The words "home movies" invoke wholesomeness, summer sunshine, and the sweet smell of barbecue. In later years, private videotapes of loved ones can help the old to recall wonderful memories of past smiles and laughs shared. Despite this sugary sweetness, a sub-genre of home videos exists. These tapes show humanity at its most depraved, from obsessed stalkers to lustful serial killers. Called "murder tapes," "snuff films," and other frightening names, these shocking bits of celluloid could upset even the strongest of stomachs.
Sometimes killers, kidnappers, and other criminals like the mainstream limelight, for many have appeared on television shows, at press conferences, and on the news. A minority have even committed their crimes in front of news cameras.
It would be wise to avoid watching any of these films at all. However, since you're already here, it is easy to assume that you are interested in the grotesque, the ghoulish, and the morbid. Still, it is a good idea to watch these clips in the comfort of daylight and someplace where people are near.
These fifteen entries are bound to make you feel uneasy. They offer raw, unfiltered looks at those things we wish did not exist at all. Unfortunately, humanity has always been a cruel beast. From even the gentlest of wombs, such monsters as these have sprung.
You have been warned, dear reader.
15 Rodney Alcala on The Dating Game
American serial killer Rodney Alcala earned the nickname the "Dating Game Killer" for appearing on the hit television game show in 1978. At the time, Alcala was already a convicted rapist and known sex offender. During his introduction, show host Jim Lange mentioned that Alcala was a photographer.
Today, cold case investigators are still asking the general public if they recognize any of the subjects in the hundreds of photographs that have been released from Alcala's collection. Prior to abducting, sexually assaulting, and murdering his victims, Alcala liked to take numerous photographs, some of which depict his victims in a state of sheer terror.
During his infamous 1978 television appearance, Alcala actually won the game and got to go out on a date with Cheryl Bradshaw, the "bachelorette" of that episode. Bradshaw reportedly found Alcala "creepy."
14 Redwood City Arsonist Tapes
Beginning in 1987, a pair of disturbed teenagers began setting fires all across California. The two hardest hit areas were Stockton and nearby Redwood City. Years later, in 1989, a farmer passing by on the road discovered a strange stockpile of items. Along with cassette tapes featuring heavy metal music and a ceramic skull, the farmer found several homemade movies.
In the films, a menacing voice takes joy in observing the fires that he and his partner have set. The quiet narrator warns of more fires to come, while mocking the fire department for trying to put out his handiwork.
Elsewhere on the tapes, the pair of fire bugs recorded themselves dressing up like vampires and werewolves. The release of these tapes to the public helped police to apprehend both suspects in 1990. They were tried as minors, thus keeping their names out of the public record. One served time in a juvenile detention facility, while the other was committed to a mental hospital.
13 Ricardo Lopez's Suicide Tape
Just prior to killing himself, a 21-year-old loner in Hollywood, Florida named Ricardo Lopez mailed out a letter bomb laced with sulfuric acid. The letter's intended target was Icelandic singer-songwriter Bjork.
After the apartment building's manager saw blood coming out of Lopez's apartment, police officers broke in and discovered a grisly scene. Lopez had not only filmed his own suicide (which was achieved by placing a revolver into his mouth), but also had recorded twenty-two hours of videotape.
All told, Lopez's library not only recorded his deep self-loathing, but also his unhealthy infatuation with Bjork. After reading about Bjork's relationship with a black British musician named Goldie, Lopez snapped. After years of living in a fantasy world in which he and Bjork were in love with each other, Lopez shaved his head, painted his face in black and red, and wrote two messages on his walls: one reading "The Best of Me" and the other featuring a racial slur.
12 The Iceman Tapes
While far from a home movie, The Iceman Tapes is uncomfortably intimate. Released in 1992, this documentary features in-depth interviews with Richard Kuklinski, alias "The Iceman."
Born in Jersey City, New Jersey in 1935, Kuklinski lived a double life as a family man in suburban New Jersey and contract killer for the New York mafia. Specifically, Kuklinski plied his trade for the DeCavalcante crime family of Elizabeth, NJ and the Five Families of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the other New York boroughs.
Kuklinski earned his famous moniker due to his habit of freezing his victims after killing them. This method effectively made it hard for investigators to pin down a correct time of death. By the 1980s, Kuklinski was involved in other criminal activities such as narcotics distribution, hijacking, money laundering, and the international sale of firearms.
The Iceman Tapes features numerous moments wherein Kuklinski lovingly details his methods of execution and post-mortem clean-up.
11 The Assassination Attempt On Ahmed Dogan
A 25-year-old man named Oktai Enimehmedov almost killed a prominent politician on live television. His intended target was Ahmed Dogan, the leader of Bulgaria's Movement for Rights and Freedoms. Dogan and his party mainly represent Bulgaria's Muslim minority, most of whom are, like Dogan, ethnic Turks.
