Carl Panzram: The Spirit of Hatred and Revenge

A few years back I rented this really cool docudrama about the serial killer Albert Fish.  At the time there were tons of DTV serial killer films coming out left and right and to be honest most of them weren't worth viewing.  I figured this movie would be more of the same, exaggerated facts and badly acted, but it wasn't.  It managed to be an accurate portrayal of the man and his crimes told through reenactments and informative interviews.  I really dug it, and I was more than happy to review director John Borowski's latest effort.

Like the Albert Fish film, Carl Panzram:  The Spirit of Hatred and Revenge is a docudrama about the life of a broken person.  On the complete opposite side though, it's also about a prison guard named Henry Lesser who developed a very strange friendship with the serial killer.  Lesser managed to convince Panzram to write a manuscript about his life and experiences.  This book would be published in 1970 (titled Killer: A Journal of Murder) and is one of the central aspects of this film.

Like a lot of serial killers Panzram grew up in a broken home, he was also thwarted into the prison system at an early age.  During this period in America the prisons were a lot different.  There weren't any real regulations and torture was a normal everyday way of life.  Carl already had his issues which worsened with each tortuous guard he encountered.  Upon release from each institution he would leave filled with more hatred and anger than before, the only thing he felt could suppress these feelings were through various acts of violence.  To Panzram's account in his life time he'd killed 22 men and sodomized over 1,000.

As mentioned earlier this is a docudrama, the skits are well acted and Panzram is given a very gritty voice thanks to voice actor John DiMaggio.  While the normal actor does a fine job it's definitely accentuated thanks to DiMaggio's talent.  Panzram had some pretty brutal last words, so it's good they had someone with the voice to carry such an individual.  The interviewees between the various skits vary in profession, some are professors while others are former guards.  The artist Joe Coleman makes a very appreciated appearance as well, Coleman is a definite benefit to a film of this nature as his knowledge of serial killers seems to be endless.

The DVD has a handful of supplements, one of which is 25 minute making of featurette.  There's also an extended interview,  deleted scenes, and a few more cool features available for your viewing pleasure.

Overall I really enjoyed this look into Panzram's demented mind.  I am a fan of this style of film-making, combining solid interviews with dramatizations.  Everything here is done right; it manages to entertain while giving an informative and accurate look into the life of a serial killer.

His famous last words?
"Yes, hurry it up, you hoosier bastard!  I could hang a dozen men while you're screwing around!"


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