Hello to all those faithfully reading and hopefully enjoying this effort to make even the worst horror movie more watcha... aw, screw that - I'm not that good. If a movie makes you cringe because yet another batch of unlikable teens that are pushing 30 are inching toward their deaths, having a party no one does anywhere ever, a paranormal movie is boring you to tears with unending pans of empty rooms, or thanks to CGI technology when people finally bite it, their blood squirts everywhere except on the victim, the ground, the people next to them... you're in good company and this is the right place for you.

Saturday, February 2, 2013


Two Monsters Of The Twentieth Century

In this ultra-violent world nothing much surprises us anymore and that's pretty sad. Of course gun violence is a hot topic, even though shootings still only account for a very small portion of violent deaths in the United States. Since some of the recent events have included children, they especially have impacted us in the worst way, playing to our worst fears and unfortunately making people concentrate on the weapon instead of the crime. 

We live in a world of information, but misinformation is easier and since that's a lot of what we've been fed, especially with recent tragedies such as that in Connecticut is it any wonder we cry fraud, or try to tell ourselves all we need to do is remove a particular weapon and we're safe? And we tell ourselves the world didn't used to be this bad. The truth is that the world used to be less connected and a whole lot bigger. The internet has made the world very, very small and anything that happens goes around within the hour.

In the 1800's and 1900's things even more horrible happened to children, people just didn't either know about it or weren't told about it. The only child kidnapping the nation was aware of was the kidnapping of 20 month old Charles Augustus Lindbergh, Jr., the son of famous aviator Charles Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh in 1932. His body was discovered a short distance from the Lindberghs' home, dead from a massive skull fracture. 

Bruno Richard Hauptmann was found guilty of murder in the first degree and sentenced to death. He was executed by electric chair in 1936, saying he was innocent clear to the end. It has been studied extensively, the conclusion being that he could not have done it by himself (if he did it at all) and the Charles Lindbergh may himself have been involved for reasons I'm not going into right now.

Other than that, people figured that hey, if someone cannot get a large cash ransom, they're not going to kidnap a kid so kids were safe. They played in the streets without supervision even in large cities. But horrific things WERE happening to kids. Here are just two examples:

Albert Fish: In Sin He Found Salvation (2007)  

This was a well-made documentary on what has to be the most twisted person ever to walk the face of the earth, and he was free to do his horrific deeds for over 50 years. It is thought that he probably molested, tortured and raped over 100 children and cooked and ate at least 15, although since he traveled around the United States for decades the numbers are most likely much higher. 

He was known as the Gray Man, the Werewolf of Wysteria, the Brooklyn Vampire and the Boogeyman. This guy was a special kind of psycho and I don't mean great. Having been abandoned by his mother in an orphanage (most likely a Catholic one) he claims his perversions began when he witnessed the horrors endured by the other children, including whippings.

Albert Fish's mug shot...
There was not a perversion that Albert Fish had NOT tried or was excited by and they don't need to be listed here. Let's just say that if it was wrong, he loved it. Through most of his life, he was also a husband and father of six, and held constant jobs to support his family. Somehow he managed to split his two selves, keeping most of the perverse stuff away from his family, his children not learning of most of it until after his arrest and trial at the age of 64.

Grace Budd
In the film there are very interesting shots of old New York, where Mr. Fish lived most of his life, although he used his job as a painter as an excuse to travel a lot, and to practice his many deviant acts. Finally in 1928, responding to an ad of a young man looking for work, he met 10 year old Grace Budd, the younger sister. He decided he liked her better and convinced her parents to let him take her to 'a birthday party' and bring her back by nine. Her family never saw her again. 

Fish was such a horrid non-human that he actually wrote a letter to the mother six years later, telling her in detail what he had done to her daughter. This letter has become a famous piece of perverse history. They arrested Mr. Fish and he was sent to the electric chair at the age of 65, the oldest man in history to be electrocuted, in January of 1936. Although this was the only death of which he was convicted, there are many to which he was attributed and many more of which he was suspected.

Cropsey (2009)

This documentary was a little less well put together but still very informative by Joshua Zeman and Barbara Brancaccio, two young investigators. It gives a great definition of an urban legend. According to this film, an urban legend doesn't claim to be the truth, rather that there are a range of possibilities of truth, it's up to you to pick one. That seems the best description I've heard so far. In New York in the 1970's and 80's, the term 'Cropsey' was a catch all word to describe what kids basically considered the boogeyman. They then take a look at the checkered past/present of Staten Island in particular.

Before the bridge was built between Staten Island and Manhattan in the 1960's, a lot of Staten Island was farmland and hospitals. Not good hospitals. These were institutions, tuberculosis wards, places to dump the undesirable. We're not talking about long ago history, this is only a couple of decades. 

In 1972 a young reporter decided to try to get a jump in his career by doing an expose' on one of them, Willowbrook Institution, where severely retarded and other disabled children were dumped. The horrors that expose' showed were past belief - children sitting in their own feces, many naked, all looking like they were just waiting to die. The reporter? Geraldo Rivera.

Despite that report, the hospital didn't close for another ten years. And after it did, it was apparent that a lot of the patients were just released to fend for themselves, and it is widely speculated that many of them simply returned to the facility and lived in the tunnels that ran underneath - evidence of camps were always being found.

Then a little girl went missing. Many children actually have gone missing in New York and Staten Island, but this girl was developmentally disabled, and there seems to have been a series of them that were just kind of... ignored. But this last one brought a lot of attention and the family worked hard to get the word around. Unfortunately, her body was found on Staten Island considered by many to be the 'dumping ground' of New York. 

They eventually settled on a homeless man named Andre Rand. He was convicted because he was seen in the vicinity of the girl, although no physical evidence was ever attached to him. He couldn't be convicted of the murder so he was simply convicted of the kidnapping and got 25 years to life. 

Years later they brought him up on charges of another disabled child that went missing near where he may have been seen and was also convicted for kidnapping that child. He basically was demonized and identified with the 'Cropsey' legend. But was there enough evidence? That's the scary part. The number of children still missing from then and now is very, very frightening and the Cropsey legend is still a way for parents to scare children into keeping close and behaving. Good or bad? Don't know, don't want to know.