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Lizzie Borden Took An Ax – Prequel to the Lizzie Borden Chronicles

imageIt was clear I needed to take a step back. I’d watched the Lizzie Borden Chronicles, but I hadn’t actually watched the Lizzie Borden movie. I’m not sure how I accomplished that, but I’m sure it took a special talent.

The movie came out in 2014 and although I made note of it, I was completely oblivious. Well, that has now been changed and I just finished watching. It’s a fictionalized account of the events that "could" have taken place in the Borden house on that fateful day. It takes some bits and pieces of the real events and weaves a tale of who might have committed the crime and how they might have gotten away with it.

Of course, the whole movie centers of Lizzie. It shows her with a strained relationship to her father and a less than ideal relationship with her step-mother. We sort of get the impression that Lizzie is overshadowed by the new mom and is no longer the center of attention within the family.

As we progress, Lizzie finds the bodies of her parents and then into the investigation we go. Of course, Lizzie is the prime and only suspect in the case. She was home or at least near the house when the murders took place, has a shaky story of her whereabouts and actions and gets a little confused when asked questions about the events.

When confronted about her relationship with her mother, she is quick to point out that Abby is not her mother. We then learn about the gifts the father had made to Abby’s side of the family, leaving his own daughters out of it. We hear about the family troubles, the barrage of axes and weapons in the house, Lizzie’s interest in poison to kill rats around the house, her contradictory testimony, the seeming lack of concern over the deaths and the burning of the dress she was wearing when the murders took place.

From there we get some insight into what "might" have happened. Did Lizzie plot the murders and lie in wait? Did she remove all her clothes then attack her parents so as to conceal the blood? Was she calculating enough to kill the mother first so as to not disturb the line of inheritance? Did she quickly bathe, clean and hide the evidence? Was the burning of the dress a cover up to conceal the blood which might have been mistaken for stew earlier?

Like the series that follows, we see Lizzie more as a plotter in the events rather than a hapless victim of them. We sort of get the impression she was tired of the step mom making off with the cash and took care of business so she could get the Maplecroft estate that she had her eye on.

So we are once again faced with a slew of questions about this murder. They are supposedly able to tell the time of the murders, but yet their evidence collecting is horrific. Lizzie was the only suspect and it seems the police didn’t look very hard for more clues or other suspects. Dozens of people trampled through the house, so no real preservation of the crime scene. And there’s a whole slew of other issues.

On the one hand it seems like Lizzie is in fact the prime suspect, but at the same time she doesn’t really seem up to the task. Was she really that good at covering her tracts? Was the evidence that lacking?

While it may not be award winning, it was still an interesting take on the Lizzie Borden story. It certainly paints Lizzie as the culprit and even in the final moments she whispers "the truth" to her sister. Who knows what was said, but do know that Lizzie and Emma had a failing out a few years later.

If you’re looking to waste some time and have a little morbid fun, this isn’t a bad movie to sit down to. It’s not revealing, nor insightful, but it does offer a couple of interesting bits and of course sets the stage for the Lizzie Borden Chronicles, which I thought was a wicked bit of fun to watch.

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The Lizzie Borden Chronicles – Season 1

imageIf you were asked to create a mini-series based on a famous historical figure, Lizzie Borden is probably not the first name that comes to mind. Perhaps if it was based on one of the most infamous women in history, then you’d have something. And so it is that Lifetime and Christina Ricci offer us this "fictionalized" version of the events that take place right after Lizzie is acquitted of the crime of killing both her parents.

Lizzie and Emma simply want to put the past behind them, perhaps move away from the looks, the stares, the nursery rhymes. But there is a problem, it appears father was in debt up to his eyeballs and the collector is knocking. The inheritance Lizzie and Emma are entitled to is not only in jeopardy, but is quite possibly going to be wiped out. If this sort of thing keeps up, Lizzie and Emma will be out on the street. What’s a girl to do?

In this narrative, Lizzie is a woman who knows how to get things done and how to remove obstacles. It usually involves the business end of a knife, axe or pitchfork, but she gets things done. People who cross her path usually end up face down in the river. There is little doubt that Lizzie was behind the events that plagued her mother and father, but it’s highly unlikely that it started there and it’s for damn sure not stopping there.

