Zodiac Killer: A Pop Culture Inspiration for Books, Movies and Series
The Zodiac Killer, often known as Zodiac, was a serial killer who operated in Northern California in the late 1960s. Between December 1968 and October 1969, the Zodiac murdered five people in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The Zodiac claimed responsibility for the murders of 37 people, and he's been linked to several additional cold cases, some in Southern California and others beyond the state.
The Zodiac came up with his name in a series of taunting letters and cards he sent to local media. He threatened murder sprees and explosions if his letters were not printed.
Four ciphers were included in those letters, out of which two have yet to be cracked, and one took 51 years to solve. The mystery of Zodiac Killer has finally been revealed by a cold-case work team led by former FBI officers and retired law enforcement.
According to Fox News, investigators with the Case Breakers task team have identified the killer as Gary Francis Poste, who died in 2018. However, the police and FBI are yet to confirm these findings.
For many years, the Zodiac Killer has served as a source of inspiration in pop culture, especially in many books, films, and series. Here are a few works that have been influenced by this serial killer.
'The Hunt for the Zodiac Killer'
In 2017, the History Channel aired a five-part mini-series called The Hunt for the Zodiac Killer. Codebreakers and detectives worked to interpret the Zodiac's cryptic signals delivered to authorities and journalists in the series.
Sal LaBarbera, a retired LAPD homicide detective, former FBI officer Ken Mains, and Kevin Knight, a University of Southern California professor of computer technology, are among the specialists heading the investigation in the series.
Zodiac is a 2007 American mystery thriller movie directed by David Fincher and written by James Vanderbilt. It is based on Robert Graysmith's 1986 non-fiction book of the same name.
The movie stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, and Robert Downey Jr. alongside John Carroll Lynch, Anthony Edwards, Elias Koteas, Brian Cox, Donal Logue, and Philip Baker Hall, among others.
The movie revolves around Graysmith, crime writer Paul Avery, and investigator Dave Toschi as they strive to solve the case and discover the identity of the Zodiac Killer.
'Most Evil: Avenger, Zodiac, and the Further Serial Murders of Dr. George Hill Hodel'
Among many books written about the Zodiac Killer, Most Evil: Avenger, Zodiac, and the Further Serial Murders of Dr. George Hill Hodel is one of the famous ones.
As a homicide investigator with the Los Angeles Police Department, Steve Hodel found disturbing facts about his late father, George. His late father not only knew the victim of the 1947 Black Dahlia murder, but he was also the primary suspect in the case.
This revelation prompted Hodel to delve more into his father's history and discover the connection to the Zodiac Killer. He concluded George was not just the infamous killer but also a disturbed man who saw murder as a kind of art.
'Awakening the Zodiac'
Jonathan Wright directed Awakening the Zodiac, a 2017 Canadian mystery crime drama movie starring Shane West and Leslie Bibb. The plot revolves around a young couple who come across the serial killer's film reels.
They decide to take the law into their own hands, putting their lives on the line for the opportunity to win $100,000. But, unfortunately, their efforts drew undue attention to themselves.
'American Horror Story'
The Zodiac Killer has been featured in two seasons of the American Horror Story series. He is a masked person who first appears as a ghost in the American Horror Story: Hotel episode 'Devil's Night.'
The murderer apologizes for being late because he was "writing some letters" and joins James Patrick March's serial killer party. The Zodiac is implied to be a member of Valerie Solanas' SCUM cult in American Horror Story: Cult.
In this season, the moniker "Zodiac Killer" was invented by a gay member who claimed responsibility for the killings and delivered the famed cryptic letters to the police.