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Netflix's 'Night Stalker' shocks viewers with graphic scenes

Netflix's new series "Night Stalker" details the crimes of serial killer Richard Ramirez, who was known by that name in the press.
Richard Ramirez became known as the "night stalker" for the series of rapes and murders he committed in California in the 1980s. A recent Netflix series of the same name depicts his crimes in graphic fashion.
Richard Ramirez became known as the "night stalker" for the series of rapes and murders he committed in California in the 1980s. A recent Netflix series of the same name depicts his crimes in graphic fashion.Netflix
/ Source: TODAY

Even self-proclaimed true crime enthusiasts are struggling with the graphic content in Netflix's new docuseries "Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer," which details the effort to catch Richard Ramirez, who was convicted of 13 counts of murder and 11 counts of sexual assault for his crimes in California in the '80s.

Since the series debuted on Wednesday, it has garnered mixed reviews. So far, it's earned a 67% approval score on Rotten Tomatoes, but a review on the Roger Ebert website only gave it 2 1/2 stars, explaining it can feel "tabloid-esque in its craft" and calling "a little disappointing" compared to recent, similar series.

Some Netflix viewers have questioned why the streaming giant chose to show so much imagery of Ramirez's crimes.Netflix

Plenty of Twitter users have aired similar concerns relating to the imagery of Ramirez's gruesome acts.

"Watching the new Netflix Night Stalker series. No need for them to include the victim crime scene photos, and slo-mo blood splatter shots, it's not necessary," wrote one person.

"Jeeeez, Night Stalker on @NetflixUK is a wee bit dark & creepy isn’t it? I love True Crime docs but even I’m finding this one extremely dark & twisted. Impossible to stop watching though!" added another.

A third person shared that the show "f---ed (them) up," despite being a frequent documentary viewer.

"Jesus Christ I hope the makers of the Night Stalker documentary got permission from the victims' families to have such lingering shots of graphic crime scenes," someone else tweeted.

Another called it "tough viewing" and said they were unsure if they'd be able to finish all four episodes.

The episodes themselves don't start with warnings of graphic imagery, but in the description of the series on the Netflix site, the series is rated TV-MA due to "nudity, sexual violence, language, smoking," and it's not recommended for viewers under 17. Netflix did not immediately respond to TODAY's request for comment.

Ramirez flashed a pentagram, a satanic symbol, during a court appearance in 1985, UPI reported at the time.Netflix

The series is told primarily through the perspective of the detectives who investigated Ramirez's crimes, but it also includes surviving victims' and reporters' perspectives.

Between 1984 and 1985, Ramirez, who reportedly left satanic symbols behind at gruesome crime scenes, terrorized neighborhoods in Los Angeles and San Francisco with a series of home invasions, which often led to murder and rape. In September 1989, he also was convicted of five counts of attempted murder and 14 counts of burglary.

NBC Bay Area reported he died in 2013 of complications due to B-cell lymphoma after he'd been on death row for more than 23 years.

CORRECTION (Jan. 17, 2021, 7:25 a.m.): A previous version of this story referenced the Rotten Tomatoes page for the 2016 film "Night Stalker," also about Richard Ramirez, and not the 2021 Netflix docuseries "Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer." The latter received a 67% approval score on Rotten Tomatoes.