Twist Ending For "Zodiac"

David Fincher's ingenius 2007 thriller "Zodiac" may just be about to get a real-life twist ending: The FBI says they are testing a new suspect -- who might very well be the infamous "Zodiac" serial-killer.

The allegations come from a man named Dennis Kaufmann, who believes his deceased stepfather to be the notorious killer:

"The identity of the Zodiac Killer is Jack Tarrance. He's my stepfather."

Scary indeed are the indications that brought Kaufmann to his accusations. After a phone conversation, in which Jack Tarrance seemingly admitted to be the Zodiac Killer, Kaufmann went through Tarrances stuff after his passing away -- and found something:

A (possibly) blood-stained knife. And a black hood with a zodiac sign on it. The kind the perpetrator wore for the Lake Berryessa killings.

Furthermore Tarrance eerily resembles police sketches from that time, and even has handwriting that matches closely.

Since this is not real Fincher news, let me show you, why I believe it is still relevant and interesting to Fincher's "Zodiac": In the movie, David Fincher and screenwriter James Vanderbilt go to great lengths to show the hardship everyone chasing the killer had to go through, and for once (in the movies), the good guys are not able to catch the bad guy. The filmmakers (in their own words) try carefully not to condemn anyone, while they do lay a strong case against main suspect Arthur Lee Allen. If now real-life evidence pointed to and possibly convicted a man, who was not even discussed in the movie, that adds yet another chilling layer to the story. For once, of course, because the killer may turn out to be one, who wasn't even on police's radar yet. But more importantly because it would add a powerful thematic nuance: in showing just how suspicious an "innocent" person such as Arthur Lee Allen can become due to circumstancial evidence.

At any rate, if the Zodiac Killer would now finally get identified, I guess it will not put a closing chapter to the case (and Fincher's film). Instead it will create a whole new angle of looking and interpreting the entire story, and especially give Fincher's thoughtful and procedural approach even more meaning and impact ... And hey -- it may just make for a great sequel!

Thanks, Christophe and Angelo, for the links:

CBS13: Zodiac Killer's Identity And Weapon Uncovered?
Slashfilm: FBI May Be (...) Discovering The Real Zodiac Killer


  1. fincherfanatic, i like where you're going with this "sequel-thinking".

    a load of fincher's work is never enough.

    ; )

  2. My neighbor is the Zodiac Killer. He doesn't live in the US, but he's been fishing at Lake Berryessa when the murders happened, and he once kicked a cat and shouted at an old lady for cutting a line in the supermarket, so that makes him suspicious.

  3. This is crazy stuff if it turns out to be true. Sounds like a crazy family to be in.

    What I find all the ameture zodiac dicks who want to discredit any and every Z suspect so that the case can be unsolved forever.

    I went reading Zodiac sites just to see what people thought of this and most of them are willing to dismiss out right. Which seems a little crazy to me.

    I don't no one knows who Z was so why not take all the suspects seriously until you can rule them out?

  4. To: Kevin and Fincherfanatic, and every other fanboy

    Regarding the topic of how much creative input David Fincher has on his movies, and your answer that he's involved in everything and that it's always his specific vision, here are some quotes by him.

    The first one is from the Zodiac 2-Disc Director's Cut DVD 1, from Fincher's commentary track, and starts at 01:01:44 and ends at 01:02:14.

    "And WE knew that we wanted to have this montage. And we wanted to have a wonderful piece of music in here and this montage was put together by [chuckles] - it had little or nothing to do with me. I love reading reviews where people say "Oh and then of course Fincher can't contain himself, he has to go and do this big!". [chuckles] I remember just looking at it and going "Wow that's really beautiful, that's great!" And I'll take all the
    credit for it. But really, I had nothing to do with it."

    The second one is from Stephan Littger's book "The Director's Cut, Picturing Hollywood in the 21st Century", on page 174.

    David Fincher: "A director is like a quarterback. You get way too much credit when it works and way too much blame when it doesn't."

    I read another comment by him where he says that the actual result of a scene has never been the way he envisioned it. But if Kevin wants to believe an advertising quote from an executive producer on the booklet of a Special Edition DVD from Fight Club, sure.

    In some ways what you do reminds me of idolizing a teen pop star.

  5. I have to correct my typos sorry but what I meant to say is:

    This is crazy stuff if it turns out to be true. Sounds like a crazy family to be in.

    What I find even crazier is all the amateur zodiac dicks who want to discredit any and every Z suspect so that the case can be unsolved forever.

    I went reading Zodiac sites just to see what people thought of this and was crazy was that most people are willing to dismiss this stuff out right.

    I don't know, no one knows who Z was so why not take all the suspects seriously until you can rule them out?

  6. Hey Brent,

    thanks for your comment. First off, you are right. Thanks for digging out the Fincher quotes to support your point.

    I came across an interview recently, where Fincher talked about his vision for the way "Zodiac" should be scored, and as far as I remember he wanted to use no score at all and only songs from the era. Then it was Angus Wall, his editor, I believe, who tried to show Fincher that approach wouldn't work and put some temp score from "The Conversation" in the edit. And changed Fincher's mind!

    So, yes, you are right that Fincher is open for contributions, and, as all directors, is dependant on the ideas and input from his team, and gets too much blame or credit if the films fails or ends up great.

    There are two points where I disagree with you.

