Saturday, August 28, 2010

Grim Sleeper and BTK; Hostages taken at Discovery Building

Grim Sleeper suspect Lonnie Franklin plead not guilty in court last week.
Between the 14-year rest the Grim Sleeper took and the fact that Franklin was convicted with familial DNA (Franklin's son was arrested and swabbed, leading police to the father), strongly recalls Dennis Rader, aka Kansas' BTK killer. Rader was convicted, in part, due to a DNA sample obtained from his daughter, which was compared to DNA from an old murder case ascribed to the BTK killer.
Franklin's attorneys argue that the DNA evidence is "not as concrete" as it seems. Familial DNA is not as exact as DNA from the suspect himself, but, in Rader's case, the DNA compounded on top of other evidence, including records of him using the church computer on which a BTK letter was composed. I don't know what other evidence LA police have against Franklin, other than that he lived in the area where several of the murders took place, and I don't know Franklin's background, leaving me unsure whether he fits the serial killer profile. Of course, no one would have expected Dennis Rader as BTK before he confessed.

In my area, a gunman has taken hostages in the Discovery Building in Silver Spring, Maryland. Most of the employees, as well as the building's day care center, have been evacuated, but, according to the last update I read, a few hostages remain. The suspect, James J. Lee, from San Diego, previously protested Discovery over objections to their environmental programming. The Washington City Paper published an unverified list of Lee's demands, and, as seen in the article, they can only be described as insane. We can only hope that Lee is captured and everyone in the Discovery Building is safe.

Night of campy fun at AFI

Joshua Grannell (also known as San Francisco drag queen Peaches Christ) brought his debut feature film All About Evil to his home state of Maryland, to AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring. Before the screening, the audience enjoyed a cabaret performance by Peaches, with singing, backup dancers dressed as classic movie monsters, jokes about the teabaggers coming to DC for the Glenn Beck rally, and a special appearance by John Waters regular Mink Stole, who also appears in All About Evil.
The film itself was a campy, over-the-top homage to slasher films, which delivered some genuine scares all its own. When Deborah (Natasha Lyonne) accidentally shows security footage of her killing her mother at her late father's dying movie theater, the short "film" becomes a hit, and she keeps going, filming real murders with a creepy cast of characters that includes a homeless man and a pair of evil twins just out of the insane asylum (the twins also made an appearance at the pre-screening show), and passing them off as movies. When teenage horror fan Steven (Thomas Dekker, who underplays his role in the sea of theatricality) discovers the truth, everyone is so deep under Deborah's spell that, when he issues a warning at a screening, the audience think it's part of the show. Of course, it's the "realism" of Deborah's films that keeps the audience coming back, combined with their theatricality. Deborah, a former wannabe actress, is now a local celebrity giving the performance of her life. Lyonne affects a Bette Davis-style vocal elocution, giving the sense of a continual performance. She, like her movies, is straddling a line between reality and theatre, just as Steven goes from a horror fan to the hero of his own slasher flick. The finale, without giving too much away, is something to behold, with frantic trapped theater-goers and a final showdown where Deborah makes a quite astute comment about the appeal of horror movies: "The audience is always secretly rooting for the killer." Yes, in horror, the killer is the star, the reason the audience comes back for sequels.