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Posts tagged “True Crime

Amityville Horror… Again

'THE AMITYVILLE HORROR' FILM - 1979Franck Khalfoun (“Maniac”) wrote and will direct the horror movie for Dimension Films and Blumhouse. Fresh off supporting turns in “The Giver” and “Vampire Academy” for the Weinstein Company, “Shameless” star Cameron Monaghan is nearing a deal to join Disney Channel star Bella Thorne in the new “Amityville” horror movie that Blumhouse is producing for Dimension Films, an individual familiar with the project told The Wrap online.

Franck Khalfoun (“Maniac”) wrote and will direct the film, which will star Jennifer Jason Leigh as a single mother who moves her three kids into the “Amityville” house that has a very dark history. Gotta say this is great news as Khalfoun did a fantastic job with Maniac, the most original take on a horror film of 2013.

Dimension had planned on reigniting the popular “Amityville” horror franchise using a found-footage angle but that idea has been dropped in favour of a fresher take. The original “Amityville Horror” was released in 1979 and received a high-profile remake in 2005 that starred Ryan Reynolds, Melissa George and Chloe Moretz. The franchise is based on Jay Anson’s book “The Amityville Horror: A True Story.”


Manson Murders

Writer Bret Easton Ellis and director Rob Zombie have teamed with Alcon Television to develop a project for Fox that will revisit the people and events connected to the Manson Family murder spree in August 1969.

The project is envisioned as a limited series, but it is in the very early stages of development with Fox. Ellis is set to write the script and some additional materials. Zombie is on board to direct.

Zombie has long been fascinated by the Manson Family slayings, which left seven people dead in the Los Angeles area. Among the victims were actress Sharon Tate, who was eight and a half months pregnant at the time with the child of director Roman Polanski, and prominent Hollywood hairstylist Jay Sebring.

The killings were so gruesome, and the stories of Charles Manson’s level of control of his drug-addled young followers so disturbing, that Manson was convicted of first-degree murder and conspiracy charges even though he was never found to have committed a homicide himself.

Manson’s clutch of cult followers have been suspected of many other murders during that era. But it was sheer brutality and psychopathic theatricality of the killings (complete with messages written in blood at the crime scenes) unleashed on Aug. 8-9, 1969, that jolted the nation’s psyche.

The Ellis-Zombie collaboration aims to tell converging stories of people and events leading up to and after the murders, from shifting points of view. The project is envisioned as a multipart series, but it is one of many limited series projects in the works and is far away from receiving a greenlight.

The idea for the project began with Zombie and Adam Kolbrenner and Robyn Meisinger of Madhouse Entertainment. They developed the concept and brought it to Ellis and Alcon. To date, no source material has been optioned for the project, which plans to take an original approach to dramatizing stories drawn from the historical record.

Ellis, Zombie and the Madhouse principals will exec produce with Alcon’s Sharon Hall, Andrew Kosove and Broderick Johnson. Ben Roberts and Ryan Cunningham serve as co-producers.

“I have been obsessed with this insane story since I was a kid, so obviously I jumped at the chance to be involved in this incredible project. After speaking with Bret, I immediately realized that we shared the same vision for this epic madness,” Zombie said.

Manson was sentenced to death in 1971, but the sentence changed to life in prison when California abolished the death penalty the following year. He has been denied parole 12 times.

Ellis most recently penned the micro-budgeted Lindsay Lohan starrer “The Canyons,” released last year by IFC. Zombie’s last directorial effort was the 2013 indie “The Lords of Salem.”


Bryan Bertino

Bryan Michael Bertino (born 17 October 1977) is an American film director and screenwriter, best known as the writer/director of The Strangers (2008).

Bertino was born in Crowley, Texas. He studied cinematography at the University of Texas in Austin. He then moved to Los Angeles, where he worked as a gaffer, and wrote screenplays in his spare time. Bertino submitted The Strangers for a Nicholl Fellowship with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which reached the quarter-finals. However, he was able to get a meeting with Vertigo Entertainment. Bertino quit his job days before the script was sold to Universal Studios.

The Strangers revolves around a young couple who are terrorized by three masked assailants, who break into the remote summer home in which they are staying and damage all means of escape.

Mark Romanek wanted to direct The Strangers but apparently demanded a $40 million budget. After speaking with Andrew Rona at Rogue Pictures, Bertino was asked to direct The Strangers despite a lack of directorial experience.

