Friday, August 10, 2012


Following up on Wednesday's post, I just wanted to call attention to a fine documentary entitled H.H. Holmes: America's First Serial Killer (available for Instant Viewing on Netflix).  Writer/director John Borowksi's hour-long film is not only highly informative (we learn that the crimes of the brazen con man Holmes extended well beyond preying on attendees of the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago) but also surprisingly atmospheric.  Take, for example, the grave narration provided by Tony Jay ("Behind this innocent facade was a Gothic house of horrors designed by a monster..."), or the eerie voiceover readings from Holmes's autobiography.  A slew of vintage photos and period newspaper clippings transport the viewer back to another era of American history.  Perhaps the most effective technique of all is the inclusion of a series of brief black-and-white dramatizations (my favorite: a nightgowned, lamp-lofting damsel navigating the labyrinthine corridors of Holmes's deathtrap Castle) that give the proceedings the look and feel of a silent horror movie.  The documentary, which also offers a fascinating glimpse into late-19th Century criminal investigation and forensic analysis, is one that fans of the true crime genre will definitely enjoy checking out.

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