H.H. Holmes: America’s First Serial Killer
Waterfront Productions (Unrated)

A diabolical serial killer constructs a castle-like house of horrors in the middle of Victorian era Chicago then lures unsuspecting victims to gruesome, torturous deaths. This may sound like a fictional work of gothic horror by Edgar Allan Poe, but it is actually the true story of America’s first serial murderer, H.H. Holmes. Independent filmmaker John Borowski delivers a chilling documentary that chronicles the killer’s life and horrific crimes.

Holmes was an unassuming monster who coldly and methodically murdered at least nine people, though many believe he may have killed more than 100 within the confines of his sinister boarding house. “The Castle,” as it was called, harbored a maze of passageways, torture chambers, and a dungeon that held acid baths, lye pits and a crematorium for disposing bodies. A true sociopathic criminal, his cruelty and greed knew no bounds and even led him to strip the flesh from his victims bones and sell their skeletons to the local medical school.

Presented as a grim biography, the well-researched film documents the testimony and professional opinions of a criminal profiler, a police forensic expert, and H.H. Holmes historian Harold Schechter. Even more impressive is the fact that writer/director John Borowski shot and produced the film on a very limited budget, relying on clever camera work, moody reenactments and authentic photos and newspaper articles from the 19th century to deliver an intelligent and convincingly realistic tale of terror. An added touch of class is lent to the production by the top-notch musical score from Douglas Romayne Stevens and the solemn narration of Shakespearean actor Tony Jay whose somber tones echo throughout the presentation with grave resonance. Recommended and well worth seeking out at: www.hhholmesthefilm.com

— Russell Williams, Dark Realms Magazine Issue 17, January 2005