There is no goofier Hollywood invention than the Flamboyant Killer. Whether you were raised on the Friday the 13th movies or Saw-type torture porn, they all have a slapstick quality that lets you know that in the real world, people like this just don't exist.
Real killers are, of course, much stranger.
5Rodney Alcala -- The Game Show Contestant
Warning: This entry comes with a video clip that, in context, is the creepiest goddamned thing you've ever seen.
Rodney Alcala is a serial killer who is on death row in San Quentin for murdering five women in the 1970s, but who has subsequently admitted to 30 more murders. He is also under indictment in New York for even more murders, and is believed to be responsible for an astonishing 130 killings total across the U.S. And he looks like this:
They don't call him "The Weird Al of Killers" for nothing.
But none of that is the reason he's on this list. No, Rodney Alcala will be forever remembered for one thing: In the middle of his murderous California rampage, Rodney Alcala was a contestant on The Dating Game. And he won.
Those high cheekbones led dozens of women to grisly ends.
For those of you too young to remember, The Dating Game was an ABC television game show hosted by paragon of 1970s cheese Jim Lange. The basic premise was that a "bachelorette" would ask three "bachelors" (hidden from her view) a series of ridiculous, double entendre laden questions and choose a winner based on who she believed had the bigger mustache. Our serial killer Rodney Alcala somehow found his way onto the show in 1978, even though at the time he was a convicted rapist and a registered sex offender, two things that are generally considered "turn-offs."
Via Daily Mail
Yeah, but he more than made up for it in sheer looks and style.
Jim Lange introduced Alcala as a photographer, which is eerily creepy in retrospect because Alcala baited many of his victims by pretending to be a professional photographer, and over a thousand explicit photographs of his known and suspected victims were recovered from his residence during the murder investigation.
Wearing a brown leisure suit and sporting a shirt collar with a three-foot wingspan, he took his place in his chair behind the microphone and proceeded to field sexed up questions from a high school drama teacher from Phoenix named Cheryl Bradshaw. Inexplicably, Cheryl decided the following responses made Alcala the most desirable candidate and chose him for a date (keep in mind the "him" in this sentence was a convicted rapist in the middle of a killing spree).
Behold the raw, primal power of '70s fashion.
Cheryl: Bachelor #1 ... what is your best time?
Alcala: The best time is at night. Nighttime.
Cheryl: Why do you say that?
Alcala: Because that's the only time there is.
Cheryl: What's wrong with the morning? Afternoon?
Alcala: Well those are OK but nighttime's when it really gets good. (inaudible muttering)
Yeah, we won't be sleeping anytime soon.
Cheryl: I'm a drama teacher, and I'm going to audition each of you for my ... private class. Bachelor #1, you're a dirty old man. Take it!
Alcala: Uuuunnnhhhh Come on ... over here! Grrrrrrrr rrrraaaaarrrrrr.
Remember when your mom told you that you have horrible taste in men?
Cheryl: I'm serving you for dinner. What are you called and what do you look like?
Alcala: I'm called the banana, and I look really good.
Cheryl: Could you be more descriptive?
Alcala: Peel me!
If you have five minutes, the video of this exchange is well worth all five of them:
So Cheryl was served up by dangerously lazy television producers on a date to tennis lessons and Magic Mountain with a serial murdering rapist. Luckily for her, after the show she apparently found Alcala too creepy and refused to go out with him.
4Johann "Jack" Unterweger -- The Underwear-Strangling Wordsmith
Jack Unterweger was born in Austria in 1950 and spent his youth in and out of jail for petty crimes. It wasn't until 1974 that Jack finally discovered his true passion, which was strangling prostitutes to death with their own bras.
Be honest. Who among you hasn't wanted to strangle a hooker while dressed as the Great Gatsby?
He was given a life sentence and imprisoned in Austria for what one would've assumed to be a lengthy stay, but while incarcerated he discovered a new talent that involved way less hooker death -- Jack Unterweger began writing, and turned out to be surprisingly good at it. His short stories, poems and plays got the attention of Austria's intellectual elite, and his autobiography Fegefeuer - eine Reise ins Zuchthaus (Purgatory -- A Trip to Prison) was actually made into a movie that was shown on Austrian national TV. Austrian intellectuals began a campaign to release Unterweger, believing that someone of his literary skill couldn't possibly be capable of murdering anyone and insisting he must be cured of whatever mental defect he might have once had.
The campaign was a success, and Unterweger was freed after serving only 15 years for violent, brutal murder. Thanks to the attention paid to him by his new literary friends, he immediately found work hosting television shows and discussing prison rehabilitation with the media. He also took to dressing in a style described as "a cross between a cowhand and a Mississippi preacher," his new look as a dapper eccentric helping to disarm and charm those he came across and further convincing the people in his new social circle of his intelligence and artistic authenticity.
Suddenly, our public nudity charges don't seem all that damning.
Oddly enough, Jack apparently still really liked killing hookers -- he strangled six in the first year after his release, again with their own bras. Before this unfortunate fact was realized, Jack took a trip to Los Angeles to write a story on prostitution for an Austrian magazine. He went on a freaking ride-along with the LAPD, and afterward strangled three local prostitutes, presumably for additional research.
Police began closing in on Unterweger while he was still in the United States, and he lead the authorities on a nationwide chase. While on the run, he placed calls to his friends back home in the media and the literary elite, imploring them to convince his pursuers of his innocence. Before his friends could indignantly start another campaign to protest his unfair persecution at the hands of the lowbrow American justice system, the Austrian police nailed him on the six murders he had committed since he had been released from prison.
"But he promised he wouldn't murder again!"
Finally cornered in Miami, Florida, Unterweger was captured and extradited back to Austria, where he hanged himself in his jail cell with his trouser drawstring, presumably because he had writer's block.