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The Mortician (2011)
How to describe "The Mortician" - subdued, dull, dark, a modern film noire? The main character is given a reluctant apprentice, reluctant on both their counts, he is a gang member who has been given an unusual punishment, the courts being clearly intent on teaching him this is where he will end up unless he mends his ways, even though we all end up there later.
A young boy is also hanging around the mortuary, and a local thug is taking an interest in the mortician. Why both? Well, the kid's mother has been murdered. There is not much more to it than that, except to say that his encounter with this kid reminds him of his own youth, and a big unresolved issue that he confronts at the end.
Panic Room (2002)
This film is said to have a budget of forty-eight million dollars. Half of that could well have been spent on the destruction of the house cum palace in which all the action takes place. How much action can there be with such a small cast and restricted scenes? The pleasing answer is quite a lot.
This is a slightly off-beat thriller; three dudes with bad intentions break into the house in question hoping to find it empty save for a massive hoarde in bearer bonds under the floor of the panic room. Unfortunately, the new owner has moved in ahead of schedule with her daughter - who might be mistaken for a boy the first half hour, although no one is likely to make that mistake now, even though Kristen Stewart still wears her hair short.
When the bad guys are unable to get their hands on the goods, a game of cat and mouse ensues. One is far more ruthless than the other two, and they end up turning on each other. The grand finale is rather obvious with the least bad of the crew, who is clearly a reluctant participant, finding salvation, even though he will clearly face years if not decades behind bars.
There is not a lot more to it than that, but many far more spectacular productions have promised more but delivered less.
Flight 93 (2006)
Films of this nature are sometimes made in undue haste. Charles Stuart murdered his heavily pregnant wife in October 1989. The shocking tale made it to the screen a mere nine months after his suicide.
Like "...A Murder In Boston", "Cleveland Abduction" and quite a few others, "Flight 93" is a social and historical document, one that sacrifices sensationalism for realism, though the events of that tragic day could hardly have been either more shocking or more sensational.
The real names of the passengers and crew are used; obviously we cannot know precisely how the heroic passengers plotted their fightback and stormed the cockpit, but we do know the phrase "Let's roll!" was used.
We cannot know either if the Islamist fanatics who hijacked the plane intended to crash it on the White House, the Capitol, or somewhere else, perhaps on a crowded shopping centre, but we can say for certain that these ordinary heroes saved many lives that day. It is a pity that the reaction to the 9/11 atrocities undid their heroism, as well as that of the 343 firefighters who also lost their lives, in New York City. Sadly, evil appears to have triumphed after all.
The original X-Men date to 1960s American comic books and were created by the recently deceased Stan Lee along with Jack Kirby. The line-up here is somewhat different but will be more familiar to the younger generation, who will probably miss the joke about yellow spandex.
As usual with films of this nature, the plot is both predictable and fairly irrelevant: a supervillain and his henchmen are Hell-bent on either world domination or destruction on a massive scale, and the good guys are here to see this doesn't happen.
With this film also it is probably best not to read too much into the origins of the characters and any political allusions, ie about people being alienated, hated or even murdered because they look different or are different.
Where "X-Men" scores is of course with special effects, and it does so grandiosly, unless of course they really did destroy the Statue Of Liberty in the climatic finale?
Web Cam Girls (2017)
Web Cam Girls
This film could have been better, but by the same token it could have been a great deal worse. A high school girl decides to make some money by working as a web cam girl. Soon she is asked by a viewer to meet him in person, an offer she can only refuse, but when big bucks are deposited in her account, how can she say no? She goes to meet him, and is kidnapped.
Is this guy sick, yes, but in a purely commercial way. He holds girls prisoner then tortures and murders them, selling the resulting snuff films on the Dark Web. Snuff films began as an urban legend, then morphed into the real thing. A much milder version can be found in the happy slapping craze of recent years, but there is nothing mild about this film, which is basically a whodunnit and will the good guys get there before the damsel (and her cousin) are murdered? What do you think?
Angels & Demons (2009)
Angels & Demons
This film is said to have an estimated budget of $150,000,000. When one considers some of the crowd scenes and special effects, that is credible. Nothing else about "Angels & Demons" is. To begin with, the founding of the Order of the Illuminati can be dated very precisely to May 1, 1776; Galileo kicked the bucket in 1642, the same year the greatest scientist who ever lived was born, and he died two decades before Adam Weishaupt was born. Doubtless there are many other errors/poetic licences herein, including geographical ones.
