serial killer

Peter Kurten: The Vampire of Dusseldorf

Peter Kurten: The Vampire of Dusseldorf

By Laura James
A 20 year-old girl named Maria takes a train from Cologne, Germany, to Dusseldorf in the Spring of 1930. She leaves the train station with her guard up; a fiend had been menacing the city for the past year, assaulting and murdering men, women, and children. He’s even sent letters to the local paper with a map showing the location of the body of his latest victim, a five year-old girl. Maria tries not to think about the horrors of his crimes, as she has come to the city seeking work and needs to find a place to stay.
As she walks, she is brashly approached by a man asking her for directions somewhere and trying to lead her into a park. Panicked that this could be the maniac, she deflects his attention but he becomes argumentative. Just as quickly, another man intervenes. He is dressed respectably with neatly-combed hair. He sends the quarrelsome man off and asks Maria if she would like to come to his apartment for a drink and, charmed, she accepts.
He leads her down a street called Mettemannerstrasse, but pulls her into the woods and begins strangling her. The good Samaritan who came to her aid is “The Vampire of Dusseldorf.”
The vampire’s lust for violence came from a background as brutal as his crimes. Peter Kurten was born on May 26, 1883, in Cologne-Mulheim, Germany. He was the oldest of 13 children. His family was impoverished from his father spending his wages on booze, that they lived in a small apartment, with no escape from their father’s physical or sexual abuse. He forced himself on his wife, beat her and their children, and was arrested in 1897 for attempting (or committing) incest with one of his daughters.
Peter’s dark impulses manifested early. He is rumored to have caused (or at least aided in) the drowning of two playmates at the age of five. He lost his virginity at the age of 13 when he forced himself on a girl in the woods and almost strangled her to death. Sickeningly, women weren’t the only recipients of his lust. He became apprentice to a dog-catcher when his family moved to Dusseldorf and engaged in bestiality with different kinds of animals, sometimes stabbing them and drinking their blood during the act. These were his first instances of vampirism and the start of his criminal history.
He was in and out of jail for burglary, assault, and arson. Watching the fires and imagining the harm and death they might cause was a form of sexual gratification for the pyromaniac. He hated the conditions of the prisons and the treatment he endured from the guards but that was never enough of a deterrent for his criminal activity. In 1913, he crept through the an open window at an inn owned by a man named Peter Klein. Kurten found Klein’s 13 year-old daughter Christine and slit her throat. In his hurry to get away, Kurten dropped a handkerchief embroidered with his initials. The police who investigated the crime scene found it but, following the most obvious lead, focused on Peter Klein.
Even after eluding capture due to a stunning coincidence, Kurten was only linked to one other murder during that time. His impulses may have been calmed by marriage. He married in 1923, and neighbors and coworkers described him as quiet, timid, and responsible.
He didn’t kill again until 1929, beginning his “year of terror.”
In February of that year, he attacked a woman, but her distressed cries summoned people and Kurten fled. A few weeks later, he stabbed eight year-old Rosa Ohlinger to death with a pair of scissors and left her body around a construction site. He returned later that evening, soaked her body in kerosene, and set it ablaze, masturbating while he watched the fire.
Several weeks after that, a man named Rudolf Scheer drunkenly bumped into Kurten while on the way home from a beer hall. This so enraged Kurten that he stabbed Scheer with scissors and drank the blood that flowed from his wounds.
That August, he had sex with a domestic servant named Maria Hahn, stabbed her to death, and further satisfied himself by drinking her blood. Towards the end of the month, he encountered two young girls, 13 year-old Luise and five year-old Gertrude, on their way home from a fair. He lured them into a meadow, strangling and stabbing the older girl and slitting the younger one’s throat.
In September, he attempted to murder another servant and succeeded in murdering other women, one that month and one in October, by beating them to death.
He committed what would be his final murder in November when he stabbed five year-old Gertrud Albermann to death with a pair of scissors.
Kurten greatly admired London’s Jack the Ripper, researching the case and even sending a taunting letter to the German newspaper, Freedom. In his letter, he revealed the location of the bodies of Gertrud Albermann and Maria Hahn.
In May of the following year, he found a girl named Maria Budlies fighting with a man who approached her after she got off a train from Cologne. Kurten diffused the situation and offered to take her to his apartment. Instead, he tried to strangle her in the woods around his apartment but, inexplicably, stopped. Perhaps he was worried about the other man being able to identify him after seeing him walk away with Maria. He asked her if she would remember how to get to his place and she said she would not.
Maria didn’t go to the police about the incident but did write about it to a friend a few days later. There was a mistake in the address so a clerk at the post office opened the envelope to see if she could figure out where it was supposed to be sent. The clerk read the contents of the letter and turned it over to police. The police went to Maria, and she led them to Peter Kurten’s home.
He saw the police and was able to avoid them at the time but knew they were closing in on him. Kurten confessed everything to his wife, and the next day she turned him in to the police.
Peter Kurten plead insanity. He revealed fantasies of poisoning, injuring, or killing large crowds of people at once. He even claimed that his victims, mostly children or those subservient to him, were his revenge on society for the treatment he endured in prison. He did, however, express concern for one person: his wife. He said he hoped she would be taken care of with him gone and, at one point, claimed he was innocent of all charges and said he only admitted to the murders so his wife could collect the reward money.
His plea was rejected, and Peter Kurten was found guilty of nine counts of murder. His morbid lust followed him to the very end; he expressed excitement at the prospect of beheading and inquired if he would be conscious long enough to hear the blood gushing from his body.
Peter Kurten was executed on July 2, 1931.
Posted by Laura James in BRUTAL REALITY, Historic Horror, 0 comments
NEW FEATURE! CROWDFUNDING PICK: Baphomet

