While New Yorkers had the Son of Sam to keep them on their toes during one bloody summer in 1978, West Coasters got their own dose of serial killer horror (that is, after Charles Manson) in 1985 when a deeply disturbed El Paso native named Richard Ramírez brutally murdered an astounding fourteen victims over the course of a very long year. The gruesome details of the so-called “Night Stalker”’s crimes are enough to make even the most unaffected amongst us squirm in their seats — especially when you realize that the guy showed absolutely no remorse for his crimes — but even so, there’s still a strange fascination exerted by this type of figure.
For starters, we might ask: What human being is capable of embodying such monstrosity? What was going through the self-described satanist’s mind when he went on this killing spree? And, finally: what the hell kind of home did this guy come from?
Well, it seems the (honorary Latino) Filipino actor Lou Diamond Phillips is going to answer all of these questions and more for us in an upcoming biopic directed by Megan Griffiths and appropriately titled The Night Stalker.
The film will be structured around a fictionalized encounter between an aging Ramírez and a lawyer trying to elicit a confession for another murder as he awaits his execution on death row. The screenplay employs flashbacks to retrace the series of reprehensible events that turned Ramírez from a disturbed young boy from an abusive family into one of the United States’ most notorious criminals.
Phillips is certainly brave for taking on this role after a lifetime playing more or less wholesome characters, but for any real actor this type of challenge presents an unequaled opportunity to exercise their craft. If Charlize Theron’s role in 2003 biopic Monster is any indication, we may be on the verge of seeing the performance of Phillip’s lifetime. Or at the very least, we’ll get a window into the mind of one seriously messed up individual.