Serial Killers: The Real Life Hannibal Lecters

Serial Killers: The Real Life Hannibal Lecters

2001, Crime  -   81 Comments
Ratings: 6.64/10 from 72 users.

Hannibal Lecter, also known as Hannibal the Cannibal, although a fictional character has become quite the legend. Hannibal Lecter was created in Thomas Harris' brilliant imagination for the famous film Silence of the Lambs and his character was modeled after real serial killers. The documentary Real Life Hannibal Lecters details the lives and crimes of numerous serial killers who inspired the creation of Lecter's character.

In reality, ninety percent of serial killers are white males. They usually have low to middle class backgrounds and intelligence is often a common characteristic although they have difficulty focusing in school as children. Traumatic childhoods are also a recurring factor and in many cases serial killers are abused physically, sexually, or psychologically. Families are sometimes unstable with histories of criminals, mental illness, alcoholism, and abuse.

Because of these unfortunate circumstances, these men (and sometimes women) are left alone or shunned by society. This leads to dangerous, unhealthy, or even criminal activities such as animal abuse which is often a known theme among serial killers. They're unable or unwilling to let go of the past and things that have greatly affected them. While many people can move on, these people can't or refuse to do so.

They crave attention and want to feel important and special to others. Serial killers feel that the only way to fulfill these needs is to obtain dominance and control over others, often involving murder. They often associate pain with pleasure and the killings often have a sexual component to them because they enjoy the suffering of others.

The documentary discusses the serial killers Albert Fish, Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy, Andrei Chikatilo, and John Wayne Gacy. These men all had at least one of the commonalities between serial killers and many of them had traumatic childhoods which may have influenced the way that they turned out. Some serial killers participate in cannibalism which the documentary discusses in great detail.

In Real Life Hannibal Lecters professional and knowledgeable speakers study and analyze serial killers and cannibals and talk about some of the different reasons why these people commit such heinous acts.

Directed by: Sean Buckley

More great documentaries

81 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Hannibal

    The sheer ignorance and grandstanding of the mass’s never fails. Astounding is the abundance of stupidity. Spew your thoughts for There is no shortage of cattle

  2. roadkill

    A pattern seems to me, is very odd relations with their mothers.

  3. paul

    I believe in the phycology of serial killers but, my father was an alcoholic and I have become one as well. How can you put a justification on that alone.

  4. kandace frye

    I could only eat human flesh in only one circumstance. If it was THEE only thing to save my family's life and mine, then yes. I would definitely cooked the shit out of it!!

    1. Hannibal

      You never know until you try ;)

  5. ForeverDove

    I just want to make it clear that i am not a racist by any means. And being called one hurts me hurts my soul :(

  6. Dan Eggen

    Foreverdove seems to not be familiar with the rapant canniblism, rape, mutilation that has recently occurred in the DR Congo, Liberia, and several other African countries (still going on in some). Reports of soldiers forcing parents to watch their children raped and then eaten in front of them for example. Why not watch the Vice Guide to Liberia (parts linked on this very site)

    1. ForeverDove

      Hey im not a total id**t, and yes i am aware of General Butt-Naked :)

  7. D

    the healthiest meat a human can consume his human meat

    1. Hannibal

      I beg to differ

  8. Robert Lee

    I dont understand why cannibalism is so taboo or horrifying. Meat is meat. We are animals no matter how much we lie to ourselves and fill ourselves with delusions of being created "special" or "different" by a god. Catholics eat the flesh of Jesus and drink his blood, and many of them actually believe this in the literal way. I also dont see this as a racial or religious issue. Religious morals do not stop a sick person from commiting horrible crimes. Ask an alter boy.

    1. Mihael Keehl

      Prion's disease; Look it up.
      We are designed by nature not to live off each other.

    2. jaberwokky

      Would you think it acceptable for me to eat your parents?