NEW FEATURE! CROWDFUNDING PICK: Baphomet

By Dixielord

Crowdsourcing is becoming a more and more popular way to finance films although it was once almost exclusively the territory of low budget and Indie films. Now, however, directors from the likes of Spike Lee to Rob Zombie have used the public to fund the budgets of their films. While there has been some outcry among fans concerning established filmmakers using this avenue, it, nonetheless, remains a lucrative way of funding a film. In addition to freeing filmmakers of studio restrictions, crowdfunding enables them to connect with the fans via special offers for different levels of donations.

With crowdfunding here to stay, House of Tortured Souls has decided to do a “Best of Crowdsourcing” series. It will have an irregular schedule to start, but we hope to grow into a monthly article. HoTS writers will scour the popular sourcing sites, Kickstarter and Indiegogo (and any others that may exist or come to exist), and find horror projects that look interesting to report back on for our followers. We also welcome suggestions from our followers. Just comment on this article as well as the upcoming articles and let us know what hidden gems you’ve found.

I’m going to kickstart this (Heh, heh, heh) with a little movie I found late one recent Friday night. The name of the film is Baphomet, and it drew me in right away. The story concept kept me there. It’s still early in the crowdsourcing for Baphomet, so it’s still anybody’s guess on how it will come out. But I’m really hoping this one is successful. After all, I already put my money where my mouth is.

Baphomet the movie

Promotional poster for Baphomet
Art courtesy of Stu Schuckman

According to the Kickstarter page, Baphomet is

THE STORY OF HANNA, a beautiful and cold-blooded murderer, a born sociopath with no concern for societal expectations. While living as a drifter on the highways of the east coast, she meets a sensitive young musician and begins a relationship that will blur the line between victim and accomplice.

Director Alex Sinesi describes it as a Southern Gothic road movie, and he means Gothic in the traditional way, not the Hot Topic way.

The crucial lead role of Hanna will be played by Hannah Elizabeth Smith, an award winning film and theater actress. Apparently Hannah isn’t afraid to get bloody with roles like Carrie (Carrie the Musical), and Lady MacBeth in her past. If that ain’t enough, just check out her photo on Kickstarter.

Hannah Elizabeth Smith as Carrie White, in Carrie the Musical from the Baphomet Kickstarter page

Hannah Elizabeth Smith as Carrie White, in Carrie the Musical

Along with Smith, Baphomet will star Nicholas Reed and Christopher Marino. All three members of the cast come from East Coast theater backgrounds.

