Saturday, November 12, 2011


First, I should say that I watched the entirety of Wyrd Sisters and enjoyed it very much.  The three witches are some of my favorite Discworld characters, especially the interactions of Granny Weatherwax and Magrat.  I had said before that the only actor I recognized was Christopher Lee, who played Death.  However, I then also noticed Annette Crosbie, who I know best as Margret Meldrew from One Foot in the Grave, who performed the voice of Granny Weatherwax.  A pleasant diversion, if you ever get a chance to watch it.

On the subject of documentaries, I watched Texas Chainsaw Massacre:  A Family Portrait.  It was made in 1988, so it's already somewhat old, and it consists entirely of interviews with the people who played the Chainsaw family, but not with any of the actors who played the victims.  It was still interesting, as they gave many details regarding the making of the movie, and I think the most interesting (and entertaining) interviewee was Edwin Neal, who played "the hitchhiker."  Also tacked onto the end was some very brief commentary by Forry (as in Forrest J.) Ackerman, who had something to do with it.  He wrote the original screenplay?  Anyway he's not officially credited on the movie itself, as far as I can tell.  Filming the movie was a very grueling experience, and some of them didn't finish it without injuries.  Neal was in two scenes which I thought should have been included but which were cut from the movie and which they showed brief clips of.  One funny thing I learned was that Tobe Hooper was trying to film it so that it would also look good on television, and Neal laughed about this because he knew it could never be shown on TV.  So if you're interested at all in this seminal horror flick, it should be interesting to you.  It runs 64 minutes.

The second documentary I watched was H.H. Holmes:  America's First Serial Killer, from 2004.  I thought it was odd that I had never heard of him because of the books I've read on serial killers in general, but there you go.  Holmes' real name was Herman Mudgett, and his story is amazing, because of what he got away with.  He was an actual physician who started out just being one of the world's best ever con men.  He built a "castle" in Chicago near the site of the 1893 World's Fair, and would offer lodging in his "castle" to tourists who were in town to attend the fair.  Since he focused so heavily on tourists, no one even knew they had gone missing.  He had numerous secret rooms and passages in his "castle," which was a combination of his own home, some offices and some alleged "hotel rooms" available for rent.  He built a secret system of gas pipes which he could control from his master room to asphyxiate people who rented rooms from him.  In the basement he had a veritable torture chamber.  He was able to afford building this huge place mostly by defrauding his contractors and suppliers, and rarely paid anyone for anything--and somehow got away with it.  And for a real kicker:  after he killed someone he would clean and mount the skeleton and sell it to medical schools and hospitals.  No one knows how many people he killed because of his method of choosing mostly tourists, but he was eventually caught and hanged.  Watch the show if you want to find out how, because I shouldn't give away everything.  It's a fascinating story of someone who was operating during the same time frame as Jack the Ripper, killed many times more people than the Ripper did, but today is almost unknown.  This one also runs 64 minutes.

Oh, and I almost forgot.  I also watched Dracula:  The Vampire and the Voivode.  From 2008, running time 84 minutes.  It starts out with a biography of Bram Stoker, then has a lot of information about Vlad Tepes, then spends a lot of time showing how Tepes was not the inspiration for Stoker's Dracula except for the name.  It also tells about the discrepancies between Stoker's Dracula and the real Transylvania and finishes up with the modern day legacy of Dracula.  I already knew most of this stuff, but one thing that I was amused to learn was the Dracula was banned as "decadent Western literature" in communist Romania but was one of the first western books published after the death of Ceaușescu.  These days, modern Romania makes big tourist bucks because of that book.  Not a bad documentary, but it would probably be more interesting to someone who hadn't already spent a lot of time reading about this stuff.

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