Wednesday, January 21, 2015

True Horror: In Cold Blood



A book first by Truman Capote, this horrific case was soon made into a film; an exceptional film. The four members of the Clutter family were blown away one November night in 1959 by two drifters. There was supposed to be a fortune they were going to come away with. Dick Hickock was sure of it. He told his friend, Perry Smith about it and the two wound their way to Holcomb, Kansas. No one was supposed to die but they had their weapons just in case.


It all goes wrong and it's carnage. One by one, the family is executed. Herb Clutter, his wife Bonnie and their children, Nancy and Kenyon die because two criminal psychopaths came to their home. Death didn't take a holiday, it paid an unexpected visit with lethal results. Well, what else do you expect when Death comes?

Capote could not have titled the book better, it's 'in cold blood.' In fact, it doesn't get colder or more unfeeling than this. There isn't even the passion of hatred--or is there?

I happen to think there is a lot under the surface. These two killers are from society's underbelly. They see the home and the land it's on. They know Herb Clutter is a comfortably fixed farmer. The family is intact, it looks like a home neither of them ever had with a kind of family each would have yearned for.

There's a lot to resent then. I happen to think it's almost a relief when the first shot is fired. Perry Smith who did, goes around shooting the family even though he seems less of a killer (just slightly) than his amigo.

He's very polite. He was quoted as saying he thought Mr. Clutter was a real gentleman up until cutting his throat. How nice. That warms the cockles of my heart, how about you?

Their backgrounds are sad. I felt a little sorry for them. But then again Robert Blake's acting as Perry Smith is so exceptional, that possibly that had something to do with it. Scott Wilson as Dick Hickock was also excellent, I mean they became the characters.

The film was shot in Holcomb and some of the settings are so real, they cause discomfort. The Clutter residence where the murders took place is used. That was painful, but I suppose it added to the hard-hitting realism of the film.

There is a fictitious reporter who is actually a Capote-like character. The investigation is gripping, we want these guys caught. They are and it's a relief, so are their executions at the end. I had the feeling that each knew, possibly for as long as they lived, they were fated for this.

True horror like the mass extinction of a nice, loving family is the worst horror I can think of. I never forgot the film. You won't either, if you haven't seen it, see it. Watch a well-made, respectful re-enactment of one of the worst mass murders ever. You owe it to yourself and you owe it to the
Clutter family.


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