Enimehmedov, also an ethnic Turk, apparently committed the crime in order to show Dogan that he was not "untouchable." Later, after the failed assassin was beaten and dragged away from the crime scene, Bulgarian police officers revealed that Enimehmedov's weapon was nothing more than a gas pistol full of pepper spray and noisemakers.
Of course, during the incident, no one in the entire room knew about the phony pistol. It is quite possible that Enimehmedov, an architecture student with prior convictions for drug offenses and theft, pulled the stunt simply for self-aggrandizement.
10 The Suicide Of R. Budd Dwyer
On January 15, 1987 Pennsylvania State Treasurer R. Budd Dwyer invited news cameras into the state capitol building at Harrisburg. The assembled guests were treated to a bizarre press conference. Dwyer, who was just one week away from receiving his sentence after being convicted on bribery charges, tried to convince all those in attendance of his innocence.
With an angst-ridden voice, Dwyer read from a prepared script. "I've repeatedly said that I am not going to resign as State Treasurer," he intoned. "I am going to die in office..."
While the news cameras rolled, Dwyer removed a .357 Magnum revolver from underneath the podium. "Please leave the room if this will effect you," Dwyer said before putting the gun into his mouth and pulling the trigger.
9 The Basement Tapes
On April 20, 1999, the small Colorado town of Columbine became synonymous with tragedy. Two high school seniors, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, stormed Columbine High School armed with several weapons, including knives, a TEC-9 submachine gun, a Hi-Point 995 carbine, and two shotguns. The pair also brought several homemade explosives, the smallest of which Harris and Klebold called "crickets" (inexpensive pipe bombs).
Although the pair's true plan to blow up the school failed, their secondary strategy -- a mass shooting-- killed fifteen and wounded twenty-four.
A full year before the massacre, Harris and Klebold began documenting their daily lives. Some of these videos include rather innocuous scenes of morning commutes or lunchtime discussions. Others are far more disturbing, including footage of target practice with the eventual murder weapons, an amateur film called Hitmen For Hire, and a series of late night confessions detailing why the pair had to go through with the rampage.
Most of the truly inflammatory material, including footage from the day of the attack itself, has never been released to the public. However, plenty of audio exists that dispels most of the myths that popular culture has created about the event.
8 A Real-Life Horror Film
Brian Lee Draper and Torey Michael Adamcik were just another pair of high school teenagers in Idaho on the night of September 21, 2006. However, a day later, they were experienced murderers.
Draper, who primarily grew up in Utah, met Adamcik at Portacello High School. Soon thereafter, the pair of oddballs bonded over their love of horror movies. They also shared a desire to kill someone while filming the entire ordeal. Draper and Adamcik let the camera roll as they prepared their "death list" while inside of the school's walls. Later, Adamcik and Draper would record themselves in the moments right after the commission of their crime.
In one scene, the killers apologize to the parents of Casey Stoddart, their intended victim. Stoddart, the pair's "perfect victim," was stabbed to death while housesitting on the night of September 22nd. At their trial, both would admit that they were inspired to kill Stoddart by the Columbine massacre and the Scream film franchise.
7 The Assassination Of Andrey Karlov
In December 2016, tensions between Russia and Turkey had seemingly died down. However, one Turkish citizen, enraged by the recent fall of Aleppo to Bashar Al-Assad's Syrian Arab Army and its allies, could not forgive Moscow for allying itself with the Syrian president.
During an art exhibit in the Turkish capital of Ankara, Russian ambassador Andrey Karlov, 62, was gunned down by an off-duty police officer named Mevlüt Mert Altintaş. Altintas made his motivations clear by shouting "Don't forget Aleppo" in front of the terrified crowd and television cameras.
Altintas also screamed "Allah Akbar" and held aloft the single finger salute that is common among Muslim jihadis. Eventually, after a short gun battle with police, Altintas was killed.
6 The Assassination Of Inejiro Asanuma
Inejiro Asanuma was not the most popular politician in Japan after World War II. As the leader of the Japanese Socialist Party, Asanuma openly supported adopting Marxist economic models while simultaneously pushing for democratic Japan to form a close alliance with the Chinese Communist Party.
Such views made Asanuma Public Enemy Number One among Japanese conservatives. One such conservative was a 17-year-old student named Otoya Yamaguchi. During a television debate, Yamaguchi rushed the stage during Asanuma's speech and drove home his yoroidōshi, a small sword once used by the samurai warrior class.
After his arrest and imprisonment, Yamaguchi committed suicide in his prison cell by hanging himself with bedsheets.
