Netflix debuted a new docuseries on the Night Stalker serial killer today, and while many early viewers have excitedly rushed to watch all four episodes, others are complaining that it’s more graphic than it needs to be.
‘Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer’ delves into the murders of Richard Ramirez, a serial killer and serial rapist who was imprisoned at San Quentin State Prison for crimes he committed in California in the mid-1980s.
But though viewers expected disturbing true crime content, some are saying that the makers went too far with including gruesome crime scene photos and CGI reenactments.
Streaming: Netflix debuted the four-part docuseries ‘Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer’ today
Criminal: It delves into the murders of Richard Ramirez, a serial killer and serial rapist
Behind bars: He was imprisoned at San Quentin State Prison for crimes he committed in California in the mid-1980s
The series includes several bloody crime scene photos, as well as CGI recreations of those crimes scenes, in which the camera moves through a bloody room.
In one, there is a close-up of a knife still in a victim’s body.
Some true crime fans think the imagery is gratuitous, and the series would have been better without it.
‘Christ the new EAR/ONS doc on Netflix is hard going and I don’t scare easily… I really wouldn’t watch unless you have a very thick skin for true crime,’ wrote one Twitter user. ‘It’s so graphic I had to turn it off after two episodes.’
EARONS stands for ‘East Area Rapist and the Original Night Stalker,’ who were originally thought to be the same person.
The East Area Rapist, also known as the Golden State Killer, has since been identified as Joseph DeAngelo.
‘Watching the new Netflix Night Stalker series. No need for them to include the victim crime scene photos, and slo-mo blood splatter shots, it’s not necessary,’ said another.
Not into it: Some early viewers are complaining about the ‘graphic’ nature of the crime scene photos and CGI reenactments in the show
‘It glorifies the killer, uses crime scene imagery way too much and tells you nothing about the victims. They are portrayed as means to an end. One was put together by women, the other by me,’ complained a third.
‘Not sure if I can get through all of #NightStalker on Netflix. This is tough viewing,’ yet another tweeted.
Writer Eric Langberg said that the series ‘gleefully displays horrific crime scene images on screen.’
‘More than any other Netflix docu-series I can think of, this one loves to titillate with specifics of the crimes,’ he wrote in an essay for Medium.
Others, however, admit that they find the series ‘creepy’ but aren’t turned off by it.
‘Jeeeez, Night Stalker on @NetflixUK is a wee bit dark & creepy isn’t it? I love True Crime docs but even I’m finding this one extremely dark & twisted. Impossible to stop watching though!’ wrote one fan.
‘Netflix the night stalker is utterly terrifying. I haven’t made it 15 minutes and I’m awfully disturbed,’ said another.
Another wrote: ‘The night stalker on netflix is just asking for me to have nightmares.’
Fans: Many others, though, find the series ‘creepy,’ ‘terrifying,’ and ‘disturbing’ but don’t want to turn it off
‘Y’all the new “night stalker” true crime documentary on Netflix is INTENSE,’ one more wrote, while another chimed in: ‘Night Stalker on Netflix is incredible. Sick sick man.’
‘Just got done watching the Night Stalker on @NetflixUK f***ing hell chills up and down my body,’ read another take.
Speaking about the project to People, director Tiller Russell said: ‘There was this sort of feeling that whoever you were, that anybody could be a victim and anybody could be next.’
With men, women, and children as victims, the non-uniformity of the crimes left people on edge
‘The murder weapons were wildly different. There were guns, knives, hammers and tire irons,’ said Russell.
Ramirez would climb through open windows and doors in the early hours of the morning and ransack valuables as well as rape and kill his victims, leaving gruesome crime scenes often marking them with pentagrams.
‘To this day in L.A., when you drive around, that’s why there are bars on the windows,’ Russell said.
Murderer: Ramirez would climb through open windows and doors, and ransack valuables as well as rape and kill his victims, leaving gruesome crime scenes
‘To this day in L.A., when you drive around, that’s why there are bars on the windows,’ the series’ director said
Though the Night Stalker’s story has played out on screen a handful of times — including American Horror Story: 1984 — Russell said that this version is the most comprehensive.
His producing partner Tim Walsh, who first approached him about the project said, ‘Weirdly, the definitive telling of this iconic Los Angeles story has never been told.’
He said he got the idea after meeting with one of the detectives who worked the case.