There’s a lot that drew me to Baphomet. While the idea of a female serial killer might not be new, it’s far from common, and it’s relatively fresh ground. Plus, the idea of a Gothic road movie is appealing. I grew up in the South, on Faulkner, and there was always a darkness in his stories. They always made me feel uncomfortable. I think Baphomet may strike that same chord in me, and that makes me excited.

Baphomet- Never Behave again courtesy Kickstarter

Baphomet- Never Behave Again
Courtesy Kickstarter

The director promises that it will be bloody, but it wont be cheap gore. Sinesi promises that we will see the effect the killing has, even on the killer. I’m trusting he will have the skill to follow through on those promises, and make Baphomet more than a cheap horror film. So give it a look, and if you agree that this is an interesting project consider giving them a hand. There’s more information to be found on the movie’s Facebook page or on the Kickstarter page If it looks interesting, consider chipping in and helping what could be a great Indie horror film get made. House of Tortured Souls, and I, personally, will be keeping our eye on Baphomet and updating everyone on any major happenings.

Posted by Allen Alberson in Crowd funding Pick, HORROR NEWS, 0 comments
This Just In: Saw VIII Announced

This Just In: Saw VIII Announced

Just When You Thought
It Was Safe to Start Gaming Again
Saw: Legacy

By Woofer McWooferson

Saw II

Saw II

When the first Saw, written by Lee Whannell and directed by James Wan on a budget of only $1,200,000, grossed over $55,000,000 in two months, it was immediately clear that sequels would follow. Each new film introduced increasingly violent and gore-filled traps, something that was understated in the first, and the franchise became known as part of the burgeoning torture porn phenomenon. Though the sequels were directed by others, such as Darren Lynn Bousman, who helmed the immensely popular Saw II, Saw III, and Saw IV, Whannell and Wan remained active in the series as producers. By the seventh film, however, the budget was over $20,000,000 but the gross in the first month was only $45,670,855. Not a good return on investment in Hollywood books. This makes the announcement of a new installment both surprising and intriguing. 

Saw III

Saw III

Since Saw 3D (VII) tied together everything from movies I through VI, it seemed the franchise might actually be complete and Jigsaw would be laid to rest. Not so. Another Saw film is in the works according to sources at Lionsgate. Josh Stolberg (Crawlspace) and Pete Goldfinger (Clown) will be writing the eighth Saw film, with director Wan and screenwriter Whannell returning as executive producers. No word yet on what the story will be – origin (there’s been quite a bit of that in the series already), reboot  (really?), or sequel (which is what the tentative title suggests (seems  a bad idea given how VII, wrapped up the series) – but it’s a safe bet that it will involve the elaborate traps for which the franchise is renowned.

Saw IV

Saw IV

There has also been no word on who will direct or whether franchise star Tobin Bell will return as Jigsaw, but a Saw film without Jigsaw is like a Hellraiser without Pinhead – disastrous.

House of Tortured Souls will keep you updated as more details are released.

Posted by Woofer McWooferson in Categories, COMING SOON, 1 comment
BLU-RAY REVIEW: THE TENDERNESS OF THE WOLVES (1973)

BLU-RAY REVIEW: THE TENDERNESS OF THE WOLVES (1973)

the-tenderness-of-wolves

By Nick Durham

Does the name Ulli Lommel ring a bell? If you’re a horror nerd (and chances are that you are since you’re here reading this) then you’ve no doubt heard of him, or at least been subjected to some of his more recent exercises in depravity. He really made a name for himself in the 80s with Boogeyman, which in itself was a pile of shit, but nowhere near as bad as his more recent, direct-to-DVD pieces of shit that he’s churned out at an alarming rate for Lions Gate. What you may not know however is that back in the day, Lommel was an up and coming director, and even an understudy of Andy fucking Warhol. His 1973 film, The Tenderness of the Wolves, is a surprisingly thoughtful and totally disturbing character study of infamous German serial killer Fritz Haarmann. It goes without saying that this is undoubtedly the best film that Lommel has ever made.

