THE AXE MURDERS OF VILLISCA. (2016) BASED ON TRUE EVENTS. DIRECTED BY TONY E. VALENZUELA. WRITTEN BY TONY VALENZUELA, KEVIN ABRAMS AND OWEN EGERTON. STARRING ROBERT ADAMSON, JARRETT SLEEPER, ALEX FRNKA AND SEAN WHALEN. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
'WHEN HISTORY COMES BACK TO HAUNT YOU...'
We'll talk about the film in a minute, but first I want to tell you about some grisly murders that happened in a sleepy little American town over a hundred years ago. I only found out about them recently when I watched an extra feature about haunted houses that came with a horror film I'd bought. What do you think of when you hear about real-life murder houses?
Maybe you think of Marge Simpson of THE SIMPSONS flogging Ned Flanders the old murder house when she works for Lionel Hutz and his 'RED BLAZER REALTY' company. Or, more likely, the Amityville Horror house would probably be at the top of that list.
It's the house where the Lutz family, George and Kathy and Kathy's children, were all terrorised by the evil spirits that haunted the house, to the point where they had to leave the house one dark stormy night with only the clothes they stood up in.
They didn't even stop to pack their belongings. They never even returned to the house to pick up their stuff, as far as I know. Someone else had to do it for them, so reluctant were they to ever see that devil house again. If you watch the movie 'THE AMITYVILLE HORROR' starring Margot Kidder and James Brolin, you would certainly understand why they felt this way.
Anyway, the reason of course that that particular house was haunted to buggery was because of the brutal murders that had been committed there by one Ronald DeFeo Jr., who claimed that voices in his head drove him to slaughter his family with a shotgun.
If you watched the second AMITYVILLE film, AMITYVILLE 2: THE POSSESSION, you'd bloody well be inclined to believe him too. That film is terrifying. It's scarier by far than the original movie, plus it's a damn good story too.
In its own way, the story of what happened to the inhabitants of that lovely old house in Villisca is equally spooky. I had nightmares after first hearing the story. One summer's night in Villisca, a small town in Iowa, in the year 1912, a family went to bed and never woke up.
Josiah Moore, his wife Sarah, their four children and two small female guests would all presumably have been exhausted after attending their little town's Children's Day celebrations that day, which had been co-ordinated by Sarah Moore.
When they were all fast asleep, a killer came down from their attic where he'd been hiding out and smoking cigarettes. He was carrying an axe...
One can only imagine the horror that awaited the people who found all eight bodies the following morning. It's distressing to find that someone's passed away at the best of times but under such grisly circumstances...! It must have been a nightmare.
Due to the condition and placing of one of the bodies, it was surmised that one of the family's young female guests had been awake during the attack and had possibly been sexually molested as well. It hardly bears thinking about.
There were a few suspects, but no-one was ever convicted of the crime. It's still as wide-open to speculation as the case of Jack The Ripper, the scourge of whores in the East End of London back in the year 1888. The suspects, by the way, included the following:
A vagrant who passed through the town at the time of the murders; a pervy and possibly mentally unhinged Reverend who'd taken part in the Children's Day celebrations in the town on the day of the killings; an Iowa State Senator; a possible serial killer hired by the Iowa State Senator; a serial killer who was convicted of the axe murders of his own mother and grandmother; and, finally, Josiah's own brother-in-law.
The murder house is a museum now, as far as I know. You can take a tour of the house and see where the slayings happened. You can even take a selfie with the waxworks that represent
the murdered family members. I like the idea of taking the tour, as I have a genuine and lifelong interest in the paranormal, but the selfie thing seems a bit tasteless to me.
People were killed there, after all, a Mammy and a Daddy and six completely innocent children. Whatever the adults may have done to piss off the killer (possibly nothing), the kids were innocent. Besides, no-one deserves that kind of gruesome and blood-spattered ending, no matter what they've done.
The house remains to this day a source of interest to ghost-hunters and lovers of the paranormal and suchlike. I don't think it's been lived in by a family or anyone else since the murders. I believe the house was featured on an episode of the American reality TV series, GHOST ADVENTURES, which leads us neatly to our film.
Caleb and Denny are two high school students who are in their last year of school. They have their own ghost-hunting show on YouTube, which is how they come to be taking the tour of the Villisca Axe Murders house. They're accompanied by Jess, a beautiful fellow student who has the hots for Caleb. Unfortunately for her, so does Denny...
The three young 'uns take the tour but decide ultimately that that's not enough for them. They're going to come back in the dead of night and break into the house to find out its secrets. It's a terrible idea that brings them face-to-face not only with the restless spirits that still inhabit the house, but also with their own demons...
The teens each have their own problems and back-story. Jess is seen as slutty by everyone in her school because she's been filmed taking part in a sex-act. The clip was then, of course, uploaded to the Internet before you could say 'You won't ever show that video of me touching myself to anyone, will you, honey?'
Caleb's father has a criminal past in which he's involved his son, with tragic results, and Denny is madly in love with Caleb, who doesn't even know that his best friend is gay, never mind that he's head-over-heels in love with him. But the demons of the house know all there is to know about the little trio. They'll use their knowledge to electrifying effect...
I hate that the house gets a bit trashed by the idiot teens who shouldn't even bloody be there, but I do love that the film-makers have clearly made up their minds about whom they think is the killer. The flash-backs to the murders are brilliantly done. I would have preferred more of these flash-backs and less of those disrespectful dopey teens acting the maggot but whatever. What's done is done...!
Maybe one day someone will make a film about the actual murders. The material is all there for one of the scariest murder movies ever. Now that's a film I'd step over my own granny to get to see. Don't worry, she won't mind. I always leave flowers against her headstone as I pass by...
The Axe Murders of Villisca will be available to watch on Digital Download from 17th April 2017, courtesy of STRIKE MEDIA MARKETING AND PUBLICITY.The Axe Murders of Villisca, released on 17th April, is available to pre-order now on iTunes and the following platforms: Amazon Video, Google Play, Sky Store, Xbox Video Store, Sony Playstation Store, TalkTalk, Wuaki.
VOD/EST Release Details :
Release Date:17th April 2017
Director: Tony E. Valenzuela
Cast:Robert Adamson, Jarrett Sleeper, Alex Frnka
Credit: The Movie Partnership
Running Time:78 minutes
Release Platforms: iTunes, Amazon Video, Google Play, Sky Store, Xbox Video Store, Sony Playstation Store, TalkTalk, Wuaki.
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:
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