The year is 1977. Murder suspect Ted Bundy peels around a corner on foot, having just escaped Garfield County Jail in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Mountains loom in the distance.
Except — wait. This isn’t Colorado. The mountains are a digital backdrop. The shop window across the street says “David’s Mainstrasse Jewelers,” and Bundy — who isn’t Bundy but former Disney star Zac Efron with a ‘70s-style perm — is barreling past the blue-gray shopfront of Crafts & Vines taproom.
“It’s fun,” Crafts & Vines owner Lesley Hugo said Friday. “I really didn’t think that our storefront would actually be in the movie, but in the trailers it’s featured pretty prominently.”
She and a group of regulars stood at the back of the bar to watch Efron rehearse his sprint while shooting “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile,” the first fictionalized installment in a recent wave of documentaries and films re-examining Bundy’s brutal crimes against women.
The biopic, which examines the relationship between the killer and the long-term girlfriend who repeatedly tried to share her suspicions with police, found a period-appropriate backdrop in historic Covington and Fort Thomas.
“It’s pretty cool,” Kaleidoscope Stained Glass owner Cliff Kennedy said of watching the film come together. “They had police cars going up and down (my street), those old police cars from like the ‘50s or ‘60s.”
Those communities’ economies found a significant boost — and a bit of a thrill — in catering to a cast and crew of hundreds, including Efron and fellow young star Lily Collins, who plays Bundy’s girlfriend Elizabeth Kloepfer.
The out-of-town cast and crew spent a month at the Hotel Covington, where general manager Jack Olshan said the ballroom filled up with costume racks and the staff worked to fulfill a list of stars’ wants during their stay. (On said list: A room with a skateboard rack, a room with free weights and other rooms with certain types of flowers.)
“It was a huge boost to us when they were here,” Olshan said. “If you’re talking $200 a night for 25 rooms, that’s a pretty big deal when you’re talking three weeks. That’s a huge impact for us.”
Netflix purchased the film for $9 million after its premiere after the Sundance Film Festival. According to Film Cincinnati executive director Kristen Schlotman, who helped coordinate the shoot in Northern Kentucky, she left Sundance with three more scripts for projects that could potentially film in the area.
And, yes, in case you’ve read all this way wondering: Zac Efron is neither wicked nor vile in real life.
“Zac was so lovely and humble and so happy to talk about his experience shooting in the region,” she said. “I think everyone in this area will have fun seeing that.”
“Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile” had no set release date by Friday night.