The late Kurt Raab plays Haarmann: a known homosexual in 1920s Germany (which was a crime by itself back then) that picks up and murders young men in horrific ways, and even moonlights into the fine delicacies of cannibalism to boot. As a known black-market criminal and homosexual, Haarmann becomes a police informant due to the poverty of the nation as a whole, which ends up finding him helping himself keeping the cops off his back so he can freely pick up and slaughter his victims. These scenes of Haarmann meeting and seducing his victims are where the real meat (no pun intended) of The Tenderness of the Wolves lies. They’re not super graphic or even really suspenseful honestly; but they really invoke how evil a son of a bitch this man is. This is both thanks to Lommel’s careful pacing, and Raab’s wonderful performance.

If there’s any drawbacks or flaws to The Tenderness of the Wolves, it’s that it doesn’t deal with the aftermath of when Haarmann is finally caught, or even deal with his origins either. The whole film is dedicated to this one particular fraction of time where he was at his most monstrous, which while incredibly effective, doesn’t do much to develop the character as a whole. Then again, this sick fuck was a real-life person after all, so maybe all we really need to know about Haarmann is what’s presented here.

Arrow Films has done another wonderful job with this Blu-ray release, but that shouldn’t be much of a surprise. The film itself has been remastered and looks glorious, and there’s even a new translation of the film’s English subtitles (which are way, way more accurate than any other American release of this film has ever been). There’s a commentary by Lommel, interviews with the film’s cinematographer Jurgen Jurges and actor Rainer Will (who plays one of Haarmann’s victims), an appreciation retrospective of the film, plus the film’s trailer and a fascinating booklet is included as well. Yeah, this is really good stuff here, which is the norm from Arrow.

Now in case you didn’t realize it by now, The Tenderness of the Wolves definitely isn’t for everyone. If you’re looking for a serial killer/thriller type flick, you’ll be disappointed here. This is a deliberate character study of a true monster, and Lommel doesn’t fuck around with expressing that to the audience. Still, with its brisk 82-minute running time, you don’t have much to lose by checking this out at the very least.

Rating: 4/5

Posted by Nick Durham in MOVIE REVIEWS, RETRO REVIEWS, 0 comments
CROPSEY: URBAN LEGEND

CROPSEY: URBAN LEGEND

CROPSEY

By Margeaux DeMott

 

The legend of Cropsey comes from New York and is now closely associated with Staten Island. Cropsey’s affiliation with Staten Island is because of a documentary made in 2009 by Joshua Zeman and Barbara Brancaccio, titled Cropsey. Their documentary briefly covers that urban legend and purposes a man named Andre Rand could be the aforementioned boogeyman. However, the legend of Cropsey is older than the disappearances of the children that are attributed to Rand. Started as a spooky tale that campers in boy scouts, summer camps, and groups of teenagers would tell around a campfire, Cropsey shares a similar tale common to most boogeymen. Cropsey lives in the woods and preys on the young; from children to young adult campers. The story varies slightly from campfire to campfire. Sometimes he has a hook for a hand, some times his face is burnt, but most often he does his killing with an ax. I have read of people being told the legend going all the way back to the 1950s, and the tale of Cropsey is still being told around campfires to this day. 

The Urban Legend, reprised

Cropsey was a man that lived in a cabin in the woods with his family. He had a wife and two children. He was an upstanding pillar of his community and had an all around good life. Until one fateful day.  A group of campers in the woods started a campfire that they could not handle. The flames spread through the woods and caught Cropsey’s home ablaze. His children and wife found themselves trapped inside the house. He tried to get them out but failed. He fell into a deep rage aimed at careless camp goers. Insanity soon took over, and Cropsey moved into the woods to hunt people with his ax. He swore his deadly vengeance on any and all campers he could get his hands on.