The most improbable thing about the film is its timescale - no way all this could have been accomplished in the space of a single day, less than a single day. Having said all that, even if you are not a Tom Hanks fan, you may find the fast pace and non-stop action/suspense to your like.
We Believe You (2019)
We Believe You
Patrick Graham, the man behind this film, was one of several falsely accused of histrorical crimes by a woman who was either mentally deranged, psychopathic, or out for easy money. Perhaps some permutation of those or very likely all three. The year before she made her false claims she was awarded £22,000 for some unspecified injury. She also made false rape allegations (plural) in her teens.
We are told none of the foregoing here, instead we hear from a number of people falsely accused of sex crimes, including one woman. Their names are given at the end, but two of the most high profile and ludicrous cases were those of Mark Pearson and Liam Allan. Mark was alleged to have committed an impossible crime, one that was caught, or not caught, on CCTV. While this offence most definitely did not happen, his false accuser was almost certainly not lying in the conventional sense. As Graham pointed out in a July 2018 presentation, these people pass lie detector tests. (So incidentally did the Green River Killer). What was even more shocking about the Mark Pearson case is that the police and Crown lawyers went the extra mile to convict him, even though it was clear no crime had been committed.
Liam Allan was accused of multiple rapes of the same non-victim on numerous occasions, a woman over whom he had no hold or influence, yet she kept going back for more. His case made the headlines in December 2017 when countless exculpatory text messages came to light, not that a rational jury would have convicted him without them.
This film does not include any real details, but one suspects it is the first of many.
Free To Murder Again
Kenneth McDuff has a unique place in the annals of Texas crime, and indeed there can't be many murderers anywhere who have earned a place on death row twice. In 1966 when he was only twenty years old he kidnapped three teenagers at gunpoint. The boys were shot dead, the girl was first raped - with a broomstick, if you can believe that - then murdered with the same instrument. This earned him the appellation of The Broomstick Killer. His teenage accomplice turned himself in and testified against McDuff, who in spite of his young age was sentenced to death, but when he had not been executed by 1972 he got lucky along with every other death row inmate in the United States by the ruling of the Supreme Court that the death penalty was unconstitutional.
This now infamous moratorium did not last long, but another and far more infamous murderer also benefitted from it - Charles Manson. Having said that, Manson murdered fewer victims personally than McDuff. In spite of the enormity of his crimes, McDuff was parolled in 1989, and went on to commit further horrors. He was executed by lethal injection in November 1998, and is rightly described as both a sexual sadist and totally without either remorse or conscience.
This documentary speaks to some of the major players in his crime sprees including the families of victims, lawmen and lawyers. It also includes archive footage of the monster himself. A man who witnessed him die, but who does not appear herein, said of McDuff he could "Burn in Hell" suffixing his comment with a compound word, of which mother is the polite half.
This lengthy documentary consists overwhelmingly of people talking, so if you choose simply to listen to it, you will lose little if anything in comparison with watching it. It is also not the secret history of the "Bible" as is claimed or insinuated because there is nothing secret or newly discovered herein, rather it throws the spotlight on numerous inconvenient facts that are never mentioned today by Christians because they would blow the whole scam wide open.
Most people realise there are numerous inconsistencies and material errors in the "Bible"; few if any believe the story of Adam and Eve to be anything but apochryphal because Adam could hardly have written it, but how many realise the archaeological and historical evidence for the most important places and people is close to or less than non-existent? King Herod was a real person, so the story of his ordering the murder of all newborn male babies can be dated fairly precisely, ditto the birth of Jesus. But what if Herod gave no such order? And equally importantly, what if there is no contemporaneous record we know of that alludes to this Jesus? Heck, what if there was another Jesus, and what if the Resurrection has way too much in common with the earlier cult of Mithra? There is a lot more where this came from.
The viewer/listener does not need to take in everything this lengthy documentary proffers to see how untenable is the Christian position, but it is an excellent start for those who have neither the time nor the inclination to consult the relevant literature.