The Strangers was made on a budget of $9 million and after two postponements, was released theatrically on May 30, 2008 in North America, and grossed $82.3 million at the box office worldwide. Although it was ambiguously marketed as being “inspired by true events”, writer and director Bryan Bertino stated that the film was inspired by a series of break-ins that occurred in his neighborhood as a child, as well as some incidents that occurred during the Manson killings. Critical reaction to the film was mixed.

Bertino then commended working on the thriller film This Man, to be produced by Sam Raimi and his company Ghost House Pictures, however there is currently no information available from the studio, busy as they are promoting The Possession and their Evil Dead remake. The This Man film concept is built upon the internet meme that appeared in October of 2009, with the launching of the website ThisMan.org. The site claimed that the first recorded sighting of the individual was in 2006 to an anonymous mental patient and that others throughout the world have seen This Man in their dreams. Shortly after the website launch, it was revealed that the website and meme were created by sociologist Andrea Natella, an advertising agency employee who specialized in hoax and viral marketing, and that the face used on the website appeared to have been produced through the software program Flash Face.  The site was briefly acquired by Ghost House Pictures. You can check out the original ThisMan website HERE


The Amityville Horror (1979) – Spanish Posters


Frank Serpico

Francesco Vincent Serpico (born April 14, 1936) is a retired New York City Police Department officer who is most famous for testifying against police corruption in 1971. The majority of Serpico’s fame came after the release of the Sidney Lumet directed 1973 film ‘Serpico’ which starred Al Pacino in the lead role.

Serpico was shot during a drug bust on February 3, 1971, at 10:42 p.m., during a stakeout at 778 Driggs Avenue, in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. Four officers from Brooklyn North had received a tip that a drug deal was going down.

Two of the officers, Gary Roteman and Arthur Cesare, stayed in a car out front; the third, Paul Halley, was standing in front of the apartment building. Serpico got out of the car, climbed up the fire escape, watched from the roof, went in the fire escape door, walked down the steps, watched the heroin sale, listened to the password and then followed the two youths out.

The police jumped out at the two youths, one of whom had two bags of heroin. Halley stayed in the car with the two kids with the heroin after Roteman told Serpico, because he spoke Spanish, to make a fake drug buy to get the door open for the rest of them. The three officers went up the steps to the third-floor landing. Serpico knocked on the door, keeping his other hand inside his jacket on his 9mm Browning. The door opened a few inches, the chain still on. Serpico pushed and the chain snapped. It was enough for him to wedge part of his body in but the dealers on the other side were trying to close it. Serpico called out to his partners who did not come to help him.

Serpico was shot in the face at point blank range with a .22 LR handgun. The bullet penetrated his cheek just below the eye and lodged at the top of his jaw; he lost balance, fell to the floor, and began to bleed profusely. Serpico’s colleagues failed to place a “10-13”, a dispatch to police headquarters indicating that an officer has been shot. Instead, Serpico was saved by an elderly man who lived in an apartment adjacent to the one being used by the suspects; the man called emergency services and reported that a man had been shot, and then stayed with Serpico to help keep him alive until an ambulance arrived. A police squad car arrived prior to the ambulance, however, and the officers, unaware of the bloodied Serpico’s identity, took him to Greenpoint Hospital.

Serpico was deafened in his left ear by the gunshot, which severed an auditory nerve, and has suffered chronic pain from fragments lodged in his brain. Although he was visited the day after the shooting by Mayor John V. Lindsay and Police Commissioner Patrick V. Murphy, while he lay recovering in bed from his wounds, the police department harassed him with hourly bed checks. He survived, and ultimately testified in front of the Knapp Commission.

The circumstances surrounding Serpico’s shooting quickly came into question. Serpico, who was armed during the drug raid, had only been shot after briefly turning away from the suspect when he realized that the two officers who had accompanied him to the scene were not following him into the apartment, raising the question whether Serpico had actually been brought to the apartment by his colleagues to be executed.

Read more about the actual events here.


Ed Gein

Edward Theodore “Ed” Gein (August 27, 1906– July 26, 1984) was an American murderer. His crimes, which he committed around his hometown of Plainfield, Wisconsin, garnered widespread notoriety after authorities discovered Gein had exhumed corpses from local graveyards and fashioned trophies and keepsakes from their bones and skin.

