Jack Ketchum's The Girl Next Door

In 1965, from the unlikely locale of Indianapolis, the news spread to America of a horrific crime committed in the name of motherly discipline. A 16-year-old girl was found to have been tortured to death in a foster home. Sylvia Likens and her younger sister, a polio victim, were essentially abandoned by their father when their mother was sent off to jail. Papa was a carnival employee who was left with five children who just didn't fit into his itinerant carny lifestyle. He pawned off his two youngest daughters on the mother of one of their schoolmates, paying her $20 per week to care for them, and encouraging her to "straighten them out." The foster mother, Gertrude Baniszewski, was a frustrated woman who had left behind a trail of divorces and was raising seven children of her own on her limited cash flow, much of which she blew on booze and pills.

The situation got very ugly very fast, and ended with Sylvia's death, followed by criminal sentences for Gertrude and several children who abetted the torture. You can pick up the real-life story here:

In 2007 two new films covered this territory.

* The first and most prominent was An American Crime, which acquired the cachet of a Sundance premiere and featured Catherine Keener as the murderous Gertrude Baniszewski. That film used the real names of the characters and was based directly on the facts of the case.

* Jack Ketchum's The Girl Next Door was derived from the case less directly. The source of the screenplay was an eponymous novel by Mr. Ketchum, who captured all of the important elements of the case, but retold the story fictionally, without retaining  one-to-one correspondence between his facts and characters and the real-life details. Although the source novel is called The Girl Next Door, the film added the "Jack Ketchum's" prefix to distinguish it from a readily identifiable Elisha Cuthbert film which was released fairly recently. The movie version is therefore a third generation account and, since its characters are fictional, is not bound to chronicle precisely what happened in Indianapolis.

For example, here are a few elements which do correspond to the Likens murder:

  • The store takes place in 1958.
  • While the girls are the right age and the younger has polio, they are said to have been orphaned.
  • This version introduces a fictional character who narrates the story. He is a young boy who had a crush on the tortured girl, and in fact tried to help her in many ways, but spent the rest of his life tortured by the fact that he knew exactly what was happening and never alerted the authorities before the abuse got out of control.

All things considered, the fictional elements do not detract from the essential truth or power of the story.

This film is very difficult to watch. The director and his co-author chose to make the film in the mode of "Stand by Me meets Hostel II." If you think about it, that is an extraordinarily powerful combination. The introduction is all about young kids enjoying the pleasures of a 50s-era summer: fishing, going to the carnival, playing in the woods, experiencing sexual curiosity, having their first case of puppy love, having a beer with the cool mom, running to meet the ice cream man, and so forth. The doomed girl and her would-be beau are introduced and we love them immediately. They are naive, kind-hearted, unguarded, and shy. There is no sign of the trouble to come. It is the calm before a storm.

The storm does not descend upon us suddenly. Each passing day brings a slightly greater level of abuse from the mom, and it takes some time before she escalates from bitchy to demonic. When she gets there, the film carries an extraordinary power because we remember what we thought the movie would be like, and because she has enlisted a brood of children to join her in the torture rituals. The compliance of the children grips us. Some of the boys join in because they are sadistic. Others are just overwhelmed by the sight of a naked 16-year-old girl hanging by her arms. The saddest bystander to watch is the ineffectual "good" kid, whose resistance always seem to be about half what it should be. We root for him to man up and do something, and he eventually does, but by then it is too late.

The 1958 story is book-ended by a scene in 2007 in which the good boy, now 60ish and played by William Atherton, remembers the incident and is overwhelmed by his own guilt, shame, and regret. In the final scene he returns to the ol' fishin' hole where he first met the doomed girl, and we return there with him, sharing his memories, and his pain.

I think the film works. As many critics accurately asserted, it's a feel-bad movie, and very hard to watch. It can never be pleasant to watch the torture of children, or the corruption of other children. One might also carp that the script seems to have no special point to make nor insight to offer, and it would also be fair to say that the characterizations are not always as complex as they might be. It's a genre film, not a serious drama. But, damn, it delivers an emotional punch. Sure it's a cheap shot. Having kids abused is always an easy way to create emotional impact. But cheap shot or not, it's a KO. This film just ate away at me, and the final scene had me inside William Atherton's head. I would have preferred not to be there, but because I was there the film did what it set out to do.

It was underrated by the critics (29 at Metacritic, 58% at RT), but maybe even a bit overrated at IMDb at 7.6. A more balanced viewpoint would land it somewhere between those levels. If I were a real reviewer using an Ebert scale, I'd call it three stars, and I rated it a 7 at IMDb. That's a "gut feeling." I have a mental picture of what an 8 is, and this just didn't seem strong enough for an 8.

It's yet another one that is a good movie, but I wish I had never seen it.

