When it was announced that spot-on lookalike Lou Diamond Philips is to play serial killer Richard Ramirez in an upcoming film about Ramirez's crimes, fans of the macabre were happy. There's never been a satisfying movie about Richard Ramirez, and hopefully The Night Stalker, airing June 12 on LMN network, can fill that void.
However, despite the lack of feature length representation of Ramirez's dreadful deeds, horror fans may have spotted a very cool mini-appearance of the Night Stalker in one of the great modern horror powerhouses: American Horror Story.
Without undue spoilerage, American Horror Story: Hotel features the marvelous innovation of "Devil's Night," one night a year when the most evil of people gather in the Los Angeles Hotel Cortez: John Wayne Gacy, Aileen Wuornos, The Zodiac Killer, Jeffrey Dahmer and Richard Ramirez.
"You can't throw a killer party without some killing..."
- Richard Ramirez, American Horror Story: Hotel
The real Richard Ramirez killed more than 16 people in a reign of terror that oppressed California during the 1980s. In bizarre twists of fate, he ended up bullying Todd Bridges (Willis of Diff'rent Strokes fame) in prison. Still, the cultural impact of villains in both news media and fiction is an important part of how we, as a society, process what happens in the world around us.
Playing Ramirez in American Horror Story: Hotel was actor Anthony Ruivivar, who played up to Ramirez's snaky, flirtatious nature in a scene involving him hitting on Sarah Paulson's character, Billie Dean Howard, introducing himself as:
"Richard Ramirez. We're married but we live apart."
This refers to Ramirez's marriage to one of his devoted serial killer groupie fans while in prison. For my money, Ruivivar's performance is the best representation of Richard Ramirez we've seen on screen yet, but it'll be exciting to see what Lou Diamond Phillips can pull off in LMN's The Night Stalker.