    One. I do believe Fincher is a director, who is very closely and personally involved in EVERY facette of his movies' production. He might not be the one who always comes up with the most clever idea. But he makes the decisions. And defends this vision (which is reflected by his decisions) against studio execs to bring it to the screen.

    Two. I do believe it is perfectly alright to appreciate and applaud anyone, who clearly displays great mastery in his craft. David Fincher is not the only great director, there are plenty I respect just as much and whose films I enjoy equally (let that be Christopher Nolan, Bob Zemeckis, Brad Bird, PT Anderson, Ed Zwick, Alfred Hitchcock, a.m.o.).

    The reason I am running this blog about David Fincher is because his movies speak to me and virtually everything he does I PERSONALLY FEEL to be at the very peak of film-making perfection.

    I will never argue about taste or opinion, since it's pointless and often ends up disrespectfully.

    But I do believe that many of the frequent readers and commentators on this blog have considerable and legitimate reasons to enjoy and praise David Fincher's accomplishments. And also: That most of them do very well know the reality of this industry -- which makes their appreciation for Fincher's works even greater.

    Nothing wrong with being a fanboy -- as long as it's the right people and inspires you!

  7. Well said fincher fanatic, well said.

    Brent I read many film blogs and I only comment here because it's mostly friendly (occasionally there are a few trolls) while the experience of most other blogs is like walking into a room where 800 people are yelling at the top of their voices all trying to prove how right they are on a subject.

    anyways I find your assessment of what this site does a tad myopic.

    Yes we talk about and discuss an ARTIST. We examine his TECHNIQUE, We praise his ACCOMPLISHMENTS.

    I don't know why this is called FANBOY because it's done over the internet while the dissemination of ART, ARTIST and TECHNIQUE as been done throughout human history.

    Now I'm not certain who pointed out that Fincher said Alexandre Desplat is the kind of composer “you hire and then get the fuck out of the way.”

    Someone took that to mean the same thing you are taking fincher's quote on Zodiac commentary to mean. And I explained that while Desplat was free to make music he was free to just come in and do whatever he wanted. That the music probably (I’m just guessing) has to fit within the pramater fincher set up. Fincher made a film about a certain thing. The film is supposed to deliever a certain experience and I am sure David and Alexandre spoke at length about what the experience is supposed to be. I am certain that Fincher probably had that same conversation with his editors.

    Now a couple of months ago I was shooting a film and we were doing a pretty important scene. It's absolutely necessary that this thing happens on screen because it's a dream in a movie where everything could be a dream and the scene give the audience a reference point from which to distinguishes between the dream world and the real world.

    When talking over what the first shot would be of the scene (I had personally prevised 90% of the film myself, But the previs for this scene didn’t work because we lost the location that the previs was based on) would be the DP made a suggestion as to what the first shot could be. He lit the shot in a way I hadn’t though off and I looked at it and thought it was fucking amazing. Using a statue in the location he foreshadowed a detail about the main character. I really loved what he did with the shot so…

    We shot a few takes changed the frame then moved on.

    Jump a few months later into editing (which is where we are now) and that shot is not in the film. The scene is there it has to be in the film. But there is one shot that says everything we need it to say and so the editor was pretty quick with jettisoning any flourishes that was not essential.

    If I thought that the shot had to be in the film because it said something that the other shot didn't and what ever it said was crucial to people understanding the film I would have said no it stays in.

    The other day I watched the sex scene and it was edited in a way I hadn't thought of and pretty much did what the scene was intended to do. I loved what he did and it stays in the movie because it does what the scene needs to do to further the story.

    Notice I used "we" a lot. Because film is a COLLABRATIVE MEDIUM. One man cannot do it on his own,

    I went to Kenya this summer and then to Iceland so I was gone for three months while two people toiled away to edit the thing while I tried to clear my head and relax.

    When I came back and saw what they had done, some of it I was please with some not so much. So now we are in the process of changing things moving scenes to different places, cutting dialogue, we will also be shooting pick up shots in October etc, etc.

    It's fairly simple Brent. People are going to give you ideas, they are going to say I think this is great and it will add to your movie and the director’s job is to stand there and say "DOES IT? Does it ADD to the movie I am making or does It SUBTRACT, DISTRACT, CONFUSE, the film? If it does ADD you're a fucking moron for saying no.

    IF it SUBTRACTS, DISTRACTS, CONFUSES, and you say yes to the idea, maybe you don’t really understand your story.

    You would be a big dick if you get the editing room and that Idea is fucking your movie and you keep it in. You’d be an even bigger dick it was adding and you took it out.

    But that's it. The final decision to keep things or let them go lies in the hand of the director. And if a scene is confusing and someone says to me I don't understand what just happened and I say "well my actor..."

    Ask your self what the montage is doing in Zodiac.

    What is it saying, what is it doing emotionally?

    What Zodiac is about it the toll the information takes, the density of suspects, of false leads, of letters from Z, articles from the Chronicle... it's about how all these people get lost in this maze of information.

    The montage is a perfect distillation of that idea. The writing is everywhere and it’s too much to disseminate.

    DAVID FINCHER set that world up. The Fact that Angus Wall and or Krik Baxter contributed to that world takes nothing away from the fact that FINCHER set that world up and he is ultimately the judge of whether or not their contribution is ADDING to the film or not.

  8. Can't wait to see that movie, kevin. Please don't use CAPS LOCK that much, it's annoying.