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WRITTEN REVIEW: Killer Legends

A short time ago, Forest (my co-host) and I explained to a friend where the phrase, “Love means never having to say that your sorry” originated. Of course this was in the 1970 romantic drama Love Story. Why the HELL am I talking about Love Story, you ask? Well because it was the first of it's kind. Sure there were other romantic films and love stories before Love Story, but it was the first to cement some sort of formula to that specific type of genre, and in such a way that that formula lives on today in modern romance without it's audience recognizing it's origin. Much how Halloween cemented the formula of the slasher film and in turn, hundreds, if not thousands, of filmmakers later used Carpenter's work as a blueprint to construct slasher films of their own.

Love Story is what I'm reminded of when I think of the Joshua Zeman film Killer Legends. We've all heard urban legends that have been passed down for decades – about escaped maniacs, or hook-handed killers, and sadistic clowns. What Killer Legends does, is explore these tropes and hunts down their origins.

All of the most iconic and retold urban legends hold some truth, and have a specific origin. The story of the mental patient who escaped the sanitarium and who is now on the lose, all boils down to the Cropesy legend (another documentary made by Zeman) about just that, a understaffed mental hospital who's patients escaped and lived in the near by woods. This hospital and those woods later become the focal point of a police investigation looking into the disappearance of several local children.

Some of the legends are a little more obvious – the killer clown legend originating with John Wayne Gacy – while others require more investigation. An investigation that Zeman and his co-host/researcher Rachel Mills are all to willing to take on, and thank you.

Among the legends explored are, "The Hook Man", "The Candy Man", "The Babysitter and the Man Upstairs", & "The Killer Clown".

As a fan of horror, Killer Legends is a fascinating film that explains many of the tropes so commonly found in horror films and in horror literature.

So many of these stories I've taken for granted. Knowing them only from the collective consciousness that has passed them down, either using them to frighten children into listening to their parents, teens trying to scare each other, television and film capitalizing on their notoriety and later parody. All of which leave myself, as well as others, hazy on facts of these stories – if they are in fact true at all.

If you have an affinity for true crime, urban legends, American folklore and/or horror films, you HAVE to check this documentary out.

At the time of this review, both Killer Legend and Cropsey are streaming on Netflix. And if you REALLY feel up for a scare, find a secluded “lovers lane” type area to watch it using your smartphone or the dvd player in your car. Just don't be surprised if you find a blood hook handing from the passenger door when you get home. Isn't technology great?

I would also like to give a shout out to Lee from the They Must Be Destroyed on Sight Podcast who first recommending this film to me.


★ ★ ★ ★




Blake Matthews said...

"So many of these stories I've taken for granite."

Shouldn't that be taken for "granted"? Do I get points for correcting the teacher? (I jest)

Blake Matthews said...

In all seriousness, the killer clown urban legend inspired by John Wayne Gacy actually inspired mass hysteria here in São Paulo when it was rumored that there was an entire gang of killer clowns roaming the streets of a neighboring city. In other words, one urban legend begat another.

Here in Brazil, we don't have Bloody Mary, but we have "The Blonde in the Bathroom," who can be summoned by flushing the toilet three times and turning on the faucet three times and then kicking a bathroom door (if it's a public restroom) three times.