The Horror Honeys: "The Great Architect Speaks To Me..."

"The Great Architect Speaks To Me..."

A Head Honey Top 5

My personal obsession with True Crime began when I was quite young, and started with novels about famous crimes and historical misdeeds.  I was reluctant to branch out into watching films based on famous cases as it was frustrating to see important details left out, to see feelings and emotions stapled on to characters, and at worst, to see details and characters romanticized and glorified, turning the murderer(s) into sympathetic or attractive characters instead of exposing the monster underneath.
In no particular order, these are my True Crime "must see" films, mostly because they're some of my favourite case files.

Dahmer (2002)
While not *entirely* true to the case file, (probably due to the fact that there are things that even Jeremy Renner won't do), the film doesn't pull many punches, showing quite a bit of superficial violence, but not focusing on any one aspect long enough to really figure out what's going on unless you know the case file well.   The film also doesn't delve into the reluctance of police to get involved in what were perceived at the time as "homosexual disputes", something that would have broken the case much sooner.   

"He fits the stereotype of someone who really is out of control and being controlled by his fantasies. The difference is that most serial killers stop once the victim dies. Everything is leading up to that. They tie them up; they like to her them scream and beg for their lives. It makes the killer feel great, superior, powerful, dominant... In Dahmer's case, everything is post-mortem... all of his 'fun' began after the victims died..." - Dr. James Fox, Northwestern University Boston

Dahmer's case file is truly horrific, the movie based on it is obviously less so, and uses a LOT of red lighting...but is worth a watch just to see Jeremy Renner looking creepy as fuck.


From Hell (2001)
Yes, another movie featuring Johnny Depp and a few really bad British accents, but overall, one of my personal favourite True Crime film adaptations.  Embellished to the nines with too much Shakespearean reference, and the addition of a drunken clairvoyance that didn't actually exist, I love this film.  Featuring real crime scene photos, some great FX makeup work, and the wonderful Ian Holm, I can't find too much to dislike about this film that doesn't swirl around my distaste for Heather Graham.  I'm exceedingly intrigued by the various guesses as to the actual identity of the Ripper, and the exploration of physician William Gull, as the culprit is a historical favourite.  The case files from the Ripper murders have been a lifelong obsession, and the autopsy photos have been in my personal makeup reference files for years.  The film does the unsolved case justice, and gives it a popularly American Masonic spin, but its Hollywood gloss is unmistakeable.  From Hell is still a favourite re-watch of mine regardless of the shiny re-telling.  I'm also a big fan of some of the period correct attitudes towards women and depictions of the epic class struggle of Victorian England.   



Ed Gein "In the Light of the Moon" (2000)
The case files for Ed Gein's crimes are unsettling for a few reasons...it might be his obsession with taxidermy, or the vaginas mounted on the wall, or the skull bowls...or that while he only actually killed two women, due to the nature of Gein's crimes, the real number of his victims is unknown.  The film focuses on the relationship between Eddie and his mother, a domineering, cruel and zealous woman.  The importance of this relationship is important because it laid the groundwork inspiration for Psycho (1960).  The state of Eddie's house and his creepy as fuck mannerisms also take centre stage.  This film takes a few nods from Psycho as well, and we're treated to Eddie seeing visions and a few other unexpected what the fuck moments.  The alternate title "In the Light of the Moon" is taken from a scene filmed in one cut that literally had me yelling "What the fuck is this shit!  Why am I watching this?  Did this actually happen?  WTF!" at the TV.  My favourite part of this film is the ending, and not because the movie was horrible, but because it shows vintage footage of Gein's arrest, which is quite spectacular.

       
Monster (2003)
While most moviegoers were shocked at the release of this film to see the disturbingly beautiful Charlize Theron portrayed as the decidedly not beautiful Aileen Wournos.  Theron earned an Oscar for this performance, and it's not surprising.  If you are unfamiliar with the case file, Wournos is widely considered to be America's first female serial killer.  In an effort to pay for her lifestyle and that of her girlfriend, instead of roadside prostitution, Wournos began robbing and slaughtering truckers up and down America's highways.  It's still unclear whether Wournos' crimes were revenge/anger based, or purely for financial gain, or a mix of both.   Because of the high profile nature of Wournos' arrest, trial, vocal incarceration and media covered execution, this film didn't have much room to leave out details or embellish facts.
While the film's primary focus was on the relationship between Aileen and her girlfriend Tyria Moore, all of the necessary groundwork is covered and very little is left to the imagination.  Hard and dark, I re-watch this film more than I like to admit.  


Natural Born Killers (1994)
I love this movie.  Unlike the other movies on this list, Natural Born Killers was inspired by several true crime cases.  With characters loosely based on the true story of a couple who went on a killing spree across the midwestern US in the late 50's, Charles Starkweather and Caril Fugate.  For me, and mostly because of Tarantino's brutal (in a good way) writing, this movie really drives the "real life, real horror" concept home.  Unlike Starkweather and Fugate, who killed for money or no reason at all, Micky and Mallory kill out of anger and to exercise their personal power over those they considered beneath them.

Like Starkweather and Fugate, Micky and Mallory killed family, friends, and strangers with random intention.  Starkweather and Fugate's explosive and unprovoked murder/robbery spree stunned 1950's America, and the couple became the centre of a real life media storm.  Mickey's interview scenes are also loosely based on interviews with Charles Manson and Manuel Noriega.  This film is full of chaos, pain, anger, heartbreak and revenge, and while not a "movie version of the crime" it takes inspiration from so many that I can't leave it out.

Do you have a favourite True Crime film?  
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