Movie Review – Killer Legends (2014)

A few years back I watched the horror documentary Cropsey (2009). It began with an exploration of the urban legend of Cropsey, a child-killing maniac who lived in the woods of Long Island. He was a campfire tale told at sleepaway camps throughout the 70s and 80s, one which even inspired the slasher film The Burning (1981). The film then found connections with a real child-killer in the same area and to the infamous Willowbrook State School. The tale which unfolded was unsettling and fascinating and it made me wish there were more documentaries like it.

In 2014 the same filmmaker, Joshua Zeman, obliged and released Killer Legends for Chiller. Instead of focusing on one urban legend, this movie delves into four of them: the hook man, the babysitter killer, the poisoned Halloween candy, and the killer clown. It seeks out the real life events which may have inspired them and attempts to test their validity. The stories are disturbing, but also informative. Rather than reinforcing our fears the investigations tend to have the effect of relieving them and revealing them to be exaggerated or misplaced entirely. Nevertheless, the film doesn’t hold back from showing actual crime photos and other unsettling primary sources.

Killer Legends is thoroughly enjoyable and watchable, even if it’s not as hard-hitting as the filmmakers sometimes try to make it seem. I enjoy documentaries in general and I appreciate having ones which cross into my favorite fictional genre.

Grade: C+

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