Night Stalker: The Hunt For A Serial Killer

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Night Stalker: The Hunt For A Serial Killer TV Poster Image
Chilling, graphic crime docu has violence, swearing.

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Kids say

age 15+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The series is focused on how investigators solved the case and captured the Night Stalker, and less on the serial killer himself. The personal toll the experience had on all who were involved in it is discussed. 

Positive Role Models

The investigators seem casual in their manner, but were clearly committed to capturing Richard Ramirez and protecting citizens. Gil Castillo is Latinx, as is the killer. 

Violence

Lots of graphic crime scene descriptions about, and photos of, the injured and dead in various positions, and often covered in blood, bruises, etc. (Their identities are partially hidden with a black line over the eyes.) Weapons used are described, and sometimes shown. Sexual violence is also discussed. References are made to Satanism, and pentagrams are visible. The capture of Ramirez at the hands of a community mob is described. 

Sex

Richard Ramirez groupies are shown in revealing photographs (their identities and private parts partially hidden with thick black lines). Some sexually suggestive behavior is also discussed. 

Language

"Bitch," “damn" and stronger curses ("s--t," "f--k") are often used during interviews. 

Consumerism

Labels for Mountain Dew, Jack Daniels, and others are visible, but within context. Local Los Angeles haunts are also discussed. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drinking at bars is described, and hard alcohol is sometimes consumed during interviews. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the docuseries Night Stalker: The Hunt For A Serial Killer is about the search for killer Richard Ramirez. It has lots of graphic content, including gruesome crime scene footage. "Bitch," “damn" and stronger curses ("s--t," "f--k") are often used during interviews. There's also some sexual discussion, and drinking (hard alcohol). Given the nature of the crimes discussed, as well as its explicit content, it’s best left to older, more mature viewers. 

User Reviews

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Teen, 17 years old Written bylilly_roses101 February 15, 2021

Amazing

I watched this documentary a while ago and I just wanted to say, this was the best one I’ve watched. It’s explained perfectly. I just wished they spoke more abo... Continue reading

What's the story?

NIGHT STALKER: THE HUNT FOR A SERIAL KILLER is a four-part series that documents the investigation of one of California’s most infamous killing sprees. It features interviews with retired Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department homicide detectives Frank Salerno and Gil Carillo, who, in the mid-1980s, headed up the investigation of a wave of brutal crimes that began in June 1984, and then picked up again in the late spring of 1985. With the help of journalists who covered the story at the time, including Tony Valdez, Laurel Erickson, and Zoey Tur, they discuss the difficult, and often frustrating efforts made to capture serial killer Richard Ramirez, nicknamed "The Night Stalker," who was responsible for killing at least 14 people, and brutalizing many more. With the help of crime scene footage and media archives, the horrific details surrounding each of his attacks, and the efforts made to identify, and then find him, are shared. Throughout it all, Carillo, along with his wife Pearl, survivors, and relatives of the deceased, offer some gut-wrenching personal insights about the impact these events had on them and their family. 

Is it any good?

The interesting but graphic docuseries offers a well-produced story about those responsible for putting the Night Stalker behind bars, and the process by which they did it. Both Frank Salerno and Gil Carillo talk about what it was like to work the case, including their frustrations with the territorial nature of different law enforcement agencies, and having to negotiate with the media in order to preserve the integrity of the investigation. Some of this is a little dry and long-winded, but it also serves to highlight how slow and meticulous the process was, despite the fact that Ramirez continued to terrorize California. 

The comprehensive way in which the former members of law enforcement describe some of the horrendous crimes, while understandable, is unsettling. But it is the overall use of revealing crime scene photographs, many of which clearly show severely injured people, bloody corpses, and mutilated body parts, that is most disturbing. This, coupled with the revealing descriptions of what victims endured, nearly crosses the line from being informative to exploitative. Nonetheless, if you like crime documentaries, you’ll probably find Night Stalker: The Hunt For A Serial Killer a binge-worthy viewing option. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how far documentaries should go when featuring violent content about real-life events. At what point does featuring graphic photographs of crime scenes and other disturbing things become more about titillation and less about information? What do you think is the case here? 

  • Night Stalker: The Hunt For A Serial Killer focuses more on the work of investigators than it does on the serial killer they caught. Why? What impact can changing the focus of media from people who commit crimes to the people who work hard to stop them have?

TV details

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