Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Living Hell of Ulli Lommel: KILLER PICKTON (2006)

The other day something odd hit me about our Ulli Lommel hell marathon. During the first four reviews, Tom ended up getting two titles where Lommel does terrible fanfic about the title characters, whereas I got standard serial killer biopics that stumble from one murder to the next. The odd part is when we started this project we picked these titles totally at random. Tom said, “I’ll tackle THE ZODIAC KILLER” and I said, “Okay, I’ll snag GREEN RIVER KILLER.” Honestly, I’m not sure who got the better end of the deal as it is like being told you are going to have your toes snipped off by garden shears or scissors. Either way, you suffer. It is even odder that I picked the story of Robert William “Willy” Pickton to follow Gary Leon Ridgway. The Canadian Pickton is said to have killed 49 victims while the American Ridgway was charged with killing 49 victims. The cases are so similar, right down to the police not doing their best since a majority of the victims were prostitutes. Heck, the two killers were arrested within three months of each other. The universe has a plan. Unfortunately, watching these movies is part of it. 

The film opens with some on screen text stating that the Canadian Government has banned all information on Pickton and how it is an affront to our freedom of expression. Damn, Ulli already back on his bullshit. It is also a rather dubious claim since everyone knows about him, but we will get into that a bit later. We get the “film” off properly with a girl’s corpse being fed into a woodchipper and some rather twisted shots of Pickton (producer Jeff Frentzen, who also convinced his parents to use their house) terrorizing a prostitute with a severed pig’s head while oinking. I feel your pain, girl. We then cut to Pickton in custody and talking with authorities. This allows Lommel to unveil his patented “voice over does the heavy lifting” routine as various questions are asked. It is revealed that Pickton started picking up and killing girls in the early 1980s and that he was D.S.A.F.. When asked what the acronym means, one person replies, “Doing society a favor.” This is visualized by showing Pickton put a woman’s body in a garbage can and hauling it out to his woodchipper. Viewers should get used to this montage as they’ll be seeing it A LOT. We then get an extended scene of Pickton preparing some ground meat. This scene just goes on and on and on. The voiceover mentions Pickton and his siblings inherited their family’s multi-million dollar farm. The next scene has Pickton sitting with his brother and sister for a meal, allowing for the film’s lone highlight to appear early on. As his siblings chow down on what we assume are human-infused sausages, Lommel cuts to Pickton’s plate and, I kid you not, it has one large raw carrot and two pieces of asparagus on it. Seriously. Here is my early Christmas present to you: 

The sister then comments that the family business is preparing to sell their sausages nationwide in supermarkets. While there are rumors Pickton did serve human meat to people, I doubt it was on this grand scale. Pickton then wanders around the family farm before settling down to listen to some tapes of himself torturing victims. Another monotonous voice over has him delivering the worst spoken word poetry ever as he says, “Women, dirt. Women, scum. Women, bitch. Women, cunt. Women, death. Women, burn. Women, hell.” Jesus, what’s his Andrew Tate subscriber number? As with the woodchipper montage, viewers should get used to this audio clip as they’ll be hearing it A LOT. 

That seems to be quite a bit of set up for a Lommel serial killer biopic, so he finally settles into Lionsgate’s preferred “kill after kill” routine. The next victim is shown being picked up at a bus stop and is taken back to Pickton’s sister’s house. He gives her a spiked drink, which hits her within ten seconds of taking her first sip. Damn, I wish I had some of that while watching all of these Lommel flicks! Shockingly, we get a deviation from the plan as a cleaning lady arrives and Pickton just lets her in. The ubiquitous voiceover mentions the cleaner reported the strange incident, but the authorities didn’t care. We then get the patented garbage can scene before he puts the victim’s hand in a meat grinder. 

We then cut to the brother and sister discussing their brother’s issues. The sister responds by saying, “Lord knows he has a right to enjoy himself. Always so withdrawn and lonely.” In rather quick succession, we get more murder montages with each girl being picked up at the exact same bus stop location. Sharp-eyed viewers will catch this Canadian set location with Boston, Massachusetts advertising on it (see pic below). I’m sure if Ulli was around he would argue the utilization of the same location was to show the banality of Pickton’s actions or some bullshit. The next victim is taken to his house and fed booze and pills. When she is barely conscious, Pickton forces her to eat pills off each stair of the staircase. It is here that Lommel commits a rather disgusting bit as the voiceover says the victim was pregnant and bits of the fetus were found in Pickton’s freezer. Not content to rely on such vile mental imagery, Lommel then cuts to two shots of real aborted fetuses on screen. Seriously, fuck off. Enter the garbage can and woodchipper. The next victim is taken to the house and has her face shoved into a pile of cocaine before being chased around the property and killed. Shockingly, Lommel doesn’t reuse the woodchipper scene and instead has Pickton bury her alive and then stab the dirt. The scene ends with Pickton planting a cross on the grave and saying, “I piss on your grave, bitch.” So, Ulli, tell me about your mother. 

