L.A. Weekly Video Pick of the Week:
H.H. Holmes, America's First Serial Killer

Even though numerous high-profile titles arrived on DVD the week of Oct. 26, 2004 (including the remake of Dawn of the Dead), LA Weekly chose H.H. Holmes as video pick of the week.

“The horror titles have been stacking up for weeks now in advance of Halloween, everything from Anchor Bay's Cheerleader Camp ("Give me a K! Give me an I! Give me an L!," etc.) to Wolfe Video's campy lesbian slasher flick Make A Wish. It was a retro reality trip down mass-murder lane, H.H. Holmes: America's First Serial Killer, mixed in with this faux-carnage soup, that finally rose to the top.

Sporting a push-broom mustache and bowler hat in the photo that graces the front of this Facets DVD release, Dr. Herman Webster Mudgett (alias H.H. Holmes) looks a lot like the Beastie Boys' Adam Yauch (alias MCA). As the image floats through the film's montage of period stills, newspaper clippings and illustrations that lay out the disturbing evidence of Holmes' turn-of-the-century killing spree, you have to fight the urge not to drop a dime on MCA. Once you get past that, Holmes emerges as a homegrown Jack the Ripper, a fiendish sadist who built a block-length building in Chicago designed almost exclusively to snare victims and efficiently dispose of their bodies. During the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, Holmes lured some 50 tourists back to his abode, where he piped gas into their soundproof rooms and watched them die through peepholes. Moreover, Holmes was strangely in step with the times: His crimes were discovered in 1895, the year cinema was born, when serial killing and serial images both hit the big time.”

Paul Malcolm
LA Weekly
October 29, 2004