true crime

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A Scary and Stranger Slice of Life

Published April 27, 2015 by rmpixie

A good horror or sci-fi movie can scare or fascinate us on the big screen, and most of us can leave the fantasy in the theater.  But what if the overly-friendly neighbour or that strange light in the sky happens in our real lives?  Some of that real life horror has been committed to film, documenting the stories of ordinary people, or seemingly so, who have lived these very experiences.  For them, especially those who lost loved ones, it is worse than any Hollywood nightmare, and for those who stand by their convictions it is a lesson in tenacity.  Here are a few titles that resonated with me, and although they may not be your first choice for a Saturday night flick, they give a voice to folks that either lived through some real horrors, or had some allegedly real, and really weird, experiences.



My Amityville Horror (2012, 1 hr, 28 mins)

This documentary focuses on Daniel Lutz who lived in the famed Amityville House with his family when he was a child a year after the gruesome murders. I missed this doc when it screened at Toronto After Dark Film Festival a few years back, so I finally sat down to watch a very strange and eerie account of what he went through.  His reluctance to reveal his true feelings and the damage done to him is evident in his large blue eyes, and I cannot tell you what I believe other than his life was a tortured existence for many years during and after his Amityville experience.  It is a must see if you want some understanding of the media storm surrounding this famous haunting.





Cropsey (2009, 1 hr, 24 mins)

I was completely drawn into this Staten Island, N.Y. story.  The filmmakers and natives to the area, Joshua Zeman and Barbara Brancaccio, explore the small town legend of Cropsey, a crazed killer of children said to roam the wooded area around the abandoned Willowbrook State School.  Their quest to find the truth behind the Cropsey boogeyman reveals stories of missing children, heartbreak, a terrible history of mismanaged and abusive hospital facilities, and the slow but sure persecution of real suspected killer Andre Rand.





The Jeffrey Dahmer Files (2012, 1 hr, 16 mins)

Short but informative, this film, with the help of reenactments, forensic and personal accounts, shows us how a seemingly friendly but introverted man charmed his neighbour and the detective in charge of questioning him despite being one of the most notorious serial killers of our time.  Don’t expect a grand exposé here, rather it gives you a snapshot of what people thought of him, how they related to him, and how he got away with murdering his victims for many years due to the shortcomings of the police.  This documentary will definitely make you paranoid when a stranger is unusually nice to you.





The Hidden Hand:  Alien Contact and the Government Cover-up (2013, 1hr, 20 mins)

Abductees and scholars speak on the presence of aliens on Earth in this 2013 documentary.  What may sound like loopy hoo-ha ends up coming from some more than credible witnesses like military officials and the sixth American astronaut Edgar Dean Mitchell, as well as celebrated authors like Whitley Strieber, Jim Spark and David Icke.  Several accounts of alien abduction likened to being “tagged like deer” and many cover-up conspiracies fueled by greed are discussed, and details on ties to The Vatican and Area 51 will peak your interest in this hotly debated subject.  If you follow the vein of thought, this slightly dry but interesting film will lead you to think that alien visitation is more common than you think, making the Fox Mulders of the world proud.





The Billy Meier Story (2009, 1 hr, 34 mins)

“Billy” Eduard Albert Meier has been in contact with aliens for most of his life, and is known for his prophetic messages that he relays from the Plejaren alien race.  With an early life that James Bond would envy,  Billy Meier has seen other worlds and world leaders; he has opened his own organization that publishes the prophecies of his alien friends and their spiritual teachings among other things, and he has allegedly seen the future.  This documentary takes you from experts who try to debunk his U.F.O footage, to mental health officials that try to certify any kind of craziness, and testimonials from his faithful followers.  It will certainly make you stroke your literal or figurative beard and scratch your head in wonder as you listen to some compelling information.  Despite the somewhat cheesy looking spacecraft footage and drawings of his alien informants that look like the European Jesus and Beyoncé (which would explain a lot), this movie really strikes a nerve as the world goes to Hell in a hand basket, and sadly, we don’t need aliens to tell us this.


Deliver Us From Evil: God Cop, Bad Cop

Published July 8, 2014 by rmpixie


Deliver Us From Evil (2014, 1 hr 58 mins)

Scott Derrickson, director of one of the most eerie and disturbing possession films around, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, and the shocking Sinister, has come out with another good vs. evil story.  Deliver Us From Evil is loosely based on the experiences and book written by real life police officer, Ralph Sarchie, and his battle against demonic forces that run amok in the Bronx.  As far-fetched as it sounds, Sarchie, now retired from the police force, spends his time as a demonologist and assists with exorcisms to this day.  The film was an interesting ride with some highs, lows and a surprisingly great demonic performance.

Sarchie (Eric Bana) is a seasoned cop in the 46th Precinct in the South Bronx.  His partner Butler (Joel McHale) provides snappy and snarky rapport as they investigate unusual crimes  that start out in a dark and spooky Bronx Zoo, and the evidence leads to weirder and more supernatural clues as Sarchie searches for answers.  He tumbles down the rabbit hole after he finds some ex-military types running rampant (and possessed) as they bite and snarl their way around town.  Add his disenchantment with God, a fractured family life, a gorgeous Jesuit priest, and The Doors, and you have a cop drama/family drama/horror movie mashup that keeps you guessing who will jump on the Devil’s bandwagon next.

