By
May 11, 1992 12:00 PM

Syndicated (check local listings)

C+

Boys keep vanishing without a trace in the Chicago area. Then a dedicated police detective (Michael Riley) in suburban Des Plaines makes it his business to track one of them down. His investigation leads him to a local contractor, John Wayne Gacy. So begins the uncovering of one of America’s most heinous serial killers.

In this true-life miniseries, Brian Dennehy stars as Gacy, who was convicted of sexually torturing and killing 33 teens before his arrest in 1978. (He is currently on death row in Illinois’s Menard Correctional Center.)

The mini stiffens up whenever the focus is on the stolid efforts of Riley and his subordinates to crack the case—and that’s most of the time. But things get awfully spooky whenever Dennehy is on the screen. His blocky, Mount Rushmore face is wonderfully expressive. You can see feelings pass over him like clouds drifting across a mountainside.

Dennehy, though, is too small a presence in the mini in terms of onscreen time, though he has one brilliant scene on the second night when he lures a young man who works for him into his rec room and tricks him into putting on handcuffs. Even though Gacy knows cops are sitting outside keeping him under surveillance, he starts advancing on the kid, and you can see the depravity overwhelming Dennehy like a narcotic. Margot Kidder has a flamboyant turn as a psychic who volunteers to help with the investigation.

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