement present nor are there annoying compression artifacts.

AUDIO QUALITY :star: :star: :star: :star: / :star: :star: :star: :star: :star:

I was surprised to find the audio track as good as it is. Mixed in matrix surround, the soundstage is surprisingly spacious. Audio is clear as a bell and has a wide frequency response. Dialogue is always intelligible and never forward sounding and the acoustics of the cold prison cells are preserved very well on this soundtrack. I really think this soundtrack performed more than it should have for the nature of this documentary. That is a good thing of course, which is why I’ll give it a high score.

SPECIAL FEATURES ZERO / :star: :star: :star: :star: :star:

No special features to be found on here, unless if you consider the theatrical trailer for Monster a special feature.


Whether you choose to watch Monster (review here) or this documentary as your primary source of information on America’s first serial killer, you may still walk away from each film wondering what direction in thought it was supposed to take you. While the movie Monster was clearly a film about portraying Aileen as a victim, contrary to some believe, I think this film doesn’t entirely serve that stance. Available as a two-pack, you can pick up both on June 1st. Once again, I’ll let you be the judge on the matter of Aileen, and feel free to posts your feelings on the film.

Michael Osadciw

Jonathan White

Stunt Coordinator
Feb 21, 2003
I have not seen Monster yet but after watching both of Nick Broomfields docs I can't wait to see it.

The stongest message I got from the film was the execution of people with mental illness, I just can't believe it goes on in society today.

I thought this was a great doc and alot betting than the selling of a serial killer.

I think she was failed by the system and let down by friends and family, but I expect that is little comfort for the families of those she killed.

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