5 Live-Streamed Murder
By all accounts, Vester Lee Flanagan II was an absolute terror to work with. During his time as a news anchor for WDBJ, Flanagan, under the on-screen name of Bryce Williams, intimidated and threatened his co-workers. Flanagan, a gay African-American, frequently accused his mostly white workplace of open discrimination.
Flanagan had a record of such behavior, for after being fired in 2000 by WTWC-TV in Tallahassee, Florida, Flanagan turned around and sued his old company for racial discrimination.
When WDBJ fired Flanagan in 2013 for his abusive behavior, he had to be escorted out of the building by police. Years later, after taking notes from previous mass murderers like Eric Harris, Dylan Klebold, and the Virginia Tech shooter Seung-Hui Cho, Flanagan would interrupt a news broadcast by firing shots at television reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward.
In his manifesto that was mailed to ABC News, Flanagan blamed his actions on his former colleagues Ward and Parker, as well as Charleston church shooter Dylan Roof. Not yet done with his publicity, Flanagan, who filmed both murders, uploaded the murder videos on his social media accounts.
4 The Murder Of Nicholas Berg
Decades before ISIS, its founding ancestor, Al-Qaeda in Iraq, committed a crime that has become sadly commonplace in the Middle East. On May 8, 2004, the headless body of an American entrepreneur named Nicholas "Nick" Berg was found by U.S. soldiers hanging upside down from an overpass in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.
Three days later, a video entitled "Abu Musab al-Zarqawi slaughters an American" showed up on the Internet. In the grainy video, four jihadis clad in black hold down a terrified Berg, while the group's ringleader, terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, uses a knife to decapitate the 26-year-old man.
Following the release of this video, al-Zarqawi became a hero to Islamic fundamentalists worldwide. His group became notorious during the Iraq War of 2003-2011 for their terror campaigns, including other taped atrocities. However, despite what is commonly stated, this was not the first such beheading caught on tape. Such methods had been used before in Bosnia, Chechnya, and Pakistan.
3 The Execution Of Muath Al-Kasasbeh
On December 24, 2014, the Lockheed Martin F-16 piloted by Muath Al-Kasasbeh, a 1st Lieutenant in the Royal Jordanian Air Force, crashed due to mechanical failure. Lieutenant Kasasbeh was forced to deploy his ejector seat and parachute in order to avoid dying in the plane's wreckage.
Unfortunately, once Kasasbeh landed on the ground, fighters loyal to ISIS captured the young pilot and began plotting ways to make international headlines with his corpse.
After polling their supporters on Twitter with the hashtag "#SuggestAWayToKillTheJordanianPilotPig," members of ISIS in Syria locked Kasasbeh in a cage, doused him with gasoline, and set him alight. In total, the video entitled Healing the Believers' Chests lasts only twenty-two minutes.
Upon its release in January 2015, the tape led to Jordan's increased commitment to fight ISIS in both Syria and Iraq.
2 Dnepropetrovsk Maniacs
According their own testimony, Ukrainian teenagers Viktor Sayenko and Igor Suprunyuck hoped to become famous through their snuff films. Also, both boys tried to claim that their acts had been done at the behest of wealthy backers in Western Europe, who paid the pair to film their barbarous acts.
At 14, both boys tried to combat their squeamishness by capturing and killing wild dogs and cats. Later, in their infamous videos, both boys took pleasure in torturing, mutilating, and lynching these animals.
Beginning in 2007, several films showing the boys killing random individuals with hammers began making the rounds on the Internet. Eventually, by they time they were apprehended by police, Sayenko and Suprunyuck had committed twenty-one homicides and other felonies.
1 The Tapes Of Leonard Lake And Charles Ng
A 1985 arrest for auto theft and other charges led to the suicide via cyanide of a Vietnam veteran named Leonard Lake. A diagnosed schizophrenic, Lake had a history of sexual violence and perversion, including videotaping his own sisters while they bathed.
After his discharge, Lake became a wayward hippie who eventually married. However, while trying to live through what he considered an impending nuclear holocaust, Lake made low-grade pornographic films in the bunker of his isolated home in Calpella, California.
Lake's eventual partner in crime, Charles Ng, another former U.S. Marine who had been discharged after being charged with the theft of several weapons. After meeting each other in rural Northern California, Lake and Ng started sharing a cabin in Wilseyville, California, which included what Lake termed the "Dungeon."
Inside of this structure, Lake and Ng filmed their rape, torture, and murder of several individuals. Some of their victims included infant children.
When not committing cold-blooded murder, Lake often liked to film himself pontificating on how easy it is to lure women to their deaths.
Sources: cbsnews.com, people.com, abcnews.go.com, theguardian.com, nytimes.com