Early in Dahmer — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, Jeffrey Dahmer brings a potential victim home and forces him to watch The Exorcist III. “I watch it every day,” says Dahmer, as unnervingly played by Evan Peters.
It’s a chilling moment — and it’s somehow scarier that Dahmer is so into The Exorcist that he prefers its second sequel to the original. But is it true? Or just a nasty detail to make the Ryan Murphy series even creepier?
It turns out Jeffrey Dahmer needs no help being creepy. The man Dahmer tried to kill — who ended up escaping and persuading skeptical police to go to Dahmer’s terrible-smelling apartment — testified at Dahmer’s trial in 1992 that Dahmer, did, indeed, force him to watch The Exorcist III. Tracy Edwards, played in Dahmer — Monster by Shaun J. Brown, testified that on the night Dahmer lured him to his home, the cannibal killer at first seemed like a ”a normal everyday person” but began ”chanting . . . like a slow ‘uuhhmmm’… and rocking back and forth” as he watched the horror film, according to The Chicago Tribune‘s coverage of the trial.
The Netflix series may have exaggerated Dahmer’s Exorcist III fandom slightly. Detective Dennis Murphy, to whom Dahmer eventually confessed his crimes, testified that Dahmer told him he watched his videocassette of the film two to three times a week for six months. That’s crazy, but not “I watch it every day” crazy.
Exorcist III, also known as Exorcist III: Legion, centers on a serial killer called Gemini (played by Brad Dourif) who parallels Dahmer in many ways. Both men killed 17 people (that we know of) and kept the body parts of their victims. But no, the movie didn’t inspire Dahmer to start his killing spree: He murdered his first victim, 18-year-old Steven Mark Hicks, in 1978, 12 years before Exorcist III was released.
The creators of Dahmer — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, clearly paid close attention to the trial testimony. Edwards testified that he and Dahmer sat on the edge of Dahmer’s bed to watch the film, just as actors Shaun J. Brown and Evan Peters do in the film. And the real Edwards escaped Dahmer by hitting him in the head and fleeing, just as he escapes in the show.
One trivial difference: In the film, Dahmer pays Tracy Edwards just $50 to come back to his house to take some “artistic” pictures. In real life, Dahmer offered him $100. But don’t start saying Dahmer had some good points — luring men and boys to his apartment under the pretext that he was a photographer was a big part of Dahmer’s M.O., and he often did pay as little as $50. So he was cheap, on top of everything else.
Dahmer — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, is now streaming on Netflix.
Main image: Shaun J. Brown as Tracy Edwards and Evan Peters as Jeffrey Dahmer in Dahmer — Monster just before the Exorcist III scenes.