The highly anticipated and highly controversial film Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile tells the horrifying story of notorious serial killer Ted Bundy through the lens of his long-time girlfriend, Elizabeth Kloepfer. The story highlights the amount of love Kloepfer felt for Bundy over the course of their years-long relationship and the events that led her to, ultimately, warn the police about his suspicious and erratic behavior before Bundy's arrest. While Kloepfer is the primary focus, there's another person in the picture: Kloepfer's daughter, Tina, (Molly in the film).
As the title of the film suggests, Bundy was a monster. This was a man who admitted to killing at least 30 women throughout the '70s; however, you might never have guessed he was capable of such horrific acts if you saw him interact with the film's version of Tina, whom he helped raise for about seven years. (Kloepfer and Tina's biological father, whom Oxygen reports was a convicted felon, were divorced by the time Kloepfer met Bundy in Seattle.) In Extremely Wicked, Ted (Zac Efron) showers Molly with affection, helping her cut her second birthday cake, preparing meals for her and Liz (Lily Collins), and lovingly calling her "monkey" as she jumps into his arms for a hug. The imagery depicts a happy man living a serene life with his nuclear family.
The real Bundy seemed to have fond memories of his time with Tina, too. He described his time as a father figure as "a whole new dimension to living that I had never seen before" in tapes acquired for Netflix's true-crime docuseries, Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes. Joe Berlinger, who directed both Conversations With a Killer and Extremely Wicked, confirmed to the Desert News that Bundy's family looked "normal" in photos.
"There was this nice family unit of three going sailing, going camping, going hiking, having birthday parties, but that male figure was Ted Bundy," Berlinger said.
Bundy wasn't always the happy family man, though; in fact, Kloepfer claims he tried to kill her and Tina by tampering with the fireplace in her memoir, The Phantom Prince: My Life With Ted Bundy, which she published under the pseudonym Elizabeth Kendall.
Few people seem to know exactly how Tina feels about her experiences with Bundy, both the happy times and the horrifying, though. Kloepfer published her memoir in 1981, when Tina was just a teenager, and since then, both women have kept relatively low profiles, avoiding most conversations about Bundy. Even Ann Rule, one of Bundy's former friends who penned The Stranger Beside Me, wrote in her book that she refused to locate the Kloepfer women while writing her book to respect their privacy.
Nearly 40 years later, it's not hard to understand why Tina might want to remain out of the spotlight. She was just a child when she lived with Bundy, and now, she's forever tied to him. Like all of his victims, she didn't have a say in how he'd derail their lives or how he'd warp their memories. As many writers have noted, Bundy's victims (including the survivors) are ignored while his memory and his persona, however awful, lives on through conversations, documentaries, and feature films like Extremely Wicked. In fact, the backlash against Extremely Wicked has been intense, considering the film's focus on Bundy's charm and limited information from Kloepfer, whose memoir is supposed to be the basis for the film.
Despite not speaking publicly, Tina and Kloepfer did share some of their memories with actress Lily Collins, who plays Kloepfer in Extremely Wicked. "[Liz] and her daughter, Molly, were so gracious in inviting me in, and giving me material to look at, and speaking to me, and just allowing me to ask questions," Collins said during an interview on ITV.
Collins also told Collider that the information Tina and Kloepfer provided — including photos, stories, and handwritten notes — helped shape her portrayal and, ultimately, made them more "relatable."
For now, we can only hope Tina and Kloepfer are given the opportunity to continue living their lives as they see fit — even if that means we never hear their full stories on what it was really like to live with and be victimized by Bundy.