Category: Onlooker

BLOTTER | Halloween Costumes, Therapy, and Dirty John

Tuesday Hi again, pals. I’m here with a short roundup of all things true crime and true crime adjacent (sometimes I feel like there are sea disasters you need to be aware of, it’s no big deal). Let’s first take a closer look at our nasty habit. Being into true crime is good, so says this article that touts the therapeutic qualities of the hobby. But, actually? It’s bad. Or at the very least, it is really screwing over some kids’ Halloweens. Maybe it’s the Mindhunter binge that has me feeling philosophical about the whole thing. Earlier this week,...

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With Mindhunter, David Fincher Gives Us a Thrilling Ten-Hour Movie

Overview: FBI agents Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) interview imprisoned serial killers to help ongoing investigations. Netflix; TV-MA; 10 episodes. Worth the Wait: It’s been a long wait for Mindhunter. Since the project was first announced, hopes were high for a David Fincher-directed drama with Charlize Theron attached as an Executive Producer and there were countless of us counting down the days to the show’s October 13th debut on Netflix. Yet fans have nothing on the pair themselves, who first pitched the project back in 2009. But good things take time, and Mindhunter is very...

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Blotter: Lost at Sea, a Rehab Surprise, and Justice for Danny

Good morning! Tomorrow, our first-ever collection of AE ghost stories comes out just in time for the somewhat arbitrary Friday the 13th kickoff. I hope you’ll take a look. We’ll have new installments coming out every Friday until Halloween. But you came here for more literal scares. Here are some of the best in true crime links this week: Season 3 of BuzzFeed’s Unsolved Supernatural series debuts on YouTube tomorrow, but you can get a sneak preview today. This season takes on an abandoned and allegedly haunted hospital, Roswell, the London Tombs. Ben Stiller is directing a multi-part series...

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VIFF: Caniba is a Thankless Endurance Test

Overview: A quiet examination of the current life of Issei Sagawa, cannibal killer. Norte Productions; 2017; Not Rated; 90 minutes. Why, Though: There is little reason to make multiple documentaries about a straightforward cannibal killer. Not only has Issei Sagawa been the subject of at least four varying documentaries about himself (Excuse Me For Living, The Cannibal that Walked Free, Interview with a Cannibal, and Cannibal Superstar) but he’s had a fair amount of pop culture influence. It’s not because new details arise about his heinous crime, or that he’s had a miraculous transformative experience, it’s simply because since the...

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Blotter: Dirty John, Kim Wall, and a Request for Stories

Hello! I’ve been busy collecting ghost stories and interviewing people about their experiences with the supernatural for some solid October content for you. I hope you’ll excuse me if the Blotter links are just a bit briefer this week. I hope to pay you back in scares over the coming weeks. This past weekend, Dirty John, a unique joint podcast and print feature from the Los Angeles Times blew up online. I’ve only just finished listening to the first of the five-podcast series and it’s every bit as good as people have said. I’m partial to the audio version...

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BLOTTER: Room 1046 and The Dyatlov Pass Incident

For today’s Blotter, I wanted to try something different. Instead of sharing my account of an old case, I want to offer up some tantalizing resources you can either enjoy as standalone creepy stories, or choose to follow them down the rabbit hole. This first case is among the strangest I’ve ever heard, combining elements of mystery, violence, and one of those logic puzzles they used to throw at you in junior high (“But I can’t operate on this boy. He is my son.”). How does a man with no past exist? What made him check into a motel...

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Curb Your Cynicism: Long Shot is the Rare Feel-Good True Crime Doc

Overview: A young man is charged with murder, while his attorney goes to unusual lengths to prove his innocence; Netflix; 2017; 40 minutes. A Guy Goes to a Ballgame: The keystone around which the documentary Long Shot is built is a sad one: the 2003 murder of a 16-year old girl in Los Angeles. It wasn’t long before police zeroed in on the then 24-year old Juan Catalan, a father of two with no significant record (certainly none suggesting he was capable of murder). There was no physical evidence linking him to the crime, but plenty of the circumstantial kind;...