While Lizzie is hard at work with her negotiations and business dealings, a Pinkerton has rolled into town looking to find out information about Lizzie. He’s been tasked with looking into the murders. What’s he going to do with this information and who hired him remains to be seen. But he’s a determined investigator and is soon piecing together a most interesting tale.

She’s not the only one of interest though. We have the crass and possibly abusive Innkeeper, his demure and kind hearted wife who seems to have taken a shine to the Pinkerton, the police who feel the rash of murders in town are a strange coincidence, the constable that has taken a shine to Emma, the drunken half-brother that’s swept into town looking for his cut of the Borden inheritance and the frequently inebriated playwright that is looking to Lizzie to back his next work, the prostitute with a heart of gold that Lizzie brings in off the street and the "henchman" that probably knows a thing or two about the Borden murders.

The Lizzie Borden Chronicles is a pretty amusing tale full of deception, deceit, close calls, narrow escapes, uncovered evidence, secrets from the past, forbidden crime scenes and lots of "missing" characters. Lizzie is calm and meek on the outside, but under that ruffled dress with the wide shoulders lurks a very calculated woman.

I actually found this show to be quite entertaining. In many ways it reminds me of Dexter with the heroine trapped in an inescapable situation, yet there happens to be perfect timing or the unseen exit. Lizzie is just one step ahead of her story and every time someone asks too many questions, we shake our heads. Every time it looks like she’s disposed of a problem, someone new crops up looking for the person she just dealt with. Even Emma begins to suspect that things aren’t what they seem.

While it’s certainly an unusual topic, I quite enjoyed this series and wonder if we might be treated to a second season. It’s listed as a mini-series with only 8 episodes, but the ending certainly leaves the story open for continuation. I’d kind of like to see what Lizzie gets up to next. Will she actually settle down? Will she get found out? Dexter ran for several years, I don’t see why this couldn’t have a similar run.

For a Lifetime presentation, there’s quite a bit of hack and slash to this effort. We have flashbacks to the original murder scene and several of Lizzie’s other actions are replayed – in slow motion. Clearly not for the feint of heart, but then again, what part of Lizzie Borden gave you that idea?

I just watched the final episode, in fact, since the show just ended I watched all the episodes one after the other which made for exciting watching. There’s a lot of mixed reviews about this one, but I like it. If you’re looking for some campy thrill, I think this fits the bill quite nicely.

Here’s hoping to another mini-series or Season 2 or whatever they want to call it.

Of course, now I need to go watch the actual Lizzie Borden movie that Christina Ricci made. Seems I missed that along the way.

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The Others – Revisited

imageWhile browsing movie selections on Amazon, I was recommended The Others on Blu-Ray. I thought The Others was a great movie and for a mere $6 I could get the Blu-Ray edition. Two days later it was at the front door and I sat down to watch it again.

We start off with Grace and her two children alone in their house cut off from their neighbors and the rest of the village. The war has ravaged them and to make matters worse, the regular servants have packed up and left during the night without saying a word.

But all is not lost, three new servants who happened to have worked at the house before come strolling by looking for work. Desperate times call for desperate measures and Grace brings them on board to help with the house. But they must understand that the curtains must be drawn at all times. Her children are allergic to the light and if exposed they will blister, suffocate and possibly die. That alone means the house is lit with meager lamps and we spend most of the time is in an eerie darkness. Not to mention there is a thick fog that hangs about the house and if you stray too far, you lose your bearings and won’t be able to find your way back.

It’s not just the darkness though. There is something odd about the servants. They seem to be hiding something or perhaps are in the midst of hatching some sort of plan. Further, it seems that things are moving around in the house and they hear voices and footsteps. Soon, the daughter Anne says she sees and hears a little boy Victor, who says the house is theirs. Soon Grace realizes that noises she attributed to the servants can’t be from them because they’re not even in the house when she hears them. They now have intruders.

To confuse matters even more, Charles, Grace’s husband mysteriously shows back up to the house after being presumed dead in the war. But something is wrong. He’s distant, lost, aloof. His affections seem to be running away from his high strung and nervous wife.