This carnage is juxtaposed with some bizarre scenes trying to somehow establish Pickton had a good side when he wasn’t grinding up women into hogslop. We see him encounter three hiking teenagers and he helps one of them with a spider bite. We see him pet his dog. We also see him read the Bible with a prostitute in a hotel. This girl escapes him as he gently falls asleep and she places a big ol’ cross on his chest. Later, his sister asks him about the fresh grave she spotted on the property and Pickton says he buried his dog Hogan. She says she just saw the dog and he says, “Oh, it must have, um, been another dog then.” Damn, no wonder this dude outsmarted the cops for two decades. He’s a freakin’ criminal mastermind. Ah crap, I forgot to mention that ol’ Ulli has Pickton constantly having dreams of a woman recording a man who seems to be dying. This all culminates with Pickton revealing that he hates his mother because she recorded his father dying and forced him to watch. Uh, yeah.

Amazingly, as the film wraps up we actually get something interesting inserted into this cadaver cavalcade. Pickton picks up Annie (Heidi Rhodes) at the bus stop, of course, and they go back to his sister’s house. Sitting outside in the woods, Annie says to him, “How is your attic? You must have a nice attic.” Now I’ll admit this nonsensical dialogue got a huge laugh out of me, but it actually leads to the film’s most interesting part. Annie mentions as a child her best friend was the ghost of a war veteran in her attic and her conversations with him were “the last time the world felt whole. The last time I felt promising, I was in the attic.” Annie and Pickton hang out in the attic, take drugs, and then walk around the property before she asks, “What do you want to do now?” He replies, “I want to kill. I always do.” Back at the house, she reads him some Edgar Allan Poe before asking him how many people he has killed. Stoic in her realization she will die, she simply says, “Can you put me to sleep first?” This whole section is actually engaging and offers a tiny dramatic window in what would compel a broken person to end up in this monster’s hands. I suspect the dialogue was all improvised and both actors - particularly Rhodes - play it really well. Alas, this ten minutes is too good to last and soon we are back to hauling the garbage can. The film ends with Pickton’s brother finding him in the barn with the can and the police saying they received an anonymous call to report him. On screen text states he was arrested on February 22, 2002, which is actually correct. I’d totally be overcome with joy that Lommel and crew got an arrest date right…had they not gotten it completely wrong in a faux newspaper shown earlier in the film! Make sure to read the text here too:

I’ll be honest when I say I seriously considered copying-and-pasting my earlier GREEN RIVER KILLER review to save myself some work (and sanity), especially since Lommel seems to have pretty much done the same thing. KILLER PICKTON is bottom of the barrel (garbage can?) stuff. Rather than sticking to any facts, Lommel is again doing his freeform jazz interpretation of reality. Lommel has all of the characters call him “Billy” instead of “Willy” like in real life. These films are so slapdash that I seriously wondered if that was a clever way to avoid being sued or just another screw up by Lommel and his team. Most likely the latter. Nowhere is this tenuous relationship with truth more on display than in the “subplot” of Pickton hating his mother and worshiping his father (again, footage most likely stolen from another Lommel project). I just did the tiniest bit of research on Pickton and the prevailing fact is he loved his mother and hated his abusive father. Leave it to Lommel to screw that up. Hell, can I really be surprised when their onscreen Pickton looks like a first year English Lit professor while the real life Pickton looked like Ed Harris on a meth bender: 

This brings me to my “more about that later” mention. In a rare bit of showmanship, Lommel tried to create some kind of controversy about this film with his planned release. Courting the press, he claimed his film was too controversial and he was pulling it. As he told The Globe and Mail in 2006: 

"It was supposed to be released in Australia next month, but I pulled the film," director Ulli Lommel said yesterday in an interview. "It will be on hold until [Mr.] Pickton is judged and then we'll see." Mr. Lommel also said he has abandoned plans to have the film distributed in Canada. "It cost me a lot of money, but I decided that it was the right thing, out of respect for the Canadian court and the victims. "I like Canada very much; I like Canadians. They are not as brainwashed as most of us, and I've always been treated really nice when I visited Canada," the German-born director said. 

What a bunch of irritating nonsense, especially for any Canadian officials who had to mentally devote a second to thinking about this film. Naturally, no one cared about his piece of shit film, but he tries to turn it into some kind of valiant and persecuted thing. What happened to the big, bad Ulli who moaned about “freedom of expression” in the opening credits? I’m sure if Lommel were around in the #metoo era he’d cancel himself and then run around screeching about how everyone was trying to cancel him. That lame attempt at “controversy” coupled with the shoddy filmmaking on display had me rocking on my couch saying, “Lommel, dirt. Lommel, scum. Lommel, bitch. Lommel, cunt. Lommel, death. Lommel, burn. Lommel, hell.”

1 Reactions:

  1. There was some kind of "publication ban" on the Pickton case that was apparently in effect until about 2010 and old news articles have people expressing disgust over the very concept of this film, but even then it is probably safe to take anything that Lommel has claimed (especially while making these cinematic atrocities) with a grain of salt.


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