Street date December 4th (Tuesday). Available at all standard outlets including Amazon (below)


* widescreen anamorphic, 16x9

* unrated






The nudity comes from Blythe Auffarth as the doomed girl. She is actually 22. Here is the film clip.


* Yellow asterisk: funny (maybe).

* White asterisk: expanded format.

* Blue asterisk: not mine.

No asterisk: it probably sucks.


Catch the deluxe version of Other Crap in real time, with all the bells and whistles, here.








The Evil Below



The Evil Below, AKA El Diablo, takes place on a tropical island where skipper Max Cash (played by the co-director, Wayne Crawford, whose other credits include writing, producing, and writing theme music) is about to lose his small boat. Even at that, he would rather bang his crew member, Sheri Able, then try to drum up work. June Chadwick arrives looking to rent his boat to find the wreck of the El Diablo, supposedly sunk nearby and full of religious treasures. Several on the island seem to have an interest in this wreck and/or its treasure, including a local priest, an expert on wrecks, one of Max's competitors, and more. Max doesn't believe in the wreck until his father is killed and additional evidence turns up.

Call it an actioner, undersea treasure subdivision, barely meeting genre requirements.

It is not currently available on DVD in the US except on a region-free full screen DVD from

The Evil Below


Sheri Able shows her right breast, and buns in a bikini.











Species: The Awakening



Released twelve years after the original Species, this would be the fourth entrant in the Species series.

This one is all about a not so human lovely 22 year old Helena Mattsson. Helena gives us some pretty nice T & A, though some of the nudity comes with some goo as she is hatched.







Notes and collages

Ghost Rider

Eva Mendes

For comic book fans, this film is actually a decent translation...and for Nicolas Cage this had to be joy to act in (as he is a comic book fan himself) ....I haven't enjoyed collaging this much in a long's the comic book fan in me.







Tjenare kungen

Abra (Josefin Neldén) is a 19-year-old punk who lives in a narrow minded, parochial small town in Sweden in 1984. She's the only punk fan there, and she constantly gets abused by everyone, including her sister. Her sister's boyfriend keeps repeating the mantra that Abra needs a man, but all she cares about is music. Abra hitches a ride with a band to a bigger city, Gothenberg. On the tour bus, she immediately strikes up a friendship with Millan (Cecilia Wallin), who loves punk even more than Abra. The two rapidly become best friends and move in together. They form a pact that neither one will get a boyfriend before they record. Of course they both violate the agreement, and the two women later fight for the attention of the same man.


Josefin Nelden


Ma Mere

Some Emma de Caunes caps I forgot to send the first time!







Cube 2- Hypercube

Lindsey Connell









Zombie Night 2: Awakening

 (2006) (V)

Canadian grade-Z zombie sequel only available on DVD in Europe via Either the cinematography was poor or the video transfer bad but the whole movie looks dull as dishwater. However the 'Making of...' documentary on the second disk is much more crisp (especially the catfight).

(1) Sharon DeWitt: boobs and butt having sex in shower.
(2) Kari Grace: topless after burning brassiere to fight off zombies. Now this is a progressive zombie movie.
(3) Maria Ibey: topless having sex.
(4) Sara Jean Villa: topless.
(5) Sherri Lynn Bollard: topless as freezer/Britney zombie. Now that's scary!
(6) catfight: Sharon DeWitt & Sara Jean Villa almost falling out of their tops. 


 Dark Rising



Solid B-movie horror also from Canada via Haley Shannon and Vanessa James show breasts in a lesbian sex scene while Brigitte Kingsley shows partial boob. Julia Schneider, Lara Fenton and Vanessa Petronelli are sexy.

(1) Haley Shannon
(2) Vanessa James
(3) Brigitte Kingsley
(4) Julia Schneider
(5) Lara Fenton
(6) Vanessa Petronelli 





Obscure Canadian/UK co-production.

Lucy Akhurst: full frontal. 



On Consignment


Latest czechploitation by Lloyd Simandl with more Marie Veckova as promised. This latest entry has more explicit lesbian sex and gyno-cam shots.

Marie Veckova




Turn back the time machine way back to 1984 when little-known actress Christie Carafano was doing bit parts in movies showing her bitties before for disappearing for eight years. She is now known as Star Trek babe and B-movie actress Chase Masterson.

Chase Masterson: topless in bed with Kris Kristofferson. (Tuna made better caps of her in Songwriter but her true identity wasn't known at the time)


Confessions of a Serial Killer


True crime videonasty. It is available on a Region 2 DVD from the UK, but is heavily censored so get the video version.

Chase Masterson: topless as hooker.
DeeDee Norton: boob and butt.
Eleese Lester: bare butt getting raped.
Jane K. Smith: showing her bigguns.