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The Best Serial Killer Biopics

List RulesVote up the best true biographical movies about serial murderers

On this list of the best serial killer biopics, you’ll find chilling films detailing gruesome murders and desperate manhunts. Many of the most famous serial killers of all time have had their stories told on the silver screen: Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, and more.


One of the greatest serial killer biopics is
Zodiac, starring Jake Gyllenhaal as the San Francisco cartoonist involved in the manhunt for the infamous Zodiac killer. Directed by David Fincher, the film garnered positive reviews and kept audiences on the edge of their seats. The actual case of the Zodiac killer remains one of the most notorious unsolved cases in America.


For those that think serial killing is a man’s game, Charlize Theron is here to prove you wrong. In the 2003 blockbuster
Monster, Theron portrays real-life serial killer Aileen Wuornos, tried and convicted for the murders of six men. For her performance, Theron won both the Academy Award and the Golden Globe for Best Actress. Vote up the best serial killer biopics below, and be sure to let us know what you think in the comment section. 
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  • 1
    Charlize Theron, Christina Ricci
    203
    37

    Released2003

    Directed byPatty Jenkins

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    Shortly after moving to Florida, longtime prostitute Aileen Wuornos (Charlize Theron) meets young and reserved Selby Wall (Christina Ricci) and a romance blossoms. When a john (Lee Tergesen) attempts  ...more

    #378 of 1,195 Every Oscar Winning Film Ever#48 of 315 The Best Movies Based On True Stories#213 of 675 The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Stars

  • 2
    Alan Oppenheimer, Jon Gries
    72
    32

    Released1976

    Directed byTom Gries

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    Helter Skelter is a 1976 TV film based on the 1974 book by prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry. In the United States, it aired over two nights. In some countries it was shown in theaters with  ...more
  • 3
    Jeremy Renner, Bruce Davison
    87
    46

    Released2002

    Directed byDavid Jacobson

    In this fictionalized, fragmented biopic of one of America's most notorious serial killers, Jeffrey Dahmer (Jeremy Renner) contemplates his latest potential victim, a young man named Rodney (Artel  ...more

    #26 of 57 The Best Scary Movies Based on True Stories#96 of 125 The Best Period Movies Set in the '80s#14 of 20 20 Horrifying Crime Movies Whose True Stories Are Way More Terrifying

  • 4
    John Leguizamo, Adrien Brody
    71
    34

    Released1999

    Directed bySpike Lee

    During the summer of 1977, a killer known as the Son of Sam keeps all of New York City on edge with a series of brutal murders. The philandering Vinny (John Alberto Leguizamo) unwittingly almost  ...more
  • 5
    Michael Rooker, Tracy Arnold
    65
    31

    Released1986

    Directed byJohn McNaughton

    Henry (Michael Rooker) is released from prison following his mother's murder. He supplements his job as an exterminator with a series of indiscriminate and violent murders. Fellow jailbird and drug  ...more

    #291 of 723 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time#358 of 456 The Most Quotable Movies Of All Time#5 of 27 The Best Movies About Real Serial Killers

  • 6
    Michael Reilly Burke, Boti Bliss
    59
    35

    Released2002

    Directed byMatthew Bright

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    Ted Bundy (Michael Reilly Burke) is a seemingly well-adjusted law student with a bright future ahead. Intelligent and good-looking, Ted has little trouble earning the affections of Lee (Boti Ann  ...more
  • 7
    Sage Stallone, Jim Van Bebber
    47
    23

    Released2003

    Directed byJim Van Bebber

    The Manson Family is a 2003 American crime drama film. The film covers the lives of Charles Manson and his "family" of followers.  ...more
  • 8
    Mark Holton, Charlie Weber
    58
    39

    Released2003

    Directed byClive Saunders

    Real-life serial killer John Wayne Gacy (Mark Holton) is the subject of this disturbing biographical drama. Although Gacy is a family man and respected business owner, and even entertains locals as a  ...more
  • 9
    Heather D. Stoner added

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    32
    16
  • 10
    Laura Tesone, Donna Stewart Bowen
    37
    27

    Released1993

    Directed byDavid R. Bowen

    Jeffrey Dahmer: The Secret Life is an American true crime film, released in 1993. It stars Carl Crew as Jeffrey Dahmer, an American serial killer, necrophile and cannibal. The film is a first hand  ...more
  • 11
    Tony Curtis, Henry Fonda
    32
    22