  9. Lavanghues

    why is it that people feel compelled to comment when they have no idea what they are talking about? Religion has a very little part in any of this. None of these men torture or kill in the name of any god (or lack there of). It is only for themselves. And just to be clear, Albert Fish WAS a church going man all his life and Jeffrey Dahmer had atheist beliefs and converted to christianity. There is nothing in the official profile of serial killers that states that they are or are not religious. Furthermore not all serial killers are psychopaths. And to be perfectly clear, a psychopath is not someone who cant feel any emotion. If you read the DSM which is the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, Psychopaths do feel less empathy than most people but they do still feel it in certain situations. Every person is unique and you cannot fit any person neatly into a category. For example, the only difference between a serial rapist and a serial killer is that the rapist chooses not to kill his victims. (not to say that all killers rape) also the only difference between a serial killer and a genicidal dictator is that the dictator just happens to be in a possition of power. Classifying these HUMANS as demons from hell only allows society to dismiss the reality of their pressence in our world. How many Amber Alerts or missing persons ads in news papers must go by before we realize that the ones who are in jail are only the ones who have been caught? There is a reality to human nature that people do not want to admit, and that is the true crime...

    1. terencejscannell

      Thank you for your essay on your definition of the so called distorted human mind, Obviously very literate as you are quoting from Books, Reallity is much different, Work with these types of criminals and then you may express an intimate opinion, until then it is just verbal conjecture.
      If you have any interest in the human psyche, then surely you should remain totally open minded as to what a human male/female is capable of. As a result you should also understand that certain people have been indoctrinated within the church and or religion, and therefore will have different views.
      I personally am not a believer of anything remotely religious, I do think that certain people have something different in their make up that makes them socially unacceptable, religion or good parenting does not come into it, it is a physical thing.
      And before you laud me and tell me i am talking nonsense, I worked on a Murder charge wing for 9 years and i met some of the Uk's most dangerous persons, all of whom were normal to me if not slightly abnormal as to the fact they were very charming and intelligent, A psycho by definition is very cock sure of themselves, in an introverted way, which only becomes extrovert when the bad deed is done, we all have the ingredients to be Psychotic, however fear of disapproval, and quick rationing of thoughts prevent us from carrying out barbaric acts!
      Before you write a reply, may i suggest you think of others who are more than entitled to make their response, and do not judge comments soley on a religious backdrop, you do not know anyone here intimatelly that has made a comment, so do not judge, thank you for your time.

  10. Detached99

    I would rather encounter a serial murderer than a right wing american capitalist. Only one of these is worth being realistically afraid of, and it isn't serial killers.

    1. terencejscannell

      Deranged comment, one will take your money the other your life, therfore you would rather lose your life?

  11. ForeverDove

    There always has been and always will be people like this, and almost guaranteed to be white people.
    What does that tell us?
    It tells us that there is some underlying problem with the psyche of white people which is easily influenced by socio and psychopathic tendencies that trigger this kind of behaviour.
    The so called experts tend to argue the fact that environmental factors coupled with childhood trauma and also sexual deviancy are key markers for this kind of behaviour.
    True that these may be catalysts, but catalysts no doubt reserved for the psyche of predominantly white people.
    The problem may lie with the genetic make-up of caucasoids in general.

    1. Juraj Filkorn

      there are asian tyrants, aswell african tyrants. everywhere... have you seen a study? ... i hope it wll not be in the documentaary :)

    2. Tamika Porter

      I agree, not in a racist way..I want to make that very clear! . Look at their track record, they're a very violent dominate race, why haven't studies been made? I personal think because they don't have all the genetic make up like people of color, they have a mutation..this is proven facts.

    3. YehudaDavid

      That is racist. Oh please people from every race do things like this, the only difference is the American world didn't care about people of color at that point in time, as long as they were staying from the "violent dominate race" as you say. Just by you stating that alone makes you a racist. Anyway i'm sure there are sociological studies on this, you just have to looked.