Michael Jackson Live At Wembley July 16, 1988
If I were a Michael Jackson fan I would probably give this 10 out of 10. This isn't my kind of music, and Jackson wasn't my kind of person, but this video released three years after his premature death and uploaded recently to YouTube in the wake of yet more long debunked lies about his private life is a fitting tribute to an enormous talent.
The show is not all Jackson, and features Sheryl Crow, who launched her own career as a singer-songwriter on the strength of acting as one of his backing singers. There is a fairly long instrumental set while he takes a break, and there are the male dancers. In fact, this performance is as much visual as audio, spectacularly choreographed. Clearly there was little room for improvisation, so it beggars belief how many hours of rehearsals were put into it.
This is the way the world should remember Michael Jackson when not only the child sexual abuse allegations but the plastic surgery and all the other bizarre idiosyncrasies have been long forgotten.
Leaving Neverland (2019)
He sexually abused me for seven years, says Wade Robson. There is a lot of biographical information herein, and you can literally hear the violins playing in the background. Safechuck says Jackson introduced him to masturbation. We hear too from the families; their testimony sounds compelling, but...At the end we hear a few comments from angry Michael Jackson fans.
A lot of media appear to have been taken in by this tragic tale of lost innocence, but its performers have had years to concoct and rehearse it. Robson in particular has zero credibility; he was a defense witness at Jackson's criminal trial, indeed he and Macaulay Culkin were star witnesses. Culkin defends Jackson to this day; Robson defended him after the star's sudden death in 2009 until 2013 when he did an incredible public about turn. Jackson left his entire estate to the trustees of the Michael Jackson Family Trust; had he left two or three million dollars to Robson, would we be hearing this rubbish now?
It is of course very easy for people who haven't researched this subject to believe Jackson to have been a serial paedophile, but Jackson's bedroom was more of a dormitory, and there were plenty of people around including parents. There is also the little matter of physical evidence; ask any doctor what would happen to a young boy who had been repeatedly buggered for years on end. So where are the medical reports, where were they at the time? Any psychological problems Robson may have had over the years are due to other factors. Ask anyone who works in and around showbiz.
On top of all that, significant chunks were edited out of the UK version of this piece of trash because they had already been proven by both Jackson fans and independent researchers to be blatant lies.
Alas, the dead cannot be libelled, so we can only expect to hear more and more of this sort of rubbish with the passage of time. There is though one salient fact that everyone should remember: People v Michael Jackson, 2005 - not guilty on all fourteen counts.
Samuel L. Jackson is an A List actor, so why would he appear in rubbish like this? Well, the film did have an estimated budget of $80,000,000, and as the saying goes, every man has his price.
Seriously, if this were a James Bond film, boys' own or comic book action, it might just pass muster, but it is presented as a serious action thriller portraying S.W.A.T. teams in action, so falls at the first hurdle. The plot is ludicrous, yes, there are a lot of bad guys out there, but can even an international drug lord magic up a street full of foot soldiers armed with automatic weapons from a prison cell? In Mexico maybe, but not north of the border, not even in Los Angeles.
This is a three part dramatisation of the hunt for a notorious serial killer. In three years, Levi Bellfield murdered a 13 year old girl, an Irish teenager, and a French student, all in Greater London. Pared right down and seen through the eyes of one of the senior detectives on the cases, the first episode begins after the murder of Amélie Delagrange, so there is nothing too graphic for viewers of a sensitive disposition.
Bellfield is believed to have attacked many other victims who survived, including Kate Sheedy, who is alluded to herein by a pseudonym. His attack on her was particularly sadistic, because while Amélie was killed by a single blow to the head, she was run over and reversed over by Bellfield in one of his many vehicles. How she survived is anybody's guess. Although Amanda Dowler was his first victim, he was not brought to trial for her murder until years later. For American viewers, this is realism rather than drama, a social document rather than entertainment. Best to ignore the side plot.
Four Brothers (2005)
This film begins with a double murder. A shopkeeper is robbed at gunpoint then shot dead, apparently for fun. A woman who was in the shop had managed to hide but was discovered and also killed. The killings were captured on CCTV but the killers were heavily masked.