The man that became the Urban Legend

The man who would become Cropsey

In their documentary, Zeman and Brancaccio match a man to the myth and put a face to the boogeyman in the form of a person we know as Andre Rand. Throughout the 1970’s and into the 1980’s strange occurrences  transpired. Several children, and one young adult, on Staten Island went missing. Rand was the prime suspect in these disappearances due to his criminal record involving crimes against children. In 1972 Alice Pereira, nine years old, went missing. She was last seen playing in an apartment lobby with her brother. Her brother said he left Alice alone for a moment and when he returned she was gone. Coincidentally Rand was employed as a painter at this apartment building. In 1981 Holly Ann Hughes, seven years old, never returned home from going to the store with a friend. Her friend reported that Rand drove up in a Volkswagen and pulled Holly into the car. In 1983 Tiahease Jackson, eleven years old, was reported missing after she failed to return from going out to purchase food on her mothers request.  In 1984 Hank Gafforio, twenty-two years old, was reported missing. Hank Gafforio was born with an IQ in the seventies. His last sighting was with Rand in a local diner. In 1987 Jennifer Schweiger, twelve years old, was reported missing and was last seen walking with Rand. Schweiger’s body was found on the grounds of the former Willowbrook State School.

Andre Rand was convicted of the kidnapping of Jennifer Schweiger (1988) and later the kidnapping of Holly Ann Hughes (2004) -concurrent sentences of 25 years-to-life. As of the time of this writing he is still living, and will be eligible for parole in 2037 at the age of ninety-three years old. Considering the areas in which he hunted his prey, and the vivid imagination of a pre-internet society, one can easily see where people made the connection from Rand to the legend of Cropsey.

Posted by Margeaux DeMott in ABNORMAL MUSINGS AND FREAKISH FACTS, 1 comment
HALLOWEEN HORRORS: SATAN’S LITTLE HELPER

HALLOWEEN HORRORS: SATAN’S LITTLE HELPER

By Dixielord

Satan's Little Helper poster with Katheryn Winnick

Satan’s Little Helper with Katheryn Winnick

Satan’s Little Helper is a movie that should be regarded as a Halloween classic. Set on Halloween, mask wearing, trick or treating, and other Halloween traditions figure in heavily in the movie. It also stars the most annoying kid this side of The Babadook. Meet Dougie, and believe me he is one annoying little shit. But just like in The Babadook, it’s the child’s annoying habits and personality that help propel the movie along.

Directed by Jeff Lieberman (Squirm), Satan’s Little Helper stars Amanda Plummer (Pulp Fiction) and the gorgeous Katheryn Winnick (Vikings), along with Alexander Brickel as Dougie. Now little Dougie is obsessed with two things, going Trick or Treating with big sister Jenna (Winnick) and playing his favorite video game – Satan’s Little Helper.

Halloween for Dougie goes wrong almost from the start when Jenna comes home from college, bringing along boyfriend Alex. This spoils his plans for a night out alone with his sexy sister, and a big kibosh on his plans to someday marry her. OK maybe that’s a bit weird, but let’s roll with it. Dougie in a snit storms off. Then things seem to look up as he runs across a man in a demon mask positioning dead bodies to appear to be Halloween decorations. Dougie mistakes the man as Satan from his video game, but actually he’s an psychotic lunatic, and asks to tag along and be his helper for real. As Satan and Dougie wreck havoc across town, it’s all good Halloween fun in the kid’s eyes. Until he takes Satan home.

I really love Satan’s Little Helper. It’s a horror comedy that takes itself just seriously enough to work. It has it’s silly moments, and a couple of scenes that push your ability to suspend your belief. However, if you accept that little Dougie is a naive, annoying kid with horrible judgment and just go along for the ride, it works.

Even though it’s a horror comedy, all the actors play it straight and the comedy comes from Dougie’s horrible decisions and trust. But it does something that a lot of horror comedies don’t manage. It manages to actually be a horror movie. There are some scenes that are down right skin crawl creepy. And when Satan reveals just how evil he really is to little Dougie, the laughs stop.

Sexy Katheryn Winnick in Satan's Little Helper

Katheryn Winnick in Satan’s Little Helper

Amanda Plummer plays Dougie’s mom, and she’s awesome as usual. Her character seems to be supportive of Dougie’s love for Halloween, but really she’s just too wrapped up in herself to pay any attention to what he’s doing. Ninety percent of the mayhem in Satan’s Little Helper springs from the fact no one is really paying any attention to Dougie. Even when he starts palling around with a tall man in a Satan mask. Katheryn Winnick is stunning as big sister Jenna, and she shows some moments of true tenderness to her irritating little brother. If you are a fan of The History Channel’s Vikings, you wont want to miss the future Lagertha in this early role.