    4. ForeverDove

      Yes i agree, in no way are our opinions racist, the facts speak for themselves.

    5. terencejscannell

      Or is it because these cases are from the developed world and therefore reported on? just a thought.
      I am sure Africa and asia also have something similar, but are we interested in something on someone elses doorstep?
      I live in Ireland 98% caucasian, never had a Cannibal killer in recorded history

    6. ForeverDove

      Im from New Zealand, i am Maori and my ancestors ate people regularly not too long ago and yes im only interested on whats on other peoples doorsteps. Kinda lonely being way out here :(

  12. slack63

    i pray to god i never encounter one of these individuals , and that there are never anymore here on earth.

  13. Sumedh Raghavan

    Either way, society could do without these sick sick people.

  14. Sumedh Raghavan

    I think pop culture and media have a lot to do with the growth of these monsters. As even displayed in the comments below, some find the subject amusing, and entertaining to pose as serial killers. The disintegration of family values and the veneration of material goods is the culprit. I doesn't help when influential characters like Eminem make songs about how much fun murder is, or when Hollywood pumps us with horror and sadistic movies. I do not wish to sound ridiculous, but we have truly developed a 'Godless' society that gives ample opportunities for these warped beings to emerge from.

    1. Rev Scrios

      You obviously don't understand what a psychopath is. A psychopath is someone who simply cannot feel emotion, and as such, are free from guilt and remorse. This has nothing to do with family values or any such nonsense (ie: complete and utter bullshit) that you spew.
      In fact, many psychopaths use religion to further their disgusting genocidal goals... Think on that.
      These people are not psychopaths because they are atheist. There are more serial killers that are christian than atheist. It is useful to mention that theists make up a disproportionately large part of the prison population compared to atheists.
      You are hateful and bigoted. You're afraid of offending your delicate sensibilities and you're completely willing to impose your morality and religion on others... In short, you're Hitler Jr... (though your rantings are not nearly as captivating.)
      To quote Hitler: "Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord."

  15. emilyemily

    I don't believe for a second Jeffrey Dahmer was sorry for what he did. He's a psychopath. They don't feel sorry. They make you THINK they're sorry when they really couldn't care less.

  16. MilkyMike

    @LILY actally psychopaths are.

  17. John D

    Damn this doc is scary... lol

  18. Jeffery

    Who are we to say this is wrong. People have been killing since the beginning of time and kill in war over things as miniscule as belief systems. When everything has a label things get blurry. Everybody has their addictions . . .

    1. MilkyMike

      you f***ing retard. ur mom should die by a serial killer then see if killing matters

    2. Moitie

      you are being how you say a retard.
      Jeff was just pointing out that its possible that they cant control this much like you cant control being retarded.

  19. Joe


  20. aaangie

    that was chilling, I think i can safely guess what my nightmares will be about tonight!

  21. Lisa

    Hey Levin - don't even begin to suggest that we all have a cannibalistic streak somewhere inside of us.....never has crossed my mind and never will!

  22. Angelclaw

    If you pay other people to torture animals in factory farms so you can indulge your craving for dead flesh you're every bit as sick as any serial killer.

  23. Tan

    "To say eating humans and hamburgers are the same is outrageous..if your killing animals to eat them thats humane if your killing them for the sick thrill to kill thats messed up"

  24. Tan

    I second that

  25. Tahyo

    @ Normal

    I kill and butcher and that makes me less of a vegaterian ..I didn't climb to the top of the food ladder to eat a carrot. To say eating humans and hamburgers are the same is outrageous..if your killing animals to eat them thats humane if your killing them for the sick thrill to kill thats messed up

  26. Lily

    Ps: Remember that mental illness plays a big factor in most serial killers lives, notibly Ed Gein.

  27. Lily

    We now look upon these people with disgust... In society's eyes they're lower than human. But they are still human... They weren't born evil. They were once innocent.

