Jeffrey Dahmer was a prolific serial killer, murdering 17 men from the late ’70s to the early ’90s. On July 22, 1991, Dahmer was arrested by the authorities and later tried and convicted for his crimes. He was murdered in prison in 1994 at the age of 34. But what was he like as a teenager?
My Friend Dahmer seeks to answer this question by following the trials and tribulations of a young Jeff Dahmer in his junior and senior year of high school. The film is based on the graphic novel of the same name, authored by John “Derf” Backderf. Backderf knew Dahmer in high school, and is featured prominently in the film.
My Friend Dahmer begins on a school bus. Kids chat with each other as the camera slowly pans over to a blonde
Here’s that second story we promised you. There’s a new movie out this weekend, and it’s a biopic with an interesting backstory of its own. Remember the serial killer, Jeffrey Dahmer? Between 1978 and 1991, he murdered 17 people in grotesque ways. While the movie “My Friend Dahmer” opens this weekend, it’s a fictional retelling of Dahmer’s high-school years based on the international bestseller, a graphic novel of the same name by John Backderf. As the title suggests, he actually did know Dahmer in high school in Ohio. And after the killings, he took it upon himself to learn more about Dahmer’s background. David C. Barnett of member station WCPN ideastream in Cleveland tells us more.
JOHN BACKDERF: I just have hundreds of these things.
Even serial killers were children once, and it must be a trip to realize later on that you grew up alongside one. Especially if that childhood chum-turned-murderer turned out to be Jeffrey Dahmer.
That was the unreal situation cartoonist John “Derf” Backderf found himself in when Dahmer was arrested for the rape, murder and mutilation of 17 people, many involving necrophilia and cannibalism. His autobiographical 2012 graphic novel “My Friend Dahmer” captures that weirdness as he recounts their high-school years together and, with the benefit of hindsight, zeroes in on the many warning signs.
The film adaptation is a good one, and largely faithful, as it plumbs Dahmer’s dysfunctional home life for explanations without making excuses. It excels at capturing the era, getting not just the 1970s fashion and wood-paneled interiors right, but the kind of hands-off parenting and schooling that would allow someone as fundamentally broken as Dahmer to fall so
Is this a joke? That’s the first reaction you have when you hear the title – but the joke’s on you. My Friend Dahmer, which chronicles Jeffrey Dahmer’s senior year in high school before he graduated and became infamous for being a serial-killing cannibal, is a warped wonder of a movie that takes twisted to areas few have investigated.
Crisply directed by Marc Meyers from a 2012 graphic novel by John “Derf” Backderf – one of Jeffrey’s classmates at Revere High School in Ohio