H. H. Holmes (V)

A sticking point with horror fanatics is that many people take it too
far, tainting the good name of those of us that just like gore and
disembowelment on film. Serial Killers tend to fascinate us, and put us
in the odd position, in this technological age, of watching something on
the news and thinking “man, that would be cool in a movie.” When
Patrick Bateman kills a hooker because he thinks it’s his God-given
right to do so, it’s ironic and cool. When Ted Bundy did the same thing
for the same reason, it’s revolting and should never, ever be looked to
as a middle finger to the establishment. Manson, Gacy, Dahmer and
Berkowitz are bad. And just because you like Kruger, Vorhees, Meyers
and Bates doesn’t mean you’re a twisted maniac. The proper view of a
serial killer is scholarly, such as taken in “H.H. Holmes: America’s
First Serial Killer.” They are to be studied and understood, an
aberration to human society.

This is all long-winded exposition on an excellent documentary
of America’s first Serial Killer, a twisted aristo-wannabe who killed
and tortured any-and-everyone he wanted to during the twilight of the
1800s in Chicago. The story of H.H. Holmes is brought to careful and
terrifying life by filmmaker John Borowski, and chronicles how the good
doctor eviscerated his victims without remorse. Borowski has created a
documentary better than most of the over-hyped History-Channel fare, and
his impressive work rings terror out of crimes committed more than a
century ago. Not unlike Holmes himself, Borowski uses surgical care to
pick Holmes apart piece by piece, humanizing the doctor without
sympathizing with his depraved defiance of decency.

The feature-length documentary chronicles the life of Holmes
from his early life though his infamous killing spree and subsequent
“Trial of the Century.” Holmes is best know for luring visitors away
from the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, offering them a place to stay in
his luxurious hotel (dubbed “The Castle”), and then killing them. His
methods of capture and execution involved secret passages throughout the
castle, vats of acid, and cremation. In a particularly grisly section,
Holmes toys with the emotions of a mother as he separates and eventually
slaughters her children, one by one.

This is an exciting movie for a reviewer, as Mr. Borowski funded
the movie and carefully cobbled it together over the course of three
years. He dug up scores of pictures, info, and experts, creating a
slick, professional product the likes of which you’d find on A&E. As an
independent filmmaker, Borowski understands that to create something
worth watching, it takes time and care, and he succeeds where many DV
camera-toting auteurs filming their friends and fake blood in the
backyard have failed. Borowski even got voice-over artist Tony Jay (The
Supreme Being in “Time Bandits,” for all ya geeks out there) to narrate
the film. An fine job all around, and if there is any justice in the
world, we’ll see Borowski’s film as a supplement or companion piece to
one of the big-budgeted (rumored to star the likes of Cruise and
DiCaprio) Holmes bio-pics in the works.

Scratch that, if there is any justice in the world, Borowski
will have a long and storied career as a documentary filmmaker. He has
talent and has proven his stamina, and his final product, while not
flashy or groundbreaking, is the sort of informative, solid
entertainment that should afford him longevity.

You can currently order “H.H. Holmes” from
www.hhholmesthefilm.com. The first 1000 copies contain a numbered and
autographed “Death Certificate,” and the DVD contains extras to show
that Borowski ain’t bad at marketing either, including a making of
documentary, trailers, and commentary. Get in on the ground floor and
say that you knew about Borowski back when he was making low-budget
documentaries. And tell him Bloody Disgusting sent you.

Official Score