The woman had been a foster mother, and on her death, four of her charges - not the nicest of dudes - return to claim their inheritance and to exact revenge. Then it is suggested that rather than being a robbery by a couple of heartless killers, the murder of this woman may have been planned. But why? This is where it gets complicated, but if you like seeing urban shoot outs, vicious beatings, and people being doused with petrol, there might be something here for you.
Solved: Bike Path Killer (2010)
Bike Path Rapist
Artemio Sanchez was a serial rapist who progressed to rape/murder. He was slightly unusual in that he took a lengthy hiatus, but a man who commits so many crimes of this magnitude will almost certainly be brought to book eventually.
While wisdom in hindsight is always a wonderful thing, it is clear from this documentary that the police missed at least one major clue that could have led to his arrest relatively early on. Combining sadness with tragedy, Anthony Capozzi spent two decades in prison after being convicted of two of his earlier rapes.
Angus Robertson Sinclair
This is a routine documentary about a lesser known though particularly odious rapist and serial killer. Sinclair committed his first murder as a teenager; the victim was a seven year old girl whose body he dumped literally outside his front door. In 1961, DNA profiling was unthought of, but after the police brought in his older brother, they managed to extract a confession from him.
Purely in view of his age, he was back on the streets a decade later, and was soon married. Although leopards don't change their spots, human beings are not leopards. Sadly, this one reverted to type. Precisely how many women he murdered is unclear, but he claimed at least four victims including two girls in what became known as The World's End Murders, World's End being the name of the Edinburgh public house where the victims were last seen alive.
Most of this programme is taken up by the psychobabblers who typically don't seem to understand that some people are simply evil. There are no retired detectives or still grieving relatives, although we do see archive footage of the judge at Sinclair's 2014 trial delivering sentence.
American Sex Slave
The title of this in the field documentary is a lot more scary than what it delivers. For those who are not au fait with this kind of loaded rhetoric, sex trafficking is the new narrative of the anti-prostitution industry. Originally the prostitute was a fallen woman - the Biblical harlot. Second wave feminism gave us prostitution equals rape (along with everything else equals rape), then prostitutes and others fought back with "sex work is real work" or simply "sex work is work". Now we have sex trafficking, and the larger issue of people trafficking.
Both are real phenomena, and the latter is actually encouraged by NGOs, even so there is no need to grossly exaggerate the problem.
Herein we meet Jillian Mourning, who has an unbelievable story to tell. Literally unbelievable. She claims to have started as a model then to have been forced into prostitution by her agent after she was videotaped being gang-raped. In December 2012, she was quoted by Creative Loafing Charlotte to the effect that after her agent's arrest she refused to testify against him because she didn't want to relive the trauma. The reality is that he was arrested purely for financial crimes, and Mourning herself spent less than a year working as a prostitute before experiencing seller's remorse. There are many stories like hers which grossly exaggerate the extent of what is actually voluntary prostitution. These have been fueled by the conviction of the billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, whose "victims" although underage were well remunated for their services.
Having said all that, street prostitution is no "career" for a teenage girl or young woman, so anything that encourages them to quit the oldest profession is to be welcomed, but massage parlours operate legally in many countries, and as long as they are able to do so, are not driven underground, the only real problem here is that of moralising policemen, politicians, and activists who insist on portraying women as victims for making poor lifestyle choices, something with which the women themselves are clearly happy to go along.
Las Vegas Serial Killer (1986)
Las Vegas Serial Killer
This had the makings of a half-decent film, or it would have if it had had a half-decent script, or any script at all. A serial killer is parolled after a mere six years because although he has been convicted of one murder, the shrinks don't believe his confessions to the others. You know what's gonna happen now: he heads straight to Las Vegas, and the body count mounts. Two other criminals are headed to Las Vegas as well, but they are small potatoes, mugging women and occasionally men, then driving off with their victims' cash and cards.
The paths of the killer and the professional criminals cross; he strangles a woman they have left locked in the trunk of a car, so now they come under suspicion. Later, their paths cross again. What more do you need to know?
Did this lowlife really utter "Die garbage" every time he strangled an innocent woman? The soundtrack and the ending save this ultra-low budget effort from being a total turkey, but it really is sad more effort wasn't put into it.
