4. Did The Zodiac Killer Really Call Into That Show?
In The Film: A man claiming to be the Zodiac killer calls the police and states he’s going to call into The Jim Dunbar Show and wants to talk to Melvin Belli. He gets through when Belli specifically comes in to talk to him. He screams like a madman, says he wants to kill kids, blames it on his headaches, and so on. He sets up a meeting at the Fairmount Hotel, but later, when they go to the meeting spot, he never shows.
They eventually trace the call, and it turns out he was just a mental patient and had nothing to do with the Zodiac.
In Real Life: Yes, someone called, but it wasn’t the Zodiac. The last time Belli was on the show, a man claiming to be Zodiac tried calling in 12 times but didn’t get through. He then called the police and told them he was the Zodiac and said he was going to call into the show at a certain time. This finally made the police, Belli, and the show setup a sting to track where the man was calling from when he eventually called.
The film differs a bit. For example, you don’t hear the man on the phone scream really loudly and blame it on his headaches. If you remember seeing TV spots for the film, that scream of insanity was a major selling point for people to come out and see the film. It made it look like, “Holy crap, the Zodiac called into a show?! THAT’S CRAZY!”
That never really happened, but the interview was still chilling. Check out the real version of when the man called in to the show:
There’s another extended version of the tape where you can also hear the phone calls (to the police to get them to set up the interview) they took and put into the film’s interview scene.
5. The Arthur Lee Allen Interview
In The Film: Remember that scene where the two lead detectives and detective Jack Mulanax go to Arthur Lee Allen’s places of work and they basically list off evidence one by one and Allen looks completely guilty?
- He was wearing a Zodiac watch.
- The same Wind Walker boots worn by the Zodiac at the murder near Lake Berryessa.
- He mentioned the book The Most Dangerous Game.
- He has bloody knives on his car seat to kill chickens he ate, as witnessed by neighbor Bill White (who died shortly after, which adds to speculation that Allen may have killed him because he was a witness).
Basically, Allen was handing the detectives (and the audience) things they suspected with evidence they had pointing to the killer, and even more incriminating evidence they didn’t even ask for (bloody knives on the car seat). Not to mention the noodle-scratching moment where Allen bluntly says , “I am not the Zodiac, and if I was, I wouldn’t tell you.” That’s a “Based on a True Story” if there ever was one.
In Real Life: Yeah, Arthur Lee Allen never said any of that in the real interview. He gave information about Bill White possibly seeing him with the bloody knives, and White said in a statement to Vallejo police that he possibly saw Allen use the knives to kill chickens. However, no one else besides Graysmith in his book really claims that happened.
What about wearing Allen wearing the Wind Walker boots during the interview? Nope. Didn’t happen. That would be a major clue in the case, but there’s no evidence to support he ever wore or owned them a pair of Wind Walker’s. All of this in the film gives heavy evidence that points toward Arthur Lee Allen being the killer. If all of this stuff actually happened in reality, he might as well of just walked into the interview scene with the Zodiac suit on with bloody Wind Walker boot prints following behind him.
6. Paul Avery and Robert Graysmith’s Friendship In The Movie: They start with no real relationship other than Avery being annoyed by Graysmith’s persistence with the case. They eventually have a drink at a bar and you know the rest.
In Real Life: They didn’t meet until after they both left the Chronicle. Which means EVERY SCENE in the film where they’re interacting is fictional.
They actually did meet twice after the case was history, and Graysmith wrote the book (which Avery didn’t like), so, imagine someone editing out all the scenes where Gyllenhaal and Downey Jr. talked to each other. Makes the film very weird, right? Yeah.