After a lot of anticipation, chatter, and now, controversy Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile is now on Netflix this Friday. The film attempts to give true crime fans another look into serial killer Ted Bundy’s personal life, via the perspective of Bundy's longtime girlfriend Elizabeth Kloepfer. Despite focusing more on Bundy than Kloepfer, the Zac Efron and Lily Collins movie is based on Kloepfer’s 1981 book, The Phantom Prince: My Life With Ted Bundy, which she published under the name Elizabeth Kendall.
In the book, Kloepfer tells the story of their relationship from the beginning. When Kloepfer and Bundy first met, she was a single mother to a young daughter, Tina, and Bundy was charming and someone she was instantly attracted to. There were signs that something may have been going on, and eventually, she did report her suspicions to police, but she continued communicating with Bundy after his arrest and throughout his trial before their communication gradually died down while he was in prison awaiting his execution.
There are some seriously shocking reveals shared in Kloepfer's memoir, but many of them didn't make it into the biopic. Perhaps if some of them had been included to help show Bundy's viciousness, the backlash against the movie for its glorification of Bundy's charm and appearance wouldn't be quite as intense.
In The Movie: Bundy’s relationship with Kloepfer moved fast.
Kloepfer wrote in her book that it didn’t take long for Bundy to move in with her and her daughter Tina, and soon, he was driving her to work and her daughter to daycare every day. She writes that he seemed to fit in with her family well. He even helped plan Tina’s birthday party and baked and decorated a chocolate cake for her.
“Talking and eating and taking care of Tina and sleeping together all flowed along so effortlessly that we had become a family,” Kloepfer wrote.
Not In The Movie: Bundy tried to kill her once.
Kloepfer wrote that once, Bundy called her in the middle of the night from prison and admitted that he attempted to murder her by closing the fireplace and putting a towel in the door crack to keep the smoke from escaping the apartment. Though Kloepfer remembered the incident she hadn’t thought to blame Bundy.
"I remembered that night well," Kloepfer wrote. "My eyes were running and I was coughing. I jumped out of bed and threw open the nearest window and stuck my head out. After I had recovered some, I opened all the windows and the doors and broke up the fire the best I could. I had gotten on Ted the next day for not coming back with the fan."
Sort Of In The Movie: Even after his murders, Kloepfer still described Bundy as “warm and loving.”
"My spiritual growth is extremely important to me now,” Kloepfer wrote. “I try to live my life according to God's will. I pray for Ted, but I am sickened by him. The tragedy is that this warm and loving man is driven to kill."
Not In The Movie: Bundy once threatened to break Kloepfer’s neck.
In Kloepfer’s book, she wrote about how she once arrived at Bundy’s place to find that he had redecorated with new things that she knew he didn’t have the money to afford, and accused him of stealing. Bundy's response was to threaten her, saying, “If you tell anyone, I’ll break your fucking neck." Kloepfer wrote that this was one of the few times Bundy had lost his temper with her.
In The Movie: She confessed to Bundy that she told the police she was suspicious.
Kloepfer eventually told police about her suspicions, and later was able to confirm questions they had about Bundy’s involvement in the murders he was responsible for. After his arrest, he began sending her love letters, and her conscience caught up with her. He called her from jail, and she confessed that she’d spoken with police, but Bundy didn’t seem concerned.
“You did what you had to do,” Bundy said, according to Kloepfer’s book. “If you told them the truth then no harm has been done because the truth is good enough. The truth will prove me innocent.”
In The Movie: Kloepfer and Bundy got back together when he was out on bond.
Kloepfer wrote that when Bundy was out on bond, he stayed with her, and they picked up where they left off, doing all of their favourite things together all over again. At the time, Kloepfer said she was isolated from friends who couldn’t believe that she would involve herself with Bundy knowing that he could be guilty of the murders, but she said she couldn’t let go of him if there was a chance he could be innocent.
Kloepfer’s book has since gone out of print after its original release, but now, interest in Kloepfer's side of the story will certainly rise as audiences see Extremely Wicked, controversy and all.