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THE BLOODY BENDERS: Guillermo Del Toro, Bryan Singer Protege True-Noir Team-Up
Guillermo Del Toro is best known for hurting children. Movies that hurt children, that is. I wasn’t implying anything.
Now he’s going to take a new twist on that old theme of his work, teaming with a protégé of Bryan Singer, Adam Robitel, to tell the story of an entire family that hurt people: The Bloody Benders.
This true-crime tale brings a clan of butchers from 1870s Osage, Kansas, to the screen. In doing so, The Bloody Benders taps into an upcoming rage in crime film and fiction.
Namely, the murder hotel. Yeah, that’s a thing: Serial killers who run hotels for the purpose of luring and dispatching victims. It was very hip, back in the day. And it’s coming back to the cultural consciousness with a vengeance.
The Bloody Benders have been making waves even before Del Toro got his gory mitts on them. Rick Geary, artist of many a cute cartoon and balloon-faced comic, did a spread on them for his Treasury of Victorian Murder. You can cringe at some images of it here.
And Scott Philips, a mid-western sage of all things miscreant, involved the Benders in his work, Cottonwood. Kate Bender is a significant supporting character and the book features the trial of the surviving Benders prominently.
Even beyond the Benders, horror hotel operators are soon to strike the silver screen. Leonardo DiCaprio has been cobbling together a production of The Devil in the White City, Erik Larson’s book about Chicago murder hotel creator, Dr. H. H. Holmes. Notorious for slaughtering uncounted hordes of victims during the period around the World’s Fair, “The White City,” Holmes demolished people with particularly inventive tortures.
The Benders were far more salt-of-the-earth than Holmes. Bashing and slashing sufficed.
So how does the fantastical Mr. Del Toro, surreal visionary of Hellboy movies and the picturesque Pan’s Labyrinth, suit these sociopaths? Surprisingly well. The Benders were actually a real cast of characters – self-proclaimed psychics, spiritualists and free love advocates. They have enough wacky to wash down the screen with eerie magical realism.
The Bloody Benders will fit Del Toro like a gold-gilt, red-stained glove. Keep an eye out for this production making ripples come fall. And mark the tide of turn-of-the-century horror hotels out there in the crime scene. That’s a watermark sure to rise.