    Released1968

    Directed byRichard Fleischer

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    When a string of women in Boston start turning up dead, the police launch an investigation headed by John Bottomly (Henry Fonda). Through chance, Bottomly gets the evidence he needs to arrest Albert  ...more
  • 12
    Martin Sheen, Sissy Spacek
    36
    29

    Released1973

    Directed byTerrence Malick

    Inspired by real-life killers Charles Starkweather and Caril-Ann Fugate, this tale of crime and love begins in a dead-end town. Teenage girl Holly (Sissy Spacek) angers her father (Warren Oates) when  ...more

    #126 of 552 The Best '70s Movies#26 of 127 The Greatest Directorial Debuts Of All Time#181 of 198 The Best Adventure Movies

  • 13
    C. Thomas Howell, Nicholas Turturro
    28
    20

    Released2004

    Directed byChuck Parello

    Kenneth Bianchi (C. Thomas Howell) is a security guard whose attempts to become a police officer are repeatedly thwarted. He moves to California to live with his cousin Angelo (Nicholas Turturro) and  ...more
  • 14
    Eric Dane, Mary Lynn Rajskub
    25
    22

    Released2004

    Directed byJohn Gray

    Helter Skelter is a 2004 television film directed by John Gray based on the murders of the Charles Manson Family. The film was a remake of the 1976 two-part TV movie. Unlike the 1976 version which  ...more
  • 15
    Michael Michele, Maury Chaykin
    27
    25

    Released2005

    Directed byStephen T. Kay

    The Hunt for the BTK Killer is a 2005 biographical telefilm directed by Stephen T. Kay. First shown on CBS it is based on the true story of Dennis Rader killing ten people from 1974 to 1991. Though  ...more
  • 16
    maura-quast addedPriscilla Barnes, Kane Hodder
    32
    33

    Released2007

    Directed byMichael Feifer

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    Ed Gein: The Butcher of Plainfield is a 2007 U.S.-American direct-to-video horror film starring Kane Hodder, Adrienne Frantz, Michael Berryman, Priscilla Barnes and Shawn Hoffman. It is based upon  ...more
  • 17
    Richard Attenborough, Judy Geeson
    25
    24

    Released1971

    Directed byRichard Fleischer

    A seemingly model citizen living in mid-century London, John Christie (Richard Attenborough) is actually a killer. Masquerading as a doctor, he convinces guileless women that he can cure whatever  ...more
  • 18
    Laura Prepon, Misha Collins
    29
    30

    Released2006

    Directed byJoel Bender

    In this film based on actual events, Karla Homolka (Laura Prepon) and Paul Bernardo (Misha Collins) seem like a typical suburban couple -- that is, until Paul is implicated in a series of disturbing  ...more
  • 19
    Roselyn Sánchez, Danny Trejo
    23
    27

    Released2002

    Directed byChris Fisher

    Nightstalker is a 2002 film directed by Chris Fisher about Richard Ramirez. It was nominated for two Fangoria Chainsaw Awards.  ...more
  • 20
    Chiara Frisenda addedMalcolm McDowell, Marton Csokas
    6
    8

    Released2004

    Directed byDavid Grieco

    Evilenko is a 2004 English-language Italian crime horror thriller film very loosely based on the Soviet serial killer Andrei Chikatilo. Written and directed by David Grieco, the film stars Malcolm  ...more
  • 21
    John Ratzenberger, Rory Calhoun
    13
    27

    Released1974

    Directed byBob Clark, Alan Ormsby

    Deranged is a Canadian-American horror film made in 1974 and directed by Alan Ormsby and Jeff Gillen. It is also known by the title Deranged: The Confessions of a Necrophile in the USA. It is a  ...more

    #28 of 34 The Best Movies Based on Real Murders#9 of 18 Obscure Horror Movies from the 1970s You Should Know About#129 of 136 The Best Serial Killer Movies

  • 22
    Lance Henriksen, Shannon Lucio
    10
    27

    Released2004

    Directed byByron Werner

    Starkweather is a 2004 film directed by Bryon Werner. Written by Working Class Films founder and prolific screenwriter Stephen Johnston, whose scripts including In the Light of the Moon and Ted  ...more
  • 23

    Speck

    Debra Mayer, Stacy Cunningham
    11
    30

    Released2002

    Directed byKeith Walley

    Speck is a 2002 Crime and Horror Film written by Don Adams and Aaron Pope and directed by Keith Walley.