Bestselling true-crime master Harold Schechter explores the real-life headline-making psychos, serial murderers, thrill-hungry couples, and lady-killers who inspired a century of classic films.
The necktie murders in Alfred Hitchcock’s Frenzy; Chicago’s Jazz Age crime of passion; the fatal hookup in Looking for Mr. Goodbar; the high school horrors committed by the costumed slasher in Scream. These and other cinematic crimes have become part of pop-culture history. And each found inspiration in true events that provided the raw material for our greatest blockbusters, indie art films, black comedies, Hollywood classics, and grindhouse horrors.
So what’s the reality behind Psycho, Badlands, The Hills Have Eyes, A Place in the Sun, Arsenic and Old Lace, and Dirty Harry? How did such tabloid-ready killers as Bonnie and Clyde, body snatchers Burke and Hare, Texas sniper Charles Whitman Jr., nurse-slayer Richard Speck, and Leopold and Loeb exert their power on the public imagination and become the stuff of movie lore?
In this collection of revelatory essays, true-crime historian Harold Schechter takes a fascinating trip down the crossroads of fact and fiction to reveal the sensational real-life stories that are more shocking, taboo, and fantastic than even the most imaginative screenwriter can dream up.