    People aren't born bad, they're made bad.

  28. youhavenoclue

    @ Jackie

    You obviously don't know what you're talking about, especially when it comes to religion. In that case, it is best you stay out of the conversation.

  29. Randy


    Hemorrhoids are actually delicious! Have YOU ever eaten one?

    Come a little closer to Uncle Randy... come here!

    Uncle Randy loves you!

    So sweet, very nice...

  30. Sum1uallno

    Andy wants Randy for lunch. Shhhh Uncle Randy is really smart. Barf bag anyone. Let the two of the same person fight over the big pieces. Heres a fork for the both of you. Clowns seem to follow clowns.

    This was worth a watch. Never to thrilled when it comes to a hemorrhoid that you just cant seem to find the right cushion for. HUH o.0

  31. Andy K

    Anyone up for a burger?

  32. Randy

    Hannibal Lecter was my hero.

    He was a super-intellectual and ate people that were st00pid or rude...

    What's not to love?

    I eat intellectuals so that I can gain their knowledge and power, but... that is just me.

    Thomas Harris, the author of the "Red Dragon" series, is a fantastic writer and very knowledgable about the FBI and criminology.

    All of you young, fresh, smart people need to come closer to Uncle Randy... he needs to whisper something to you...

  33. Armchair Shrink

    I think that this documentary could've been interesting but for the obvious condescension to us idiotic masses with short attention spans & a pathological need to be entertained. Had I known that they'd waste my time dragging out pop cultural nonsense like old tired B movies & Hannibal Lecter (a fictitious character)I would've selected a different documentary to watch. The added drama of the cheap horror movie sound-track & random images of wide-eyed people wasted precious time that could've been better spent on intelligent discourse. Heck: they could've tossed in another serial killer in the time that they wasted!

    Someone above mentioned the guy in the glasses. YES! He was annoying. I was wondering why he chose to speak sooo slowly. It was agonizing! He also has a feeble grasp on history. There have been several serial killers who were 'high up' on the 'social scale' or whatever elitist term he used. Remember Elizabeth Bathory & Vlad (remember that sweet-heart?)Many heads of extremist governments such as warlords & other dictators were serial killers; many were also cannibals!

    The other guy, Levin, claimed that most serial killers were 'middle-aged'. In fact, few are. Most are in their mid 20s to 30s. I disagree with Levin's universalizing of serial killers' motivations and feelings about what they do. Bundy's aberrant behaviour seemed to be, in a large part, triggered by the rejection he got from a society girl.NOT being to the manor born, despite looking & sounding the part helped unravel him. Before this incident, he was a relatively normal young man (how many teen boys & college aged guys masturbate a lot, watch too much porn & love to get a peek at an undressing young woman?)Levin says that Bundy grew up 'in poverty' & never knew his father. His family was more working class than truly poor & he was not an abused child. There are tens of thousands of children being raised by single mother figures: almost none become serial killers. Barak Obama & Bill Clinton had no relationship with their father either & Abe Lincoln was raised in dire poverty.

    Chikatilo is a different sort altogether. He was 'raised' under circumstances out of most people's worst nightmares. Having encountered several older people who lived through these same circumstances, I can state that none emerged unscathed: these are damaged people. He was likely not born mentally intact to begin with & his life's circumstances did the remainder of the work of un-gluing him.

    As to serial killers all being 'unable to succeed in conventional society', Levin is wrong about BOTH Bundy AND Chikatilo. The judge who sentenced Bundy stated that he would've made a brilliant lawyer. He was a smart, good-looking up & coming man. Chikatilo has risen well in the Communist party & was considered to be an upstanding & good citizen (which helped him get away with what he did) in his society. Dave Baumeister was a very successful business man with a loving wife, nice kids & a grand estate. Levin's description of what motivates serial killers applies more to Aileen Wuornos than any of the men in this slip-shod film.