The Hallow (2015)
Whatever you were expecting from this film, you were wrong. Adam and his good lady go down to the woods in a remote area of the Emerald Isle. He has a professional interest in the trees, and they have a young baby. And a dog. The locals, one in particular, are distinctly unfriendly, and Adam is warned to leave on account of The Hallow, prehistoric creatures who don't take kindly to English interlopers, or local ones for that matter. What do you think would be the reaction of a scientist to that kind of warning? Precisely.
Although this film begins atmospherically, we are soon left in no doubt that The Hallow are very real, and just as soon Adam realises he should have upped and left with his family while he had the chance. There follows a night of utter terror, not least because the baby is kidnapped, and only retrieved with some difficulty by the lady of the house. Or is it really their baby? Gripping stuff, but don't watch it if you like unambiguously happy endings.
At first glance this is a fantasy film for kids, but the murderous raid near the beginning followed by gratuitous nudity soon disavows the viewer of that notion. Let's just say it's a film for kids of all ages who are old enough to consent to you know what. The plot has a bad guy, a couple of good guys - one of them a bit of an idiot - and two good girls. No, not good in the sense of well-behaved. They are played by real life twins Leigh and Lynette Harris, who are not averse to taking off their clothes in other films either.
Where were we? Yeah, there is plot, of sorts, but if "Sorceress" scores for anything it is for special effects. Sadly, there could have been more. One should also wonder how it got its title since the sorcery is done by the bad guy, who happens to be their father, but not the doting Dad kind since he wants to kill the firstborn in order to complete some kind of bizarre magic ritual that will magnify his already considerable power. How sad is that? Or maybe it's just plain wicked.
Misused Trust (2017)
On the face of it, this shortish film is a serious drama about the obscene practice of the sexual grooming of young girls. In reality it is further proof as if it were needed that not all bigots have white skins.
The wider UK public was made aware of the grooming scandal in January 2011 when following the heavy sentences handed out to Mohammed Liaquat and Abid Saddique, former Labour Home Secretary Jack Straw stated publicly that there were certain men of "Pakistani heritage" who regarded young white girls has easy meat. This brought the predictable response of racism, racism, racism, but Straw was 100% right. Later commentators including the martyred idiot Tommy Robinson have claimed almost to a man that the grooming gangs, which appeared to encompass the length and breadth of England, was really a religious problem, falsely identifying most of the perpetrators as Moslems. In fact most of these so-called Moslems would be more likely to make a pilgrimage to Mecca Bookmakers than Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
There was though undoubtedly a massive cover-up which allowed this horror to continue, although thankfully the authorities appear albeit belatedly to have got to grips with it, and there are now dozens of these parasites behind bars serving lengthy prison sentences. One group who were not part of this cover-up were Britain's Sikhs, who have been combatting the grooming of Sikh girls by organised gangs since before the scandal broke.
That being said, the religious bigotry behind this film is a little too obvious - the Moslem passing himself off as a Sikh, for one thing. The damsel is also older than the girls who were gang-raped by the grooming gangs, possibly because of the problems casting a younger girl would have caused. Indeed, she has just left for university where her faux Sikh boyfriend drugs her so his mates can have their way with her and film it in the process. She gets hooked or is gotten hooked on cocaine, but help is on its way in the form of Sikh Youth UK. All very touching.
If you are a film buff and you think "Misused Trust" reminds you of something you've seen before, you could be right: it is the 1940 propaganda film "Jud Süss".
La figlia di Frankenstein (1971)
Oh boy, who came up with this turkey? Baron Frankenstein appears to be living in some kind of internal exile having become the laughing stock of his university on account of his claiming to be able to reanimate the dead. Animals in the first instance, although he has by now gone much further, and has been paying a notorious bodysnatcher to bring him corpses on which to experiment.
At this point, his daughter arrives having just graduated. She is intent on following in her father's footsteps, but he isn't too keen on that happening, especially as he is near to his goal, and has arranged for the corpse of a freshly executed felon to be delivered. And this is where it all goes wrong, the reanimated corpse murders him then goes on a rampage, somehow eluding capture, even though it is seven feet tall.
Barely has the Baron's daughter finished weeping over Daddy - all two seconds of it - than she enters his laboratory with his faithful assistant. Alas, the lady may be a stunner, but she is totally wanton and ruthless. What follows is rather predictable, right down to the fitting ending when her love interest sees her in her true colours.