I had been looking forward to seeing this film ever since I heard the chatter about it in 2012.  The working title then was Beware the Night, the same title as Sarchie’s book, and I had high hopes for it, since I love me a good possession film and I have become a fan of Derrickson’s.  I actually liked the finished product a lot.  Despite being visually dark as many of the scenes took place at night and in the rain, that only added to the suspense and uncertainty.  It let the viewers react along with the characters as the action happened; literally shedding light only on what they saw and not foreshadowing too much.  It also illustrated Sarchie’s journey: lost in his own personal limbo and his redemption.   I did have an issue with the pacing (a touch slow at times) and Sarchie’s unexplained disdain for cats; and some of McHale’s comedic relief was unwarranted, but the second half of the film made up for it all and it was an interesting take on possession with a true story background.

And can we talk about that Jesuit priest, Mendoza, played by Zero Dark Thirty’s Edgar Ramirez?  Can we please?  How gorgeous was he?!  Those perfectly tousled curls, those riveting eyes…it’s just wrong to make him a priest!  Seriously though, Ramirez did a great job as the tarnished man of the cloth, conveying a world-weariness that played well alongside Bana’s lost faith as Mendoza became an unlikely partner.  But the most memorable performance came from Sean Harris, who played the possessed soldier Santino.  Filled with brimstone and menace, his slim build took up space as he terrorized Sarchie’s family and colleagues.  His makeup was brilliant too.  Hats off to the fx department for a creepy and gruesome concept and look for Santino’s character.

To sum it up, Derrickson takes the devil and puts him in a gritty film noir-like police drama.  Emily Rose this ain’t, but check out Deliver Us From Evil for one of the creepiest toys ever, a good-looking cast and some good jump scares.  Definitely worth a watch if you are trolling for some summer horror!



Snowtown Psycho

Published December 9, 2012 by rmpixie

Snowtown Murders (2011, 1 hr 59 mins)

I had heard from people here and there, and through half-read reviews, that the Snowtown Murders was a violent, mindbending and some say, unwatchable film.  I’m a pretty tough pixie when it comes to horror or psychological thrillers, and I can truly say this film was chilling and still resonates.  It was based on a very real and incarcerated serial killer, John Bunting, his murders, and the family he was involved with spanning the 1990’s.  And I have to note that the violence was not more disturbing than a slasher film or any of those gore porn crappers out there.  What disturbed me was the fact that this was a true crime and someone actually thought this way.

This film takes place in a hard luck low-income neighbourhood where bumper shopping carts is the main event.  Elizabeth (Louise Harris), is a mother who has a gaggle of sons, 3 of which live with her.  She is smitten by her helpful boyfriend who will look after her  boys in a heartbeat.  Because he is a pedophile.  When the neighbourhood tranny alerts her to this sick information, she calls the cops and ends the abuse of her boys.

Enter John (Daniel Henshall), a cherubic man who is quick to smile and lend a hand.  He rallies the neighbourhood parents together to vent about the injustices of men taking advantage of their children.  He is the picture of support-pointing out the neglect of the lower classes by the powers that be.  He is also behind a campaign to remove the pedophile ex-boyfriend from the house across the street from Elizabeth, and his harassment prevails.  After dousing his house with roadkill remains, the offender packs his trailer and leaves.

Jamie (Lucas Pittaway), one of Elizabeth’s older sons, takes a liking to John.  He is the father and protector Jamie lacks, and John takes him under his wing and wins Elizabeth’s heart.  When Jamie is horrifically raped by his older brother Troy, he begins to stay at John’s house.  They bond further, even sporting matching buzz cuts.  John instills manhood in Jamie; tells him to get some balls.  How does he do this?  By making Jamie shoot his harmless dog.  John’s cruel nature starts to seep out and slowly spread like a stain on the family.  He has a list of pedophiles, and he intends to check each and every one off.  You can also add drug addicts, gays, and people who just rub him the wrong way.

The man Jamie admires has now forced himself onto the family and taken over, wielding his sadistic, authoritative power over many in his wake.  Elizabeth is now defeated, barely protesting John’s cruel disciplinary acts with the boys, and Jamie becomes caught up in his web of murder and deceit.  After showing Jamie the dead body of his friend Barry, John manipulates Jamie into becoming an accessory as he becomes the disposer of victims’ belongings.  Jamie also has to witness the torture of his rapist brother.  While we all think Troy deserves a good thrashing, justice should also come in the form of an arrest.  Instead, John gets an eye for an eye, and when Jamie is forced to watch, he ends Troy’s life himself, unable to bear the scene and overcome with rage and grief.  And so the grooming is complete.  It is terrifying to see John’s charisma and logic worm its way into Jamie’s head and heart, killing his spirit and humanity through fear and domination.

This tale is so bleak and so realistic it tears at your heart.  The low-income neighbourhood setting speaks volumes to the neglect of its masses.  John uses this to breed contempt and to justify his psychotic urges, because according to him, no one cares about or misses his targets.  The shooting style is effectively stark and simplistic.  Slow motion scenes punctuated with the voice overs of victims’ final voice messages orchestrated by John chills the blood.  Apparently, most of the cast were first-time actors.  They were amazing and really hit home how hopeless they felt their situation was.  Amidst the bleakness and the unfortunate deaths of the victims, we can at least be glad that “Australia’s worst serial killer”, and his accomplices, are behind bars.

There were no favourite scenes or lines.  It was all a great big shit show and I would be a total psycho if I said I had a favourite anything from this movie.  I just thought it was well done, if it had to be done at all.

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