The Hillside Strangler: Devil In Disguise is a four-part documentary directed by Alexa Danner that chronicles the agony that women around Los Angeles experienced during 1977 and 78 when victims were discovered in an area near Glendale. The documentary covers the murders of the eight women who were discovered during that time period as well as the investigation that went until 1979, when Bianchi was apprehended in Washington state after killing two women there.
DEVIL IN DISGUISE: STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?THE HILLSIDE STRANGLER: DEVIL IN DISGUISE: STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?
Ken Bianchi being interrogated in 1979 is a spooky video footage from the opening shot.
The Gist:In the first episode, Danner meets with officials who investigated the case as well as reporters who covered it. Sheryl Kellison, Bianchi's girlfriend, became increasingly scared as women's bodies were discovered. Little did she know why that was true.
The first victims were prostitutes, which generated some media attention, but not much outrage. Dr. Lois Lee, the founder of Children of the Night, talks about how she got a call about one victim, a sex worker who didn't call in when she got to her clients' house, and might have saved her if the cops took her information seriously.
What Shows Will It Remind You Of? There have been so many docuseries about famous serial killer cases from the 70s that you can just throw a dart and get a good show for comparison. The John Wayne Gacy case was previously covered in theDevil In Disguise franchise.
The Hillside Strangler case is one of the most well-known serial killer cases of the 1970s, but there are likely a lot of information that the average person who was around then forgot. The Hillside Strangler: Devil in Disguise is a no-frills, informative film.
Each commercial break is bracketed by interview footage with Bianchi, who tried to explain his actions by saying he would not retaliate when he murdered his victims. But what the show is also trying to demonstrate is that, given the way the bodies were laid out for law enforcement to discover, his cousin Angelo Buono was also convicted of the crimes.
The interview with Lois Lee reveals a fact about the case that people likely didn't consider 45 years ago: the fact that, because the first victims were sex workers, there was little effort to link them together. It's another example of how public and law enforcement did not consider the murders of ordinary people as important as the murders of ordinary people. Because the assumption is that's one of the risks these women face.
Of course, when you reexamine a case that is almost half-century old, it's harder to find investigators or reporters who are still alive to tell the story. Fortunately, Danner finds more than enough people who were involved in the case to keep the story alive.
None. Sex and Skin
Kellison, through tears: Ken knew that no one would hurt me, because the Hillside Strangler was right there in the house.
Kellison talks about her friendship with Bianchi, and seeing him obsess over the Hillside Strangler gossip all these years later, it must still be challenging for her to grasp the fact that a) she was actually dating him and b) she was probably the safest young lady in Los Angeles because of it.
Most Pilot-y Line: One of the investigators cites the city's media for causing havoc in the city by reporting on the Hillside Strangler, and we see scenes of women taking self-defense classes. The condescension that dripping from his voice when he speaks about it is palpable. Why wouldn't women want to escape someone who is threatening to strangle them?
STREAM IT. The Hillside Strangler: Devil In Disguise is a straightforward retelling of the famous serial killer case. However, it does provide information and perspectives that people who paid attention to the case four decades ago might not have either learned or remembered.