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Even as our news and social media are suffer an overabundance of tales of violence and sadism, we can’t quite stop eating up fictional means of diving into such dark subject matter. Mega-producer Jason Blum and his profit-mongering Blumhouse Productions are making their latest trek into TV by teaming up with Fox TV Studios to bring the world a miniseries based on the notorious Son of Sam murders in the 1970s. I’m guessing this won’t be making its world premiere on ABC Family or The CW.
Simply called Son of Sam, the miniseries will be split up into six hours, and Deadline reports it “juxtaposes David Richard Berkowitz’s murder confession of Satan worship and human sacrifice with the actual police investigation of December 1975-1977.” Berkowtiz was a fearsome presence in New York City for those two years, killing six people and leaving more wounded with his .44 caliber revolver and hunting knife. Never a shy guy, Berkowitz antagonized the cops with letters, with the entire ordeal driving a media frenzy that turned the serial killer into a quasi-celebrity after his 1977 arrest and widely publicized trial.
Penning the Son of Sam screenplay will be Steven Katz, a writer and producer on the recent Cinemax drama The Knick, and also the guy who wrote E. Elias Merhige’s stellar 2000 period horror Shadow of the Vampire. Berkowitz’s confession stated that he was being told what to do by his neighbor’s dog, which he claimed was possessed by a demon, later saying he was part of a Satanic cult. So it won’t be impossible for Katz to spin this already familiar period of history into something fresh, but one has to wonder if it’s even necessary. Serial killers aren’t exactly new meat on the television platter, and NBC already has the Charles Manson-centered drama Aquarius airing later this year. We just washed our hands of Dexter, guys, and Hannibal is moving along nicely. Let’s not clog the drain here.
In any case, Katz’s words will hopefully be paired with a quality director to really put audiences back into 1970s New York, even if most of it ends up inside of a police station. Blumhouse has a good track record with directors, having transitioned smoothly from microbudget horror to multi-genre fare on both the big and small screen. Their last major project was Ryan Murphy’s HBO movie The Normal Heart, which won Outstanding Television Movie at this year’s Emmys. They’re also involved with Syfy’s Ascension and MTV’s Eye Candy, as well as Whiplash, Sinister 2 and roughly 600 more projects on the feature side of things.
You may recall Spike Lee already went down this road with 1999’s Summer of Sam, though his focused more on the community at risk than on Berkowitz himself. Only time will tell what Son of Sam will be like, but it will definitely tell, because some network is absolutely going to snatch this up. Will you be watching?