Joe Berlinger, left, the director and producer of Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile, and on the right, its star, Zac Efron, who plays serial killer Ted Bundy.

Joe Berlinger, left, the director and producer of Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile, and on the right, its star, Zac Efron, who plays serial killer Ted Bundy.

Brian Douglas/

Ted Bundy died in the electric chair in a Florida prison in 1989, but these days, he's all over the place. He's the subject of a Netflix documentary that, in the parlance of the day, has gone viral. And now, he's the focal point of a Hollywood movie starring Zac Efron that will usher in the Dallas International Film Festival on Thursday night at the Magnolia Theatre.

More than a few people have criticized the documentary for giving too much air time, in their opinion, to the ruggedly handsome looks of a serial killer. The fact that so-called heartthrob Efron is playing him in a feature film has exacerbated the criticism.

The festival website describes Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile as "a chronicle of the crimes of Ted Bundy, from the perspective of his longtime girlfriend, Elizabeth Kloepfer, who refused to believe the truth about him for years."

As for the documentary, there's a strong local connection. Hugh Aynesworth, a Dallas-based journalistic legend — Aynesworth is famous for his career-long focus on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy — appears in and serves as co-executive producer of the Netflix series, Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes.

Based on a pair of books Aynesworth wrote with Stephen G. Michaud, the renewed interest in Bundy recently inspired a two-hour 20/20 special on ABC . Directing the Hollywood treatment is Joe Berlinger, who also directed the documentary that relies heavily on Aynesworth and Michaud.

During our recent interview, Aynesworth marveled at how so many people of a younger generation — i.e., Millennials — are reaching out, wanting to know more about the mind of Bundy. The show has been so successful, the authors' literary agent has received bids on European rights for their second book. 

Stephen G. Michaud (left) and Hugh Aynesworth in a photo from Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes.

Stephen G. Michaud (left) and Hugh Aynesworth in a photo from Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes.

Netflix/

The Netflix series has spawned interest in a new book for Aynesworth, who hopes to write a biography of Texas serial killer Henry Lee Lucas, another sordid character he's written about in the past.

So, what was it like interviewing Ted Bundy? 

Aynesworth said the killer was proud of what he'd done, without ever admitting it.

Once, when he asked him a question, Bundy slapped the reporter's knee and said, "You know better than that. How many years have you been a journalist?"

"More than you've been a killer," Aynesworth said.

Details

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile opens the festival, with screenings at 7 and 7:30 p.m. in two different theaters inside the Magnolia Theatre complex on April 11. There will be an opening-night party, just outside the Magnolia, from 8:45 p.m. to 11 p.m. For a full schedule of events and other info, visit dallasiff.org.

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