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BLOTTER | Jeffrey Dahmer, The Hot One, and The “Clown Shot Her”

Hello, pals. I’m back again with your roundup of Thursday true crime links. I have plenty, so let’s get started with TV. I’m excited for Waco, an upcoming six-part series about the disastrous 1993 Branch Davidian siege in Waco, Texas. Michael Shannon stars alongside a frighteningly accurate-looking Taylor Kitsch as leader David Koresh. The show will air in January but you can watch a trailer here. If you’re in the UK, you might be familiar with ITV’s Call the Cleaners, a reality show that follows the everyday situations the men of Merseyside House Clearance are presented with as they...

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BLOTTER | The Gatekeeper and The Death of Sherlock Holmes

Hi again! Earlier this week, I began the first in a two-parter looking at some of the best recent crime-related long reads and upcoming books. If you missed it, you can catch up here. I have much more coming for you today, but I’m kicking things off with a few podcast recommendations. This week’s Criminal is a must for true crime readers. “The Gatekeeper” tells the story of Marilyn Stasio, who has been writing her review of crime fiction for the New York Times Book Review for decades. Even if you’re not interested in the art and science of...

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BLOTTER | Group Therapy, an Alien Con Man, and the Man from the Train

Hello, Early on this year, in a fit of either productivity or self-improvement, I decided I’d aim to read 50 books before the end of 2017. I was most likely inspired to do it because I knew I already had a healthy head start; in January I’d already managed to read seven. As the year went on, I noticed a defined inverse relationship between the weather getting nicer and the book totals barely budging. So this week’s two editions of Blotter will both focus on good reads to inspire me to hit the magic, arbitrary number (13 more to...

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BLOTTER | The Grim Sleeper and Dragging the Lake

Hi, hello. First, let me just say that I’ve avoided talking about this so far. It may actually be fine. Good, even! (It’s getting reviewed well) And Netflix knows its way around a story. It’s even alleged to have reinvented the dick joke, but still I don’t think it’s enough to get me to watch the true crime parody American Vandal. What if I don’t want to rethink my stance on true crime, Bustle? What then? That said, maybe you’ll dig it. It began streaming September 15. Just let me know if I’m wrong. In a much more serious...

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Strong Island Continues Netflix’s Streak of Strong True Crime Work and Imperative Race Commentary

Overview: One man looks at the traumatic event that changed his family forever, his brother’s murder. Netflix; 2017; Rated NR; 107 minutes. A Collective Grief: In the final minutes of Strong Island, filmmaker Yance Ford’s exploration into his brother’s murder, Ford asks “What are the contours of fear?” According to his brother’s killer, fear is what motivated him to shoot him William Ford, Jr. during an altercation at an auto body shop in 1992. His brother’s killer, a then 19-year old white auto mechanic named Mark Reilly, earns little attention from the filmmaker within the narrative. It’s a decision both...

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BLOTTER | Liquid Matthew

On a Sunday night in December 1983 in Miami’s Hialeah neighborhood, a pair of joggers found the body of Francisco Patino Gutierrez, who’d been murdered and dumped in a parking lot. It was the start of what became known as the “Liquid Matthew” case. A nasty rainstorm was passing over Miami that night making the search for clues difficult. It wasn’t until the next day that police returned to the scene and tried to piece together what had happened to Gutierrez. A few things were known at this point: the victim was a Colombian national, he’d been a seaman,...

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BLOTTER | Fall TV Preview

Hi again. It’s time to ease into our final fall preview of all things true crime. If you missed the updates on podcasts or film, there’s still time to catch up. But today we’ll be looking at what’s ahead for fall. I’ve got cable recommendations (do you still watch? I’m trying to cut the cord), network, and for variety’s sake, a few from streaming services, as well (more of those in the film preview, too). First up is a great roundup by Esquire that includes some upcoming shows of interest to true crime and scripted dramas, including  10 Days...

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The Confession Tapes Takes You Behind the Curtain

Overview: A seven-part documentary series examines cases involving alleged coerced confessions from all sides of the justice system. Netflix; 2017; Not Rated; varying runtimes. Behind Closed Doors: For many years, the police interrogation room was off limits to the public. You were unlikely to ever see footage of the process of questioning a suspect unless you were on a jury or in that precarious situation yourself. But something changed in recent years. Scratch that; many things changed. For one, a viewing audience has demanded greater authenticity in its entertainment. I’m sure I’m not alone in watching an old Law &...

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