As happy and wonderful as the 80s were (they gave us Three Amigos and “Walking on Sunshine”, after all…) there were also some dark moments and things that we say we ♥, though we don’t really LOVE them.
We started the week by talking about The Thin Blue Line, a haunting and powerful documentary about a cop killing in Dallas. And now we’re wrapping up the week by remembering one of the most powerful and controversial books or the 80s, 1983’s Fatal Vision.
The non-fiction account of the so-called “Green Beret Killings” that happened at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in February 1970, it tells the story of Captain Jeffrey MacDonald, M.D. He claims (to this day) that a gaggle of drug-fueled hippies broke into his house one night and brutally killed his wife Colette and their two young girls.
Journalist Joe McGinnis approached MacDonald about writing a definitive tell-all of the case shortly before the trial began. But the more McGinnis found out (and the more time he spent with MacDonald), the more certain he became that McDonald himself was the true killer.
It’s a gripping story (though, yes, painfully heartbreaking), and it still stands even today as one of the most powerful and influential true crime books ever written. Shortly after its release, it became a 1984 NBC miniseries starring Gary Cole, Karl Malden, and Eva Marie Saint. And more than two decades later, some of the images are still in our head–– particularly this scene, where Colette’s stepfather (Malden) listens as the prosecution explains what really happened in the house that cold, rainy night:
See? Creepy, tragic, and just downright terrifying. So you can understand why we might say we ♥ it without really LOVING it.
MacDonald, obviously, was none too pleased with McGinnis’ account of the events, and he actually sued the author for breach of contract and ‘journalistic distortion’. (The case was settled out of court for more than $300,000.) MacDonald continues to maintain his innocence and files new appeals fairly regularly.
So, there you go… Sorry to bring you down, but rest assured that we’ll be back to our ‘rainbows and sunshine’ ways on Monday morning. We’ll even let you know ahead of time that we’ll be singing the praises of arguably the funniest movie from our favorite decade–– National Lampoon’s Vacation:
“We’re all gonna have so much fucking fun, we’ll need plastic surgery to remove our goddamn smiles! You’ll be whistling ‘Zip-A-Dee Doo-Dah’ out of you’re assholes!”
(We ♥ Fatal Vision.)