The summer of 1985 was filled with terror for Southern California residents. A serial killer, who would come to be known as “The Night Stalker,” was on the loose, and no one knew if or when he would stop. No one was safe as his horrifying rampage did not discriminate as his victims ranged from small children to people in their 80s. I can personally remember that summer. While we lived in a quiet neighborhood at the time, my family began locking the front door and bought locks for the windows of our house. We placed sticks in the windowsills and screws through the aluminum of the sliding glass doors. All precautions in the hope that he would not come for us but that we would be protected if he did.
While I was just a kid, I would stay up as late as I could, keeping watch in case he chose us. I would listen for any disturbances until I couldn’t fight off sleep any longer , and I would fall asleep to late-night shows on my small black and white television. I have no idea what I could have done, but fear drives you in strange ways. On January 13th, Netflix will release Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer directed by Tiller Russell. This four-part limited docuseries follows the hunt and eventual capture of Richard Ramirez, one of the most notorious serial killers and rapists ever to walk the earth. Russell masterfully weaves together this harrowing story using archival crime-scene footage and photographs along with present-day interviews from the lead investigators on the case, the journalists who were trying to get the latest stories, victims who survived the terror, and the families of those who did not.
Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer is going to be your newest binge. I myself couldn’t stop and watched all four episodes straight, though. This series is so well directed and really created a holistic picture of this terrifying time in 1985. I love how Russell explores how law enforcement had to rethink what they thought they knew about crimes that seemed disconnected at first, but that was actually all the work of the same evil perpetrator. The multiple close calls and near misses with Ramirez before he was actually captured left me sick to my stomach. And following the example of I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, the series focuses much more on the investigators, the victims, and the families of those involved, instead of glorifying the monster that committed these crimes. Watching this series was truly an illuminating and visceral experience.
Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer will be released on January 13th on Netflix. To watch, please visit: http://netflix.com/nightstalker