Confessions of a Serial Killer!

Gory greetings! Your old pal Brain Hammer is back from the grave and ready to party! Step inside the mind of a killer…


On June 4, 1987 one of the most bizarre and twisted accounts of human atrocity began to unfold. It began with the simple arrest of suspected thief and murderer Daniel Ray Hawkins. Routine questioning revealed unspeakable horrors when Hawkins glibly admitted to killing as many as 100 people before his capture. The cops try to get tough with Daniel Ray and get nowhere fast. Daniel Ray ain’t talking to nobody that’s gonna treat him bad. Then an old timer named Gaines takes over the interrogation. Sheriff Gaines eventually wins over Daniel Ray with an endless supply of cheeseburgers, chocolate shakes, and cigarettes. Satiated, the serial killer begins his confessions.

His first victim came at age 15. Daniel Ray went down to where the whores was because he wanted to have sexual relations. Daniel Ray was very familiar with sexual relations, as he had spent much of his childhood watching his prostitute mother entertain her roughneck clients and occasionally being forced to join in. Daniel Ray’s daddy was an alcoholic in a wheelchair who eventually got fed up watching mommy doing business and blew his brains out. Daniel Ray had an instinctive fear of seeing the whores all gathered together and decided to follow one of them home as she walked alone. When the whore rejected Daniel Ray’s feeble advances and called him a creep she didn’t want to touch, something snapped inside him. Something inside him that drove him to murder. The whore fell victim to Daniel Ray’s blade, and Daniel Ray found the whole thing real exciting. He even had to pull the car over on the ride home and do sex to himself just thinking about it.

Daniel Ray’s confessions are the savage tales of a road predator. A part time handyman and full time criminal and drifter who stuck to the highways. One year Daniel Ray managed to put 60,000 miles on one car. Countless victims would encounter Daniel Ray along the highways, and very few of them would live to tell the story. Once they got in his car, they were his. One of the only broads that ever gave Daniel Ray any real trouble was a drunk that he picked up outside of a roadhouse in Louisiana. She offended Daniel Ray with her foul language and tough acting. She also managed to get the drop on him, finding his pistol and turning it on him before he could use it on her. The killing spree might have ended there, if not for the help of Moon Lewton.

Moon Lewton (Dennis Hill) is a big dumb queer who meets Daniel Ray while working off the same truck and starting running with him. Moon didn’t say much, but he said enough so Daniel Ray knew he was a queer. The two of them had sexual relations. Daniel Ray still loved the ladies though, and couldn’t resist the chance to pay a visit to a good looking hide he saw living alone. Daniel Ray & Moon kindly offer to fix the woman’s broken air conditioner for $5, and in desperation the sweaty woman hesitatingly accepts. Bad decision. She walks in on Moon trying on her makeup, and is then tied face down to the bed. Moon proclaims that “The pig is ready!” and slits her throat while Daniel Ray rapes her. Sheriff Gaines begins to question the validity of Daniel Ray’s story, noting much of this had already been in the newspapers. Daniel Ray then adds the grotesque detail that Moon shit on the floor when they were finished.

Daniel Ray is proclaimed by doctors to be a consummate liar who mixes lies with the truth, which makes his incredible claim of 200 victims all too believable to the police. Daniel Ray offers to help the police locate his victim’s bodies so their families can rest easy. He also confesses to an armed robbery that turned deadly. A trip to a gas station inspires a conversation about the lack of hardcore porn. Moon dreams of starting their own X rated magazine, which Daniel Ray dubs “Cunt Killer.” Once inside the store, Moon shoots the owner, Daniel Ray shoots the owner’s wife, and Moon grabs a polaroid on his way out the door and snaps a few pics of the corpses for their magazine.

The pictures were stored inside a shoebox in a bus station locker. Daniel Ray and Moon learned all about bus stations thanks to Moon’s younger sister Molly. Molly was pretty young but she was real experienced and smart. She even worked inside one of them massage parlors. Molly had no problem with running with a pair of killers, and even offered to show them how to make some real money at it. Molly helped the deadly duo with their pickups and later became married to Daniel Ray, although Daniel Ray insisted it was a normal relationship – no sex or nothing. The drifters eventually wind up in Texas, living with and working for a doctor who also owns an appliance repair shop. It doesn’t take long before Daniel Ray and Moon start taking an interest in the doctor’s scantily clad daughter. She may have been the final victim, but the true story of America’s most twisted serial killer had only just begun.

The late, great Robert A. Burns of “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” and “The Hills Have Eyes” legend makes a rare appearance in front the cameras in CONFESSIONS OF A SERIAL KILLER and commands the screen as Daniel Ray Hawkins. The Daniel Ray character is closely patterned after the prolific serial killer and/or pathological liar Henry Lee Lucas. Henry Lee and his right hand man in murder – Ottis Toole are notorious for having confessed to as many as 600 murders between 1975 and 1983, before changing their minds and recanting their stories. Some Texas lawmen who worked on the “Lucas Task Force” remain stubbornly convinced that Henry is responsible for at least 350 murders, but the evidence and police work is dubious at best.

