Director Joe Berlinger says when it comes to serial killer John Wayne Gacy, a big part of his horrific rampage had to do with self-hatred and his inability to deal with his sexuality.
The Oscar-nominated filmmaker joined us on “TMZ Live” Monday to talk about digging into the mind of the notorious Illinois serial killer for his new Netflix docuseries, “Conversations With a Killer: The John Wayne Gacy Tapes” … and, as you might imagine, it’s a frightening ride.
The film explores what made Gacy — a birthday clown by day — tick during his reign of terror in the 1970s. Berlinger says listening to Gacy’s conversations with attorneys and cops … showed how much the mad man blamed his victims.
He says the killings had a lot to do with Gacy’s self-hatred, and inability to deal with his sexuality. As for why it took so long to catch him, Joe says society’s prevailing attitudes toward marginalized groups, like the gay community, were a major factor.
On a personal note … Berlinger admits he struggles to leave his work at home. He’s been delving into the minds of murderers for decades now, and he told us why his Oscar-nominated doc, “Paradise Lost” — about the 1996 slayings of 3 West Memphis boys — was particularly difficult.
Joe says, “I was trying to have a tender moment with my new child, and I just kept flashing on the worst images of what happened to these children”.
Ultimately, he’s been forced to master the art of compartmentalizing, and told us one tool he uses.