After police found body parts in his house in 1957, Gein confessed to killing two women: tavern owner Mary Hogan in 1954, and a Plainfield hardware store owner, Bernice Worden, in 1957. Initially found unfit to stand trial, following confinement in a mental health facility, he was tried in 1968 for the murder of Worden and sentenced to life imprisonment, which he spent in a mental hospitals, the Central State Hospital for the Criminally Insane and Mendota State Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin. The body of Bernice Worden was found in Gein’s shed; her head and the head of Mary Hogan were found inside his house. Robert H. Gollmar, the judge in the Gein case, wrote: “Due to prohibitive costs, Gein was tried for only one murder — that of Mrs. Worden.”

With fewer than three murders attributed, Gein does not meet the traditional definition of a serial killer. However it is the insane collection of human body parts that has given rise to the Ed Geinmythology. Searching the house, authorities found:

  • Four noses
  • Whole human bones and fragments
  • Nine masks of human skin
  • Bowls made from human skulls
  • Ten female heads with the tops sawn off
  • Human skin covering several chair seats
  • Mary Hogan’s head in a paper bag
  • Bernice Worden’s head in a burlap sack
  • Nine vulvas in a shoe box
  • A belt made from human female nipples
  • Skulls on his bedposts
  • Organs in the refrigerator
  • A pair of lips on a draw string for a windowshade
  • A lampshade made from the skin from a human face

These artifacts were photographed at the crime lab and then were properly destroyed.

Regardless, according to the creators Robert Bloch, Tobe Hooper and Thomas Harris, his real-life case influenced the creation of fictional serial killers Norman Bates from ‘Psycho’, Leatherface from ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’, and Jame Gumb from ‘The Silence of the Lambs’. 

The story of Ed Gein has had a lasting impact on western popular culture as evidenced by its numerous appearances in movies, music and literature. Apart from influencing 3 of the horror genres most iconic movies, Gein’s story was adapted into a number of movies, including ‘Deranged’ (1974), ‘In the Light of the Moon’ (2000) released in the U.S. as ‘Ed Gein’ (2001), and ‘Ed Gein: The Butcher of Plainfield’ (2007). Deranged is disturbingly creepy, the others, as is usual with this fare, are awful. A biographical musical titled ‘Ed Gein: the Musical’ premiered on January 2, 2010 in Menasha, Wisconsin. Haven’t seen it…

On July 26, 1984, Gein died of respiratory and heart failure due to cancer in Stovall Hall at the Mendota Mental Health Institute. His grave site in the Plainfield cemetery was frequently vandalized over the years; souvenir seekers chipped off pieces of his gravestone before the bulk of it was stolen in 2000. The gravestone was recovered in June 2001 near Seattle and is now in a museum in Waushara County. Rot in Hell.


West Memphis 3 – Feature Film

The West Memphis 3, Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley were freed in an Arkansas hearing after being in prison 18 years for the murder of three children in 1993. The three were freed after pleading guilty and drawing a sentence equal to the time they already served. The original conviction, which was derived despite any physical evidence tying the trio to the murders, became a cause celebre and the West Memphis 3 have received moral and financial support from the likes of The Hobbit director Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh, Johnny Depp, Eddie Vedder and Natalie Maines. The case has also be the subject of two Paradise Lost HBO documentaries by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky. A third installment will premiere at the Toronto Film Festival next month, followed by the New York Film Festival and a January airing on HBO.

After the West Memphis Three murder defendants were released from prison, it seemed like just a matter of time before the movie crowd got involved because the case is so controversial and became a cause celebre with the likes of Johnny Depp and Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh. Turns out that there is a feature film that already has a screenplay and a major director, ready to start production by the spring. Devil’s Knot is an under $20 million feature that has The Sweet Hereafter and Chloe director Atom Egoyan aboard to direct a script that was originally written by Scott Derrickson and Paul Boardman, the team behind The Exorcism of Emily Rose. Egoyan has spent the last six weeks working with Boardman on a rewrite.

The script is based on investigative reporter Mara Leveritt’s 2003 book Devil’s Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three, an in-depth chronicle of the sensationalized trials that sent the three to prison for the murder of the three 8-year old boys who were found hog-tied in a drainage ditch. The project is not a rush job. Derrickson and Boardman began writing it in 2006 when the film first took root at Dimension Films. It will be produced by Elizabeth Fowler, Clark Peterson, Richard Saperstein and Boardman. Saperstein was Dimension president and he acquired the film. After he left, Dimension eventually put the project into turnaround and Saperstein became re-involved as producer. The package includes life rights deals with some of the figures in the case, and especially Ron Lax, a private investigator who has been working pro bono on trying to overturn the verdict since 1993. There are no rights deals with the West Memphis 3  defendants Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley Jr., because at the time, two were serving life sentences and Echols was on death row.