From there we start to learn about many truths that took place in the house and very little is what it appears to be and not everyone is who they claim to be.

The first time I watched The Others, I thought it was great. It was an atmospheric and creepy movie that used mood and lighting to create tension. There are no scenes with chainsaws, or people being hacked to bits, or blood, or nudity and only a hint of violence. It’s sort of a like an Agatha Christie movie where everyone has a motive yet you’re not sure of their intentions. We get a lot of characters who may be up to no good and sense the house is haunted.

Watching it this second time, I found it to be just as suspenseful, but there was a great sense of satisfaction in pickup up on all the clues that are literally peppered throughout the movie. The clues are subtle and out of context they just seem like half completed thoughts. Or, they could be referring to multiple things – the war, the neighbors, the house.

For those who are used to hack and slash films, this is clearly not for you. For those that want a movie to build and for there to be a point to the story, this should keep you both intrigued and entertained.

With the lights turned down low, this movie still creates a suspenseful atmosphere and offers a story that slowly draws you in and sets several wheels in motion to make you wonder who’s telling the truth. And then in the end you’ll see how everything fits together perfectly and everything you were offered makes complete sense.

This is a top notch movie and for $6 you simply can’t go wrong.

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Forever – Season 1 Complete

image I just finished watching the Season Finale of Forever and I have to say that overall I’m pretty impressed with the show. For those that aren’t familiar with the series, it goes a little something like this:

Henry Morgan is a NY Medical Examiner with a vast knowledge on multiple subjects. On the surface, this is a well written crime drama that uses actual thinking rather than relying on ridiculous computer hacks, like converting a blurry image, shot at night, from a traffic camera a mile away which all of sudden looks crystal clear, to solve crimes. It has many elements from the Sherlock Holmes novels such as identifying poisons from their smell, a painting being moved, footprints in the carpet, the subtle remnants of perfume in the room and other minor clues that are left behind.

But apart from that, Henry Morgan is apparently immortal. During an altercation where he puts another’s life above his own, he is struck down by a bullet, but lives to tell the tale. From that point, he has died hundreds of times, always coming back in one piece. So the reason he’s in the medical field, he knows a little something about death.

We also have Henry living with his son, a boy he rescued during the war who is old enough to be his grandfather. So besides the interesting crime stories, we have observations on what it’s like to live and love and what it means to die.

Henry struggles with the "curse" of outliving all the people he loves. His great loves have passed away while he has stayed young. And at some point, he will have to deal with the death of his son. How can he make the most of his life when those around him will pass away?

But if there is one, there is surely another. And on the other end we have Adam, a man who has lived even longer than Henry, but the ravages of time and man have taken a different toll on him.

It’s an interesting dilemma. What would it mean to live forever or at least for a thousand years? Immortality has been presented in Frankenstein and Dracula, but those always come with a terrible price. But what if the price was simply outliving everyone? You could walk in the daylight and live a normal life, it just wouldn’t end.

Of course, it would have been much easier to mask such a condition hundreds of years ago. Back in the 1800s all had you had to do was walk 50 miles down the road and you were in another world. There were no records to follow you, no picture IDs to confirm your identity. It would be relatively easy to start over. But not so much today. Even if you were in the know and could get the birth certificate, what about all the digital records people have access to now? People get suspicious if you don’t have something on Facebook or Twitter or elsewhere. And what about a hundred years from now? What would it take to hid the inability to age and then sneak off to another place where you could start anew?

The idea of living for a hundred of thousand years sounds fascinating. All the things you would see and experience. All the places you could go and all the knowledge you could take in. But what of the downside we see in Forever. Does endless life lead to madness? Would outliving everyone you know push you away from love and companionship? Would you be able to trust someone with that secret? As we see in the show, when Henry reveals his secret he is put into a mental institution. And would you be able to survive in a digital world where everything you do is tracked?

I think we all say we wish we had more time, but what if that’s all you had? Where would you end up? What would you do? And then once you’ve travelled and read, what next? And what jobs would you have? I suppose you would have to keep switching so people didn’t discover you. I suppose there is always the life of Robinson Crusoe, but that’s not really living is it?

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