Angel Maker: Serial Killer Queen (2014)


In the 19th century, England controlled the biggest Empire the world had ever seen. Scientific breakthroughs, huge scale engineering, and great leaps in medicine led Britain's reign of global power. And yet, behind the facade there was a darkness. An unimaginable world of evil - theft, rape, murder and more. This was the real world of Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes. But there was a lesser known killer on the loose who was far worse than any of the others, a woman who would succeed in becoming one of the world's most prolific serial killers. Her name was Amelia Dyer and she killed over 400 innocent babies. A seemingly gentle old lady, Amelia would take in children under the guise of nurturing and caring for them when in reality she starved and strangled them to death. Explore inconceivable recesses of humanity in this shockingly true story of human darkness and depravity at the turn of the century.

This synopsis is a bit deceiving. While the main point of the documentary is the story of Amelia Dyer, it does spend a pretty solid amount of time discussing the practice of baby farming during the time period.  Both facets of this documentary were equally disturbing to hear.  As someone who is intrigued by the mindset of serial killers, I enjoy watching documentaries and reading biographies about them.  This is one documentary I was very excited to check out, mainly because it involved a topic that is rare for me to come across; a serial killer that I'd never heard of.  And a fascinating story it was.

 After the passing of her husband, she needed financial stability.  She found it by essentially starting her own baby farm. She posted an ad charging a one time 10 pounds to adopt a baby. She would take the baby in and raise it.  At first, she would take the babies in and basically starve them to death. She eventually realized that killing the babies makes more sense. Most of them didn't last past the day she adopted them.  She was nearly caught on multiple occasions. She moved around a lot and constantly changed her name to keep her off the police radar. In the few instances where she really felt pinned down, she would have herself temporarily committed.  She previously worked as a nurse in a mental hospital so she knew what signs the doctors looked for to consider someone mentally unstable, and she could turn those signs on whenever she needed to. She was eventually caught when she didn't dispose of a body properly. She was tried, found guilty by a jury in under 5 minutes, and executed by hanging.  Coincidentally, although she is believed to have killed somewhere around 400 children, she was only accused of one murder.

 The images in this documentary were a bit confusing.  Due to the time period of this piece, there are obviously no videos to put into it so install the whole documentary was filled with random pictures of kids, reenactments of some of the murders, and random images of flowers.  The images of the kids I understood but it was basically the same ones over and over again.  The reenactments were of her MO, using white tape to strangle the babies. Her calling card was leaving the tape, like a tie, around their neck.  My only problem with the reenactment was that it was an image of Amelia (her hands only) wrapping the tape around the babies neck as they lay in a bassinet. As she's tying the tape, she is pulling the baby up and you can clearly see it's a doll. Obviously, I don't want to see her tying tape around a real baby's neck but there was no need to show the baby at all. Seeing her going through the actions while the narrator described what she did would have sufficed.  The other random images have no point to the story at all. Random blooming flowers, a bassinet on fire, clouds rolling through the sky, all had no point at all.

 The most disturbing part of the movie for me was the facts that popped up at the end of the movies. I'm well aware that in some cultures, killing newborns was considered "normal," like in 300 where they threw babies from a cliff. But at the end of this, it flashed notes stating how certain cultures went about getting rid of babies. While any murder of a baby/child disgusts me, the methods that some cultures used were beyond appalling.

 As interesting as the story itself was, it would have been just as useful as a book on tape.  The information was interesting and the narrator was great describing everything but the images on the screen distracted from what he was saying. The sound was also a bit off, the background music did have a tendency to drown out the narrator at certain points.  That being said, this is still definitely a must watch for anyone with an interest in serial killers.


reviewed by Bobby

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