The star of the show, though, is Satan. He steals scenes over and over with his comedic gestures and sense of humor, even as he’s committing bloody murder. He’s just fun to watch. Not as fun as Winnick, but he’s a hoot.

Satan's Little Helper

Satan’s Little Helper

There are some gory and intense moments, so don’t let the horror comedy moniker catch you off guard. There are also some hilarious turns that will have you splitting your side. Note to the religious, there are some scenes that could be considered blasphemous or sacrilegious. This all leads up to an ending that you will probably see coming, but that doesn’t stop it from being effective.

So have a Happy Halloween everyone, enjoy the festivities, watch Satan’s Little Helper, and don’t let your son hang around with mysterious masked devils.

Posted by Allen Alberson in HoTS HALLOWED HALLOWEEN HORRORS, IN THE SPOTLIGHT, MOVIE REVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments

MOVIE REVIEW: The Boy (2015)

The Boy: How to Make a Killer

By Dixielord

The Boy

The Boy is a chilling coming of age movie, chilling because it’s the coming of age of a serial killer. The Boy is Ted, played by Jared Breeze, a lonely boy living a lonely life with his single father at a run down motel in the middle of nowhere.

His father, played by David Morse, is far from a bad father. Indeed he seems to be doing, or at least trying to do, a good job as a single father. However, young Ted has some real issues. Ted has issues with violence and a growing fascination with death which go unnoticed, or possibly ignored, by his father. The situation already seems volatile when Rainn Wilson (yes that Rainn Wilson) enters the scene as a recently widowed loser who may have just killed his wife. We watch as Ted abuses and kills animals, and, in a chilling scene, torments a young boy staying at the motel. This all builds to an ending that sees “the boy” finally develop into a full fledged mass murderer.

The Boy is a disturbing film, due largely to its subject matter. There are scenes that some people, especially parents of young kids, may find too extreme. The Boy is the first movie in a planned trilogy, that shows Ted’s growth into a killer, at ages 9, 13, and 18, where he adopts the iconic mask of a serial killer. While it is disturbing to see a young boy being abused and abusing others, the film is relatively bloodless. Although it makes up for this in the final ten minutes or so, it’s still not a gory movie by any means – even while racking up an impressive body count.

The film’s slow, brooding pace will be the complaint of most people trying to watch it. It can be hard to stay with it, it was hard for me to stay with it, but The Boy is worth the effort. The film is moody and thick with doom. You know what’s coming at some point. Then there are those moments, such as the scene at the pool, that snap the tedium, make you sit up and pay attention, make you shiver inside. The pay off, those last ten minutes or so, are totally worth patiently sitting through the rest of The Boy.

Like most people I’m most familiar with Rainn Wilson from The Office, but he does a great job here. He befriends the boy and inadvertently helps to mold the killer growing inside the boy. Everyone in this film helps mold the boy. Supposedly it takes a village to raise a child, The Boy shows a village can also raise a monster.

So give The Boy a chance, and stick with it. Apparently there’s more to come.

Posted by Allen Alberson in MOVIE REVIEWS, 0 comments

BREAKING NEWS: Leonardo DiCaprio as H.H. Holmes

Leonardo DiCaprio as H.H. Holmes

By John Roisland

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 20: Leonardo DiCaprio attends an event for being named UN Messenger Of Peace at the United Nations on September 20, 2014 in New York, New York. (Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)

So it is official and an H.H. Holmes movie is in the works. Paramount Pictures has closed the deal, and Golden Globe and Academy Award winner Martin Scorsese is set to direct The Devil in The White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair That Changed America. Leonardo DiCaprio, who starred in The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) and Gangs of New York (2002) – both directed by Scorsese, is set to take the lead role. He will be playing Dr. H.H. Holmes, who is considered to be the world’s first serial killer. Holmes is said to have killed up to 200 victims by the end of the 1800s .

Robert DeNiro is also said to be attached to the film, but no dates have been issued for production or release as of yet. Will this finally be it for Leo as his fight for the Oscar continues? Maybe THIS time, Leo, maybe this time.

Posted by John Roisland in HORROR NEWS, 0 comments