Monday, 8 May 2017

saw or the devil and the white city

We were first acquainted with prolific serial killer HH Holmes (and his “murder castle” through Futility Closet some weeks ago. The gruesome true story which is certainly the received wisdom for much of the horror genre took place in 1893 Chicago during the Columbian Exposition when Holmes, hotelier, bigamist and insurance fraudster, opened up his accommodation to the many tourists that came to town to marvel at the fair.
The hostel however was a deadly labyrinth of traps, including a crematorium to dispose of the evidence. It is unknown how many victims Holmes slaughtered, and there’s some measure of doubt whether Holmes was ultimately served justice or evaded it, and fled to South America by some accounts. To settle that debate, his ancestors have requested Holmes’ body to be exhumed and tested. For all the horror tropes we see in this story and how many movies it has influenced (bearing in mind that even if there’s an element of a tall-tale or urban legion, that these are real victims not thirty year old teenage characters in a script), it’s that final act and final question—is the monster dead and the terror resolved or is there a sequel-potential, that seems to loom largest.