    I believe Bundy was correct when he said that "We are your brothers, fathers & husbands" (or something similar). In countries where there is mass poverty & dysfunction, there are comparatively few such serial killers. Why are there so many in America is a question worthy of exploration. Does the media play a role in creating such people by venerating them, giving them a snazzy nick-name & a new identity & making them seem like 'cool' counter-culture out-laws putting snooty cute co-eds in their place? Next time you're at a DVD rental place, go to the horror section. Count how many films are about some evil guy, ghost or other back-from-the-dead type hacking up terrified pretty slim young women who seemed to have the world in the palm of their hands & everything to live for. Could it be that many men secretly nourish the fantasy of extreme misogynistic male domination & showing all these 'feminists' what they really think of them? THAT thought is scarier than any serial killers real or fictitious.

  34. Sadie the Celt

    Interesting Documentary, I know the subject matter is upsetting, but we have to get as much intelligence as possible on the 'enigma' of serial killers. It was stated that they have only began researching for the last 20 years and so it is therefore a relatively 'new' area of research - and due to the fact that there are 200 serial murder victims per year in the USA alone - justifies and strengthens the importance of data.
    a serial killer is one that has killed 3 or more individuls on 3 (or more) seperate occasions.

  35. H

    "If everyone had to raise and butcher its own meat, most would become vegetarians."

    i doubt that, i know i wouldnt

  36. srtg

    What really got to me was the part where the killer wrote to the victim's parents, documenting the horrible things he did. It's just so sad to think how people find so many ways to be cruel to each other.

  37. Jack

    I would totally eat human flesh. I'm no hypocrite. I eat animals, human meat is no different, and maybe even better I would think. Of course, only if the person died from natural causes and I bought it prepackaged. I can't even punch someone.
    And this doc is quite slow.

  38. Jackie

    All this talk of the absolute discusting act of flesh eating and yet the act of taking holy communion doesent grose anyone out. Is this not a good part of the population of our planet pretending to EAT the flesh of a man and drink his blood on, I dont know, a weely basis? Im not Catholic or even Christian for that matter but this has always growsed me out!

  39. beauregard

    The prophet Jeremiah tells us that the heart is desperately wicked beyond our comprehension. Each heart contains the potential for evil, any evil. Given the circumstance, the next serial killer could be you.

  40. john

    I live in Wisconsin right near Plainfield and Milwaukee where Dahmer and Gein committed their crimes. Don't know what drove them to do what they did but if somebody feed me human flesh...i would be typing this from a f'n padded cell.

  41. JP Tardif

    Allan, this is a sick religious hypocritic jugement. Walk with Jesus... what the f..k do you believe it means. oh I see you mean those monsters were not walking with Jesus so you obviously mean that others that don't do the walkin' they are evil and serial killers. Be carefull people here have brains don't consider them like stupid ass!

  42. Claire

    The guy in the glasses with the upward inflection.... he ruined this for me.

  43. Allan

    would recommend this documentary,pretty bad to see what people can do when they don't walk with Jesus

  44. Nora

    this is a real enlightening Doc. but the victims....the children. ):

  45. brett

    Humor = hope?

    I like the concept

    Come on world.
    Say something funny to the person next to you ...

    Amuse it or loose it


  46. Shugga


    Good point, indeed, whenever we see excesses in disturbing human behavioral structures, the coping mechanism from that point on relies on irreversible transitions to either futility or humor. You make a valid point, in my personal case, I think it's mostly to do with the prolonged suffering part of the procedure.