‘We wanted to make it as present tense as possible so that it’s unfolding in a way where you’re able to…evoke the moment-to-moment horrors and chills that people were experiencing,’ Russell said.
Ramirez was ultimately convicted at age 29 in 1989 for 13 murders, five attempted murders, 11 sexual assaults, and 14 burglaries.
At the time of his sentencing, Ramirez addressed the court to say he was ‘beyond good and evil’ and would be ‘avenged,’ adding, ‘Lucifer dwells in us all.’
Left: Ramirez shot and killed Dayle Okazaki, 34, in March of 1985. Right: Mei Leung, 9, was found dead in the basement of a hotel basement where Ramirez was living. His DNA was matched to the crime scene in 2009
He was sentenced to death for his crimes, but died of natural causes in San Quentin State Prison while awaiting execution in 2013 at 53 years old.
Ramirez beat to death Joyce Lucille Nelson, 61, of Monterey Park on July 7, 1985
Though most serial killers have a pattern and target specific types of people to victimize, Ramirez’s victims were both male and female as well as young and old.
Among his victims was Joyce Lucille Nelson, 61, of Monterey Park, whom he beat to death on July 7, 1985.
He also shot and killed Dayle Okazaki, 34, in March of 1985.
He also shot to death Elyas Abowath, 35, and beat his wife.
His oldest known victim was 84-year-old Mabel Bell, who was beaten to death with a hammer in her home.
His youngest known victim was nine-year-old Mei Leung was found dead in the basement of a hotel basement where Ramirez was living. His DNA was matched to the crime scene in 2009.
A COMPLETE TIMELINE OF THE NIGHT STALKER’S GRUESOME MURDERS
April 10, 1984: Mei Leung, 9, was found dead in the basement of a hotel basement where Ramirez was living. His DNA was matched to the crime scene in 2009.
June 28, 1984: Jennie Vincow, 79, was found dead in her apartment. She had been stabbed repeatedly and her throat was slashed so severely she was almost decapitated. Ramirez sexually assaulted her after the killing.
Mar. 17, 1985: On March 17, 1985, Ramírez attacked 20-year old María Hernández outside her home.
He shot her before entering her house. Inside was Dayle Okazaki, age 34, whom Ramírez shot and killed.
Hernández survived. Less than an hour later, Ramirez struck again in Monterey Park, attacking 30-year-old Tsai ‘Veronica’ Lian Yu.
He pulled her out of her car onto the road and shot her several times, before fleeing.
A police officer found her still breathing, but she later died at the hospital.
Mar. 27, 1985: Ramirez shot Vincent Zazzara, 64, and his wife Maxine, 44. Mrs Zazzara’s body was mutilated with several stab wounds.
She had a carving of the letter ‘T’ over her left breast and her eyes were gouged out. The mutilations were post-mortem, according to an autopsy.
May 14, 1985: Ramirez broke into the home of William and Lillie Doi. He shot William in the head and ferociously beat Lillie, but she survived.
May 29 June 1, 1985: Mabel Bell, 84, and her invalid sister, Florence Lang, 81, are beaten with a hammer in their Monrovia home. Bell was killed.
May 30, 1985: Carol Kyle, 41, of Burbank, was raped and sodomized by Ramirez.
July 2, 1985: Ramirez kills Mary Louise Cannon, 75, of Arcadia, by beating her and slashing her throat.
July 5, 1985: Whitney Bennett, 16, survived after being beaten with a tire iron by Ramirez.
July 7, 1985: Ramirez beats to death Joyce Lucille Nelson, 61, of Monterey Park.
July 20, 1985: Ramirez shot and killed Glendale couple, Maxson Kneiding, 68, and his wife Lela, 66, in their home.
Later that day, he shot and killed Chainarong Khovananth, 32, of Sun Valley, then sodomized his wife and son.
Aug. 6, 1985: Ramirez shot both Christopher Petersen, 38, and his wife, Virginia, 27, in the head. Miraculously, they both survived.
Aug. 8, 1985: Elyas Abowath, 35, is shot to death in his Diamond Bar home. His wife is beaten.
Aug. 25, 1985: Ramirez broke into the Mission Viejo apartment of Bill Carns, 29, and his fiancée, Inez Erickson, 29. Ramirez shot Carns in the head and raped Erickson. Both victims survived.