Sunday, February 25, 2007

Zodiac To Cause Copycats?

A major motion picture directed by David Fincher [Alien 3 (1992), Se7en (1995), The Game (1997), Fight Club (1999), Panic Room (2002)] opens across the United States on March 2, 2007, from Paramount Pictures. It stars, among many, Jake Gyllenhaal, Anthony Edwards, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr., Brian Cox, Chloƫ Sevigny and Bijou Phillips. It is based on the self-named serial killer who terrorized the San Francisco area during the late 1960s.

The Zodiac murdered five known victims near the Solano County communities of Benicia and Vallejo, near Napa Valley's Lake Berryessa, and in San Francisco, California, between December 1968 and October 1969. The Zodiac may have murdered others. The Zodiac claimed as much.

On August 1, 1969, three letters written by Zodiac were received at the Vallejo Times-Herald, the San Francisco Chronicle, and theSan Francisco Examiner. The letters continued being received by the media through 1974.

The Zodiac was never caught and never identified.

Will the new movie cause a Zodiac copycat killer? As documented in The Copycat Effect, some movies have resulted in violent mimics. Minor and television movies, of which there have been a few about the Zodiac, have had little impact on triggering copycat behaviors in violent humans. Major motion pictures appear to have created copycat waves of violence. Recent examples I detail include A Clockwork Orange, Natural Born Killer, The Matrix, and American History X. (I do not advocate censorship, but awareness, and deal with that approach, in depth, in the book.)

The impact of the Zodiac in cinema may be widespread, even when the name Zodiac is not used. For example, the fictional "Gemini Killer" in the movie The Exorcist III (1990) was loosely based on the Zodiac killer.

Movies about the Zodiac have increased lately. Zodiac Killer, (2005, director Ulli Lommel) is about a cat-and-mouse game between the real Zodiac and a young copycat in 2002 Los Angeles.

The Zodiac (2005, director Alex Bulkley) concerns a fictional detective in Vallejo obsessed with investigating the real Zodiac during the timeframe of the real killings. Bulkley's film has been shown often on cable television during the opening months of 2007, probably due to the upcoming Fincher release. It is an intriguing Bay Area mystery, with occult overtones. Strangely, the one suspect they show they tried to track down lived at an address with the street number 2323.

Of course, the truth of the matter is that the original real Zodiac has already resulted in one alleged imitator, the New York Zodiac copycat. Between March 9, 1990 and June 10, 1994 in New York City, a Zodiac copycat murdered three people and wounded five others with a zip gun. He also wrote letters to the police in a fashion similar to the San Francisco Zodiac. The killer knew the astrological signs of his victims.

On June 18, 1996, Heriberto Seda was arrested for shooting his 17-year-old sister in the back, and was later identified as the New York Zodiac. In June 1998, he was sentenced to 236 years in jail, and will not be eligible for parole until 2082.

One of the most famous quotations from the San Francisco-area Zodiac is: "I am waiting for a good movie about me."

Will Fincher's Zodiac cause the Zodiac, if the killer is still alive, to resurface to communicate?

Will this new 2007 movie result in a copycat Zodiac?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I recommend you read Robert Graysmith's book Zodiac Unmasked. It gives overwhelming evidence to point to one suspect over the years that most of the investigators on the Zodiac case liked: Arthur Leigh Allen. It also discusses another Zodiac copycat in Japan in the late 90's (after the New York copycat surfaced), though he began his copycat career for the same reason the New York one did: because he read the Graysmith book about the original Zodiac and was intrigued.