David Berkowitz kvetches about Spike Lee's "Summer of Sam"

If the Son of Sam hadn't been a serial killer, he'd have been a regular guy -- but then, he wouldn't be the subject of a movie, either.

Published June 21, 1999 10:00AM (EDT)

Parents of the victims of convicted serial killer David Berkowitz, also known as the Son of Sam, have expressed dismay over the release of Spike Lee's "Summer of Sam," which opens in early July. In a Sunday New York Times article, victims' relatives accused Lee of insensitivity, claiming that the movie, based on the events of the case as they unfolded in the summer of 1977, will reopen painful wounds.

Berkowitz, apparently, isn't too happy about it either. "This madness, the ugliness of the past is resurfacing again -- all because some people want to make some money," he told the Times. Berkowitz, now 46, is incarcerated at Sullivan Correctional Facility in the Catskill Mountains, serving six consecutive life sentences totaling more than 300 years for a series of murders and shootings he claimed to have committed at the behest of a neighbor's Labrador retriever. Berkowitz claims that he committed only three of the six murders to which he confessed, and even then, he asserts, he was possessed by Satan at the time. Satanic cult members, he says, were responsible for the other killings.

Whatever. Berkowitz is now a born-again Christian and also works as a peer counselor in Sullivan's mental-health unit. "If he had not been a serial killer," the Times article stated, "Mr. Berkowitz said he probably would have ended up 'married with a wife and kids in the suburbs, making a living, working in the post office.'" Sometimes it's better not to take the road less traveled -- especially if the neighbor's dog is leading the way.

By Stephanie Zacharek

Stephanie Zacharek is a senior writer for Salon Arts & Entertainment.

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