Who Killed Hannah Hill?
When the body of teenager Hannah Hill of Akron, Ohio was found naked from the waist down, stuffed in the trunk of her car, the obvious immediate suspect was her boyfriend, who - although not in this documentary - would later admit to physically abusing her. Police interest in Brad O'Born soon faded, apparently because he passed a polygraph. The second suspect was far stronger, and when the police raided his home, they found a lot of evidence. Perhaps too much evidence.
We hear from three jurors herein, and one of them raises the plausible claim that a package containing unmentionable material was dumped outside in his garden by a police officer. Perish the thought.
Leaving that aside, Denny Ross was indicted for capital murder because he'd had sex with the victim too, and it was claimed she was raped. This appears doubtful in view of developments after this documentary was screened. Ross did not take the stand, something that is far from unusual in America courtrooms, although an innocent man should surely always take the stand barring exceptional circumstances. What was unusual though was that the defense elected not to call a single witness. The jury cleared Ross of capital murder, obviously convinced the sex was consensual, but while it was still deliberating, Judge Bond called a halt for technical reasons. Curiously, she had earlier directed the jury could find Ross guilty of manslaughter.
This is where "Who Killed Hannah Hill?" ends in 2003 with the pronouncement that Ross will be forever a free man because to retry him would constitute double jeopardy. What happened next was unthinkable. In 2004, he raped a woman and nearly beat her to death. This earned him a 25 year sentence while the prosecution appealed Judge Bond's decision in the murder trial all the way to the Supreme Court of Ohio. As a result, Ross was tried again in connection with the death of Hannah Hill: murder, felonious assault, tampering with evidence, and abuse of a corpse.
At this trial, a former girlfriend testified that Ross liked to choke her unconscious in bed, which is almost certainly what happened to Hannah Hill; either he choked her and killed her accidentally during consensual sex or murdered her first then did the unthinkable. The former seems much more likely.
After rejecting a plea deal, Ross was retried in 2012. The jury took a long time to deliberate, but they returned guilty verdicts on all counts on the 73rd birthday of Hannah Hill's father.
The Vienna Strangler
This is the slightly unusual story of a slightly unusual serial killer. In 1974, the young Jack Unterweger murdered a teenager for no apparent reason, strangling her to death with her own bra. Convicted in 1976, he was given a life sentence but released in 1990 by which time he had become something of a celebrity and a shining example of a rehabilitated ex-con.
A drug dealer, a burglar, or even a man who kills in pursuit of material gain can surely be rehabilitated, but one who kills for no rational reason? Yeah, it was a tall order. Unterweger was soon up to his old tricks with compound interest and then some.
He is said here to be Austria's first serial killer. Really? Wasn't a certain Mr Hitler born in Austria? And to have been the first serial killer to publish a book. Again, didn't Hitler publish a book in 1923? There have in fact been a number of Austrian serial killers, but there is no need to belabour the point, although Unterweger is certainly the first one to have committed murders in California as well as Austria.
Although with the exception of the first, all his victims were prostitutes, there is no mention of his mother being one, a rather obvious motive they should have happened on because a certain Mr Freud was also an Austrian citizen. Sigh.
You won't learn much from this documentary, but most of the contributors speak reasonably fluent English, including the American detective.
The Search For Lisa Rene
This is a straightforward narrative of a senseless crime. It includes reconstructions, but nothing too graphic. In September 1994, the 16 year old Lisa Rene was kidnapped from her home by a gang of miscreants who hoped to use her as leverage in a criminal transaction gone wrong. She was actually on the phone to a 911 operator when she was snatched.
Although this was not a sex crime, they took it in turns to rape her anyway, holding her prisoner at a motel, bound and gagged, before murdering her in woodland where she was buried. These dudes were so dumb that they dug the grave, took her to the site, but couldn't find it, so took her back again. Sadly though, this was only a brief respite.
It didn't take long to track them down, and no time at all to get a confession out of one of them. In the United States, kidnapping and rape can each lead to heavy sentences, and in the Deep South, especially Texas, murder can lead to something worse. Two of the defendants turned state's evidence; Bruce Webster and Orlando Hall were sentenced to death, but nearly seventeen years after this documentary was screened, they still have not been executed.