  47. brett

    Hi Shugga!
    Perhaps the Rape V Cannibalism question is influenced by the human instinct to make humour out of the nastiest situations as a coping mechanism.
    If you listen to Police who may be investigating a horrible crime, they may at times make jokes that can seem sick to outsiders but these "jokes" are a way of perhaps making sense out of something abstract & bizarre.
    We also grow up with things like cartoons depicting a cannibal tasting the cooking pot with a clown inside it and the cannibal saying something like "this tastes funny"
    Whereas I don't recall ever seeing a cartoon about rape.
    We are conditioned to some extent by our environment.
    Perhaps also, in cannibalism the victim is dead & no longer suffering but in rape, the victim continues to suffer afterwards.
    Perhaps you can empathize with the rape victims but not the cannibal victims.
    Perhaps rape also involves something that we use to connect most intimately with someone we love. When that is taken away from us it impacts our inner being in some indescribable way?
    I suppose that is part of what makes us human and so fascinating.


  48. Milton Babb

    Excess stress on the brain, the pineal gland, affects the mind.

  49. Shugga

    Am i messed up in the head for putting considerably less moral heavyness on cannibalism than I do on rape? For some reason, I can laugh about cannibalism and kinda see the humor in eating another human, but I draw the line at rape, which to me seems like a much worse thing to do to somebody...

  50. Milton Babb

    Or that "trickle down economics".

  51. Milton Babb

    Well I figured it out, those countries most affected are the ones most seriously damaged by World Class Banks.

  52. Milton Babb

    Somebody please find out exactly what causes this.

  53. Charles B.

    I felt most sorry for the Budd family who let their little girl go with that moster! Always follow your first instincts when protecting your children.

  54. Brett

    Hey James!
    That was a funny comment mate.
    Good sense of humour.
    I've seen cows & sheep slaughtered. I enjoy a nice piece of steak but can't say I go for the lamb. I had a pet lamb once & I have had to euthanize several sheep after dog attacks so that might explain why?
    Still, I can't bring myself to consider a life without BBQ's

    I am not really interested in this vid which raises the question of at what point does an interest in the fascinating workings of the mind become a macabre or perverse interest in the sick & disturbing?
    We all have different thresholds in our "sickometers" but cannibalism would have to be a common line that most people would feel uncomfortable about peering beyond.

  55. james

    fascinating.two endorsemants for vegetarianism.One even supporting the execution of the irreparably damaged and a suggested rationale that those raising and processing meat(butcher,cattlemen,pig and sheep,chicken farmers)would become vegetarians,revulsed by the violent nature of their livelihood well,.debatable. good doc,though a tad sluggish.

  56. mike

    is it just me or is that one dude super annoying. the guy with the glasses and beard. everytime he talks the inflection in his voice gets higher at the end of his sentences like a friggin teenager. otherwise it was a good documentary!!!!

  57. ellen

    The narrator's voice is annoying to me, seems awkwardly pitched otherwise interesting!

  58. normal

    That is why i am a Vegetarian.
    Animals have feelings also lets not forget.
    If everyone had to raise and butcher its own meat, most would become vegetarians. or vegan....

    1. McDiessel

      animals are raised to be eaten, would not be nearly as many cows, chickens and pigs if people did not raise them for that purpose.

      But they do have feelings and the way they are killed needs to be dealt with not the killing itself

  59. mj

    cannibals should become vegetarians... lol
    it think those guys were damaged beyond repair and should not live...

  60. Reb

    Well, gross is not a good description but what is??? How about those who like to pretend to be cannibals and vampires? Are they nuts too?

  61. Unzar Jones

    The audio sounds strange. The narrator reminds me of a text-to-speech program.

  62. dustin

    Would you eat human to save a cow? Would you eat human to save a human? Would you eat human to save Earth? I'd eat human if I was allowed....maybe.....prolly first.....gross!

    1. lindenbay

      dustin....did i see you in the interview with a cannibal comments saying "meat is meat"? Hmmm...your platform is interesting. You seem to be saying thet to eat a cow is the same a it is to eat a human....would YOU eat human flesh?

  63. Collette

    It i not only about serial killers, but eating human flesh... How horrifying... They should keep all the brains of these criminals before cremation to study... I was goin to wommint any moment listening to these storries