Sinful Screenings: Date Night with the Night Stalker

Are you a fan of American Horror Story? Then you probably love the serial killer lore. Netflix has a new documentary series that takes an in-depth look at the Night Stalker with the detectives that solved the case and interviews with the survivors and family members. 

The Night Stalker was featured in two seasons of AHS, including the most recent season. While AHS 1984 started the summer of ‘84, Night Stalker: A Hunt for a Serial Killer focuses on the summer of ‘85 leading up to the arrest of the notorious serial killer. 

I went into this knowing some about Richard Ramirez, but what I discovered was even more terrifying. If you want to be scared, don’t watch a horror movie. Watch this. | CREDIT: KURT ISWARIENKO, FX

There is a lot of footage of interviews of people living through that time and how scared they were that they would be next. No horror movie can ever depict the fear of the summer of 1985. 

Most serial killers have a particular type of person or type of crime, but he went after everyone. He killed, rapped, burglarised, and even abused and kidnapped kids. This was definitely part of the reason he was so hard to catch. Another reason he kept avoiding the authorities, as the detectives said in the series, was different districts didn’t collaborate because there was so much competition. 

While you discover all the horrifying things Ramirez did, you get to know the detectives on the case, Gil Carrillo and Frank Salerno. You learn their history and how they ended up on a case of a lifetime. Plus, the toll it took on them and their families. Salerno says in the trailer that this is the only time he’s ever slept with a gun. 

Frank Salerno | Photo Courtesy Netflix

Despite all the obstacles in Carrillo and Salerno’s way, they piece the evidence together and find the connections between the crimes. One key piece was a shoe print that was seen at numerous crime scenes. 

If you love true-crime fiction or nonfiction, this is where the series will really draw you in. It’s fascinating as they go through the evidence to track down the mysterious man. This even includes staking out a dentist’s office. You can’t make this stuff up. It’s more exciting than any movie could be.  

The investigation is long, with many mistakes along the way because of bureaucracy, but listening to recounts of the people who met the man, is bone-chilling. One of Ramirez’s child victims recounts her attack in pretty good detail, given how young she was. Some people almost came face to face with. They were fortunate that he was scared off before he could attack.

The documentary also explores how the media showed these gruesome crimes. Sometimes at the detriment of catching him. 

The docuseries consists of four episodes, and the final one focuses on the trial of Ramirez. If you thought the OJ Simpson trial was huge, you haven’t seen the footage of the Night Stalker’s. People from all over came to see it. Plus, like so many serial killers, he had a lot of women fawning over him. Even when they heard the horrific things he did. 

This may not be a complete telling of Ramirez’s rampage, but you get a good sense of the crimes he committed, how he was stopped, and what it was like to live in that time during his reign. 

To be completely terrified watch in the dark, but if you’re scared of Ramirez haunting you in your dreams, keep the lights on.

Check out what we thought of AHS 1984’s depiction of Richard Ramirez:

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