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H.H. Holmes: America's First Serial Killer (2004)

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Commentaries on this disc:

Commentary 1: Writer/director John Borowski Rating:7.0/10 (1 vote) [graph]Login to vote or review
Reviewed by frankasu03 on March 31st, 2017:Find all reviews by frankasu03
Director John Borowski goes solo to tell us about his Hour-long documentary dedicated to the infamous H.H. Holmes, "America's First Serial Killer." It is interesting to listen to commentaries over a documentary, as I'm sure the filmmaker would rather let the program speak for itself. But, considering "The Devil in the White City," published in 2003, re-ignited a public awareness of "Holmes," you really want to learn more information about the case. Now, Borowski does provide some further trivia, and real-life history from Holmes' reign of terror in South Chicago. However, you can't help but be disappointed as Borowski continues to re-iterate how little evidence survives from this time period. Time does not seem to prevent Ken Burns from unveiling amazing facts from the dark reaches of the past. But, take into account John's resources, and budget constraints, and you appreciate the actual "leg work" involved here. Footage from Holmes' Home town in New Hampshire led to meeting descendants of the famed killer. Locals, ironically, were more than eager to help Borowski on his quest to learn about the demented doctor. His frequent trips for the documentary led to the chance discovery of the actual courtroom within Philadelphia's City Hall, and to a cozy little Inn in Melrose Park, IL, called the "Comeback Inn." Said Inn doubled for the shadowy corridors of Holmes' "Murder Castle." Filmmaking techniques such as the ever-present "iris," were meant to act as homages to classic Horror, such as "Dracula" (1931), while blatant shots of a peeping eyeball were meant to allude to John's favorite film, "Psycho." I appreciate the choice by this Director to avoid present-day serial killers in his feature, and to eschew modern music or set decoration. Everything was meant to transport viewers to the last days of the "Gilded Age." Although John takes quite a bit of credit for producing such a documentary with, as stated, meager resources, the lack of more information is frustrating. Although I did learn about the origin of "Private Eye," from the early logo of "The Pinkerton Agency." Nice compendium to the brief doc, this commentary. Now, if the forthcoming Scorsese-directed "Devil" could really give this case its' due. 7/10