Head Cases: Serial Killers in the Delaware Valley is a 2013 film written and directed by Anthony Spadaccini. It tells the story of serial killer Wayne Montgomery (played by Paul McCloskey) who committed 41 murders between 1979 and 2007 and the legacy that he left behind. It is the conclusion (?) of the Wayne Montgomery saga which includes Head Case (2007), The Ritual (2009), and Post Mortem (2010), though the viewing of those films is not necessary prior to watching this.
SPOILER ALERT: This review will contain minor plot spoilers. If you want to experience the movie as the film maker intended please skip this review and come back after you’ve seen it.
I’ll start with the plot summary written by the director himself pulled from the film’s IMDB page:
“Serial killer Wayne Montgomery committed 41 murders between 1979 and 2007, leaving behind an extensive library of his life’s work. Now, a new generation carries on Wayne’s legacy in a terrifying world where rules do not apply. Take a trip through the mind of one of history’s most prolific serial killers – and his devoted followers who are out for blood.”
The film (shot television documentary style) starts with a focus on the women in Wayne Montgomery’s life including his mother Julie Quinn (Brinke Stevens) and his wife Andrea (Barbara Lessin). His mother Julie gave birth at the young age of 14 and the father was out of the picture. Julie resented both the father and Wayne and this led to a very difficult home life for Wayne with Julie being a bitch of a mom.
Andrea was a gold digger / waitress who sought out Charles Craven simply based on his looks and the fact that he had money. While it was a loveless marriage, it was one of convenience for Andrea which gave her the lifestyle, money and children she craved.
Charles loses his business and turns into a complete asshole who abuses Andrea to the point of threatening her life. Ironically, its at this point in her life that she became friendly with Wayne. She and Wayne plot to make Charles disappear which he does, showing up later murdered. With no motive, no weapon, and no evidence Wayne and Andrea are free to live their lives together which they do as a married couple.
From here, we delve into a story that I won’t go into much detail on. It deals with Wayne’s proclivity to film his murders and how he’s “teaching” his protege the ways of Wayne Montgomery. Wayne truly believes that he’s simply doing “his work” and he talks about it in a very matter of fact manner. His wife Andrea knows all about his work and talks about it in the same cavalier fashion.
Where the film really takes off is when we’re introduced to Wayne’s proteges of which there are several. They idolize Wayne in a way that is truly creepy. They are enthralled by Wayne’s work to the point of “copying” or paying tribute to him after he’s gone which calls back to the opening scene of the film where Wayne says, “I’m passing on my knowledge, so it won’t die when I do.” It certainly doesn’t die with Wayne… and for this film that’s a very good thing.
This is the first Fleet Street Films picture I’ve seen… and it won’t be the last. Anthony Spadaccini has done some amazing work here and I’m sorry that it took me so long to get this review posted. I’ve said on many occasions that I’m typically not a fan of the found footage genre of films and while Head Cases: Serial Killers in the Delaware Valley certainly falls into that category it didn’t rub me the wrong way like so many of those films do. In fact the way it was shot (news magazine style a la 48 Hours or 20/20) had me all the more enthralled.
The acting here is top notch. Many times in these found footage docs the actors look like they’re reading a script and that isn’t the case here. Special props here to 3 actors in particular: Barbara Lessin (Andrew Montgomery), Paul McCloskey (Wayne Montgomery) and Mark Cray (John Craven). These three have the most dialog in the film and they pull it off flawlessly. They manage to convey the creepy and sadistic side of these “normal” people quite believably. I’m not sure if this was by design or not. I can only assume it was a choice of the film maker. The way the characters speak about these horrible acts in such an objective (and sometime humorous) manner makes the horror feel less horrific.
The rest of rather large cast did an admirable job as well. Many times extras have a tendency to ruin the mood of a flick and that didn’t happen here. It was also a treat to see Roberto Lombardi (from the Krueger: A Tale From Elm Street series) pop up here in a tiny roll.
I didn’t see the previous films in the series Head Case (2007), The Ritual (2009), and Post Mortem (2010) so I can’t speak to how this film tied up loose ends or weaved those stories together. I can say that I felt lost a couple of times with so many characters thrown at me and I’m guessing that seeing these previous films may have helped. That said, I definitely wouldn’t say you need to see those films prior to seeing this. In speaking with the director, Spadaccini told me that the entire story line of the other films is covered here and that it was designed so that you didn’t actually have to see the previous films (though naturally he encourages it 😉 )
The look of the film is amazing. It really does look like it’s been spliced together from home movies and old photos. In reality, that’s not the case. Spadaccini said, “With the exception of a few shots of the actors, who provided the vintage photographs of themselves, everything was created specifically for the film using vintage cameras.” To that I say “BRAVO” sir. You pulled it off in tremendous fashion.
One final thing that struck me was the “social” aspect here. Wayne Montgomery is a killer who documents everything he does. In a world of social sharing, Instagramming every meal we eat and every drink we take and getting our news from YouTube and Google you can really see how this type of mentality can take hold. Thinking about it now I’m actually sort of shocked we don’t see more of these things pop up in society. A main stream flick like Scream 4 looked at that “social media killer” but that was before our proclivity for “sharing” really took hold.
Head Cases: Serial Killers In The Delaware Valley is an outstanding piece of film making. Director Anthony Spadaccini needs to be applauded for putting together a picture that looks so authentic you really have to ask yourself if you’re looking at vintage clips that were pieced together masterfully, or clips that were shot in such a way to make it look that way. I’m typically not a fan of “found footage” or POV style flicks, but the manner in which this was shot made me forget about all of that.
You can watch Head Cases: Serial Killers video on demand by visiting www.buyheadcases.com where you can rent it for a year for $4.99 or buy it outright for $7.99. Either way you go its money well spent. When you visit that link you can also check out a slew of deleted scenes! I’d like to give special thanks to director Anthony Spadaccini for giving us access to his film. You can find more info about Head Cases: Serial Killers In The Delaware Valley at the official Facebook page and while you’re there check out the official Fleet Street Films fan page as well. Tell em ScareTissue sent you!
Have you seen Head Cases: Serial Killers In The Delaware Valley yet? Leave us a comment and let us know what you thought!