It appears that Henry and Ottis both enjoyed living in the media spotlight as world famous serial killer superstars and happily confessed to any unsolved crime that the police would accuse them of. Henry in particular confessed to several murders that he could not possibly have committed because work and hospital records proved he was in a different state at the time. All of this “justice” came to a crashing end when Henry decided to change his story and declare that he wasn’t a serial killer at all and that he was only in fact responsible for two deaths – those of his mother (which he had been convicted for several years before) and his teenage lover Becky. That new story conveniently left out the murder of an elderly woman for which Lucas was originally arrested, and did little to clear up the confusion about his crimes. Regardless if Henry Lee Lucas actually killed 3 or 300 people, his legacy as one of the most notorious yet celebrated criminals in American history remains intact.

And this bizarre legacy is exactly what makes Henry Lee Lucas such perfect subject matter for a serial killer flick. To date, I have seen three different films that attempt to tell the twisted story. My personal favorite of the bunch has to be CONFESSIONS OF A SERIAL KILLER. “Confessions” is by far the most accurate and disturbing depiction of Henry Lee Lucas’s alleged atrocities. It pulls no punches at all with concerns to Henry & Otis’s homosexuality and their alleged acts of necrophilia – two important elements of the story that are missing from the much more well known and respected “Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer.”

“Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer” is a fantastic film in its own right (and a personal favorite of mine), but it suffers from inaccuracies and attempts at making Henry seem heroic. “Confessions” is a truly sick little film that celebrates “Cunt Killers,” it doesn’t make Henry (Daniel, whatever) a knight on a white horse who turns up his nose at necrophilia, or valiantly rescues a woman from being raped by her brother. In real life, Henry would have gladly helped rape her. Speaking of which, the real life Becky Powell was a semi-retarded twelve year girl. For some reason, all three of the flicks that have told this story always cast Becky as being some sort of sassy or sexy twenty-something. I find these sort of morality-inspired inaccuracies to be highly dubious. Like the filmmakers, I have no problem with the graphic depiction of violent death but unlike the filmmakers I see no reason to sugar coat elements of the story that might be “too much” for an audience to handle.

Regardless, “Confessions” is the still one of the very best films I have ever seen when it comes to capturing the real, sleazy essence of a hardened road predator. Robert A. Burns’s relative lack of acting experience works in his favor. He absolutely inhabits the role. Everything he says feels totally real. It’s interesting to note that Bob was originally hired to work on the film as  the production designer, and wound up taking the leading role of the film when the original actor that was cast split town. Bob is best known of course for the incredible props and sets that he created for Tobe Hooper’s clas-sick “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre,” and in a knowing wink to his past “Confessions” includes a few shots of a bloody chainsaw and meathook. Also of note for Chainsaw fanatics – this film contains an uncredited appearance by none other than Bill Johnson, who would later play “Leatherface” in the immortal “Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2!” (Bill plays a roughneck who has his blowjob rudely interrupted, and you can check out my exclusive interview with the man here:

“Confessions” has a reputation for a being a typically troubled, low budget production. Fortunately, none of that behind the scenes chaos comes across on the screen. Much credit to first time writer and director Mark Blair for a job well done under pressure. This was the first in a series of one film that Mark would create over the years, and his debut effort is a big winner. The film is captivating from start to finish. A number of the scenes where Daniel is seen stalking after his female prey are very tense and uncomfortable, and the home invasion/rape scene (which is punctuated with a nasty throat slitting and twitching legs) in particular is ultra realistic and unsettling. There’s also a sense of twisted black humor that runs throughout the film and adds to the fun of the proceedings. You will walk away from this film with only two words on your mind – WHICH ONE?

I can’t recommend this flick highly enough. I’ve been a big fan ever since first encountering it on late night cable back in the day. Sadly, CONFESSIONS OF A SERIAL KILLER is probably best remembered today for it’s craptacular VHS cover art – which was a laughable looking attempt at making the film appear to be a“Silence Of The Lambs” ripoff. To date there has not been a dvd release in the states, but the film is widely available through the usual underground sources. It should be considered mandatory viewing for serial killer fanatics and hardcore horror fans with a taste for high quality, low budget brutality.



2 Responses to “Confessions of a Serial Killer!”

  1. Charles Says:

    I remember watching Confessions several times on Cinemax in the 80’s. I downloaded the DVD version, and there are several scenes that have been deleted. The scene where he talks about Moon shitting on the floor, is one. Do you know if all of the current copies are like that? I would really like to find the full, uncut, version.

    • I also first watched Confessions on Cinemax. The original VHS releases with the “Silence Of The Lambs” ripoff artwork were uncut. I’ve never seen the DVD release(s) so I’m not sure what’s missing from them. Your best bet is to track down the VHS, or a copy of it.

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